Ms. Ellen Lopez

(Health Fellows & Scholars)
Associate Professor, Dept. of Psychology; The Center for Alaska Native Health
Fairbanks, Alaska
United States

Focus Areas

Policy & Education
Social Justice
Accessibility / Disability Rights


Community Health Scholars Program Project: Dr. Ellen D.S. Lopez committed to work with two CBPR projects; Community Action Against Asthma (CAAA), and The Eastside Access Partnership. The focus of CAAA is to identify and reduce children's exposure to environmental asthma triggers in east and southwest communities in Detroit, Michigan. A two-year component of CAAA is a household intervention in which community outreach workers visited over 300 households multiple times to work with caregivers of a child with asthma in designing individualized action plans for reducing the child's exposure to indoor environmental asthma triggers, and to provide education, social support and materials (e.g., vacuums, cleaning supplies) to achieve their action plans. Ellen conducted in-depth, qualitative interviews with caregivers who participated in the project to provide them the opportunity to give their perspectives regarding CAAA's impact on their child and family as well as their insights as to how broader social, structural, and environmental issues affect their child's asthma and impact their ability to manage it. The primary aim of the Eastside Access Partnership (EAP) is to increase enrollment of uninsured children into state insurance programs by educating residents about available insurance options, and reducing barriers to seeking and receiving coverage. To achieve this aim, one approach EAP is using is the learning technology, Root Learning Maps®. Learning maps are visual murals that use metaphors (generated by community members) to capture the essence of the issues faced by residents seeking insurance. Ellen worked with community partners to evaluate how well the learning map and interactive questioning is able to engage parents in discussions about issues related to obtaining coverage for their children. Current Activities: Dr. Lopez recently took a new position at the University of Alaska after spending four years as a faculty member at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions. To increase community participation in cancer research she founded and facilitated the “Cancer Resource Connections”, a community-academic group. With support and in partnership with several community organizations, she was granted a UF&Shands Cancer Center Junior Investigator Award to develop a theoretical model of quality of life for long-term breast cancer survivors in rural areas. She also developed a partnership with the Center for Independent Living of North Central Florida focused on assessing and addressing cancer-related issues faced by individuals with disabilities. Within this partnership the group was awarded a Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Special Population Grant. The partnership was also awarded a 5-year grant from the CDC to orchestrate a community-based effort to disseminate the “Right to Know” breast cancer screening health communications campaign for women with physical disabilities throughout the state of Florida.