Debra Umberson, professor of sociology and affiliate of the Population Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin, has been named editor-in-chief of the American Sociological Association's Journal of Health and Social Behavior, one of the most prestigious and widely respected scientific journals in the field of sociology.
Established in 1960, the quarterly peer-reviewed journal is a leading source of information on the practice, theory and research of the sociological aspects of health and illness.
Umberson has developed a policy brief series in the journal geared toward policymakers and the public. Beginning in the March 2011 issue the one-page briefs will provide clear, accessible overviews of articles relating to timely and important health policy topics, such as economic disparities in health care, trends in depression and substance abuse, and the health consequences of stress in the workplace. The briefs will be widely distributed and posted online, ensuring access to new findings.
"I'm committed to continuing the journal's longstanding tradition of publishing innovative and quality research," said Umberson, who was chair of the Department of Sociology for five years. "And with the brief series, I aim to attract a broader audience to research published in the journal and help link basic sociological research on health to health in 'the real world.'"
A nationally known scholar in the fields of family health, aging and the life course, and death and bereavement, Umberson has published more than 80 articles and chapters in leading academic journals and books. In 2003 she led the first national study on the effects of a parent's death on adult children, which is detailed in her book "Death of a Parent: Transition to a New Adult Identity."
"I have been reading the Journal of Health and Social Behavior since I was a graduate student, finding much inspiration for my research in its pages," Umberson said. "I look forward to engaging with readers, authors, reviewers, board members and critics over the next few years. Together we shape the direction of the journal, and I expect the next 50 years will be as exciting as the first 50."