Story receives Associate Professor Advancement Award 

Published on April 10, 2024

Will Story

University of Iowa College of Public Health faculty member Will Story has been selected to receive a Carver Trust Associate Professor Advancement Award. The award is intended to support the advancement of associate professors to full professors. 

Story, an associate professor in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health, will use the funding to advance his research in improving access to health care and reduce health inequities among marginalized populations by strengthening families and communities.

Over the last eight years, Story has built a robust research portfolio by working collaboratively with colleagues at international institutions, which has led to multiple successful partnerships in India, Kenya, and Iowa. With these partners, he is using rigorous study designs and applying both qualitative and quantitative methods to examine: (1) the influence of families on reproductive, maternal, and child health; (2) the effect of social relationships on care-seeking behaviors; and (3) the design and evaluation of interventions that address health inequities.

Aims for This Award

Story recently completed two NIH studies and one major study funded by the John Templeton Foundation (JTF), which have laid the foundation for future intervention studies. In partnership with Africa Community Leadership and Development (ACLAD), Story and team members from Kenya implemented the Stepping Up! program in western Kenya from November 2022 to March 2023. The aim of this JTF-funded project was to reduce early pregnancy by delaying sexual initiation and increasing contraceptive use among adolescents.

The team adapted and implemented two widely used, theory-informed curricula (Stepping Stones for youth and Families Matter! for parents) over 12 weeks, and they are currently analyzing the data. The initial analysis of the qualitative data revealed that youth who participated in Stepping Stones were interested in additional livelihoods activities, such as soap making and selling African leafy vegetables. Therefore, the over-all goal of the proposed project is to adapt and pilot test the Stepping Stones curriculum by incorporating livelihoods training for youth between the ages of 18 and 24 in western Kenya.

This project will build a foundation for scaling-up a new intervention that addresses sexual and reproductive health (SRH) through Stepping Stones and livelihoods activities through Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC). The integration of Stepping Stones and SILC provides a self-sustaining strategy to address unintended pregnancies and the uptake of SRH services.

The College of Public Health Associate Professor Advancement Award is co-funded by the CPH Research Office and the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, one of the largest private philanthropic foundations in the state of Iowa. The Carver Trust supports biomedical and scientific research, scholarships, and programs addressing the educational and recreational needs of youth.