Dr. Yonette Thomas to Assume Key Leadership Roles at the AAG

The Association of American Geographers (AAG) is pleased to welcome our distinguished colleague, Dr. Yonette Thomas to our staff. Dr. Thomas was formerly Associate Vice-President for Research Compliance at Howard University. She has also served in leading positions at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for many years, including most recently as Branch Chief of Epidemiology Research, in the Division of Epidemiology, Services, and Prevention Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH-NIDA).

In the position of Senior Advisor to the AAG, Dr. Thomas will help lead AAG’s growing portfolio of research programs in health and geography. Working closely with the executive director, she also will provide strong expertise and leadership to the AAG’s multiple initiatives on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabilities, and other diversity and equity programs at the AAG.

At Howard University, Dr. Thomas established the new Office of Regulatory Research Compliance; reengineered the human subjects protection and responsible conduct of research programs; introduced compliance procedures consistent with regulatory requirements and academic best practices; recruited academic leaders to Institutional Review Boards to build credibility and fidelity; and led outreach and collaboration with academic deans and researchers.

At NIH-NIDA she developed and advanced a portfolio of science focused on the social determinants of drug use and health. Her work focused on the social epidemiology and etiology of drug abuse and HIV and related health risks. She led a major reformulation of the epidemiology research program at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Yonette Thomas has long served on many key national research and education committees, including National Academies of Science (NAS) committees, NIH committees, and University committees. She currently is a member of the Steering Committee of the National Hispanic Science Network and the Board of Directors of the Consortium of Social Science Associations, among others. Her research and publications have focused on the social epidemiology of drug abuse and HIV/AIDS and the link with geography. Of particular note is the volume, Geography and Drug Addiction, Springer, 2008, which she co-edited with Douglas Richardson. She has served on the faculty in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine where she taught social epidemiology of drug abuse. She holds a Ph.D. in medical sociology and demography from Howard University.