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González, Sonia

Sonia K Gonzalez

Assistant Professor of Instruction, Director of Public Health
School of Human Ecology


Office Location


Spring 2024 Office hours: Th 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm
Office: Gearing (GEA) 308
Office phone: 512.475.7817 (can't receive texts)
Get on my calendar here.


Short Bio

Sonia K. González, DrPH has had a public health career spanning more than 25 years in the non-profit, philanthropy, higher education, and social impact sectors. She has primarily served young people aged 18 to 25 in NYC and taught in higher education throughout NYC, since 2013. Her research has received support from a National Research Service Award, the National Institutes of Mental Health (F31MH099924). Sonia has published her research in peer-reviewed journals, presented findings at conferences, and has been a TEDx speaker. In 2021, Dr. González joined The University of Texas at Austin where she is currently an Assistant Professor of Instruction and serves as Director of the Public Health Program.

Long Bio

Sonia K. González, DrPH has a proven track record since 1995 serving adolescents and young adults aged 18 to 25 in HIV prevention and college health. Previously, Dr. González co-founded the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition; served as Deputy Director of an NYC-based HIV prevention non-profit; and as a Board Director for an organization addressing generational poverty in Red Hook, Brooklyn. She draws from a human-centered approach to her work.

She taught as an Adjunct Professor in the Physician Assistant Program at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at City College; Brooklyn College in the Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences; CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies; Hunter College in the Department of Community Health; and NYU College of Global Public Health. After serving as a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Center for Health Technology at Hunter College, Sonia returned to UT Austin and joined the  Public Health Program faculty where she has served as Program Director since the Fall of 2021.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Texas at Austin, a Master's of Public Health from The Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and a Doctorate of Public Health from The Graduate Center, City University of New York. She also holds an Interactive Technology & Pedagogy (ITP) Certificate and was a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Fellow (NIMH, F31MH099924). She is particularly interested in mobile health technology (mHealth) to improve health among young people.

Currently, Dr. González is an Assistant Professor of Instruction and Director of the Public Health program housed within the School of Human Ecology in the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin.

When not working, Dr. González is doing yoga, riding her bike, swimming, or enjoying good food and belly laughing with friends and family in Austin.


She is recognized for:

  • Data-driven product development on a tight timeline
  • Statistical and research methodologies including individual interviews, focus groups, social observations, surveys, metrics design, evaluation
  • Presenting complex findings to diverse audiences, from lay to executive-level
  • Fostering productive internal and external stakeholder relationships  modeling dignity and respect for all
  • Solutions-oriented staff training and management
  • TEDx Talk, "Connecting the Digital with the Human"


  • I grew up in El Paso, Texas
  • City or town call home: I lived in NYC for 20 years and feel at home among New Yorkers
  • Current location: Austin, Texas
  • Education:
    • Bachelor of Arts in Latin American Studies, concentration in Public Health; Spanish, concentration in Linguistics from UT Austin (1999)
    • Master of Public Health, Population and Family Health from Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University (2003)
    • Doctor of Public Health, Population, and Community Health from the Graduate Center (2018)
    • Interactive Technology & Pedagogy Certification from the Graduate Center (2018)
  • Background/experience: clinical trial, non-profit programming, evaluation, digital health start-up
  • As a child, you wanted to be: a doctor + ninja + professor
  • Motto: Fail forward


Health + Tech

I bridge the health and tech worlds with digital health applied research grounded in equity.

Below are samples of my work:

Hats & Ladders FOR Health: Data-Driven Decision-Making for Future Health Citizens and Professionals (NIH-R44GM150311-01)

Healthy CUNY App

  • Launched 2 college health apps across 5 NYC college campuses on time and within budget
  • Coordinated project development and evaluation between science, medical, and design teams
  • Hired and supervised a team of 17 undergraduates and 7 graduate students



You have a doctorate. Why digital health?

  • That’s right. I have a doctoral degree in Public Health, specializing in community health. I supplemented my technical training by earning an Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate. Digital health is how I bring this training together.
  • The promise of scale to effect change for the many makes digital health very appealing. Combining science with tech seems to be generating promising results, especially around behavior change. This makes it an incredibly exciting time to work in digital health.

What motivates your work?

  • My family history and my Mexican-American matriarchal home that focused on family, community, education, and serving those in need.
  • Some of my earliest experiences threw me into the fires of public health work. This included serving LGBTQ+ youth who were thrown out of their homes after coming out to their parents, drug-using and drug-abusing youth, and collaborating with young, poor, people of color in New York City. This work continues to inform what I do.
  • I’m inspired by young people and those who challenge inequities and the status quo.
  • My training in evidence-based decision-making. Show me the data.

Why work with you?

  • I treat people like people, with respect and a smile.
  • I listen and ask why with genuine curiosity.
  • I’m adaptable and as comfortable at a table with colleagues as I am with a Board of Trustees.
  • I have good ideas along with the willingness to listen to others. I love building solutions as a team.


Gonzalez, S.K., (2021) Pedagogical Opportunities of the Coronavirus (COVID19) Pandemic: Developing a Case Study Collaboratively. Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy.

