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Melissa Ward

Assistant Professor

Epidemiology, FIU Research Center in Minority Institutions (FIU-RCMI)



Social Epidemiology, Health Disparities


Melissa Ward is an assistant professor at the Department of Epidemiology at Stempel College.  Previously, she was a Postdoctoral Associate at the Community-Based Research Institute, where she coordinated and managed the Research Infrastructure Core for FIU’s Research Center in Minority Institutions (FIU-RCMI). From 2016-2017, she participated in the inaugural cohort of FIU’s Presidential Leadership Program. She has worked at FIU since 2013; prior to joining Stempel College in 2018, she worked as Research Analyst and Medical Simulation Manager in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine.

From 2011-2013, Melissa worked in the Department of Health Policy at George Washington University (GW) coordinating monitoring and evaluation for the Medical Education Partnership Initiative, a $130 million international health program in 12 African countries administered by the Department of State, HRSA, and NIH. In 2010, she completed a GW Global Health Service Fellowship in the Public Health Information and GIS Unit at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. In several other research positions at GW, she provided technical support for research projects funded by the World Bank and UNAIDS, as well as multiple global health and data analysis courses.


  • PhD, Public Health/Epidemiology, Florida International University, 2017
  • MPH, Global Health Policy, George Washington University, 2010
  • BA, English, Florida International University, 2008

Proud moment of your mentees

I love watching my mentees advance in their careers, whether that is presenting at a conference, publishing their first paper, landing a competitive post-doctoral fellowship, starting a job as a government epidemiologist, or launching their faculty career in academia.


Ward-Peterson, M, Fennie, K, Baird, S, Coxe, S, Trepka, M, Madhivanan, P. Association between HIV awareness factors, health facility characteristics and risky sexual behaviour among young women in Zomba district, Malawi. Journal of Biosocial Science, 50(6):853-867. doi: 10.1017/S0021932017000694.

Ward-Peterson, M, Fennie, K, Mauck, D, Shakir, M, Cosner, C, Bhoite, P, Trepka, M, Madhivanan, P. Evaluating the influence of contextual factors on HIV/AIDS, STIs, and risky sexual behavior in sub-Saharan Africa using multilevel models: a systematic review. Annals of Epidemiology, 2018:28(2);119-134. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2017.11.006.

Ward-Peterson, M, Chang, W. #MeToo and #TimesUp in academic medicine: Research about sexual harassment must include staff. Academic Medicine, 2018;93(8):1099, doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002278.

Pang, H, Cataldi, M, Allseits, E, Ward-Peterson, M, Rodriguez de la Vega, P, Castro, G, Acuña, JM. Examining the association between possessing a regular source of healthcare and adherence with cancer screenings among Haitian households in Little Haiti, Miami-Dade County, Florida. Medicine, 2017;96(32):e7706. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000007706.

Lupi, CS, Ward-Peterson, M, Castro, CA. Non-directive pregnancy options counseling: Online instructional module, OSCE, and rater and SP training materials. MedEdPortal, 2017;13:10566, doi: 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10566.

Gauthreaux, C, Negron, J, Castellanos, D, Ward-Peterson, M, Castro, G, Rodriguez de la Vega, P, Acuña, JM. The association between pregnancy intendedness and post-partum depression in the United States, 2009-2011: A secondary analysis of PRAMS data. Medicine, 2017;96(6):e5851, doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000005851.

Lupi, C, Ward-Peterson, M, Coxe, S, Minor, S, Eliacin, I, Obeso, V. Furthering the validity of a tool to assess simulated pregnancy options counseling skills. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2016;128(Suppl1):12S-16S, doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000001624.

Lupi, C, Ward-Peterson, M, Chang, WAdvancing non-directive pregnancy options counseling skills: A pilot study on the use of blended learning with an online module and simulation. Contraception, 2016;94(4):348-352, doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2016.03.005.

Wilcox, ML, Acuña, JM, Ward-Peterson, M, Alzayed, A, Alghamdi, M, Aldaham, S. Racial/ethnic disparities in annual mammogram compliance among households in Little Haiti, Miami-Dade County, Florida: an observational study. Medicine, 2016;95(27):e3826, doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000003826.

Chen, C, Baird, S, Ssentongo, K, Mehtsun, S, Olapade-Olaopa, EO, Scott, J, Sewankambo, N, Talib, Z, Ward-Peterson, M, Haile Mariam, D, & Rugarabamu, P. Physician tracking in sub-Saharan Africa: current initiatives and opportunities. Human Resources for Health, 2014;12:21, doi: 10.1186/1478-4491-12-21.