Meet the MPH Online Faculty

Meet the MPH Online Program Director

Dr. Mellissa Withers, PhD, MHS

Director, Master of Public Health Online
Associate Clinical Professor of Preventive Medicine

Dr. Withers is an experienced health researcher who has worked on four continents. She spent 15 months conducting fieldwork in a rural village in Indonesia for her dissertation and has also worked in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Her primary research interests are in community-based participatory research, gender-based violence, mental health, and global sexual and reproductive health, including family planning and HIV prevention.

A welcome message from Dr. Withers:

“Congratulations on your decision to pursue a graduate education. The field of public health offers an opportunity to address public health challenges facing our local, national and global communities. The focus on prevention of negative health outcomes and the promotion of health and well-being is why I chose a career in public health.

The mission of the Master of Public Health Online Program at the University of Southern California is to prepare the next generation of dedicated public health professionals who will assist in creating health communities around the world. It is our goal to provide you with one of the finest public health experiences available. Through rigorously designed classes, strong student support, and experiential learning opportunities, we will prepare you to leave USC with the required competencies of public health professionals, ensuring that you have competitive and relevant skills for your careers.

At the heart of the MPH Online program is a highly qualified, multidisciplinary faculty with a strong commitment to applied, community-based health promotion across a variety of settings. As a student, you can expect to learn from and be mentored by these impressive leaders in the field. I encourage you to learn more about our faculty and courses now.”

Meet the MPH Online Program Faculty

Spotlight Faculty

Sophia Gruskin, JD, MIA

Director, USC Institute for Global Health and Program on Global Health & Human Rights
Professor of Preventive Medicine and Professor of Law

Sofia Gruskin is a pioneer in global health and human rights. Her work, which ranges from global policy to the grassroots level, has been instrumental in developing the conceptual, methodological and empirical links between health and human rights, with a focus on non-communicable disease, child and adolescent health, HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence and health systems. Her notable partners include the World Health Organization and the United Nations Development Programme.

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Ricky Bluthenthal, PhD

Professor of Preventive Medicine

Ricky Bluthenthal has written more than 95 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals such as the American Journal of Public Health and Social Science & Medicine. His current studies include: an exploratory, mixed-method study on people who initiated drug injection in their 30s; an evaluation of substance abuse prevention interventions in Los Angeles County; and a community-based participatory research project to reduce multiple health risk among middle-school aged Latinos and their parents.

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Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, PhD

Professor of Preventive Medicine

Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati holds five academic degrees and speaks multiple languages. Her work focuses on community-based research and public health initiatives that explore the role of culture in health behaviors, with an emphasis on the elimination of health disparities, particularly among Latinos in the Americas. Her global research interests have allowed her to take as many as 19 students abroad every summer, for the past five years, to conduct independent research or their practicum in public health.

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Our faculty do more than work in public health.
They lead it.

The faculty who lead our online MPH program are among the most highly regarded educators and public health professionals in the world. Not only are they vocal participants in the dialogue regarding disease control, they are also committed to modernizing preventive care measures and invested in implementing health care practices and promoting health care education that creates healthier communities. Researchers in the Department of Preventive Medicine have been recognized worldwide for their studies in biostatistics, bioinformatics, epidemiology, environmental health, health behavior and prevention, detection and treatment methods.

They are widely sought for peer review and advisory activities and participate in diverse committees of:

The National Institutes of Health

The Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council

The World Health Organization

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration

In addition to the groundbreaking research within each division, many faculty members are affiliated with the USC Institute for Global Health and the Institute for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention.