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Jerel Ezell

Assistant Professor of Africana Studies


Jerel Ezell is a mixed-methods researcher and Fulbright Scholar focused on health disparities and social inequality in post-industrial communities, and serves as the Director of the Center for Cultural Humility and ReLateral Lab. His research and pedagogy attempts to take an earnest and nuanced view of the staggering constellation(s) of forces that come to influence and texture health and social outcomes, exploring the knotty tapestry of political, economic and cultural factors which contribute to inequities. Jerel's work investigates how impacts from steady patterns of deindustrialization have been felt especially hard in Black and lower-income populations, where community disinvestment, environmental degradation, crime, and diminished public health--acting as virtual "aftershocks"--has often followed the exit of prominent industries, particularly those in the automobile, steel production and agriculture sectors. 

Concentrating primarily on the Rust Belt and Bible Belt, his community-based research interrogates the various organizational, social and situational dynamics contributing to the dramatic, ongoing shift in our economic landscapes and labor markets and the resultant impacts on health and social equity and environmental sustainability in America.

Jerel's current research projects focus on macrosocial factors contributing to the Flint Water Crisis and patterns of opioid use in the industrial Midwest and the northeastern United States. As part of this scholarship, Jerel situates deindustrialization as a force presaging prominent American neo-liberal theory to identify and characterize the radical sociopolitical mutations leading to and following post-industrialism in the U.S.

Jerel earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology (PhD) from the University of Chicago, a Master’s of Public Health (MPH) from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s of Arts (BA) in anthropology from the University of Michigan.


  • Africana Studies and Research Center
  • American Studies Program
  • Sociology

Graduate Fields

  • Sociology


Fall 2021

Spring 2022


Ezell JM et al. The Blueprint of Disaster: COVID-19, The Flint Water Crisis, and Unequal Ecological Impacts. The Lancet Planetary Health. 2021 May.

Ezell JM et al. How Urban and Rural Built Environments Influence the Health Attitudes and Behaviors of  People Who Use Drugs Health & Place. 2021 May.

Ezell JM, Chase EC. A population-based assessment of physical symptoms and mental health outcomes among adults following the Flint Water Crisis. Journal of Urban Health. 2021 Mar.

Ezell JM, et al. Intersectional Trauma: COVID-19, the Psychosocial Contract, and America’s Racialized Public Health Lineage. Traumatology. 2021 Jan.

Ezell JM. Empathy plasticity: decolonizing and reorganizing online spaces to address racial equity. Ethnic and Racial Studies. 2021 Jan 5. 1-13.

Ezell JM, et al. Stigmatize the use, not the user? Attitudes on opioid use, drug injection, treatment, and overdose prevention in rural communities. Social Science & Medicine. 2020 Nov 113470.

Muncan B, Walters SM, Ezell JM, Ompad DC. “They look at us like junkies”: influences of drug use stigma on the healthcare engagement of people who inject drugs in New York City. Harm Reduction Journal. 2020 Dec;17(1):1-9.

Ezell JM. First, do no harm to self: Perspectives around trauma-informed practice and secondary traumatic stress among rural child protective services workers. Journal of Child Custody. 2019 Oct 2;16(4):387-407.

Ezell JM. Understanding the situational context for interpersonal violence: A review of individual- level attitudes, attributions, and triggers. Trauma, Violence, and Abuse. 2019 Aug 15:24-49.

Ezell JM, et al. Are skin color and body mass index associated with social network structure? Findings from a male sex market study. Ethnicity and Health. 2019 Mar 14:1-16.

Ezell JM, et al. The sexual and social networks of Black transgender individuals: Results from a representative sample. Transgender Health. 2018 Dec 18;3(1):201-9.

Ezell JM, et al. Implementing trauma-informed practice in juvenile justice systems: What can courts learn from child welfare interventions? Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma. 2018 Jul 28:1-13.

Ezell JM, et al. Measuring recurring stigma in the lives of individuals with mental illness. Community Mental Health Journal. 2017 Aug 17.

Ezell JM, et al. Association between one-hour oral glucose tolerance test values and delivery mode in non-diabetic, pregnant Black women. Journal of Pregnancy. 2015 May; (Vol 2015).

Ezell JM, et al. Contours of usual care: Meeting the medical needs of diverse persons with serious mental illness. Journal of Health Care For The Poor And Underserved. 2013 Nov;24(4):1552-73.

Ezell JM, Saltzgaber J, et al. Reconnecting with urban youth enrolled in a randomized controlled trial and overdue for a 12-month follow-up survey. Clinical Trials. 2013 Oct;10(5):775-82.

Cabassa LJ, Ezell JM, et al. Lifestyle interventions for adults with serious mental illness: A systematic literature review. Psychiatric Services. 2010 Aug;61(8):774-82.

Ezell JM. Environmental health capital: A paradigm for environmental injustice prevention and truth and reconciliation. Local Environment. 2021 Dec.

Ezell JM. “Trickle-Down” Racial Empathy in American Higher Education: Moving Beyond Performative Wokeness and Academic Panels to Spark Racial Equity. Journal of Education. 2021 Dec.

Ezell JM, et al. Approaches to Addressing Nonmedical Services and Care Coordination Needs for Older Adults. Research on Aging. 2021 Jul.