Anna Zajacova has joined the Department of Sociology at Western University as Associate Professor, coming from the University of Wyoming.
Zajacova completed her PhD in Sociology and Demography at Princeton University. Her primary research area is social determinants of health; she focuses on education and health among adults in the United States.
“Education and health are the biggest decisions faced by many families when it comes to their kids,” said Zajacova. “It’s one of those interesting areas that we know a lot about but we still haven’t gathered enough in-depth information to understand how social factors get under the skin and how changes in the social climate impact young people in particular.”
She is currently researching the health outcomes of sub-baccalaureate adults in the United States, the subset of the population that attended college but did not complete it. “This is the largest educational-attainment group in the United States,” said Zajacova “and we don’t know how their considerable investment in education impacts their heath.”
This particular population group have not been studied in detail previously, said Zajacova. Most research has focused on people with lower education levels, or has looked at the entire education spectrum and focused on the health ‘gradient’ across this spectrum, in which case sub-baccalaureate adults were generally grouped in with those who have completed high school, or those with college education.
“They seem to do better in the labour market, but not necessarily for health outcomes. We want to see if this is the case and understand why,” said Zajacova. This research is funded by the National Institutes of Health.
While Zajacova has focused her research on health outcomes in the US, she sees the opportunity to tap into resources and data sources in Canada, and foresees the possibility of comparative research.
“The two countries share many cultural and socio-economic factors, but are very different in terms of social welfare conditions, and that could be very informative,” she said.
Zajacova is excited to join the Department of Sociology, particularly by the active research and mentoring orientation of the faculty members, as well as the current growth of the department. She is looking forward to opportunities for collaborations with other faculty members, and PhD candidates.
“The environment will enable me to generate important new findings, especially collaborating with the awesome researchers here at Western,” she said.