Random Sample

  • Member since: 1992

  • Hometown: Philadelphia

  • Occupation: Associate professor, department of community health and prevention at the Drexel University School of Public Health, in Philadelphia. "I am a social psychologist and so never envisioned that I would not be in a psychology department, but my department is perfect for me—I'm very much a community health person."

  • Career focus: Bowleg has long been interested in "invisible populations." She's built her research career on two areas. The first is the influence of factors such as racism, poverty, incarceration, gender role and sexuality on sexual risk in black communities. The second focuses on stress, resilience and coming out issues among black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

  • Her research: Bowleg is the principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health-funded study on black men's sexual risk behaviors. "I'm working to get a more nuanced understanding of the context of black heterosexual men's lives to better understand their condom use and sexual risk behaviors." She's completed the qualitative phase of her study, and is now analyzing the data. She's also collecting data from 800 black men in Philadelphia for the study's quantitative phase. After that, her next stage will be designing and testing an intervention to prevent the spread of HIV among this group.

  • Giving back to psychology: Bowleg is a former chair of the APA's Committee on Psychology and AIDS. In 2005, the American Psychological Foundation awarded her a Wayne F. Placek Investigator Development Grant. The grant supports scientific research to increase understanding of psychological issues among gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

  • Greatest frustration: Too often, says Bowleg, class issues remain invisible in academic discussions—and psychology, in particular, could do a better job of studying poverty. "We are missing the boat if we are trying to foster well-being without addressing housing, food and health care. How can someone address their self-esteem with an empty belly?"

  • How she keeps her balance: Yoga. "Even, when I don't want to go to yoga class, I make myself go. Yoga and daily meditation have improved my life immeasurably." 

—S. Martin


Each month, "Random Sample" profiles a randomly selected APA member. You might be next.