Professor Marizen Ramirez, School of Public Health (SPH) associate dean for research, was honored with two awards in 2021. One, a Community-Engaged Scholar Award, is from the University of Minnesota. The other is from the School of Public Health, which named Ramirez the Leon S. Robertson Professor in Injury Prevention. Both honors recognize Ramirez’s dedication to creating a safer world through research and community partnerships addressing childhood trauma prevention, disaster preparedness, and occupational injuries.
Among Ramirez’s community work is Link for Equity, a culturally responsive program of psychological first-aid designed for children affected by adverse child experiences. She partnered with school nurses to pilot the program in 2008 during disastrous flooding in Iowa. In 2019, Ramirez secured a National Institutes of Health award to implement the program to support Black, brown, and Indigenous children and address racism and violence in a number of schools in Minnesota. Last year, Link teams trained more than 500 staff to reach more than 200 at-risk students. Preliminary analyses show that the program is associated with reducing problem behaviors and stress among students, and racially biased attitudes among school staff. The program is growing into new communities and integrating visual and performing arts.
Ramirez also directs the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)-funded Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety (MCOHS) at SPH. She has expanded the mission of the center to include a focus on occupational health equity to serve workers stigmatized because of race/ethnicity, age, rurality, immigrant status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, and other characteristics.
“Marizen stands out among her peers at the University for how she listens to what communities identify as their problems and needs, and her dedicated work with them to discover solutions,” says SPH Dean John Finnegan. “At SPH, we are incredibly fortunate to have her shepherding our school’s research efforts and leading MCOHS and I am immensely pleased that we can recognize Marizen’s stellar scholarship and dedication to children with the Leon S. Robertson Professorship in Injury Prevention.”
As the associate dean for research, Ramirez is developing a strategic plan to celebrate the school’s research successes; support faculty, student, and staff research endeavors; and create opportunities for new collaborations among divisions. She teaches two courses — Injury Prevention in the Workplace, Community and Home; and Violence Prevention, and Control: Theory and Research Application — and is expanding her own research into youth firearm violence prevention.