M. Giovanna Merli | Duke Kunshan University

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M. Giovanna Merli

Professor of Public Policy, Sociology, and Global Health, Duke University 


M. Giovanna Merli is Professor of Public Policy, Sociology and Global Health at Duke University, Director of the NIH-funded Duke Population Research Center, and a member of the Duke Global Health Institute. She holds a BA in China Studies from the University of Venice, an MA in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and a PhD in Demography from the University of Pennsylvania (1996). Substantively, her research has focused on a range of population and health issues in developing countries that intersect frontline public policy, such as the role of China’s population control program in lowering fertility preferences and fertility rates in China, the social and behavioral determinants of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in China and Sub-Saharan Africa and, more recently, Chinese international migrants’ motivations for migration and their assimilation processes at destination in the United States, Africa, and Europe. A significant component of her research has been devoted to data collection: the design and conduct of surveys of sexual behavior and ego-centric sexual networks, the conduct and evaluation of innovative network-based sampling approaches to recruit samples of hidden and rare populations such as those at risk of HIV/STDs as well as migrants, and the implications of the political and social context of data collection for the validity of the information collected in social surveys. Her research has been funded by multiple NIH grants and published in the top U.S. and European outlets of demography, sociology, China studies and public health. She is serving and has served as a permanent or ad-hoc member of many review panels for the NIH.