Scholar Navigates Complex Systems to Help Address and Improve Public Health Concerns
Scholar of the Month
Professor of Sociology
Kent State University at Ashtabula
The Kent Campus is big, but still not big enough to fit all the great scholars who are part of the Kent State University family.
So much of Kent State’s great research is happening at its Regional Campuses, and Sociology Professor Brian Castellani, Ph.D., of Kent State University at Ashtabula is just one of the shining examples.
“Brian is a model for other tenure-track Regional Campus faculty members,” said Susan Stocker, Ph.D., who has served as interim dean of the Regional College and currently serves a dean and chief administrative officer of Kent State Ashtabula and interim dean of Kent State University at Geauga and Kent State’s Regional Academic Center in Twinsburg. “He’s conducting meaningful research while continuing to provide leadership on service and teaching effectively.”
In July, the Kent State Ashtabula scholar was named a Systems Science Scholar by AcademyHealth. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a selection committee considered applications from systems science researchers nationwide. Castellani was one of five chosen for the honor.
Castellani’s study of the interaction between healthcare systems and other societal systems or issues, such as poverty, a person’s physical living environment, transportation, environmental pollution and education comprises a “systems” approach to public health issues. Through his work, he hopes to help doctors better understand the barriers their patients face.
“From public health, global markets and grid reliability to globalization, climate change and public policy, one of the major themes of science today is complexity, big data, and the management of complex systems,” Castellani said.
In nominating Castellani for a faculty award, Stocker lauded Castellani and his work as being vital to his field on a global scale.
“Dr. Castellani has also received several international invitations and awards,” she wrote. “For example, he was the 2012 Leonard Slater Fellow, Durham University (UK); keynote speaker, ‘Simplifying Assumptions in Models of Complex Systems,’ Computational Biology Department, University of Birmingham (UK); and recipient of the 2013 NSF Mapping Science Award – with over 175,000 hits from almost every country in the world, Dr. Castellani’s Internet-based map of the complexity sciences is recognized, along with his blog, as a leading educational resource on complexity.”
His research also includes methods and methodology; complexity science/complex networks; computational modeling; medical sociology; community health (place and health); allostatic load (stress and coping); health trajectories and longitudinal analysis; social (clinical) psychology (mental health and addiction); and globalization.
As Kent State continues to develop its research identity through the formation of research centers that showcase the university’s existing strengths, scholars like Castellani prove to be of immeasurable value. The university has identified brain health and public health as two areas of research excellence, and Castellani’s work comfortable fits into both focus areas.
Castellani has been teaching at Kent State Ashtabula for 14 years, and he also serves as an adjunct professor of psychiatry at Northeast Ohio Medical University. He is head of the Complexity and Health Group at Kent State and associate editor for a new Routledge series, Complexity in Social Science. Castellani earned his bachelor’s degree from Kent State, then his Master of Science in clinical psychology from Fuller Graduate School of Psychology and returned to Kent State for his doctorate in medical sociology.
During his 14 years, Castellani served on a wide variety of university, campus and department committees at Kent State, including several years as chair of the Kent State Ashtabula Faculty Council. Castellani also published three research monographs and more than 40 research articles and chapters, and has given more than 50 presentations and invited addresses. Castellani still finds time through all of his own scholarship to teach a wide variety of courses to undergraduates and medical students and residents, both in class and online, as well as serve on master’s and dissertation committees.
About Kent State’s Scholar of the Month
Kent State’s Scholar of the Month recognizes faculty researchers and scholars whose recent work has had an important impact on their professional fields and has brought exposure to the university. Each month, a different college will have the opportunity to nominate a researcher/scholar for this recognition. There is also a month when a faculty member from the Regional Campuses will be featured.
The selection process is in the hands of the dean and his or her colleagues and faculty. Hence, this is recognition by the person’s college colleagues that is then taken up by the university. The deans communicate the person’s name to the Division of Research and Sponsored Programs for recognition as Scholar of the Month.