Stephen Kulis

Areas of Specialization

  • Social and cultural determinants of health disparities
  • Cultural identity, youth risk behaviors, and prevention
  • Occupational segregation by gender and race

Research Interests:

  • Ethnic and gender identity and substance use
  • Cultural adaptation of prevention programs
  • Racial and gender inequality in organizations

My research has focused on

  • cultural processes in health disparities, such as the role of ethnicity, acculturation and gender identity in youth drug use and prevention interventions;
  • cultural adaptation of prevention programs for ethnic minority youth and their parents;
  • contextual neighborhood and school level influences on individual level risk and protective behaviors;
  • gender and racial inequities in professional careers;
  • the organizational sources of ethnic and gender discrimination.

I work currently with an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the Global Center for Applied Health Research (GCAHR) and at the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center (SIRC). We study the social and cultural determinants of health disparities and design, implement, and evaluate culturally grounded prevention programs and services. SIRC’s work focuses on underserved populations of the USA southwest, and GCAHR conducts translational research to culturally adapt those prevention programs for other societies and make them sustainable. Our keepin' it REAL (Refuse, Explain, Avoid, Leave) intervention for middle school students is a legacy SAMSHA model program for preventing youth drug use. That program has been culturally adapted for urban American Indian youth to produce the Living in 2 Worlds program, along with a parallel parenting program for urban American Indian families called Parenting in 2 Worlds.  Internationally, we are have developed and are testing prevention programs with research collaborators in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey, Mexico, as well as in Guatemala, Uruguay, Spain, and Kenya.

As Director of Research at GCAHR and Co-Principal Investigator of SIRC’s center grant, I help direct an interdisciplinary team:  ASU faculty researchers and graduate students from Sociology, Social Work, Family and Human Development, Psychology, Justice Studies, Communications, Education and Nursing. We are engaged in research on solutions to health disparities in substance use, HIV/AIDS, obesity, and mental health, addressing the distinctive cultures of the southwest borderlands region and international settings. Our projects in collaboration with the urban American Indian communities of Arizona, Phoenix elementary and middle schools, and community agencies are focused on identifying sources of cultural resilience against drug use and sexual risk behaviors that can be employed in effective prevention and treatment programs.

In my earlier work, through several national studies of faculty in U.S. colleges and universities, I have sorted out individual, departmental, disciplinary, organizational, and geographic influences on gender and racial gaps in faculty recruitment, tenure, academic rank and salary.   

Research Projects in Brief