Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention welcomes first cohort

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In an effort to expand the national pipeline for firearm injury prevention research, the University of Michigan has welcomed its inaugural cohort of six new faculty members to the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention to advance knowledge and identify solutions to the ongoing national epidemic.

Launched as a presidential initiative in 2019 and an institute in 2021, faculty within the institute are working together to address the root causes of, and potential solutions for, the most important issues surrounding firearm injury, which resulted in more than 45,000 deaths across the U.S. in 2020.

The institute is led by co-directors Patrick Carter and Marc Zimmerman, who have studied firearm violence for more than a decade and have authored nearly 400 scholarly publications on violence and firearm injury prevention.

The university committed $10 million over five years to support the institute, and part of that initial funding was allocated specifically to support recruiting new faculty working in firearm injury prevention research across multiple disciplines — from social sciences and the arts to engineering and public health.

The six new faculty members will join institute researchers who have collectively secured more federal funding to study firearm injury prevention than any other academic institution nationwide.

“There is so much more for us to learn when it comes to firearm injury prevention, and based on the growing number of injuries and deaths across this country, we have to act quickly to address this crisis,” said Carter, associate professor of emergency medicine in the Medical School, and associate professor of health behavior and health education in the School of Public Health.

“There is no singular program or idea that will effectively solve this problem — it will take a layered approach based on scientific evidence and capitalizing on our multidisciplinary strength across the university. Marc and I are excited to work alongside our six new colleagues so that together we can expand and strengthen this important field of research.”

The following faculty members were hired as part of a national search and will begin working at the institute this fall:

• April Zeoli, associate professor of health management policy, School of Public Health. Zeoli’s main fields of investigation are the prevention of firearm violence, intimate partner violence and homicide, through the use of policy and law. She is one of the nation’s leading experts on policy interventions to reduce firearm intimate partner violence. Prior to joining U-M, Zeoli was an associate professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University.

• Rebeccah Sokol, assistant professor of social work, School of Social Work. Sokol focuses her research on youth exposure to adversity, considering trauma and violence prevention at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Prior to joining U-M, Sokol was an assistant professor of social work at Wayne State University.

• Douglas Wiebe, professor of emergency medicine at the Medical School, professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health, and director of the U-M Injury Prevention Center. Wiebe’s research focuses on conducting studies of how places, policies and locations where people spend time have implications for firearm injury risks and health. Prior to joining U-M, Wiebe was the director of the Penn Injury Science Center and a professor of epidemiology at the Perelman School of Medicine, both at the University of Pennsylvania.

• Daniel Lee, research assistant professor at the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention. Lee’s research examines how structural racism contributes to racial health disparities, including disparities in youth firearm violence and injury. Prior to joining U-M, Lee was a research scientist at the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation.

• Hsing-Fang Hsieh, research assistant professor at the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention. Hsieh’s research focuses on applying resilience theory and multidomain analysis to understand disparities in firearm injury resulting from racism and violence exposure. Her research also seeks to identify behavioral, interpersonal and community factors that promote resilience among communities shouldering the unjust burden of violence and racism and therefore inform preventive efforts. Prior to joining the institute, Hsieh was an assistant research scientist in the School of Public Health’s Department of Health Behavior and Health Education.

• Michelle Degli Esposti, research assistant professor at the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention. Degli Esposti focuses her research on interpersonal violence and public health, and she uses advanced statistical methods and big data to generate translatable evidence for policy and practice. Prior to joining U-M, Degli Esposti was a postdoctoral research scholar in the Department of Social Policy and Intervention at the University of Oxford.

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