Anna E. Epperson, PhD
Dr. Anna Epperson (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) is an Assistant Professor of Health Psychology in the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of California, Merced. She earned her PhD in health psychology from the University of California, Merced and completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Stanford University. Prior to joining the faculty at UC Merced, Dr. Epperson was an Instructor of Adolescent Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine. Her research focuses on racial/ethnic disparities in health behavior, exploring how social and cultural factors impact health, particularly in Indigenous communities. She examines health behavior through community-based research and current projects focus on: 1) increasing vaccine confidence and uptake among Indigenous communities, especially youth; and 2) reducing substance use among at-risk populations (e.g., Indigenous youth, Latinx young adults).
Current Graduate Students
My research interest includes factors that influence cannabis perceptions and uptake, specifically cannabis-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors among vulnerable subgroups such as veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and young adults. An additional research interest is community engagement and advocacy, which involves applying my research knowledge and skills to serve community members and improve public health.
Natalie graduated with high honors from the University of California, Santa Barbara, earning a Psychological and Brain Sciences B.S. and Applied Psychology Minor. She is currently a Health Psychology Ph.D. student studying under Dr. Anna Epperson and Dr. Anna Song in the Epperson & Health Behaviors Lab. Natalie is interested in how socio-environmental and psychological factors affect health behaviors. She is also interested in how mindfulness and various positive psychological factors can be utilized in health behavior interventions. Current research projects include a) examining harm perceptions and regulatory attitudes regarding cigarette smoking pre and post covid and b) creating e-cigarette user prototypes to assess how social media may be used to target and influence individuals’ willingness to vape.
Undergraduate Research Assistants
I’m a fourth-year public health major with a minor in psychology, and I grew up in the Central Valley. In my spare time, I enjoy practicing American Sign Language and binge watching some of my favorite movies or shows. I’m currently interested in research upon behaviors on substance use and their effect on the environment.
Angela Roberts is a 4th year undergraduate student at UC Merced. She is majoring in Sociology with a minor in Psychology. She is interested in studying Health Psychology and Native Americans with an emphasis on historical trauma and its effects on health behaviors. She plans on pursuing a doctoral degree in Health Psychology.
Luis is a 4th year majoring in Psychology and Public Health. He is interested in pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology and plans to work with those suffering from mental health disabilities, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.