Trust and Public Health Conference

A conference at the intersection of trust and public health.

We are excited to announce that we will be hosting a conference at the intersection of trust and public health on Friday, September 8, 2023, at the Charles F. Knight Executive Education and Conference Center. This conference will build upon the work within the Trust and Public Health cluster funded by the Incubator for Transdisciplinary Futures within the School of Arts & Sciences.

The primary purpose of this inaugural conference is to bring together interested scholars and practitioners as a first step toward building an intellectual community around research on trust and public health. The conference will identify common themes and research questions among participants and provide a forum to discuss the relationship between trust and public health, including its historical antecedents.

Speakers include:

Dr. Matifadza Hlatshwayo Davis, MD, MPH, the Director of Health for the City of St. Louis. Her passion for community engagement, health equity, and patients living with HIV (PLWH), culminated in her becoming the co-chair of the Fast Track Cities initiative in St. Louis, and later appointed to the City of St. Louis Board of Health. Dr. Hlatshwayo Davis is now a national and international medical contributor on COVID-19 with a particular focus on marginalized populations.


Kurt Dirks holds a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and a B.B.A. and M.S. from Iowa State University. He currently serves as Senior Advisor to the Chancellor at Washington University in St. Louis where he leads a new strategic initiative to make leadership a central and distinctive part of the University. Kurt has served in various senior leadership roles at Washington University including Interim Dean and Senior Associate Dean of the Olin Business School and as Vice Chancellor for International Affairs for the university. He holds the appointment of Bank of America Professor, and is the co-founder and director of the Bauer Leadership Center, which is focused on values-based leadership.

Yongseok Shin is the Douglass C. North Distinguished Professor of Economics at Washington University in St. Louis. He is a Research Fellow of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the National Bureau of Economic Research. He earned his BA from Seoul National University in 1999, and his PhD in economics from Stanford University in 2004. Prior to joining Washington University in 2008, he taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Vetta Sanders Thompson, PhD is the Associate Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Siteman Cancer Center. In addition, she is Brown School at Washington University Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Dr. Sanders Thompson's research focuses on the health and well-being of diverse communities, particularly the African-American community. Her funded research addresses promotion of cancer screening and HPV vaccination among African Americans and community engagement. Additionally, her scholarship covers racial identity, implications of experiences of discrimination, and socio-cultural determinants of disparities, and community engagement.


Julia López, PhD, MPH, LCSW is a public health researcher who combines her clinical expertise in trauma, stigma, mental wellness, and substance use with public health theories to further advance health equity among underserved minority populations. A fundamental purpose of Dr. López’s work is to engage in a crucial combination of destigmatizing clinical practice, research, and community collaboration. Moreover, her recent efforts include the reduction of health disparities affecting people living with HIV, immigrant populations, and sexual and gender minority individuals.


Lori Markson, PhD is a Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences at Washington University in St Louis. She is also the Faculty Director of the Undergraduate Research Office in Arts & Sciences. Her research explores cognitive and social-cognitive development, with a focus on how infants and children learn from and think about other people, and reason about different social groups.



Patricia Olynyk is an artist and writer, whose work explores science and technology-related themes and the ways that social systems and institutional structures shape our understanding of the world. She was appointed inaugural director of the unified Graduate School of Art and Florence and Frank Bush Professor of Art in the Sam Fox School in 2007. Olynyk teaches in the College and Graduate School of Art and Medical Humanities and holds courtesy appointments in the School of Medicine (CHESS), Performing Arts, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.


View the Conference Agenda