People

Tyler J. VanderWeele

Tyler J. VanderWeele, Ph.D., is the John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology in the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Director of the Human Flourishing Program and Co-Director of the Initiative on Health, Religion and Spirituality at Harvard University. He holds degrees from the University of Oxford, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University in mathematics, philosophy, theology, finance, and biostatistics. His methodological research is focused on theory and methods for distinguishing between association and causation in the biomedical and social sciences, and, more recently, on measurement theory and the importance of incorporating ideas from causal inference and from analytic philosophy into measure development and evaluation. His empirical research spans psychiatric and social epidemiology; the science of happiness and flourishing; and the study of religion and health, including both religion and population health and the role of religion and spirituality in end-of-life care. He is the recipient of the 2017 Presidents’ Award from the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS). He has published over three hundred papers in peer-reviewed journals, and is author of the books Explanation in Causal Inference (2015) and Measuring Well-Being (2020), both published by Oxford University Press. You may also visit his School of Public Health Profile.

Contacttvanderw [at] hsph.harvard.edu

Flynn Cratty

Flynn J. Cratty, Ph.D., serves as Associate Director of the program. He oversees its day-to-day functions and engagement with Harvard faculty and students. A historian of early modern Europe, he is a graduate of Duke University (B.A.), Southern Seminary (M.Div.), and Yale University (M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D.). His dissertation, “The Soul in Paraphrase”: Prayer and the Changing Mental Worlds of Early Modern France and England, won Yale's university-wide Theron Rockwell Field Prize. Prior to arriving at Harvard, Flynn was a John and Daria Barry Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the James Madison Program at Princeton University.

Contactflynncratty [at] fas.harvard.edu

Matthew Lee

Matthew T. Lee, Ph.D., is the program's Director of Empirical Research. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Delaware in 2000. He was a Professor and Chair of sociology and an Interim Chair in anthropology and classical studies at the University of Akron, with a secondary appointment in criminal justice studies, in addition to serving as a Faculty Fellow in both the Center for Conflict Management and the Center for Experiential Learning.  He was Chair of the American Sociological Association’s Section on Altruism, Morality, and Social Solidarity, President of the North Central Sociological Association, and he continues to serve as an ad hoc reviewer for the National Science Foundation. He is also a non-resident Research Fellow at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion. His current research explores topics such as benevolent service to others, organizational compassion capability, the integration of social science and the humanities, and the effect of character virtues on adolescent desistance from delinquency and addiction.  He is the co-author of The Heart of Religion: Spiritual Empowerment, Benevolence, and the Experience of God’s Love, published by Oxford University Press, in addition to 50+ articles/book chapters and four other books.

Contact: matthew_lee [at] fas.harvard.edu.

Ying ChenYing Chen, Sc.D., serves as an empirical research scientist for the program. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she also obtained her doctorate in 2016 in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Her research concerns identifying positive psychosocial factors that help individuals to attain and maintain health. She is particularly interested in studying health assets within the family for improving offspring health. For instance, she has examined whether greater parental warmth may help offspring maintain positive mental health as characterized by flourishing in later life. She has also investigated the association of parenting styles and parents’ marital stability with offspring’s body weight trajectories. Her other work and interests include a) social disparity in the distribution of mental and psychological well-being; b) the biological and behavioral mechanisms linking childhood familial experiences to health in adulthood; c) the association of religious service attendance, forgiveness and sense of mission with mental and physical health in later life.

Contactyingchen [at] fas.harvard.edu

Jeffrey Hanson

Jeffrey Hanson, Ph.D., is a senior philosopher for the program. He received his Ph.D. from Fordham University in 2005. He was an adjunct assistant professor of philosophy at Boston College from 2005 to 2010. From 2010 to 2015 he was a research fellow at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. He remains an honorary fellow of their Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. He is the editor of Kierkegaard as Phenomenologist: An Experiment (Northwestern University Press) and co-editor with Michael R. Kelly of Michel Henry: The Affects of Thought (Bloomsbury). His first monograph, Kierkegaard and the Life of Faith: The Aesthetic, the Ethical, and the Religious in "Fear and Trembling" was published by Indiana University Press in 2017.  Dr. Hanson’s research focuses on issues in philosophy of religion, phenomenology, aesthetics, and ethics. His writings on Kierkegaard, French phenomenology of religion, and the arts are motivated by an ongoing interest in the practical value of philosophy for human flourishing, and he draws on the whole history of philosophy and theology for both his scholarly work and popular publications on literature, music, film, and popular culture.

