The mission of the SPHERE Lab is to improve the lives of those who are disproportionately affected by HIV and other related health concerns by exploring the psychological, social, and cultural contexts that shape individual- and community-level health outcomes. Our lab seeks to reduce health disparities through the development of innovative, culturally grounded interventions to reduce risk and improve health. The SPHERE Lab is led by Dr. Patrick Wilson, an associate professor in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. Members of the SPHERE Lab are currently implementing multiple research projects, including the Promoting Action Towards Health (PATH) study, the Daily Proactive Planning study, two studies sponsored by the Adolescent Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions, and the You & Me Study (YMS).
Patrick Wilson is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University and the director of the SPHERE Lab. Dr. Wilson earned his PhD in community psychology from New York University and completed an NIMH Postdoctoral Fellowship at Yale University. In addition to teaching at the Mailman School of Public Health, Dr. Wilson specializes in exploring the psychological, social, and cultural contexts that shape individual and community-level health outcomes. He conducts his work with the overall goal of improving the lives of those who are disproportionately affected by HIV and other health disparities. Dr. Wilson’s recent work includes examining institutional and community responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, designing and testing culturally appropriate behavior change interventions, developing novel technology-based methods for investigating health behaviors, and increasing cultural relevance in HIV/AIDS research. Specific topics of interest also include trauma, stigma and discrimination, religion, engagement in care, and personal factors including self-efficacy and empowerment. Dr. Wilson holds membership in several research centers and networks within and outside of Columbia University and conducts national and local studies that involve the participation of a diverse set of collaborators and community members. His research is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Associate Research Scientist
Gertaud (Turu) Stadler is an Associate Research Scientist at both the Mailman School of Public Health and the Psychology Department at Columbia University. She is also the Managing Director of the Columbia Couples Lab. Her main research interest is the individual and social regulation of behavior change. Her applied research focus is the development and testing of theory-based models for health behavior change. In conducting her research, Dr. Stadler has studied a diverse range of quantitative methods, including intensive longitudinal design, the analysis of longitudinal data, and measurement with diaries, physiological indicators, and sensors.
Emily Cherenack serves as Project Coordinator for studies sponsored by the Adolescent Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions (ATN), including ATN 112 and ATN 104. In addition, Emily acts as Project Coordinator for the Daily Proactive Planning (DPP) study and is involved with ATN 086, the ATN’s Trauma Working Group, the Center for the Study of Culture, Politics and Health, and the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP). Emily received her BA in psychology from Barnard College in 2012 and has previously worked at NYU’s Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies, Barnard College’s Canine Cognition Lab, and The Door, an at-risk youth center in NYC. Her personal and professional goals are to improve the welfare of LGBTQ+ youth and people affected by HIV/AIDS. In addition, Emily is interested in pursuing research and advocacy related to self-esteem, identity development, gender equality, and stigma.
Allyson began working with Dr. Wilson and team in 2005. Allyson earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She holds masters degrees in public health and social work from Columbia University and is a licensed social worker in the state of New York. She has over ten years of experience in the development, implementation, management and delivery of clinical research in cardiovascular disease, depression, breast cancer, and HIV. Allyson is currently the Director of Intervention of the NIMH-funded study Project PATH: Promoting Action Towards Health, an intervention directed to the needs of newly-diangosed HIV+ MSM living in the New York City area.
Staff Associate & Project Director
Kirk joined the Wilson team in 2010 as the Project Director of the You & Me Study. He is also pursuing his Master's in Public Health here at Mailman in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences. Kirk has served on multiple community and research advisory boards and is interested in research and advocacy that explores health through the relationships of individuals and communities in regard to political economy. He earned his B.A. in Urban Studies at Queens College, City University of New York.
Community Outreach Coordinator
After two years as the Director of HIV Prevention Services for the Long Island GLBT Services Network, Kalvin Leveille joined the Wilson Team as the Community Outreach Coordinator in May 2012. Kalvin works on many Wilson Team projects such as the You & Me Study, the PATH study, and DPP study. He also sits as representative for Region II’s US Department of Health and Human Services Sounding Board and is the Co-Chair for the AIDS Institute Statewide AIDS Services Delivery Consortium.
Matt graduated with a BA in Psychology from New York University. He is the current Lab Manager for Professor Niall Bolger & the Columbia University Couples Lab and will be acting as a liaison between our two research groups. He is interested in social perception, self-regulation, motivation, volition, feelings of self-efficacy, and the influence of social relations, particularly with regards to how these factors affect health-related behaviors.
Skye is a research assistant with the Promoting Action Towards Health (PATH) study. She is currently pursuing an MPH at Mailman School of Public Health in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences and MSSW at the Columbia University School of Social Work with a focus in advanced clinical practice in contemporary social issues. Skye came to Columbia University after working on neurocognitive HIV research projects at The Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. Skye’s interests include advocacy, and practice with individuals affected by substance use, HIV, and mass incarceration. She received a B.A. in psychology from Connecticut College.
Alexander Julian Martos is a DrPH student in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences. After completing his BA in public health policy at the University of California, Irvine, he worked as a health educator at high schools throughout Los Angeles with a primary focus on sexual health education. Alexander went to UCLA for his MPH, where he served as co-Chair for the student organization Queers for Public Health. He also created a sexual education curriculum for gay men as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow, interned with the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, and supported research on sexual orientation and gender policy through the Williams Institute in the UCLA School of Law. Alexander's research focuses on comprehensive sexual health needs and experiences of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. He looks forward to translating his research into practice through the development and evaluation of community-based interventions for this under-served population.
Melissa Boone is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Prevention Research Center and The Methodology Center at Pennsylvania State University. A native of Atlanta, GA, Melissa received her BA in psychology from Spelman College in 2008. Melissa joined the SPHERE lab in 2008 and received her PhD in Sociomedical Sciences and Social Psychology from Columbia in 2014, where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow from 2010-2013. Melissa’s substantive research interests are in the mechanisms underlying HIV health disparities for African Americans, sexual minorities, and low-income populations; she aims to use innovative research methods to uncover the social, cultural, and psychological factors related to substance use, sexual risk behavior, ART adherence, and other HIV-related health behaviors in these populations.
Dr. Cook is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan where she is affiliated with the Departments of Health Behavior Health Education in the school of Public Health and the Department of Psychology in the College of Literature Science & Arts. Taking a socio-ecological approach, Dr. Cook’s research focuses on understanding the role that social relationships play in promoting the health and care needs of disadvantaged youth transitioning to adulthood. Dr. Cook’s ongoing research project utilizes daily diaries to examine how emotional anxiety and avoidance within close relationships may effect the association between daily instances of stigma and discrimination and daily stress (i.e. self-report and physiological) among young Black men who have sex with men. She hopes to more broadly understand how disparities in health “get under the skin” among young Black men who have sex with men.
Assistant Professor, Collaborator
Dr. Valera is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences. Dr. Valera is trained in community social work, criminal justice, and HIV prevention, and contributes to many of SPHERE Lab’s projects as a qualitative researcher. She focuses on research related to social vulnerabilities, HIV, and cancer related health disparities among men who have sex with men and individuals involved in the criminal justice system.