Fellows Class of 2020
Leigh Ann Simmons, Ph.D., M.F.T.
University of California, Davis
Dr. Simmons is Chair and Professor in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of California, Davis, Director of the Health Equity Across the Lifespan (HEAL) Lab, and Co-Director of the UC Davis Perinatal Origins of Disparities (POD) Center. The overall aim of Dr. Simmons’ research, which has been funded by the NIH, the USDA, and the Veterans Health Administration, is to promote population health equity in the incidence and prevalence of common chronic diseases (e.g., obesity, depression, cardiometabolic disorders, cancer) with a specific focus on vulnerable groups (e.g., pregnant, rural, and minoritized populations). She has published extensively and presented nationally and internationally on three core areas of scholarship: (1) characterizing co-occurring chronic disease risk factors for populations that experience disparities; (2) understanding the impact of early life exposures (e.g., prenatal, family, and community environments) on later life chronic disease risk; and (3) developing and testing remote delivery models (e.g. text, mobile applications) of personalized behavioral change interventions to reduce chronic disease risk. Dr. Simmons earned a PhD in child and family development from the University of Georgia, a master's degree in couple and family therapy from MCP-Hahnemann University (now Drexel University), and a BA in literature/writing from the University of California at San Diego. Between 2005-2010 she served as a Health Disparities Scholar through the NIH Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Dr. Simmons has extensive policy experience, having served as a Congressional Fellow on the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee for the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA).