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Nina Yamanis Associate Professor and Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs Environment, Development & Health

Nina Yamanis
(202) 885-6562 (Office)
SIS | Environment, Development & Health
School of International Service 227
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PhD & MPH, Health Behavior, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health;
BA with Highest Honors, Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Languages Spoken
Kiswahili, Spanish, Greek, and a bit of French
Favorite Spot on Campus
SIS Building
Dr. Nina Yamanis studies how social and structural determinants are linked to health disparities globally and locally, and designs community-based interventions to reduce these disparities. She has worked on research in Tanzania since 2006; her studies in Tanzania focus on how social networks influence the HIV risk and protective behaviors of young people and on Tanzania's national COVID-19 response and vaccine rollout. She also researches HIV in the District of Columbia, focusing specifically on HIV prevention for Latina/o/x immigrants, and is Associate Director of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Core of the District of Columbia’s Center for AIDS Research. Her work has appeared in prestigious journals, including Annual Review of Public Health, Social Science and Medicine, AIDS and Behavior, Global Public Health, Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, and PLOS NTDs. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She teaches courses on global health, pandemics, applied research, program planning, and development.
For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.


Fall 2024

  • SISU-250 Env Sustainblty/Global Health

  • SISU-250 Env Sustainblty/Global Health

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Research Interests

Dr. Yamanis’ research focuses on improving the health of underserved populations.  Her interests are in: 1) understanding the social and structural determinants of HIV risk among youth and immigrants; 2) developing and evaluating interventions to improve health among these vulnerable groups.  Her current projects focus on the influence of social networks to promote adolescent girls' health in sub-Saharan Africa, and the influence of community action and the local policy context on Latino immigrants' health in the Washington, DC area.

Selected Publications

  • Yamanis T, Carlitz R, Gonyea O, Skaff S, Kisanga N, and Mollel H.  (2023). Confronting “chaos”: A qualitative study assessing Tanzanian public health officials' perceptions of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. BMJ Open; 13:e065081. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-065081
  • Carlitz R, Yamanis T, Mollel A. Coping with denialism: how street-level bureaucrats adapted and responded to COVID-19 in Tanzania. J Health Polit Policy Law 2021; 9349128. doi:
  • Yamanis T, del Río-González AM, Rapaport L, Norton C, Little C, Barker S and Ornelas I (2021). Understanding fear of deportation and its impact on healthcare access among immigrant Latinx men who have sex with men, LeBlanc, AJ and Perry, BL (Ed.) Sexual and Gender Minority Health (Advances in Medical Sociology, Vol. 21), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 103-131.
  • Yamanis T, Morrissey T, Bochey L*, Cañas N*, Sol C.  “Hay que seguir en la lucha” (“You have to continue in the fight”): An FQHC’s community health action approach to promoting Latinx immigrants’ individual and community resilience.  Behavioral Medicine, 46:3-4, 303-316, DOI: 10.1080/08964289.2020.1738320

  • Maman S, Mulawa M, Balvanz P, McNaughton Reyes L, Kilonzo M, Yamanis T, Singh B, and Kajula L (2020). Results from a cluster-randomized trial to evaluate a microfinance and peer health leadership intervention to prevent HIV and intimate partner violence among social networks of Tanzanian men.  PLOS One, Mar 20;15(3):e0230371.

  • Ornelas I, Yamanis T, Ruiz R. (2020).  The health of undocumented Latinx immigrants: what we know and future directions. Annual Reviews of Public Health, 41, 289-308.

