Sabrina Boyce, PhD, MPH
  • Discipline: Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health, Community Health Sciences
  • Research interests: I am interested in using rigorous and innovative epidemiological methods to answer community and practice-driven questions about how we can better prevent gender-based violence, improve reproductive health, and reduce gender inequity. These interests are also intertwined with preventing violence against communities with multiple marginalized identities who experience especially high risk of violence and poor reproductive health.
  • Hometown: Sacramento, California. I am a native Californian. While I lived in Central America and North Carolina for a few years each, I have spent a lot of my life in various parts of California.
  • Current City: I currently live in the Laurel District of Oakland with my husband, two little girls (2 and 4.5 years), and our dog.
  • Hobbies: Outside of my work and being a mom, I do musical theater at a small, local theater in Oakland. I recently played the role of Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton, one of my favorite shows. I am an amateur, but it is a lot of fun and a wonderful community. When I am off from work, I love to be outdoors hiking, biking, swimming, camping and/or backpacking with my family.

In July 2023, Berkeley Public Health welcomed new assistant professor of community health sciences Sabrina Boyce. Dr. Boyce received her PhD in Epidemiology from Berkeley Public Health in 2022, her MPH from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in Health Behavior Health Education (2010) and her BA in Human Biology with a minor in Spanish from Stanford University (2008). We asked her about her work and hopes for the semester.

Berkeley Public Health: Where did you live and work before joining the UC Berkeley School of Public Health?

Sabrina Boyce: Prior to joining the faculty at UC Berkeley, I had been working with UC San Diego’s Center on Gender Equity and Health, a research team that is focused on gender-based violence, girl child marriage, and reproductive health, among other topics focused on gender equity, both in the U.S. and internationally. I started with this team back in 2015 as a research program manager and most recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship under the mentorship of Dr. Jay Silverman. This research team contributed greatly to my training and experience as a researcher, and gave me many opportunities to learn just about every role on a research team.

What drew you to work and teach at UC Berkeley? Are there any researchers here who you really wanted to work with?

I was drawn to join the faculty at UC Berkeley because this is one of the most innovative, public universities in the country that has a tremendous history of fighting against societal inequity and improving communities. As a student at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, I saw first-hand BPH’s leadership on addressing racial inequity within the school and broader community and diving-in to develop innovative and useful strategies to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. I knew that I wanted to be faculty at a public university that shows this type of leadership over decades and a university that is so dedicated to serving communities across California.

I also saw firsthand how amazing the students at UC Berkeley are, both at Berkeley Public Health and across campus. I cannot wait to get to work with these students through my teaching and mentorship roles and continue my learning through all of the exciting ideas and experience they bring. Being a part of training the next generation of diverse, innovative leaders to help transform systems that perpetuate inequity is a huge reason why I want to work and teach here.

I very much look forward to forming many new collaborations at BPH. There are faculty, namely Dr. Anu Gomez in the School of Social Welfare, leading work around reproductive justice and agency who I would be very keen to work with. Also, I am interested in working with faculty who are conducting trials around youth, reproductive health, and IPV in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Dr. Sandra McCoy and researchers affiliated with the OASIS research group (with whom my previous work has intersected). I am also interested in learning from and working with the i4Y and Othering Institute around youth engagement and community-engaged research approaches. So many exciting opportunities here!

What are you currently working on?

My current work, most of which has grown out of wonderful, long-term partnerships with my colleagues at UCSD and the California Department of Public Health’s Injury and Violence Prevention Branch, is primarily focused in California on addressing social norms and community-level factors that contribute to gender-based violence.

In partnership with the California Department of Public Health’s Injury and Violence Prevention Branch, we are helping to shape and enact a state-wide research agenda on sexual violence prevention, including an evaluation of the 24 sexual violence prevention programs CDPH funds through their Rape Prevention and Education Program.

We have also just completed baseline data collection for a 22-site cluster-matched trial of a community-level, community-mobilization approach to sexual violence prevention called Close to Home, in partnership with 22 community-based organizations, CDPH, and Valor (California’s sexual violence coalition). This trial includes data from a social network sample of over 1,000 youth across California, a school-based survey called the California Healthy Kids Survey, and social media from these 22 communities.

Out of this trial, has grown another body of work around the unique experiences of sexual and dating violence among LGBTQ+ youth and prevention strategies specific to their needs using data from over 3,000 LGBTQ+ youth in California. We are working with a fabulous group of LGBTQ+ service providers and youth to guide and inform this work.

Lastly, I have a small community-based, mixed-method project on improving childcare systems and family supports in order to reduce maternal burn-out, especially during societal crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. I look forward to growing these projects at Berkeley Public Health and involving any students who may be interested.

What are your hopes going into the fall semester?

As a new faculty member, I am very much looking forward to getting to know and getting integrated into the Community Health Sciences community, as well as the broader Berkeley Public Health community. While familiar with the school from my years as a student, I still have much to learn and new collaborations to build and am excited to dive in! In particular, I am looking forward to connecting with students interested in violence prevention research and mentoring masters students in the MCAH program through their thesis projects. I also am hoping to get involved in the school’s Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Prevention Committee to help make Berkeley Public Health a safe environment for everyone.

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