Spotlight: Deborah Ehrenthal

Spotlight: Deborah Ehrenthal

Meet Deborah Ehrenthal, Director of the Social Science Research Institute (SSRI).

As Director, Ehrenthal works closely with faculty leaders to ensure research support, grow and pivot their needs, and recruit new faculty. Ehrenthal also assists to bring in grants to provide infrastructure to SSRI’s initiatives and research. Her personal research includes maternal/child health, intergenerational health, and how environmental changes influence health and social science.

The Social Science Research Institute’s mission is to “foster novel, interdisciplinary collaborations by investigators who aim to address critical human and social problems at the local, national, and international levels and to translate and disseminate this knowledge into measurable outcomes for human behavior, health, and development”.

SSRI supports research on social and environmental disparities, behavioral factors, community health, and other population related topics. This institute began as a cofounded faculty program with their core focus being support for faculty research. They seek to answer questions such as, “what are important problems”, “who is working on them?”, and “how do we elevate this work?”. SSRI also focuses on community engagement through non-extractive approaches.

The Climate, Society, and Health Initiative aims to analyze the effects of climate change on people and communities. SSRI intends to bring in a “people’s perspective” to climate change to better understand feasible methods to get closer to net zero. SSRI’s Population Research Institute is an example of such work that emphasizes a population perspective to climate and health.

SSRI is always looking for new help, both from faculty and students. Students can get involved at the Survey Research Center or directly in research projects. To learn more about how to get involved, reach out directly to Deborah at

For more information on SSRI, visit their website.