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Ryan Petteway¹

Photo of Ryan Petteway¹
Associate Professor Community Health & Health Promotion


“f**k livin’ basic, I’m takin’ risks / f**k what they sayin’, I’m sayin’ this” – Nipsey Hussle

Dr. Ryan J. Petteway, DrPH, MPH is a public health scholar, educator, and poet who integrates social epidemiology, participatory research, and creative arts to advance health equity. He engages critical, Black feminist, and decolonial theory and methods to pursue procedural and epistemic justice and advance antiracist praxis within public health research/practice, including via satire/humor, music, and poetry. His applied research integrates social epidemiology and CBPR/YPAR to improve empirical and conceptual understanding of place and health, making use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to democratize/enhance research and public health practice processes. This work has included the development of a STEAM-based high school curriculum/training program focused on social determinants of health (SDH), health equity, and participatory research—yHEART PDX, the youth Health Equity and Action Research Training program. Broadly, his current research and scholarship engages two general areas: 1) notions of “place”, embodiment, and “placemaking” in community health, and the social, economic, and political processes that govern the spatial distribution of health opportunities, and 2) epistemic, procedural, and distributive justice within public health knowledge production processes, e.g. considerations of power and epistemic violence/oppression.

Dr. Petteway’s scholarship and creative works have been honored with multiple Society for Public Health Education paper of the year awards (2021, 2022), a health data visualization prize from the American Association of Geographers (2019), a national poetry month prize (2020), a Pushcart Prize nomination (2020), and selections as finalist or short/long list for various other prizes. He was also honored with the 2023 Portland State University Researcher of the Year Award for the school of public health. Dr. Petteway’s research/scholarship has appeared in a range of top-tier public health journals, including Social Science & Medicine, Journal of Urban Health, American Journal of Public Health, Health Affairs, and Health Education & Behavior. His poetry—much of which explicitly names and centers antiracist and decolonizing praxis as integral to health equity research, discourse, and action—has appeared in both peer-reviewed public health and traditional poetry journals, including Health Affairs, Health Equity, Health Promotion Practice, International Journal of Epidemiology, Critical Public Health, Kithe Journal, and Bellevue Literary Review. He founded and serves as an associate editor for the first-ever standing poetry department in a peer-reviewed public health journal, and his reputation as a dynamic, critical and creative scholar has led to a range of invited keynote and advisory engagements with prominent organizations like the American Medical Association, National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Prior to his doctoral training, Dr. Petteway served as social epidemiologist and chief epidemiologist for the Baltimore City Health Department. Before that, he sat on bench-backs and sipped “orange drink”, listening to Mobb Deep while conducting observational studies of project life. He’s an alum of the University of Virginia, University of Michigan, and UC Berkeley. #FirstGen. He still reps The Ville. See:

Education, Degrees

B.A., University of Virginia, 2006
M.P.H., University of Michigan, 2008
Dr.P.H., University of Caliornia, Berkeley, 2015

Awards and Honors
  • 2023 Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science (IAPHS) Poster Prize (with epi PhD student Sarah-Truclinh Tran)
  • 2023 PSU Researcher of the Year Award, Winner, OHSU-PSU School of Public Health
  • 2022 New Voices Poetry Contest, Longlist, Frontier Poetry, 2022
  • 2022 PSU Researcher of the Year Award, Nominee, School of Public Health
  • 2022 OHSU FLAME Award, Faculty Award Nominee
  • 2022 John & Eileen Allman Prize for Poetry, Finalist, Bellevue Literary Review, 2022
  • 2021 Sarah Mazelis Paper of the Year Award, Winner, Health Promotion Practice, SOPHE 2022
  • 2020 Lawrence W. Green Paper of the Year Award, Winner, Health Edu. & Behavior, SOPHE 2021
  • 2020 Best of HE&B Article Collection paper, Health Education & Behavior 2020
  • 2020 Pushcart Prize, Nominee, Brain Mill Press, 2020
  • 2020 National Poetry Month Award, Grand Prize Winner, Brain Mill Press
  • 2019 Health & Medical Geography Data Visualization Award, American Association of Geographers
  • 2017 OHSU Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Champion Award, Finalist


  • Multnomah County Health Department, Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH), 2023-2024 (PI): The Public Health and Civic Literacy Academy***
  • Imagine Black, 2021-2024, (Co-PI): Reimagining public safety through Participatory Action Research: Understanding multi-systems impacts of Police, Policing, and Prison and Envisioning ways to transform harm***
  • OHSU-PSU SPH Antiracism Faculty Fellowship, 2021-2024 (PI): The People’s Social Epi Project: PSEPPDX ***
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Health and Climate Solutions, 2019-2022 (PI): Trees, Health, and Climate Change in Underserved Communities ***
  • PSU Faculty Development Program, 2018-2021 (PI): Spatializing Intergenerational Experiences of Racial Exclusion/Inclusion + Health***
  • OHSU-PSU School of Public Health: SPH Catalyst Grant, 2018-2020 (PI)L Youth Health Equity + Action Research Training—yHEARTPDX This is Public Health: Youth Participatory Research on Local Social Determinants***

***indicates community-based participatory research collaboration and/or community-based partner
For more information on my research and other work, please visit my personal website.

¹ CEPH Primary Instructional Faculty
² CEPH Non-Primary Instructional Faculty

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