Philip May, PhD


Research Professor
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Philip A. May, PhD, joined the UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute in 2011 as a Research Professor. He is an expert in the field of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and the epidemiology of a number of health-related behaviors.

Dr. May has conducted extensive research on the epidemiology and risk factors for FASD, including inventories of the population based on traits of children within all diagnoses of FASD, maternal and paternal alcohol use and abuse, childbearing variables, and maternal health factors such as socioeconomic status and dietary intake in various populations. He has received funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), specifically the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), over the past 25 years. Dr. May was formally trained in demography, social epidemiology, and population studies and focuses much of his research on the epidemiologic discovery of etiology, targeted opportunities for community-wide prevention, and programs of intervention.

At the NRI, Dr. May combines the knowledge gained from his on-the-ground research in the United States, Italy, and South Africa with the institute’s advancements in developing an individualized approach to nutrition. “We have made great progress identifying the demographic and behavioral risk factors for FASD in some populations,” Dr. May explains. “Now we must look at individual risk factors such as nutritional deficiencies in mothers and children including how genetics, epigenetics, and metabolism influence the severity of FASD outcomes.”

By joining NRI and moving to North Carolina, Dr. May has returned to his roots in the Southeastern United States. He graduated from Catawba College with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and received his Masters of Sociology at Wake Forest University. He earned his Doctorate of Sociology with specialties in Demography and Social Epidemiology from the University of Montana. He has since built an esteemed professional career in public health research serving first as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service. He came to UNC-NRI after 33 years as a Professor of Sociology and Family and Community Medicine at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

Dr. May has recently received a number of awards for his research. He was selected to deliver the 2011 University of New Mexico (UNM) 56th Annual Research Lecture, one of the highest honors that can be awarded to a UNM faculty member. His lecture, titled “Adventures in Public Health Research: Four Decades of Shoe-Leather Epidemiology and Prevention,” shared key areas of his critical research, including 30 years of epidemiology research on behavioral health factors among a number of tribes of American Indians of the western states. In 2012, he received an Excellence Award for “pioneering research and distinguished contributions” from the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. In 2013 he was the recipient of a Starfish Award from the University of British Columbia’s Fifth International Conference on FASD for “having the courage to make a difference” in the lives of people living with FASD. In 2014, the Henry Rosett Award of the FASD Study Group of the Research Society on Alcoholism was presented to Dr. May “in honor of his achievements in research on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.”  Finally, in 2017 Dr. May delivered (for the second time) the Geoffrey Robinson Memorial Lecture at the International Conference on FASD.

Dr. May is appointed in the Department of Nutrition at the UNC-Chapel Hill, Gillings School of Global Public Health. He also maintains roles as an Extraordinary Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Stellenbosch, in Cape Town, South Africa, and as an Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics for the Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota.

 


 

 

Research Team

 

Julie Hasken : <h4>Doctoral Student in Nutrition, UNC-CH; Project Manager, May Lab</h4>

Julie Hasken

Doctoral Student in Nutrition, UNC-CH; Project Manager, May Lab

jhasken@email.unc.edu
704-250-5042

Julie earned a BS in Health Science from Truman State University and a Masters in Public Health, with a concentration in Health Education and Health Behavior, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a Certified Health Education Specialist, her prior work focused on tobacco prevention and control. At the NRI, Julie works with Philip May, PhD, on dataset management, quality assurance, data analysis, and manuscript preparation on the epidemiology of FASD in the United States and South Africa.

 



Julie Stegall : <h4>Research Assistant, May Lab</h4>

Julie Stegall

Research Assistant, May Lab

julie_stegall@unc.edu
704-250-5042

Julie earned a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications and a Masters in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her work with children and families spans a variety of locations and settings. Since she joined the NRI in 2009, she has worked directly on research studies with babies, toddlers, school age children, and adults, as well as managing other lab responsibilities. She was drawn to working with Philip May, Ph.D. as a result of her past experiences working directly with children diagnosed with a FASD. Julie is a native of Kannapolis.