Pandemics and Vulnerable Communities

Friday, November 13 | 1:00 pm to 2:20 pm


Event Description: This series features presentations and conversations that center the experiences of minoritized communities during the current crisis. Speakers will address the divergent effects of the pandemic across a range of genres and histories, thinking with and against longer histories of dispossession, inequality, and injustice.


Moderated by: Gilbert Gee, Professor of Community Health Sciences, UCLA Fielding Schools of Public Health

This event is sponsored by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, the UCLA Asian American Studies Department, the Carlos Bulosan Center for Filipinx Studies. With support from the UCLA Center for the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Speaker bios:
Don Operario is Professor of Public Health at Brown University, where he conducts community-engaged research addressing syndemics of HIV, mental health, and structural violence in vulnerable communities - both domestically and globally. He also co-directs the Philippines Health Initiative for Research, Service, and Training - a collaboration between Brown University and the University of the Philippines Manila. In the context of the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, his research has considered the impact of COVID-19 on communities affected by HIV as well as community and direct care service providers.

Ninez Ponce is Professor in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health's Department of Health Policy and Management, Director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and Principal Investigator of the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the largest state health survey in the nation, conducted in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Tagalog. For CHIS, she devised the rationale and implementation of Asian ethnic oversamples and the cultural and linguistic adaptation of the survey. Her research contributes to the elimination of racial/ethnic and social disparities in health and health care in three areas: multicultural survey research, social penalties in health and health access, and population-based health equity measurement. Ponce and a team of scholars from across the United States are working to address overlooked communities—focusing on Filipinos and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations, who fall out of reports about the long-standing systemic social and health inequities facing members of racial and ethnic minority groups. She was honored in 2019 by Asian Health Services, a nationally-accoladed community-health center as the "People's Researcher" for her work in estimating the health and economic impacts of the Public Charge rule, awarded the 2020 UCLA Don T. Nakanishi Award for Outstanding Engaged Scholarship for her career-long engagement with Asian and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community organizations, and received the 2020 inaugural Data Equity award by Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL), a vanguard community-based organization promoting social justice and a tobacco-free, healthy and active Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community. In 2019 she received the top prize in her field from Academy Health that recognized the impact of her work in Health Services Research.

RJ Taggueg is a graduate student in the Department of Sociology at UC Davis. He is currently serving as the Director of Research for the UC Davis Bulosan Center for Filipinx Studies, the first Center in the nation, based out of a major research university that specifically focuses on the Filipino/a/x Diaspora in the United States. He conducts community-engaged, mixed-methods research that focuses on the Filipinx-American experience through the Bulosan Center's Filipin[x]s Count! Survey of Health and Well-Being and Kwentuhan Series. RJ is also part of the first cohort of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Health Policy Research Scholars Program.

Gilbert C. Gee, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA. He received his bachelor degree in neuroscience from Oberlin College, his doctorate in Health Policy and Management from the Johns Hopkins University, and post-doctoral training in sociology from Indiana University. His research focuses on the social determinants of health inequities of racial, ethnic, and immigrant minority populations using a multi-level and life course perspective. A primary line of his research focuses on conceptualizing and measuring racial discrimination, and in understanding how discrimination may be related to illness. He has also published more broadly on the topics of stress, neighborhoods, immigration, environmental exposures, occupational health, and on Asian American populations. His research has been honored with a group Merit Award from the National Institutes of Health for the development of a multicultural measures of discrimination for health surveys. In addition, he received two Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards from the Environmental Protection Agency for development of the Stress-Exposure-Disease Framework. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Professor Gee has been speaking and writing about racism's role in public health emergencies, addressing bias against Asians and Asian-Americans as a reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak and how that ties into pseudoscience.