Get to Know New Michael & Susan Dell Post-Doctoral Fellow: Dr. Hunt

Published: February 2, 2022

Interviewing Center members can be a great way to get to know more about them! Learning more about their research and interests can be helpful to students forming their own interests and career goals.

Current Michael & Susan Dell Post-Doctoral Fellow Dr. Hunt completed his PhD in exercise science at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health in summer 2021. Ethan’s research interests include childhood obesity prevention, health disparities, and obesogenic behaviors.

1. How did your interest in public health begin?

a. I was always interested in sports and physical activity. As an undergraduate at Slippery Rock University, I was taking an introduction to public health course. The instructor showed the classic “upstream determinants of health” figure where people fall and float down a river and others attempt to pull them out. I remember the instructor stating that “public health included trying to understand why folks are falling in the river in the first place, and that understanding what is occurring upstream is vital in public health research.” I thought that was so interesting and was hooked!

2. What path has your research taken?

a. It has always been pediatric or youth-based. I have also always been interested in community approaches to public health research. I enjoy engaging schools and other stakeholders and working with them to improve health outcomes.

3. In your opinion, what are the biggest public health problems in your field of research?

a. I believe that disease's upstream or distal risk factors are the largest public health problems we face. If we fail to impact socioeconomic barriers (i.e., income, access to care, access to healthy foods, systematically oppressive policies, etc.), I don’t think we can ever really “move the dial” on most health outcomes.

4. With regards to public health, what do you want to see being done now?

a. I would love to see large studies that transform communities being conducted. I think studies that improve the home, school, and built-environment on both macro and micro scales and how they impact the health of individuals and communities.

5. Do you have a favorite research project that you’ve worked on, or one that stands out to you?

a. During my PhD, I was involved in several projects that provided access to summer programs for children. Regardless of what the studies found, I enjoyed working on those projects, because we provided safe environments for children to attend during the summer. These programs are never cheap, and it was nice to give opportunities to children and families who may not have had the opportunity.

6. What are you working on now that is exciting?

a. I am very excited about exploring geographic determinants of health outcomes. I am exploring how simply where individuals live may be impacting their health.

7. What is unique about your research in the city of Austin?

a. Austin is a historically segregated and more than ever gentrified city. I think these issues can lead to or impact health outcomes. I hope to explore the history of segregation and gentrification in the city effect the health and wellness of the community.

8. Is there anything else you would like to add?

a. Nope!