Rachel Mayo has been named associate dean of research and graduate studies in the Clemson University College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences (CBSHS). Mayo brings more than two decades of experience to the position, both as a faculty leader and prolific researcher, and the appointment follows a full academic year of Mayo serving as interim in the role.
Mayo said she plans to focus on enhancing research collaborations across departments within CBSHS and across the University. She also hopes to serve as a resource that connects faculty of all experience levels to the funding agencies that are relevant to their research areas.
“I believe that the person in this role should primarily enable and promote the research of others,” Mayo said. “It is our responsibility and our privilege to educate the next generation of thought leaders, so I look forward to playing my part to work with leadership at all levels to promote excellence in graduate teaching and research.”
Mayo said she has enjoyed gaining a new perspective over the last year on the responsibilities undertaken by leadership on the college level, and she looks forward to advocating for the college on the University level.
Mayo took on the role of associate dean on an interim basis just before COVID-19 altered the landscape of Clemson University considerably in March 2020. Mayo said that the pandemic created many challenges in the areas of research and graduate studies just as it did for the rest of the University. However, she said the various challenges it presented have revealed just how important the many disciplines that CBSHS represents are to COVID response and recovery.
“We’ve faced the pandemic and its political and economic fallout as well as issues related to social justice in the past year, and most of us haven’t been impacted by just one of those issues,” Mayo said. “I believe that the research and graduate level studies undertaken by the behavioral, social and health scientists in our college have never been more important to address the complex issues in front of us.”
Mayo said that in the immediate future, she looks forward to addressing the needs of the many graduate students in the college, including minority and underrepresented students and international students who have been affected by restrictions to travel and e-learning. Mayo is also interested in establishing a graduate student advisory committee in order to lend students from all disciplines a voice in the growth and expansion of graduate studies.
Mayo has a background in public health, with specific training and expertise in women’s health. Her research interests include health disparities as well as cancer prevention and control among minorities and the underserved, particularly Black and Latino populations.
She has also been the principal investigator (PI) or co-investigator on more than $4 million in grants and contracts. Currently, Mayo is the PI on a DHHS-funded cohort study to examine an early treatment model for infants born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome to opioid-addicted mothers. She has previous NIH funding examining medical and nursing students’ readiness to treat Latino patients and to increase breast and cervical cancer screenings through a large statewide intervention in African American churches.
CBSHS Dean Leslie Hossfeld said Mayo has excelled over the past year in continuing to drive the positive growth of the college’s research portfolio and its graduate programs. She said the experience Mayo has gained throughout her own successful research career and the relationships she has built during her time at Clemson will serve the college well as it seeks to continue growing research through grants and scholarship while strengthening CBSHS graduate programs.
“Faculty of all experience levels from every discipline in our college will benefit from Dr. Mayo’s expertise and research experience,” Hossfeld said. “Dr. Mayo’s own research is so closely aligned with the college mission to ‘build people and communities,’ and I am confident she will help to elevate the research of others to similar levels of success.”
Mayo was the Wallace R. Roy Professor of Public Health Sciences and served as research coordinator and more recently associate chair in Clemson’s public health sciences department. She has led several university-wide groups, serving as chair of the President’s Commission on Women and the University Grievance Board. She has served on numerous statewide boards related to her work in women’s health and currently serves on the national Center for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee for Young Women with Breast Cancer. Mayo earned a Ph.D. in health promotion and education from the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health. She earned a master’s degree in microbiology and a bachelor’s degree in natural science from the University of Arkansas.
The Clemson University College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences (CBSHS) was established in July 2016. CBSHS is a 21st-century, land-grant college that combines work in seven disciplines – communication; nursing; parks, recreation and tourism management; political science; psychology; public health sciences; sociology, anthropology and criminal justice – to further its mission of “building people and communities” in South Carolina and beyond.