Andrew Lafrenz | University of Portland

Andrew Lafrenz

Associate Professor of Integrative Health and Wellness

Andrew LafrenzI am a behavioral epidemiologist. I basically study why people get diseases. I was always fascinated with the human body, including its ability to function in a healthy state. Conversely, I became more interested in disease states. That led to wanting to understand how behavior as well as socio-environmental factors increase the risk of diseases within a population.

Research ensures that I am at the leading edge of multiple fields of study, and I involve students in all the research studies I conduct. Last semester, as part of the Provost’s Initiative for Undergraduate Research, a student and I studied the effects of the pandemic on physical health and mental well-being in college students. I’m also working with UP students and leading a county-wide COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy study that has now become a large-scale vaccine promotion media campaign.

I have been at large and small institutions, but UP has the perfect blend of teaching, research, and service. I am fortunate that UP and the School of Nursing value faculty who not only teach and research but translate that research into practice by serving in community leadership roles. I serve as epidemiologist for the Columbia County Public Health Department, and although it’s mentally and physically draining, joining the effort to help Oregon get through this pandemic is extremely rewarding. The work I do on weekends and nights brings a unique level of expertise back to the University classroom. Research that translates into practice and impacts lives is the most rewarding aspect of what I do.

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