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Dr. Ruby Mendenhall

Updated: Jul 13, 2021

Ruby Mendenhall is an Associate Professor of Sociology, African American Studies, Urban and Regional Planning, Gender and Women’s Studies and Social Work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is an affiliate of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology; Women and Gender in Global Perspectives; the Cline Center for Advance Social Research; Epstein Health Law and Policy Program; Family Law and Policy Program and the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. Mendenhall is the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Democratization of Health Innovation at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. Mendenhall’s research examines how living in racially segregated neighborhoods with high levels of violence affects Black mothers’ mental and physical health using surveys, interviews, crime statistics, police records, data from 911 calls, art, wearable sensors and genomic analysis. She examines the role of the Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) in social mobility and health outcomes and the medicalization of poverty. She is interested in how families use their EITC to secure affordable and safe housing. She studies the effects of racial microaggressions on students of color health and sense of belonging on predominantly white campuses. She also employs big data to recover Black women’s lost history using topic modeling and data visualization to examine over 800,000 documents from 1740 to 2014. She is currently directing the STEM Illinois Nobel Project, funded by NSF, provides unprecedented access to computer science and other STEM fields. The Nobel project is also a pathway program to medicine and will certify high school youth as community health workers.


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