Meet our Newest Center Faculty Member, Dr. Chris Pfledderer!
Published: August 25, 2023
Chris Pfledderer, PhD, MPH
Born in an Indiana small town, Chris Pfledderer, PhD, graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s in biology education. He began his career as a science teacher, also coaching track & field and cross country. His interest in public health manifested largely during his time working with students, athletes, parents, and schools.
“In the classroom, I was able to connect with the students in a different way,” Dr. Pfledderer said. “And I think understanding how to set people up for success can go a long way in the public health sector.”
While teaching full time, Dr. Pfledderer pursued his master’s degree and served on the school district’s Wellness Committee. He then decided to attend The University of Utah for his PhD, specializing in school-based physical activity programs. His post-doctoral fellowship brought him to the University of South Carolina, where he focused more broadly on childhood obesity, meta-epidemiology, and translational science methodologies.
As a doctoral student, Dr. Pfledderer maintained connections with students and impacted broader public health issues through work based in the surrounding communities and schools. Now that he has moved to Texas, he looks forward to pursuing his research interests in rural health promotion.
“I really want to develop partnerships with rural school districts and the communities they serve, understand what public health needs exist, and work with members of those communities to alleviate those needs,” Dr. Pfledderer said.
Dr. Pfledderer feels lucky to work with students and the future public health workforce. He stated “faculty members get to interact with people on the cutting edge of public health who have the capacity to make extremely positive changes to the public health landscape.” For Dr. Pfledderer, working alongside students is a source of motivation and an opportunity to approach public health issues from a different perspective.
“I take inspiration from so many places,” Dr. Pfledderer expressed. He identifies growing up in a small town, his time as a teacher and coach, and the support of his wife and two children as important influences on his journey that have led him to The University of Texas Health Science Center. He looks forward to future opportunities and believes the work he’s most proud of is yet to come.
Dr. Pfledderer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health in Austin and a faculty member at the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living. His expertise relates to school-based physical activity promotion, optimization of childhood obesity-related interventions, and rural health promotion. Recently, his work has incorporated the complete 24-hour movement behavioral cycle and the barriers to and facilitators of meeting those guidelines. Learn more about his work.
Written by Emily Torres, MPH candidate and graduate research assistant at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health in Austin