Alexis A Merdjanoff

Alexis Merdjanoff
Alexis A Merdjanoff

Clinical Assistant Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Professional overview

Dr. Alexis Merdjanoff is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Social and Behavioral Sciences at New York University’s School of Global Public Health. She is a public health sociologist who explores how population health is affected by exposure to natural hazards, including hurricanes, floods, extreme heat and wildfires. Dr. Merdjanoff is particularly interested in how social inequalities shape the impact of hazards on health, recovery, and resilience for vulnerable populations. To do so, she collects and analyzes survey and interview data to form a holistic understanding of how individuals and communities are affected by these events. While disasters have traditionally been thought of as finite phenomena—with a majority of research focused on the immediate consequences—her research reveals how environmental stressors can lead to economic, emotional, and health burdens long after an event has passed. By focusing on the long-term effects of disasters, she has been able to determine why some survivors are able to recover quickly while others remain mired for months or years.

As Director of Research for the Population Impact, Recovery and Resilience (PiR2) research program, she is currently working on several studies, including the longitudinal Katrina@10 Program, the Sandy Child and Family Health (S-CAFH) Study, and SCALE-UP East Boston to answer questions related to improving the health and well-being of populations exposed to disasters and climate change. More recently, her work has explored the post-disaster resilience of older adults and how older adults can successfully age in high-risk coastal areas. Using in-depth interviews, she aims to identify the resources that older adults need to be resilient, including the social and physical infrastructures needed to successfully prepare for and recover from acute and chronic natural hazards. Her goal is to understand how older adults can successfully adapt to and prepare for coastal erosion, frequent flooding, heatwaves, and disasters.

Dr. Merdjanoff frequently engages in mixed-methods research, including semi-structured in-depth interviewing, focus groups, and survey analysis. Trained as a sociologist, she believes in a holistic approach to answering questions surrounding health, disaster exposure, and recovery.  Dr. Merdjanoff teaches several public health courses including, “Qualitative & Field Methods in Global Public Health,” and “Global Issues in Social & Behavioral Health.”


BS, Sociology (Magna Cum Laude), New York University, New York, NY
MA, Sociology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
PhD, Sociology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

Honors and awards

Innovator Program Fellow, National Center for Atmospheric Research (2019)
Butler-Williams Scholar, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health (2019)
Aging and Rural Health Research Award, American Public Health Association, Aging and Public Health Section (2017)
Best Dissertation in Mental Health, American Sociological Association, Sociology of Mental Health section (2016)
Anne Foner Dissertation Prize, Department of Sociology, Rutgers University (2016)
Matilda White Riley Published Article Award for Outstanding Journal Article, Department of Sociology, Rutgers University (2013)
Weather & Society Integrated Studies (WAS*IS) Fellow (2011)
Graduate School Special Study Award, Rutgers University (2011)

Areas of research and study

Aging and the Life Course
Disaster Impact and Recovery
Housing Stability
Mental Health
Mixed-Methods Research
Social Behaviors
Social Determinants of Health



Anticipated mental health consequences of COVID-19 in a nationally-representative sample: Context, coverage, and economic consequences

The Fight for Affordable Rental Housing in 1980s New York: A Tenants’ Association’s Anticonversion Stance

Identifying Barriers and Facilitators of Success for Female Radiology Researchers: An Analysis of In-Depth Interviews With Nationally Recognized Leaders of the Field

Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on rural America

Housing Transitions and Recovery of Older Adults following Hurricane Sandy

Support for vector control strategies in the United States during the Zika outbreak in 2016: The role of risk perception, knowledge, and confidence in government

How the US Population Engaged with and Prioritized Sources of Information about the Emerging Zika Virus in 2016

Risk salience of a novel virus: US population risk perception, knowledge, and receptivity to public health interventions regarding the Zika virus prior to local transmission

Disaster planning for vulnerable populations: Leveraging community human service organizations direct service delivery personnel

There's no place like home: Examining the emotional consequences of Hurricane Katrina on the displaced residents of New Orleans

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