Indigenous person dancing

Research Institutes

Lehigh and its partners invest in research centers that excel at focused and multidisciplinary studies, working together to solve problems both locally and globally. We study, analyze, and develop knowledge in areas of health using collaboration and communication to help generate discoveries.

Institute for Indigenous Studies

The Institute for Indigenous Studies partners and collaborates with Indigenous peoples, nations, communities, and organizations to improve the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of Indigenous peoples throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Research Areas

  • Tobacco cessation
  • COVID-19 Contemporary Indigenous identity
  • Grant writing and research training programs for Native community members
  • Cultural education programs for non-Natives


Institute for Indigenous Studies research is funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Cancer Society.

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IIS Research Team

Researchers work with Indigenous peoples, nations, communities, and organizations to identify and address the current health and education needs of Indigenous peoples using a multi-level socio-ecological framework and partners with tribal and community organizations, colleges, universities, and other academic institutions to develop culturally appropriate research methodologies and frameworks that can be used to address the health and education needs of Indigenous peoples. 


Sean Daley, Ph.D., M.A.
Associate Professor and Director, Institute for Indigenous Studies


Christine Makosky Daley, Ph.D., MA, SM
Professor and Department Chair, Department of Community and Population Health


Photo Justin Begaye

Justin Begaye, MSW, MPA

Justin Begaye has been involved with community-based participatory research since 2007. He earned his Bachelor's in Social Work in 2010 from the University of Kansas, his Master in Social Work in 2011 from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a 2nd Master of Public Administration in 2015 from the University of Kansas. His research interests lie heavily with qualitative data collection and community-based participatory research.

Photo of Ryan Goeckner

Ryan Goeckner, MA, PhD Student

Ryan Goeckner is a doctoral student in cultural anthropology at The Ohio State University.  Since 2014, he has worked with American Indian Health Research and Education Alliance partners on a variety of projects related to American Indian health and identities. His dissertation research focuses on participation in Lakota resistance rides (such as the Dakota 38+2 and Bigfoot Memorial Rides) as a means to develop senses of community belonging and their relationship to mental health. 

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Jordyn Gunville, MPH, PhD Student
Cheyenne River Sioux

Jordyn A. Gunville, MPH, enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, is a doctoral student and a Robert Wood Johnson-Health Policy Research Scholar in the School of Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She received her Master of Public Health at the University of Kansas Medical Center as a Susan G. Komen Scholar, where she was awarded the Analee E. "Betsy" Beisecker Public Health Excellence Student Award.  Jordyn was a Zegar Scholar at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where she completed a Public Health Training Certificate for American Indian Health Professionals. Jordyn is a Senior Research Scientist for the Institute of Indigenous Studies in the College of Health at Lehigh University, where she is involved with numerous research projects.

Born and raised on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation, she has gained the first-hand experience of understanding health disparities and health barriers American Indian’s face.  She dedicated her life goals to serving her community and other American Indian communities to improve the overall health of community members and gap health disparities by addressing the social determinants of health.  Jordyn’s research focuses on Maternal, Infant and Child Health, Health Policy, Social Determinants of Health, Indigenous Health, Access to Healthcare, and Tobacco Cessation.

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River Gunville, BS
Cheyenne River Sioux

River Gunville, BA, is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST). She was raised on the CRST reservation in South Dakota. Her experiences growing up on the reservation have fueled her passion for a career in research and medicine. River received a Bachelor of Arts in Medical Anthropology with minors in Biology and Public Health from Creighton University in 2018. River currently serves as a Research Scientist for the Institute of Indigenous Studies in the College of Health at Lehigh University, where she is involved with numerous research projects such as, All Nations Breath of Life (ANBL), a culturally-appropriate smoking cessation program, and various projects focusing on COVID-19 in Native communities. River’s research interests include environmental, mental, and community health. As an aspiring physician and researcher, River’s goals are to address health disparities on a community and clinical level.

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Jason Hale, MA
Prairie Band Potawatomi

Jason Hale is a Senior Research Scientist in the College of Health and the Institute for Indigenous Studies. His current research includes reducing smoking among American Indians through the development and implementation of culturally-tailored smoking cessation interventions. He is also now actively working on a research project with American Indian tribal communities to understand the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of American Indians surrounding COVID-19. Hale’s other research interests and community engagement work include weight loss, nutrition, and American Indians in higher education.

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Charley Lewis, MPH, PhD Student

Charley is an enrolled member of the Utu Utu Gwaitu Paiute Tribe, and a doctoral student in the Health Policy and Management program at the University of Kansas Medical Center.  He has been working in the field of public health for almost ten years.  His research interests are tobacco cessation among American Indians and increasing American Indians in higher education.

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Joseph Pacheco, MPH, ABD

Joseph Pacheco is a senior research scientist for the Institute for Indigenous Studies at Lehigh’s College of Health.  He has had extensive experience working in the field of public health and has conducted prevention and implementation research for over ten years.  He is currently in the dissertation phase of his PhD program in Health Policy and Management at the University of Kansas Medical Center, and he aims to understand commercial and traditional tobacco use and tobacco control policy views among American Indians.  He looks forward to working with Indigenous populations in the realm of environmental health to improve access to care, reduce barriers to care, and develop new and innovative interventions to reduce health disparities.

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Luke Swimmer, MBA
Eastern Band Cherokee

Luke Swimmer is a member of the Eastern Band Cherokee from the Qualla Boundary in North Carolina. I am currently project manager for tANBL (telephone All Nations Breath of Life) a telephone based smoking cessation program tailored for Native Americans. I enjoy working on community based participatory research within Native communities that focus on health disparities and language/cultural revitalization.



Institute for Health Policy and Politics

The Institute for Health Policy and Politics aims to focus on research, professional training, educational and experiential internship experiences in health policy-making, and the political factors influencing this process. 


For more information contact Eduardo Gómez, director and associate professor.


Children’s Environmental Precision Health Institute

The overarching mission of Children’s Environmental Precision Health (CEPH) Institute is to identify key risk factors to adverse developmental health outcomes in children by considering the interaction between two critical domains – 1) children’s inherent susceptibility factors (e.g., genome, epigenome, and transcriptome) particularly during their critical windows (e.g., in utero and infancy); and 2) environmental exposures (e.g., airborne toxics, physical home indoor, neighborhood, school conditions) chronically (i.e., throughout their early-childhood years).

For more information contact Hyunok Choi, director and associate professor.