Member Biography


Natalia Rodriguez

Natalia Rodriguez, PhD, MPH

812 West State Street
Matthews Hall, 218
West Lafayette, IN 47906
Phone: (765) 494-8287 x

Research Program Membership

Associate member:

Assistant Professor
Purdue University

Dr. Rodriguez's research interests include:

I am an Assistant Professor at Purdue University in the Department of Public Health, with a courtesy appointment in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. My interdisciplinary translational research program lies at the intersection of Public Health and Biomedical Engineering, and centers on the design of health technologies and tailored implementation strategies to address health disparities in underserved communities. My research seeks to understand and improve upon mechanisms for uptake and adoption of innovative technologies to empower community health workforces, strengthen health systems, and improve health outcomes for vulnerable populations. I have expertise in human-centered design (HCD) and stakeholder engagement, rapid diagnostic test development, and training of community health workers (CHW) to administer community-based testing and complementary educational interventions. I have a successful track record of community engagement and sustained academic-community partnerships for action-oriented research. As PI of an NIH-NCI K01 grant, I am combining community-based participatory research (CBPR) and HCD principles towards the development and implementation of a rapid HPV test to address cervical cancer disparities among a vulnerable Hispanic community in Lake County, Indiana. In addition to test design and development, I am tailoring screening and educational interventions to meet the specific needs of the community with meaningful consideration of sociocultural context. I am applying this CBPR-HCD model to inform the implementation of a novel HIV rapid diagnostic test being developed by my Biomedical Engineering colleague, Dr. Jacqueline Linnes, in a high-risk population of people who inject drugs (PWID) in a homeless community of Tippecanoe County, Indiana. In partnership with key community-based organizations who serve the homeless population, we are examining the specific challenges and barriers to HIV testing and care among PWID in Lafayette, and we are working to understand their needs and preferences for different testing modalities (self-, peer-based, and CHW-led testing). Due to the drastic effects of the COVID-19 crisis on this vulnerable population, our efforts expanded towards understanding and addressing the specific risks and impacts of COVID-19 in this homeless community. This work has resulted in strong community partnerships with local organizations and I now employ two CHWs based in the community who are providing health education, SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen testing, and other support services including vaccination navigation for people experiencing homelessness. My future research interests focus on community-engaged intervention science, primarily training CHWs to conduct community-based HPV screening with the rapid diagnostic tool we are developing and to deliver cervical cancer education and other health equity interventions.

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More Publications »

M.P.H. - Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Cambridge, MA 05/2017

Ph.D. - Boston University, Boston, MA 01/2016