  • Poteat T, Wirtz A, Malik M, Cannon C, Hardy D, Arrington-Sanders R, Lujan M* , Yamanis T (2019). The gap between willingness and uptake: findings from mixed methods research on HIV prevention among Black and Latina transgender women. JAIDS. PMID: 31180995. DOI: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000002112
  • Yamanis T, Zea MC, Ramé Montiel AK*, Barker S, Díaz-Ramirez MJ, Page KR, Martinez O, and Rathod J.  Immigration legal services as a structural HIV intervention for Latinx sexual and gender minorities. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 2018 Nov 21. PMID: 30465116.  DOI: 10.1007/s10903-018-0838-y

Professional Presentations

37.   COVID-19 and the Gender Divide, Global Insights Panel, Balsillie School of International Affairs, June 4, 2020:

36.   The Lethal Inequities of the Coronavirus, The Big World Podcast, American University School of International Service, April 23, 2020:

35. Yamanis T, Mulawa M, Kilonzo M, Maman S, Singh B, and Kajula L. “Identifying high-risk social networks of adolescent girls and young women in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania”, poster presentation at the 20th annual International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa, Kigali, Rwanda, December 6, 2019 (first author).

34. Aronson B, Yamanis T, Mulawa M, Moody J, and Maman M. “Social influence and diffusion effects on men's HIV testing during a randomized controlled intervention trial in Tanzania”, oral presentation at the 2nd annual North American Social Networks conference, Washington, DC, November 30, 2018 (co-first author)


Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • Morton Bender Prize, American University (best associate professor tenured in the past 4 years, university-wide), 2021
  • Award for Excellence in Master’s Student Mentoring, American University (university-wide award), 2019
  • Outstanding Contributions to Fostering Collaborative Scholarship, School of International Service, 2019
  • Center on Health, Risk and Society Research Fellows Program, American University, 2019
  • Bridges to Collaboration teaching award, American University, 2018
  • Social Networks and Health Fellow, Duke University, 2017
  • American University Faculty Retreat, Research Proposal Competition Winner (with Susan Shepler), 2014
  • Health Disparities Scholar, National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program, 2010, 2013-2014
  • Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 2007   
  • C.V. Starr International Research Award, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2006   
  • Global Health Fellow, Duke University's Sanford Institute of Public Policy Program on Global Policy and Governance in Geneva, Switzerland, 2006   
  • Intern, World Health Organization, Department of Gender, Women & Health, 2006   
  • Meritorious Student Paper Award, Society of Behavioral Medicine, 2006   
  • Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health, 2004   
  • Lucy S. Morgan Fellowship, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for outstanding leadership in Health Behavior and Health Education, 2004   
  • Phi Beta Kappa Honorary Society, 1995

Grants and Sponsored Research

  • A Pilot Social Network Intervention to Reduce HIV and IPV among Adolescent Girls; R21MH114570-01 (2017-2020); Role: PI
  • Resilience and Health in Immigrant Communities: An Examination of a Community Health Action Approach in Washington, DC and Prince George’s County, MD, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Program (2017-2020).
  • A Pilot Legal Intervention to Increase HIV Service Use among Immigrant Latino MSM; NIAID/Emory University/CFAR Adelante Program (P30AI050409) (2015-2017); Role: PI
  • A Multilevel Intervention to Reduce HIV Risk among Networks of Men in Tanzania; NIMH R01098690 (2012-2017); Role: Co-I
  • Exploring the Ethics of a Social Network Intervention to Reduce HIV Risk among Young, Tanzanian Men; NIDA R25DA031608-01/Fordham University HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute (2014-2016); Role: PI
  • Social Context of Risk, Identity and Service Use among Adolescent Black MSM in DC, funded by the Washington, DC Developmental Center for AIDS Research.      


AU Experts

Area of Expertise

HIV/AIDS risk behavior, youth, sub-Saharan Africa, hard-to-reach populations, violence against women and HIV, gloabl health disparities

Additional Information

Thespina Yamanis’ professional interests are in identifying the mechanisms that link social and economic conditions to global health disparities and in designing community-based interventions to improve health among the most vulnerable groups. She has conducted qualitative and quantitative field research for the past seven years on the social networks of young, urban men in Tanzania and their influence on the men’s HIV risk behavior and partner violence. Her work is part of a grant funded by the National Institutes of Health in which Yamanis and colleagues are piloting a combined health promotion/microfinance intervention for the men. In addition to her work in Tanzania, she has conducted research on violence against women at the World Health Organization, as well as research on migration and mental health with colleagues at the Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública in Mexico. She currently teaches courses on health in developing countries and on micropolitics of development.

For the Media

To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

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