Robert WS Coulter

  • Assistant Professor
  • Faculty in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences and Pediatrics, and Clinical & Translational Science

My mission is to eliminate substance use and violence inequities for LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) youth and young adults. To accomplish this mission, my research focuses on: (1) examining the complex social mechanisms producing SGMY health inequities; and (2) designing, implementing, and evaluating interventions aimed at reducing violence and substance use inequities for SGMY. My studies use multiple methodologies, including quantitative, qualitative, human-centered design, systems science, and community-partnered research. My research has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including Addiction, American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Adolescent Health, and Prevention Science, and these results were subsequently highlighted in various media outlets, including Huffington Post, NPR, and Reuters.

Contributions to Public Health

  • Integrating Human-Centered Design (HCD) into Public Health Education, Research, and Practice: HCD is a creative approach to having people generate innovative solutions. Its methods include structured, time-limited, engaging activities accessible to laypersons. I imbue HCD into my teaching for designing new courses and acquiring/analyzing student feedback; in my research by co-designing interventions with communities and executing studies with teams; and in my practice by designing community-based strategic plans. This work showed how HCD is a feasible, desirable approach for collaborating with communities to advance public health.
  • Estimating Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Inequities in Substance Use and Violence during Adolescence and Young Adulthood: As I acquired doctoral training in observational epidemiologic methods, LGBTQ+ health research, and adolescent development, I analyzed large cross-sectional and longitudinal datasets to replicate and extend research on health inequities by gender and sexual orientation. This body of work has contributed to scientific knowledge concerning LGBTQ+ inequities in substance use and violence exposures, including on intersectional inequities by race/ethnicity and age, and underscored the need for discovering public health interventions that help foster LGBTQ+ health equity.
  • Elucidating Modifiable Determinants of LGBTQ+ Youth and Young Adult Inequities in Substance Use: Rooted in Minority Stress Theory and Stigma as a Fundamental Cause of Health, my epidemiologic work on LGBTQ+ health inequities has investigated multilevel determinants, including bullying, harassment, adult support, and LGBTQ-affirmative contexts/environments. I continue to expand on this work by using systems science methods to understand the complex structural and social mechanisms of these inequities. By illuminating determinants of LGBTQ+ health inequities, my work informs future translational research, tailored interventions, and public health practice.
  • Designing And Testing Interventions For Reducing Substance Use And Violence, Particularly For LGBTQ+ Youth And Young Adults: I am dedicated to developing and testing interventions for reducing population-level LGBTQ+ inequities in violence and substance use by targeting determinants at multiple socioecological levels. This includes training high school staff to support, affirm, and protect LGBTQ+ youth; delivering educational game-based interventions directly to LGBTQ+ youth; and developing and testing interventions for reducing LGBTQ+ violence exposure, including adolescent relationship abuse. My intervention research aims to advance programs and policies for fostering LGBTQ+ health equity.
Syracuse University BS 05/2008 Mathematics
Boston University MPH 05/2012 Community Health Sciences
University of Pittsburgh PhD 04/2017 Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
University of Pittsburgh Postdoctoral training 03/2019 Clinical & Translational Science



BCHS 2991 Multilevel Analysis in Public Health

BCHS 2992 Systems Theories and Approaches

BCHS 3707 Applied Multiple Regression Analysis and Causal Modeling for Behavioral and Community Health Sciences