Erin Bell Named Interim Dean of the School of Public Health
By Erin Frick
Bell, a professor in the departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Environmental Health Sciences, has been with UAlbany since the fall of 2002, teaching undergraduate and graduate level methods courses in epidemiology, reproductive epidemiology, global environmental health and reproductive and environmental health.
Outside of teaching, Bell has undertaken multiple leadership roles on campus, currently serving as University’s assistant vice president for research and on the executive committee of UAlbany’s Center for Social and Demographic Analysis.
Previously, Bell held the positions of faculty director for the Undergraduate Public Health program, associate chair of Environmental Health Sciences and associate dean for research at the School of Public Health. She also served as a faculty facilitator for the “Dialogues in Action” discussion series sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which brought together UAlbany faculty and staff for facilitated conversations about ways to promote inclusivity in all aspect of their work, both in the classroom and beyond.
“For the past 20 years, I have had the great pleasure of working with a fantastic team of faculty, students and staff at the School of Public Health,” said Bell. “Our unique partnership with the New York State Department of Health provides a strong foundation for teaching and conducting interdisciplinary research to identify risk factors of disease and better understand how best to improve health and wellness in communities. This is an important and critical time for public health, and I am looking forward to working with our faculty and staff as we continue to enhance and grow our teaching and research programs at the SPH.”
Bell’s research investigates the ways that environmental exposures and social factors affect human health, with a particular focus on birth and child health outcomes, including neurodevelopment. She also is deeply engaged in research and service initiatives that examine and address health disparities arising from exposures to environmental toxins that disproportionately fall along socioeconomic and racial lines.
Currently, Bell is co-leading The Multi-site PFAS Health Study — a cohort study of adults and children that began in 2020 and is examining long-term health effects associated with consuming drinking water contaminated with per and poly alkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals.” Longstanding work in this area led to her current appointment as a member of the National Academy of Medicine's Committee on Guidance on PFAS Testing and Health Outcomes.
From 2007-2019, Bell served as co-principal investigator of the Upstate KIDS study, a cohort study of over 6,000 infants designed to examine risk factors associated with developmental differences, autism and other growth and developmental outcomes. The team continues to publish papers about the findings of this project. Bell has also led investigations of adverse reproductive outcomes due to air pollution and served as a co-PI of the New York Center for the National Birth Defects Prevention Study from 2008-2013.
“I am so pleased that Erin Bell has been appointed to this role,” said Mary Gallant, current interim dean of the School of Public Health, who is leaving her 27-year career at UAlbany to become dean of the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences at UMass Lowell. “Erin’s deep experience with UAlbany, her research collaborations with NYSDOH, her commitment to community-based work, and her collaborative and collegial style make her well-suited to this role, and the school will be in good hands.”
Outside of UAlbany, Bell is engaged in local environmental justice efforts, including serving as a member of the Community Advisory Board for Albany’s Ezra Prentice neighborhood. She previously served as a member on three Institute of Medicine committees tasked with reviewing health effects of herbicide exposure in Vietnam veterans.
Bell received her PhD in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds an MS in epidemiology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Before joining UAlbany, Bell completed her postdoctoral research at the National Cancer Institute’s Bureau of Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology.