Planey receives 2023 Gillings Faculty Award for Excellence in Health Equity Research – UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

October 9, 2023

Dr. Arrianna Marie Planey

Dr. Arrianna Marie Planey

Arrianna Marie Planey, PhD, MA, assistant professor of health policy and management at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has been selected as the recipient of the 2023 Gillings Faculty Award for Excellence in Health Equity Research.

The Gillings Health Equity Faculty Research Award recognizes excellence in research by faculty in the Gillings School that advances solutions to health inequities. This award is co-sponsored by the school’s research and inclusive excellence units.

Planey is a medical and health geographer who joined the Department of Health Policy and Management in 2020 after receiving her doctoral degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is also a faculty fellow at the Carolina Population Center, a research fellow at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and a member of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. In her research, she aims to understand how systemic changes can reduce health disparities by applying new methodologies and interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks to examine the intersections between policies, health care access and use, and underlying population-level health inequities.

Planey’s specific areas of research focus on examining health care quality and access, policy impacts on access to care, the impact of social determinants and fundamental causes on health services, and health and health care equity as both a process and an outcome.

Her unique expertise in spatial analytics allows her to deliberately consider geographic scale and context when applying her methods to health and health care outcomes, and her work has broad relevance to many areas of health care. She has contributed to research on topics such as the misalignment of health care worker availability and population need; geographic racial disparities in opioid overdose deaths; preterm birth and low birth weight among infants born to Black birthing people; economic impacts of rural hospital closures and worsening racial and ethnic inequities in geographic access to care; racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 cases; and racial (in)equity in wages and work commutes among disabled workers.

“Health equity is a complex concept that involves diverse needs, determinants and solutions. Dr. Planey’s research is a prime example of the many ways in which health equity solutions must be pursued,” said Kim Ramsey-White, PhD, associate dean for inclusive excellence at the Gillings School. “Dr. Planey’s expertise as a health and medical geographer presents opportunities for innovation and interdisciplinary research to engage and reveal new ways of seeing both challenges and solutions. This is the type of creative problem solving that will move us closer to the solutions we seek.”

“I am thrilled that Dr. Arrianna Marie Planey has been selected to receive the Gillings Faculty Award for Excellence in Health Equity Research! Her pioneering research using spatial analytic methods to better understand the intersection of health policy and health care access and utilization is transforming our understanding of the drivers of population-level health inequities,” said Kristin Reiter, PhD, professor and interim chair of health policy and management. “Among her many contributions, she is illuminating the ways in which structural racism impacts travel times to health enabling services for Black and Latinx people in the United States, creating pathways for policy and system-level interventions to improve outcomes, and eliminate persistent racial and ethnic inequities. She is a leader and exemplar, not only in the field but also as a colleague. She is highly deserving of this award and we are so proud of her!”

Planey will receive her award during a session entitled “Advancing Health Equity Solutions at UNC,” co-sponsored by the Gillings School research and inclusive excellence units, on Nov. 14 from 2-3 P.M. Planey will give a presentation, followed by presentations from Ronny Bell, PhD, MS, the Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professor and chair of the Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, and Iheoma Iruka, PhD, MS, MA, research professor of public policy and founding director of the Equity Research Action Coalition at FPG Child Development Institute.

Register to attend the Advancing Health Equity Solutions at UNC event online at

Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at

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