Dr. Alvin Tran not only believes in collective action to enact positive change, he also knows that, “Our concerns and lived experiences matter and should be heard. …As a community, not only can we overcome adversity, but we can also use our collective minds to propose, inform, and enact changes to promote public health in our state.”
Tran received his MPH in 2012 from the Rollins School of Public Health in Behavioral Sciences and Health Education. In 2018 he earned his ScD in Public Health Nutrition, Social and Behavioral Sciences from Harvard University, followed by a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Yale University. In 2019 Tran was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health and Leadership at the University of New Haven, where his research focuses on the intersection of body image, disordered eating behaviors, health policy, and racial and sexual minority health.
The first in his family to attend college, and one of the few first-generation college graduates at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Dr. Tran is deeply committed to his students' success. He serves as a mentor both professionally and personally, and generously provides the guidance that, he says, was instrumental to his own success.
At the University of New Haven, Dr. Tran also leads the WeEmbody (or WE) Lab, a research working group of public health professionals and students which he launched in Fall 2019 to train the next generation of leaders dedicated to promoting public health equity and addressing appearance-based discrimination and stigma surrounding people’s race, gender, sexual orientation, body shape and size, and other characteristics that define who they are.
As the first faculty member at the University of New Haven to receive a President’s Discretionary Grant from the Connecticut Health Foundation, an independent and private foundation dedicated to improving health equity in the state, Tran is using the funding to launch a new student-centered fellowship training program to empower and inspire his students to become change agents, successfully teaching them to take the skills they’ve learned and apply them in real world settings.
Likewise, Dr. Tran was selected by the University to serve as the Assistant Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion based on his leadership, subject matter expertise, and commitment to serving others. In addition, he directs the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Student Ambassadors program, where his ongoing advocacy for health equity, passion towards public service, and unique ability to unite a wide variety of people together for a common cause enable him to foster a community of inclusiveness and student engagement.
“I learned about the power of health advocacy as a [Rollins] graduate student, and I have continued advocating for public health legislation – especially health equity – ever since,” remarked Tran. “Our lawmakers are often bombarded with powerful lobbying groups whose interests are not always focused on the greater good of our society. That's why it's important for me to educate and empower others, including my students, to advocate for issues they care about. Their voices matter. Their votes matter.”
Dr. Alvin Tran’s actions and voice also matter, as do his early career accomplishments which are positively impacting the lives of others and exemplifying the spirit of the Matthew Lee Girvin Award and Girvin’s selfless dedication to the field of public health. We are pleased to name him as our 2021-2022 Matthew Lee Girvin Award recipient.