This article is part one of a six-part blog series with Dr. Brad Jones.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a strategic planning consultant and applied data analytics research advisor that specializes in applied health marketing research, primarily serving organizations that support traditionally underserved and vulnerable population groups.
I’m originally from Mississippi and graduated from Mississippi State University in 2000 with a degree in Industrial Engineering. I received my PhD from Georgia Tech in Industrial and Systems Engineering in 2009 with a focus in Health Systems. I did a postdoctoral research assignment at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) where, for a large portion of that time, I was the lead subject matter expert for chronic disease prevention efforts in the rural United States. My primary research interest concerns understanding and applying relevant socio-cultural frameworks for health and wellness promotion, particularly — but not exclusively — in the rural south.
Lately, I’ve been doing independent consulting work primarily supporting state-level Medicaid administrators, CEO’s for community health center organizations, and pastors who are planting churches. My expertise is in identifying and leveraging relevant social determinants of health and utilizing appropriate applied statistical tools to develop a geo-cultural framework that enables organizations to better tailor their efforts to the local socio-cultural contexts they are operating in. Some specific products that I have produced include, but are not limited to: applied health marketing research analyses and associated reports; community health needs and assets assessments; site selection analyses for both health promoting organizations and churches; and geographic information systems (GIS) maps related to all of the above.
What drew you to work in rural areas?
What drew me to work in rural areas was my background. I grew up outside a small town called Heidelberg, Mississippi where the population was 718 at the most recent census. Consequently, I’m very familiar with rural culture and, particularly, the rural Southern culture.
As a child, I was overweight and obese, but overcame it as a young adult by making systemic changes in my eating habits and physical activity regimen through prayer and faith. From my perspective, the Southern culture, for lack of a better term, actually “promotes” obesity. In addition to the fat, fried foods, and all of those things that are often staples of our diet, there aren’t very many walkable communities in the rural South nor a lot of access to adult gyms and fitness centers. Because of this, I’m particularly interested in supporting healthy eating, physical activity, and prevention through health promotion in rural areas.
[Look for part two of this six-part blog series next week!]