Faculty Profile

Alexis J. Handal, PhD, MPH

Alexis J. Handal, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor, Epidemiology
  • 1415 Washington Heights, Room 6622
  • Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029

Dr. Handal earned a B.A. in Biochemistry and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from the University of Colorado-Boulder. She earned a M.P.H. in Epidemiology-International Health and Ph.D. in Epidemiological Sciences from the University of Michigan, where she was a Rackham Merit Fellow, a Fulbright Student Fellow, and a Doctoral Fellow in the Center for Research on Ethnicity Culture and Health (CRECH). Dr. Handal completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research at the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development.

She was on the faculty at the University of New Mexico from 2008-2019. During that time, she served as a Senior Fellow with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy and with the New Mexico Center for the Advancement of Research, Engagement, & Science on Health Disparities, and was affiliated with the Transdisciplinary Research, Equity and Engagement Center for Advancing Behavioral Health. She was named a Fulbright Faculty Scholar in 2018.

Dr. Handal joined the UM SPH EPID faculty September 2019.

  • EPID/EHS608: Environmental Epidemiology (Winter 2021)
  • EPID664: Field Methods in Developing Countries (Winter 2021)

  • Post-Doctoral Fellow, Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research, National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), Rockville, MD.
  • PhD in Epidemiological Sciences, University of Michigan.
  • MPH in Epidemiology-International Health, University of Michigan.
  • BA in Biochemistry and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado-Boulder.

  • Dr. Handal’s research interests include environmental and occupational epidemiology, reproductive epidemiology, and child health and development examined within social, political, and economic contexts and in global settings. Her research focuses on populations who are traditionally underrepresented in research, including Latinx and Indigenous populations in the U.S. and Latin America and those who are most exposed to hazardous work conditions and environmental toxins such as farm-workers, with a particular focus on women and their children.
  • Her community-engaged research approach uses a health equity lens focusing on the interconnection between occupational stress, toxic exposures and difficult social environments, in the context of precarious employment, on maternal health and child development. Dr. Handal’s research interests also include examining the health impact of worker’s rights including an examination of worker protection legislation and the impact on pregnant employees, and the impact of occupational stress and gender discrimination on maternal and child health.
  • Dr. Handal is recognized nationally and in Latin America for her research on the impact of export-led flower production on women and their families. Her current NIH-funded research (R011ES026603), where she leads a multi-institute/bi-national research team, focuses on the impact of industry-related exposures (chemical, psychosocial, structural) among Ecuadorian female flower workers and on child health and development as well as the impact of this industry on surrounding communities.
  • She is also the Principal Investigator on the Michigan Farmworkers Project. The goal of this community-engaged project is to examine the occupational and environmental health exposures in migrant and seasonal farmworkers in Michigan and relate this understanding to broader social determinants such as labor exploitation and forced labor, and the impact of these exposures on the health of farmworkers and their families.
  • Dr. Handal is a co-investigator on an NIH-funded study testing an ecological/empowerment approach to reducing mental health disparities among immigrant Latinx youth and their families in New Mexico by examining the effectiveness of a community-based advocacy, learning, and social support intervention (Immigrant Well-being Project) that addresses social determinants of mental health. That project is part of the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities-funded (U54 MD004811-06) Transdisciplinary Research, Equity and Engagement Center for Advancing Behavioral Health (TREE Center) which will study how social determinants, including historical trauma, adverse childhood experiences and the combined effects of poverty and discrimination, affect behavioral health in marginalized populations.

  • Handal AJ, Iglesias-Ríos L, Fleming P, Valentín-Cortés MA*, O’Neill MS. “Essential” but expendable: Farmworkers during the COVID-19 pandemic - The Michigan Farmworker Project. AJPH December 2020, Vol 110, No. 12 (In Press)
  • Sania A, Sudfeld C, Goodarz D, Fink G, McCoy DC, Zhu Z, Fawzi M, Akman M, Arifeen S, Barros AJD, Bellinger D, Black M, Bogale A, Braun J, van den Broek N, Carrara VI, Duazo P, Duggan CP, Fernald L, Gladstone M, Hamadani J, Handal AJ, Harlow SD, Hidrobo M, Kuzawa CW, Kvestad I, Locks L, Manji K, Masanja H, Matijasevich A, McDonald C, McGready R, Rizvi A, Santos D, Santos L, Save D, Shapiro R, Stoecker BJ, Strand TA, Taneja S, Tellez-Rojo MM, Tofail F, Yousafzai AK, Ezzati M, Fawzi W. Early life risk factors of motor, cognitive, and language development: a pooled analysis of studies from low-and middle-income countries.  BMJ Open.  2019 Oct 3;9(10): e026449. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026449.
  • Brigance C, Sanchez V, Soto Mas F, Handal AJ. The mental health of the organic farmer: psychosocial and contextual actors. Workplace Health and Safety. 2018.
  • Soto Mas F, Handal AJ, Rohrer R, Tomalá E. Health and safety in organic farming: a qualitative study. Journal of Agromedicine 23(1): 92-104. 2018.
  • Handal AJ, Hund L, Páez M, Bear S, Greenberg C, Fenske R, Barr DB. Characterization of pesticide exposure in a sample of pregnant women in Ecuador. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol May; 70(4): 627-39. 2016
  • Handal AJ, McGough-Maduena, A, Paez M,Skipper B, Rowland AS, Fenske RA, Harlow SD. A pilot study comparing observational and questionnaire surrogate measures of pesticide exposures among residents impacted by the Ecuadorian flower industry. Arch Environ Occup Health 70(4): 232-40. 2015.
  • Handal AJ, Harlow SD., Breilh J, Lozoff B. Occupational Exposure to Pesticides during Pregnancy and Neurobehavioral Development in Ecuadorian Children in a Flower Growing Region of Ecuador. Epidemiology Nov; 19(6): 851-9. 2008.
  • Handal AJ, Lozoff B, Breilh J, Harlow SD. Neurobehavioral Development in Children with Potential Exposure to Pesticides in a Cut-Flower Growing Region of Ecuador. Epidemiology 18 (3): 312-20. 2007.
  • Handal AJ, Lozoff B, Breilh J, Harlow SD. Socio-demographic and Nutrition Correlates of Neurobehavioral Development in Ecuadorian Children. Pan American Journal of Public Health 21(5): 292-300. 2007.
  • Handal AJ, Lozoff B, Breilh J, Harlow SD. Effect of Community of Residence on Neurobehavioral Development in Infants and Young Children in a Flower Growing Region of Ecuador. Environmental Health Perspectives 115 (1): 128-133. 2007.

  • International Society for Environmental Epidemiology
  • International Epidemiological Association
  • International Society for Children’s Health and the Environment
  • American Public Health Association
  • Society for Epidemiologic Research 

Alexis Handal in the News