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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Arizona Professor Receives Award to Study Indigenous Health

Dr. Nicolette Teufel-Shone, professor of family and child health at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, has been awarded a Fulbright Canada – Norlien Foundation Distinguished Research Chair for 2015-2016.

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[Photo: Dr. Nicolette Teufel-Shone]

Dr. Teufel-Shone has worked with Native American communities in the Southwest for more than 25 years, building and promoting community capacity to address chronic disease prevention.

The Fulbright Canada program allows extraordinary American scholars and top-tier applied researchers to engage in a residential exchange experience and conduct collaborative research in Canada. The goal is to support research and build relationships that will directly impact health and wellness outcomes in Canada and beyond.

As a Fulbright Canada scholar, Dr. Teufel-Shone will conduct research with the University of Alberta and the Dene Community outside of Yellowknife located in the Northwest Territories. The research focus is on resilience and sustained health and well-being in toxic environments that impose stress on children and families.

“Adversity comes in many forms such as discrimination, poverty, poor educational systems and limited employment opportunities. Living in toxic environments can contribute to unhealthy adaptive strategies and self-medicating options such as alcohol, drugs, cutting and even suicide,” said Dr. Teufel-Shone.  “Unfortunately, these behaviors have become normalized in some indigenous communities. We need to learn from the youth who do not choose these options.”

“Resilient indigenous youth make good choices and stay focused on a positive path even in the face of adversity,” said Dr. Teufel-Shone.

The need to document community assets is an important part of her research. “Public health literature abounds with rates of risky behaviors and high risk environments and communities. But youth do succeed. Public health needs to document how youth stay healthy and use these strategies to guide public health intervention. The concept is positive deviance and is used often in guiding health promotion strategies in international settings,” said Dr. Teufel-Shone.