Sandra Echeverria

Ph.D Associate Professor

Public Health Education

Email Address:

Phone: 336.334.9875

Bio & Education


My family emigrated from Ecuador to the U.S. when I was five years old and I am the first person in my family to attend college. Growing up, I saw my parents work in factories all day long but somehow found the strength (and courage) to organize community, cultural and political events. I carry this early life experience with me in my personal and professional life. I like to participate in civic action groups, serve on my kids’ parent-teacher school association, and love to travel to learn about my own history and my place in our broader global community. My favorite countries? Too many to list but here are a few: Ecuador (of course!), plus Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, Mexico and Italy. Since relocating to North Carolina, I also have a newfound love of gardening and nature walks.


Sandra E. Echeverría, Ph.D., M.P.H. is Associate Professor (tenured) in Public Health Education at The University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Dr. Echeverria earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health. As a social epidemiologist, Dr. Echeverria’s research examines how built environment, immigrant, and socioeconomic determinants influence cardiovascular health, particularly in Latinx communities. She has a specific interest in understanding how the social environment reinforces health behaviors such as physical activity. Her epidemiologic studies include the use of complex probability samples, multi-level and cohort data, and joint effects models that can elucidate the complex process by which social determinants pattern health. Her current projects involve examining multi-level disparities in pre-diabetes risk, longitudinal changes in physical activity across race/ ethnicity, and how broader contexts such as work settings and state or local-level policies shape the health of immigrant groups. From the start of her career, Dr. Echeverria has worked with community partners in the implementation of programs that can mitigate social inequities in health. One of her current projects seeks to identify evidence-based models that can address social barriers to physical activity adoption for Latinx people living with diabetes by integrating clinical and community data systems and resources. In a recent study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she will work with fellow researchers and community partners to determine the presence of water and land toxins in a local neighborhood, the potential health effects resulting from these exposures, and what we can learn from a community-engaged approach to redress environmental injustice. Dr. Echeverria’s research has been supported by private foundations, federal agencies, and local departments of health. She teaches undergraduate and graduate-level epidemiology and methodological courses and over the years has mentored numerous doctoral and M.P.H. students, many of whom are first-generation scholars like herself.

  • Ph.D., Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology
  • M.P.H., Columbia University, School of Public Health, Sociomedical Sciences,
  • B.A., Rutgers University, Rutgers College, Major: Latin American Studies/ Pre-Medical Curriculum, with a minor in Archaeology


1. My general area of research centers on understanding social inequities in cardiovascular health.

2. I am specifically interested in the role of immigrant status, built environment/ neighborhood determinants and socioeconomic factors shaping physical activity, diabetes and smoking.

3. I use a wide array of methodological approaches to conduct my research, including the use of epidemiologic and quantitative methods and community-engaged approaches to translate empirical evidence into real-world programs and interventions. I have extensive expertise in the use and analysis of complex probability samples, multi-level data and cohort studies.


All of my research studies involve students and external collaborators. My current research program involves four main projects:

1. Developing analytic methods to examine state and local-level policies and programs influencing the cardiovascular health of immigrants;

2. Examining longitudinal changes in domain-specific physical activity across racially/ ethnically diverse groups;

3. Assessing the role of occupation and work-based physical activity to diabetes incidence across race/ ethnicity; 4. Using electronic health records to identify social barriers to diabetes care among Latinos.


1. Echeverría SE, Divney A, Rodriguez F, Sterling M, Vasquez E, Murillo R, L Lopez. Nativity and occupational status as determinants of physical activity participation among Latinos in the United States. Am J Prev Med. 2019 Jan; 56(1):84-92.

2. Divney A, Murillo R, Rodriguez F, Mirzayi C, Tsui E, Echeverria SE. Diabetes Prevalence by Leisure, Transportation and Occupation-Based Physical Activity in Racially/ Ethnically Diverse U.S. Adults. Diabetes Care. 2019 Jul;42(7):1241-1247.

3. Echeverría, SE. Debunking paradoxes: integrating complexity in CVD research among Latinos. Editorial to ‘County-level Hispanic Ethnicity Density and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality’. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2018 Oct 2;7(19).

4. Sterling MR, Echeverria SE, Commodore-Mensah Y, Breland Y, Nunez-Smith J. The 2018 Saunders-Watkins Leadership Workshop: Health Equity and Implementation Science in Heart, Lung, Blood and Sleep-related Research. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality & Outcomes. 2019 Oct;12(10).

5. Murillo R, Echeverría SE, Vasquez E. Differences in neighborhood social cohesion and aerobic physical activity by Latino subgroup. Social Sci & Med-Pop Health. 2016 Dec; (2): 536-41.

6. Echeverría SE, Pentakota SR, Abraido-Lanza A, Janevic T, Gundersen DA, Ramirez SR, Delnevo CD. Clashing paradigms: An empirical examination of cultural proxies and socioeconomic condition shaping Latino health. Ann Epidemiol. 2013 Oct; 23(10):608-13. PMID: 23972617.

7. Marcus A, Echeverría SE, Passanante M, Holland B, Abraido-Lanza AF. The joint contribution of neighborhood poverty and social integration on mortality risk in the United States. Annals of Epi. 2016 March; S1047-2797(16)30043-6.

8. Echeverría SE, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Yedidia M. The influence of parental nativity, neighborhood disadvantage and built environment determinants on physical activity behaviors in Latino youth. J Immigr Minor Health. 2013 Oct 26. 2015 Apr;17(2):519-26

9. Echeverría SE, Luan AY, Isasi C, Johnson-Dias J, Pacquiao D. A community survey on neighborhood violence, park use and youth physical activity. J Phys Act Health. 2014 Jan; 11(1):186-94.

10. Echeverría SE, Diez-Roux AV, Shea S, Borrell L, Jackson S. Associations of neighborhood problems and neighborhood social cohesion with mental health and health behaviors: the Multi Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Health & Place. 2008 Dec: 14(4): 853-65.