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Dr. Nicolette Teufel-Shone Awarded Fulbright Canada Scholarship to Study Indigenous Health

Nicolette Teufel-Shone, PhD, professor of family and child health at the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, will study how indigenous youth stay healthy in spite of adversity and use this knowledge to develop strategies to guide public health intervention.


Nicolette Teufel-Shone, PhD, professor of family and child health at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, has been awarded a Fulbright Canada – Norlien Foundation Distinguished Research Chair for 2015-2016.

Dr. Teufel-Shone has worked with Native American communities in the Southwest for more than 25 years, building and promoting community capacity to address chronic disease prevention.

The Fulbright Canada program allows extraordinary American scholars and top-tier applied researchers to engage in a residential exchange experience and conduct collaborative research in Canada. The goal is to support research and build relationships that will directly impact health and wellness outcomes in Canada and beyond. As a Fulbright Canada scholar, Dr. Teufel-Shone will conduct research with the University of Alberta and the Dene Community outside of Yellowknife, located in the Northwest Territories. The research focus is on resilience and sustained health and well-being in toxic environments that impose stress on children and families.

“Adversity comes in many forms, such as discrimination, poverty, poor educational systems and limited employment opportunities. Living in toxic environments can contribute to unhealthy adaptive strategies and self-medicating options, such as alcohol, drugs, cutting and even suicide,” said Dr. Teufel-Shone.  “Unfortunately, these behaviors have become normalized in some indigenous communities. We need to learn from the youth who do not choose these options. Resilient indigenous youth make good choices and stay focused on a positive path even in the face of adversity.”

The need to document community assets is an important part of her research. “Public health literature abounds with rates of risky behaviors and high-risk environments and communities. But youth do succeed. Public health needs to document how youth stay healthy and use these strategies to guide public health intervention. The concept is positive deviance and is used often in guiding health-promotion strategies in international settings,” said Dr. Teufel-Shone.

Dr. Teufel-Shone is an affiliated faculty member of the UA School of Anthropology and Department of Nutritional Sciences.  She is an affiliated scholar in the UA Cancer Center’s Cancer Health Disparities Institute, a member of the National Congress of American Indians Scientific Community Advisory Committee, and a consultant on the Hualapai Special Diabetes Prevention Programs and the Hualapai Injury Prevention and Underage Drinking Program in Peach Springs, Ariz. She currently is co-principal investigator of the Center for American Indian Resilience (CAIR), a National Institutes of Health-funded Exploratory Center of Excellence that involves collaboration with Northern Arizona University, Diné College (Navajo Nation Tribal College) and tribal communities of Arizona.

She has published more than 30 peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles on American Indian health and more than half were co-authored with her community partners. Their work has been published in the American Journal of Public Health, Preventing Chronic Disease, American Journal of Health Promotion and American Journal of Health Behavior.

Dr. Teufel-Shone and her colleagues in tribal communities have received numerous awards, including the American Diabetes Association and the National Indian Health Board John Pipe Voices for Change Award (2010) and the Public Health Impact Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2008). In addition to her research, work and service, Dr. Teufel-Shone often engages with graduate students on collaborative research and service-learning projects and programs, primarily with tribal communities.

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