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Research Laureate Award 2023

Robert J. McDermottRobert J. McDermott, PhD
Editor-in-Chief Health Behavior and Policy Review
Paris Scholar Publishing Ltd

2023 Research Laureate
Award Winner

Dr. Robert J. McDermott received his BS degree in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1975, subsequently earning MS (1977) and PhD (1981) degrees there, both in Health Education. In 1981 he joined the faculty of the Department of Health Education at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and was promoted to associate professor in 1985. He moved to the University of South Florida College of Public Health in 1986 where was promoted to full professor in 1992.

His collaborative work examining smokeless tobacco use by youth was cited in The Health Consequences of Using Smokeless Tobacco – A Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General, in 1986. As a result of these and others’ behavioral and biological findings, smokeless tobacco began being regulated, including package warning labels. His cigarette smoking research team’s study in Europe produced the first smoking ban at a German university and brought an invitation to assist Russian officials in 1996 for designing health behavior surveillance instruments in post-Soviet-era Moscow.

In 1998, he led an effort that resulted in being awarded one of 9 Prevention Research Centers funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For 14 years he co-directed that Center and co-led a team using formative and intervention research, as well as community-based participatory research, to create, implement, and evaluate the community-based prevention marketing (CBPM) model that blends social marketing strategies and community organization principles to inspire voluntary health behavior change. CBPM ultimately moved its focus from programming to policymaking to systems change – not only to facilitate more parsimonious use of research monies, but also to seek more upstream solutions to health behavior problems. One of its premiere programs, VERBTM Summer Scorecard, designed to promote physical activity and reduce overweight and obesity among “tweens,” was adopted in some 25 communities across 6 states. His extensive work with partners involving research and advocacy for social marketing in public health influenced 3 items being included in the Healthy People 2020 health communication and health information technology objectives.

He was a long-time leader in both the American Public Health Association and the American School Health Association. He is a founding member of the American Academy of Health Behavior and was its first elected President. Dr. McDermott was the founding editor of the Florida Public Health Review in 2003, was editor-in-chief of the Journal of School Health Education 2011-2021 and is the co-founder and current editor-in-chief of Health Behavior and Policy Review. In addition to 310 articles in scientific journals, he has co-authored 3 books and scores of book chapters.

Although retired from the University of South Florida in 2012, Dr. McDermott carried out teaching and research activities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Tampa, New Mexico State University, and the University of Maryland, before returning to Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2017 to oversee accreditation of the Master of Public Health program and serve as Department Chair, before retiring again in 2020. Today, he is an Honorary Fellow in the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and Professor Emeritus of Public Health at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

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