Contact: jhanson [at] fas.harvard.edu

Richard Cowden

Richard G. Cowden, Ph.D., is a social-personality psychologist and the psychology research associate for the program. He completed his doctoral training at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He is broadly interested in intersections between cultural-contextual dynamics and psychosocial processes that shape adaptive functioning, personal growth, and well-being. Much of his research agenda focuses on character strengths and positive adjustment, especially the implications of forgiveness for health and well-being in diverse cultures and contexts. He has written 40+ scholarly articles and book chapters that address various aspects of human flourishing in a wide range of populations.

Contact: rcowden [at] fas.harvard.edu

Jennifer Wortham

Jennifer S. Wortham, Dr.PH, is a religion, spirituality, and forgiveness research associate for the program. She earned her doctorate in public health at the UCLA, Fielding School of Public Health, and she is a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black-belt.  She served as a strategy and population health executive and consultant for leading healthcare organizations in the public and private sectors, and as the Executive Director of the Society for Healthcare Improvement Professionals. She has extensive experience teaching graduate-level courses in project management, Lean Six Sigma, and quality improvement methods.  In 2019, she authored a memoir on clergy sexual abuse titled A Letter to the Pope: The Keeper of the Nest (New Insights Press). She serves as an advisory member of the Spirit Fire Board, and on the Survivor Advisory Panel for the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults. She is Chair of the Global Collaborative to establish an annual day of observance for the prevention and healing of child sexual abuse.

Brendan Case

Brendan W. Case, Th.D., serves as the program's Associate Director for Research, working both to develop integrative research strategies that draw together explorations of human flourishing from across the social sciences and humanities, and to disseminate the program's work through external partnerships and public events. His current research aims to develop a theological account of human nature that brings fundamental Christian convictions into conversation with contemporary debates in the social and behavioral sciences. Dr. Case is the author of The Accountable Animal: Justice, Justification, and Judgment (under contract with T&T Clark), and his work has appeared in journals such as Modern Theology, Franciscan Studies, and Pro Ecclesia. Before coming to Harvard, he completed his Th.D. at Duke Divinity School, and served as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion.

Contact: brendan_case [at] fas.harvard.edu

Current Postdoctoral Fellows

Joanna Hong

Joanna Heejeong Hong, Ph.D., is a John and Daria Barry postdoctoral fellow at the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia. Her research examines how social relationships impact physical health and psychological well-being across the adult life span. She is particularly interested in understanding how character strengths and virtues can help individuals cultivate positive relationships and better navigate a lack/absence of meaningful relationships (loneliness, social isolation). She also aims to understand how these processes are influenced by social structural factors including, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, and culture. In addition to basic research, she is committed to translational research and works with organizations such as AARP, UnitedHealthcare, and IDEO, to build and refine interventions aimed at enhancing people’s health and well-being.

Katelyn Long Katelyn Long, DrPH, MSc, is the John and Daria Barry postdoctoral fellow at the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University and a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her current work focuses on determinants of well-being, group dynamics of religion on human flourishing, and the development of tradition-specific spiritual well-being measures. She completed her doctoral studies at Boston University School of Public Health where her dissertation focused on the role of faith-based and charitable health providers in health systems. Her other public health work has been in the areas of chronic disease prevention, adolescent health, mental health, and positive deviance in vulnerable communities. She earned her Master of Science in Public Health from the University of Utah and her undergraduate degree in religion with a minor in music from Vanguard University.
Koichiro Shiba

Koichiro Shiba, MPH, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow with the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University and the Departments of Epidemiology and Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His research applies epidemiologic thinking and methods to better understand social determinants of health. Specifically, he examines the impacts of disasters (e.g., earthquakes/pandemics) on the health of survivors along with the individual- and community-level factors that make people more or less resilient. He also investigates the health effects of positive social/psychological factors (e.g., purpose in life) and changing distributions of human flourishing across time and space globally. He earned a Ph.D. in Population Health Sciences from Harvard University. He received his master’s degree in public health and undergraduate degree in health sciences from the University of Tokyo.

Renae Wilkinson

Renae Wilkinson, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow with the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University. Her research examines the role of family and educational pathways to life-course health and well-being with a concentration on parental social and economic resources during adolescence. She completed her doctoral studies in sociology at Baylor University where her dissertation focused on childhood parental death and its associations with health and educational attainment across the transition to adulthood. She earned master's degrees from Baylor University in sociology and the University of Portland in business administration, and completed her undergraduate studies in sociology at Portland State University.