Testa Health Criminology Lab

Criminologist Studying the Health Consequences of Incarceration and Firearm Violence

Management, Policy and Community Health



My research focuses on the intersection of criminal justice, violence, and public health. I am focused on researching two main areas. First, I research the health consequences of incarceration. This work entails understanding how incarceration serves as a driver of health disparities for individuals, families, and communities. Second, I research the causes and consequences of violence, focusing on firearm violence. My goal is for this research to help create programs and policies that contribute to a more just criminal-legal system and safer communities for individuals to live, learn, work, and play.


Establishing the Houston Hospital Based Violence Intervention Program

Establishing the Houston Hospital Based Violence Intervention Program

One of the most significant risk factors for violent injury is having a previous violent injury; thus, it is imperative to develop mechanisms to intervene with patients in the hospital setting to reduce the risk of reinjury through violence intervention programs. This study develops and implements the Houston Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program in the Texas Medical Center. We will evaluate the impact of the violence intervention program on violent reinjury and determine the effect of the program on social determinants of health and reducing racial inequality in firearm violence, thus ultimately improving community safety and promoting more significant community-health equity.

Oral Health and Dental Care Utilization Among Formerly Incarcerated Older Adults

Oral Health and Dental Care Utilization Among Formerly Incarcerated Older Adults

Approximately 1-in-15 community-dwelling adults over 50 years old are formerly incarcerated, and incarceration history places this population at increased risk for chronic and geriatric disease. We will leverage data from the Health and Retirement Study to conduct the first comprehensive study of the impact of incarceration on oral health and dental care among older adults.

Historical Redlining and Violence in the United States

Historical Redlining and Violence in the United States

Redlining is one of the most pervasive consequential examples of structural racism in modern US history, with enduring implications for health disparities. The proposed study breaks new ground in the study of how multiple contexts jointly shape life-course outcomes by investigating the relationship between historical redlining and violent victimization from adolescence through adulthood using nationally representative longitudinal data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health).

Reducing Firearm Theft from Automobiles in San Antonio, Texas

Reducing Firearm Theft from Automobiles in San Antonio, Texas

Using researcher-practitioner partnerships is a well-documented model to formulate and implement strategic violent crime reduction strategies and has been a cornerstone of the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program for decades, this project brings together researchers from the UTHealth School of Public Health, the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas, and San Antonio Police Department to develop a strategic violent crime reduction strategy in San Antonio, Texas focused on reducing illegal firearm theft—a primary way firearms become used in violent crime.

Evaluating the Justice Intake & Assessment Annex

Evaluating the Justice Intake & Assessment Annex

Nearly everyone arrested by a local law enforcement in Bexar County, Texas is ultimately taken to the to the Justice Intake & Assessment Annex, which opened in 2018 and hasn’t been assessed for efficiency or best practices since. Dr. Testa and researchers from UTHealth will evaluate how arrested people flow through the JIAA, including procedures to determine the need for mental health and substance abuse services as well as bond processes and other pre-trial programs.


Alexander Testa

Alexander Testa, PhD

Assistant Professor
San Antonio

Alexander Testa, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Management, Policy, and Community Health. His research specializes in two primary areas: first, examining the impact of criminal justice system involvement, including arrest, conviction, and incarceration, on the health of individuals, families, and communities; second, understanding the effects of both direct and indirect exposure to crime and violence on health.

Publication List

Sharon Munroe

Sharon Munroe, DrPH (c), MBA, MPH, CHWI

Graduate Research Assistant

View bio

Passionate public health advocate pursuing a doctorate at UTHealth School of Public Health. Proven experience in research, program evaluation, and communication strategies for maternal & child health initiatives.

Alumni Coming soon

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Email [email protected]

About School of Public Health

UTHealth Houston is internationally recognized as one of the world's great research universities. The School of Public Health connects research, education, patient care, and community outreach in bold, innovative ways. Basic scientists and clinical researchers from all disciplines work together to deliver innovative solutions that create the best hope for a healthier future. Our faculty are pioneering radical solutions for imminent public health problems and provide the tools and resources that will push our students to think critically and creatively both in and out of the classroom. This is where academic rigor meets real-world application.

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