J. Michael Oakes, PhD

Professor, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health

J. Michael Oakes

Contact Info


Office Phone 612-624-6855

Fax 612-624-0315

Office Address:
300 West Bank Office Building

Mailing Address:
1300 S 2nd St
Minneapolis, MN 55454

Administrative Assistant Name
Cindy Lawson

Administrative Phone

Administrative Email

PhD, Sociology (Methodology), University of Massachusetts-Amherst

BBA, Management Economics, University of Massachusetts-Amherst


My research has been highly collaborative, interdisciplinary, and focused on three main areas: applied methodology, social epidemiology, and research ethics. I am interested in research leadership, community-engaged research, and improving the public's health. I co-founded and direct the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program. As of June 2021, I spend 100 percent of my time serving as Interim Vice President for Research.


Research methods, social epidemiology, research ethics, research leadership

Awards & Recognition

  • Member, Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health
  • Award for Excellence in Advising, School of Public Health, 2012
  • Leonard Schuman Teaching Award, School of Public Health, 2010
  • McKnight Presidential Fellow, University of Minnesota, 2007–2010


Research Summary/Interests

I'm currently working on several studies: 

  • Establishing and leading the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s new Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (IRL) and working with the RWJF Change Leadership Programs.
  • Working with Dr. Cari Clark (PI) to evaluate the impact of a domestic violence prevention program in Nepal. This is a community-randomized trial.
  • Working with Dr. Lisa Harnack (PI) to evaluate the impact of incentive changes to a model SNAP (i.e., food stamps) program on food purchasing behavior. This is a randomized controlled experiment.
  • Evaluating the magnitude of panel conditioning in an internet-based study to reduce HIV risk in men who have sex with men. This is a randomized controlled experiment embedded in a rather typical internet RCT to assess an intervention.
  • Establishing an easy to use, publicly available, geo-spatial contextual data resource for multilevel health and social science research.

Research Funding Grants

  • 2016–2026, RWJF Change Leaders Programs, "Interdisciplinary Research Leaders," Principal Investigator
  • 2016–2020, NIH, "HealthPop: A Geocoding, Spatial Workflow and Context," Principal Investigator
  • 2015–2017, UK Dept for International Development, "Change Starts at Home: Preventing Violence Against Woman and Girls in Nepal," Co-Investigator
  • 2013–2018, NIH/NICHD, "Experimental Incentives in the SNAP Program," Co-Investigator
  • 2013–2017, NIH, "Designing a Food Benefit Program to Optimize Diet Quality for Obesity Prevention," Co-Investigator
  • 2012–2017, NIH/NICHD, "Integrated Demographic and Health Series Study," Co-Investigator
  • 2010–2017, NIH, "Men's INTernet Study III (MINTS-III) for HIV Prevention," Co-Investigator



Academic Interests and Focus

As a teacher and mentor, I strive to offer students profound interdisciplinary insights and rigorous training. I mentor a large number of master, doctoral, and post-doctoral students and, until recently, taught courses in Advanced Epidemiological Methods, Cluster-ramdomized Trials, Stata Programming, SAS Programming, and Social Epidemiology.

Teaching Areas

Given administrative duties, as of January 2019 I am no longer teaching classes.


In The News

SPH News

In The Media

  • UTSA researcher selected for National Leadership Program to build a culture of health in South Texas (UTSA Today)