Don Operario, associate dean for academic affairs in Brown’s School of Public Health, hopes to reduce disparities in psychology practice and increase diversity in the field as a newly appointed member of the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — As a profession and a practice, psychology frequently involves issues of particular concern to minority communities in the United States. With a new, three-year appointment to the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs, Don Operario, associate professor of behavioral and social sciences, will have a national voice on issues such as the care of minority patients and the professional diversity of the field.

“I look forward to serving as an advocate for improving our science about the causes of health and psychological disparities affecting communities of color, especially in intersectional communities such as sexual and gender minority people who are also members of racial/ethnic minority groups,” Operario said. “Improvements in our science of disparities can contribute to better services, interventions, and prevention programs to reduce the burden of psychological and clinical illness in minority groups.

“I am also committed to improving the representation of racial and ethnic minorities in psychology at every level — from undergraduate to graduate education as well as in academic faculty and service professions,” he said.

At Brown, Operario’s research concerns two main areas. One is examining the social and psychological determinants of HIV infection and sexual health and related issues such as substance use and mental health in diverse communities. He emphasizes developing interventions for high-risk groups. In the other, Operario studies life experiences associated with social inequality, with particular attention to understanding the perspectives of disadvantaged group members and addressing associated health and psychosocial disparities.

Operario also serves as associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Public Health. He said his committee work will aid his work at Brown in several ways.

“This opportunity will give me a better vantage point to observe trends in the field across the country with regard to racial/ethnic minority issues in science, education, practice, and advocacy,” he said. “I can learn ways in which Brown can improve on what we are doing in our classrooms and on our campus to prepare our students for careers in behavioral science. Hopefully, I will pick up a few ideas to inspire new research questions that I can pursue.”