Rebecca Jones and Gabe Benavidez to Join Department of Public Health Faculty

March 15, 2023
Rebecca Jones and Gabe Benavidez

Baylor University’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences is pleased to announce the appointment of two new faculty members in the Department of Public Health. On August 1, Rebecca Jones-Antwi, PhD, and Gabriel Benavidez, PhD (expected May 2023) will both join the faculty as Assistant Professors of Public Health with specializations in epidemiology.

Dr. Rebecca Jones-Antwi comes to Baylor from Emory University, where she will soon finish a postdoctoral fellowship in cardiovascular disparities in the Department of Epidemiology. She recently completed a second postdoctoral fellowship in Emory’s Department of Global Health. Jones-Antwi received her PhD and MPH from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and her undergraduate degree at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.

With a specialization in nutritional epidemiology, Jones-Antwi’s research focuses on understanding obesity dynamics across the life course and the utilization of migration as a lens to evaluate the role of environments on health and behavior. She continues to work on multiple grant projects around this and similar topics, in addition to her numerous publications and presentations. In her spare time, Jones-Antwi teaches yoga and enjoys coffee, matcha, and reading.

“I’m so excited to be joining the Baylor Public Health faculty and working towards Baylor’s Illuminate vision,” she said. “My work examines the landscapes of places and health with a specific focus on migration, chronic disease, and food choice. Baylor’s focus on health, data science, and human flourishing makes it a great place to engage with this work!” 

Gabriel Benavidez is currently completing his PhD in Epidemiology at the Arnold School of Public Health of the University of South Carolina (USC), where he also serves as a Research Associate and Data Analyst for the Rural and Minority Health Research Center. Benavidez is a Baylor alumnus, having graduated from the Master’s in Public Health program in 2019. He completed his undergraduate studies at Montana State University-Northern.

Benavidez’s expertise is in spatial epidemiology with research focusing on the impact of social determinants and healthcare service access on chronic disease outcomes. He serves as the Associate Editor for the World Medical Health Policy Journal and is a co-investigator for a $700,000 grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA)/HHS that focuses on rural health research. When he’s not working or researching, Benavidez enjoys making homemade bread and traveling to new cities to explore local coffee shops, bookstores, and antique stores.

“It was only about four years ago that I graduated from this very department, so coming back was an extremely easy choice for me to make. This department is like family to me, and I couldn’t be happier that I now get to make significant contributions as a faculty member,” Benavidez said. “I also can’t think of a better time to join the Baylor faculty with our recent classification as an R1 University. I hope I can help the Department and University continue to grow and cement Baylor as a premier faith-based research institution.”

“We are thrilled to have Rebecca and Gabe joining the Public Health faculty,” said Eva Doyle, PhD, Chair of the Department of Public Health. “As a graduate of our MPH program, Gabe is already a strong advocate of Baylor Public Health, and his research focus will further enhance the capacity of our faculty to examine health inequities in rural and minority populations. Likewise, Rebecca’s passion for cross-disciplinary research methodologies will render her an invaluable collaborator and research partner with many in our department as well as other health-linked disciplines at Baylor as we work to understand the links between the environment, health behaviors, and chronic disease. The Department of Public Health is beyond excited to welcome both of these outstanding researchers and teachers to Baylor University’s Robbins College this fall.”