Gonzalez, S.K., Grov, C. (2020). Recruiting Young Women of Color into an HIV Prevention Pilot RCT: Lessons Learned and Implications for Health Technology Applied Research. Journal of American College Health. DOI: 10.1080/07448481.2020.1746663.

Schmeltz, M.T.; Gonzalez, S.K.; Fuentes, L.; Kwan, A.; Ortega-Williams, A.; Cowan, L.P. (2013). Lessons from Hurricane Sandy: A Community Response in Brooklyn, New York. Journal of Urban Health 90(5), 799-809. DOI: 10.1007/s11524-013-9832-9.

Gonzalez-Gladstein, S.K. “Perspectives from the Field: Community Resilience in Post-Sandy Red Hook, Brooklyn”. McSilver Institute for Poverty and Research.

Cushman, L. F., Cairo, L., Caseras, F., & Jimenez-Bautista, A. (Eds.)[Gonzalez, S.K., Contributor] (2006). Finding Their Way: A Qualitative Study of Adolescent Migration Between the Dominican Republic and the United States. Santo Domingo, RD: Profamilia.


Scholar + mentor


• TEDxCUNY Circuits Event, New York, NY. 2017.

• “Using Tech to Improve Health: Developing the Healthy CUNY App”. Refereed Presentation at 2016 CUNY Instructional/Information Technology Conference, New York, NY, December 2, 2016.

• “A Dissertation Informed from Within: Developing and Testing a Sexual Health App for Women of Color”. Refereed presentation at the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists. San Juan, Puerto Rico. 2016.

• “Comparing  The  Effectiveness of  Using  Social  Media  Versus  Dating  Websites  To  Recruit Black and Latina Women Aged  18  To  25  Into a Sexual  Health  Research  Study”. 332120. Refereed  Presentation at  2015 American  Public Health  Association  Annual  Meeting, Chicago, IL.

• “There’s  an  App  for  That, but  Does it Work? Development of the Evaluation of a  Sexual  Health Mobile‐Based App”. Invited  Presentation  to  the Evaluating,  Valuing,  and  Promoting Digital Scholarship  Panel hosted by the CUNY Graduate  Center  Digital  Fellows. April  21, 2015,  New  York,  NY.

• “Are  Texting  and  Social  Networking  Sites  Instant  Messaging  Appropriate  Sexual  Health Education  Tools  for  Urban Young  Women  of  Color? A  Mixed  Methods  Study”.  287981.  Refereed Presentation  at  2013  American  Public Health  Association  Annual  Meeting,  Boston,  MA.

• “New  Media  Lab:  An  Introduction  to  Balsamiq”.  Invited  Presentation  to  the  New  Media  Lab, March  20,  2013.

• “Red  Hook  After  Sandy:  A  Critical  Analysis  of  a  Community-­Based  Organizations  Response”.  Invited  Presentation at  12th  Annual  Nature  Ecology  &  Society  Colloquium,  March  8th,  2013. Recipient  of  the  Environmental  Health and  Safety  Watchdogs  2013  We  are  in  this  Together  Award  for striving  to  involve  community  action.

• “Early  Findings:  How  Urban  Young  Women  of  Color  Use  Social  and  Mobile  Media  for  Sexual  and  Reproductive Health  Information”.  Refereed  Presentation  at  2012 CUNY Instructional/Information  Technology  Conference, November  30,  2012.

• “Early  Findings:  Urban  Young  Women  of  Color  are  Weary  of  Social  and  Mobile  Media” Refereed Presentation  at 5th Annual Sex Tech  Conference  on  New  Media,  Youth  and  Sexual  Health,  April  2,  2012.

• “Parallel  Challenges  for  Rural  Women  &  Urban  Women  of  Color  Living  in  Geographically  Isolated  Areas” Invited Presentation  at  the  United  Nations  Commission  on  the  Status  of  Women,  March  2,  2012.

• “Young  Women  of  Color  HIV/AIDS  Coalition  (YWCHAC):  A  Youth  Empowerment  Approach  to HIV  Prevention” Refereed Presentation  at  Hunter  College  Schools  of  the  Health  Professions  and Hunter -Bellevue  School  of Nursing,  4th  Annual  Student-­Faculty  Research  Conference,  May  5,  2010.


• Sand, S., Dinh-Le, C., Sprott, K., Weiner, S. Healthy CUNY App: The Feasibility of Using a Web-based Health Application for CUNY Students to Target Health Disparities. Refereed poster session presented at CUNY Institute for Health Equity Annual Conference: Equity Now, May8, 2017.

•Weiner, S. Using Technology to Connect Students to Health. Refereed presentation at Kingsborough Community College Peer Mentoring Conference: What does it mean to be a Peer Educator? Mentoring, Leadership, and Support, February 3, 2017.

• Sprott, K., Sand, S., Dinh-Le, C., Weiner, S. A Peer Connection: Empowering the Student Leaders of Tomorrow. Refereed presentation at Kingsborough Community College Peer Mentoring Conference: What does it mean to be a Peer Educator? Mentoring, Leadership, and Support, February 3, 2017.

PBH 334: Global Health

PBH 356: Health Behavior Theory & Practice