Deborah Polk

Assistant Professor of Dental Public Health

Behavioral and Community Health Sciences

Phone: 412-648-8656


To a large extent, behavior at the individual level is determined by broader social factors. I study the relationship between these broader social factors and both health behaviors and indicators of health, including disparities in health. Examples of social determinants I am interested in include socioeconomic status, social norms, and public policies. Examples of health behaviors include smoking and oral hygiene behaviors. And the health outcomes I study include dental caries and periodontal disease. In addition, I identify social and behavioral contexts in which genetic variants increase the probability of disease. I obtained my PhD in Clinical Psychology with a minor in Community Psychology at Indiana University, where I studied under Ken Heller. I obtained postdoctoral training in Health Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, where I trained with Tom Kamarck, and Carnegie Mellon University, where I trained with Sheldon Cohen.


  • PhD