You are here

Gregory Pavela, Ph.D.

Greg Pavela, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Health Behavior
227K Ryals Public Health Building
1665 University Boulevard
Birmingham, AL 35294,
Phone: (205)-975-9223
Full CV

My research examines the environmental determinants of health and obesity and emphasizes the importance of early life conditions to later health.

My research seeks to: 1) determine when and how environmental exposures “get under the skin” to affect human adiposity; 2) improve causal inferences about the effects of social status on adiposity; and 3) describe the reciprocal relationship between human physiology and the social environment.

My previous research indicated that the relationship between childhood conditions and adult BMI is not explained by adult neighborhood socioeconomic status. Although the incorporation of neighborhood socioeconomic status is an advancement over previous life-course research, it remained limited by a common methodological problem: individuals are not randomly assigned to neighborhoods. As a former NIH post-doctoral research fellow in the NORC and in collaboration with others, I helped to describe this problem in general terms and developed a partial solution: “packet randomized experiments.” The non-random assignment of adult social status poses another challenge to sociological research; therefore in collaboration with others, I developed a protocol to randomly assign social status to participants and measure its effects on food consumption, and data collection is ongoing (as of September 2015).


  • 2015
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2011
  1. Pavela, G. and Latham, K. “Childhood Conditions and Comorbid Accumulation among Older Americans.” Conditional Acceptance, The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences.
  2. Pavela, G. “Functional Status and Social Contact Among Older Adults.” Research on Aging

In Progress

  1. Pavela, G, Wolfe, JD, and J Locher. “The Waning Association Between Education and Weight at Higher Levels of Weight.”
  2. Dhurandhar, E, G. Pavela, K. Kaiser, G. Dutton, K. Fontaine, D. Kim, J. Shikaney, D.B.Aliison, C. Lewis. “Obesity and Subjective Social Status in a Longitudinal Cohort Study (CARDIA)”.
  3. Allison, D., P. Li, G. Pavela, A.W. Brown, B. George, K.R. Fontaine. “Randomization to Randomization Probabilities: A New Design for Randomized Controlled Trials to Better Estimate Expectancy Effects and Treatment Effects Under Actual Conditions of Use.”
  4. Pavela, G. “Longitudinal Spousal Correlations in BMI.”
  5. Pavela, G. and D.B. Allison. “Randomized Controlled Trial of a Pending Observation of Weight and Self-Reported Weight.”
  1. Pavela, G., Wiener, H., Fontaine, K. R., Fields, D. A., Voss, J. D., & Allison, D. B. “Packet Randomized Experiments for Eliminating Classes of Confounders.” European Journal of Clinical Investigation.
  2. Latham, K., Clarke, P. J., & Pavela, G. “Social Relationships, Gender, and Recovery From Mobility Limitation Among Older Americans.” The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences.
  1. Perdue, R. and G. Pavela.(forthcoming) “Addictive Economies and Coal Dependency: Methods of Extraction and Socioeconomic Outcomes in West Virginia, 1997-2009.” (2012) Organization & Environment, 25(4), 368-384 [doi: 10.1177/1086026612464767]
  1. Pavela, G., & Pavela, G. The Ethical and Educational Imperative of Due Process. Journal of College and University Law, 38


In August, 2015, Greg completed his training with us and moved on to a position as Assistant Professor in the Health Behavior Department in the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.  He can be contacted at