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Profile for Sarah Pember

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Sarah Pember

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Associate Professor
Public/Community Health Edu
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

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Sarah Pember Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Associate Professor

Public/Community Health Edu

Specialty area(s)

Qualitative Research in Health, Child and Adolescent Health, Eating Behavior, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Current courses at UWL

HED207: Youth Health Issues

HED210: Foundations of Health Education

HED345: Issues in Mental and Emotional Health

CHE360: Methods and Strategies for Health Education

CHE380: Assessment and Program Planning in Health Education

CHE450: Implementation, Administration, and Evaluation of Health Education Programs


PhD, Health Education & Promotion: The University of Alabama [2017]

MT, Elementary Education: The University of Virginia (Curry School of Education) [2007]

BA, English: The University of Virginia [2006]


Professional history

My career began as an elementary educator, teaching 5th and 1st grades as a general classroom teacher, and grades K-5 as an interventionist. I have also spent time working as private tutor, 'Foodie' in a high-end grocery store, teaching public cooking classes, writing a food-related blog, and developing a small, mail-order peanut butter company.

I believe careers are built from experiences (and reassure students that you don't have to have it all figured out right now....or ever): all of MY experiences have led me here.

Research and publishing

Selected publications:

  • Petit, M., Pember, S. (2022) A call for public health professionals: Addressing racism through an ecological framework. Health Promotion Practice.
  • Pember, S.E. (2019) A Reflection on Valuing Teacher Training and Pedagogy as Scholarship in Higher Education. Pedagogy in Health Promotion.
  • Pember, S.E., Usdan, S., Guyotte, K., Birch, D., Knowlden, A., Nickelson, J. (2019) “It’s (Just) Grad School”: Effects of Normative Influence on the Healthy Eating Behavior & Intentions of Graduate Students. The Health Educator.
  • Pember, S.E., Zhang, M., Baker, K., Bissell, K. (2018) An application of the Theory of Planned Behavior and Uses and Gratifications Theory to food-related photo-sharing on social media. Californian Journal of Health Promotion. 68 (1): 91-98.
  • Pember, S.E. (2018) The CDC Foundation’s Health and Well-Being for All Meeting-in-a-Box. Health Promotion Practice. 19(1):8-10. doi: 10.1177/1524839917732560
  • Hackman, C.L., Pember, S.E., Burton, W., Hutcheson, A., & Usdan, S. (2017)Slut-shaming and victim-blaming: a qualitative investigation of undergraduate students’ perceptions of sexual violence. Sex Education, 17:6, 697-711,DOI: 1080/14681811.2017.1362332
  • Pember, S.E. & Knowlden, A. (2017) Dietary Change Interventions for Undergraduate Nutrition Education: Review and Recommendations. American Journal of Health Education. 48(1):48-57.
  • Hackman, C.L & Pember, S.E. (2016) Qualitative investigation of health information seeking behavior utilizing social media in a college population. American Journal of Health Studies. 31(1):11-22.




Angela Geraci, Sarah Pember and Audrey Seitz, all Public Health & Community Health Education, presented "Auditing our Curriculum with a JEDI Lens: Faculty Perspectives & Student Insight" at 74th Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) Annual Conference on March 20 in St Louis, MO.

Submitted on: April 8


Kimberly Morris, Global Cultures & Languages; and Anders Cedergren and Sarah Pember, both Public Health and Community Health Education; presented "The Health Belief Model as a predictor of the likelihood of pandemic mitigation practices among college students" at American Public Health Association 2022 Annual Meeting & Expo: on Nov. 8 in Boston, MA. Background: The global COVID-19 pandemic changed the nature of the university experience, while deeply affecting students’ mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Perceptions of the severity of the pandemic and the disease itself , as well as students’ attitudes towards preventative actions to halt the spread of COVID-19, could be important indicators of how likely they are to contribute to overall mitigation of future infectious disease outbreaks. The purpose of this study was to use the Health Belief Model as a theoretical framework to predict the likelihood of students performing various mitigation strategies. Methods: An online survey was emailed to a random sample of students at a midsized midwestern university in the Spring of 2021. Data from the final sample (n=516) were analyzed using stepwise logistic regression, with perceptions of disease seriousness, susceptibility, perceived benefits, and perceived barriers of the mitigation strategy used as possible predictors in 3 separate analyses: likelihood of avoiding large gatherings on and off campus and getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Results: The new models were significant improvements over baselines models, with predictors accounting for 36.9% (vaccinate), 45.3% (avoiding large on-campus gatherings), and 61.9% (avoiding large off-campus gatherings) of variance. Students who reported that avoiding off-campus gatherings was easy were 24 times more likely to say that they would. For avoiding large on-campus gatherings, ease was associated with a 9.9 times greater chance of likelihood. Finally, seeing the vaccine as helpful in reducing the spread of COVID was associated with an 87 times greater likelihood of choosing to get vaccinated. Interestingly, while the HBM traditionally states that increasing an individual’s perception of their likelihood of contracting the disease will lead to increased likelihood of performing preventative action, this study suggests that students were more willing to participate in certain mitigation strategies if they perceived the issue to be of great concern to the population globally, regardless of its individual impact on them. Conclusions: Understanding students’ beliefs and likelihood of performing specific public health actions can help health professionals better promote mitigation strategies and increase participation among the young adult population. Based on findings from this study, possible next steps to investigate could include the connection between mitigation intent and actual mitigating behaviors, as well as applied experimental research to test the impact of messaging specifically around ease and helpfulness.

Submitted on: Nov. 11, 2022


Sierra Rooney, Art; Megan Litster, Biology; Katherine Lavelle, Communication Studies; Sarah Pember, Health Education & Health Promotion; and Jennifer Kosiak, Mathematics & Statistics; presented "Where Do We Go From Here?" at OPID Spring Conference on Teaching on Friday, April 16 online. Invited to be featured roundtable presentation.

Submitted on: April 16, 2021