Marni Sommer, DrPH, MSN, RN, has worked in global health and development on issues ranging from improving access to essential medicines to humanitarian relief in conflict settings. Dr. Sommer's particular areas of expertise include conducting participatory research with adolescents, understanding and promoting healthy transitions to adulthood, the intersection of public health and education, gender and sexual health, and the implementation and evaluation of adolescent-focused interventions. Her doctoral research explored girls' experiences of menstruation, puberty and schooling in Tanzania, and the ways in which the onset of puberty might be disrupting girls' academic performance and healthy transition to adulthood. Dr. Sommer's current research focuses on the intersections of gender, health and education for girls and boys transitioning into adulthood in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.
FacultyCenter for the Study of Culture, Politics, and Health
FacultyLerner Center for Public Health Promotion
Member, Global Health Council, 2001- 2009
Member, Comparative and International Education Society, 2009 - 2011
Honors & Awards
Select Global Activities
The Girls and Boys Puberty Book Project: A project focused on developing, publishing, evaluating and distributing girls' and boy's puberty books aimed at 10-14 year olds. Provides basic guidance to girls on menstruation and body change, and to boys on puberty changes and peer pressures. Books published in Tanzania, Ghana, Cambodia, and Ethiopia, and over a million hard copies disseminated. New books underway in Pakistan and Madagascar.
Menstrual Hygiene Management in Emergencies Toolkit: Project underway in partnership with the International Rescue Committee to build the evidence on menstrual hygiene management (MHM) in humanitarian response, and to develop a streamlined toolkit for responding to MHM in emergency contexts in order to better meet the needs of adolescent girls and women. Assessment trips to Myanmar and Lebanon.
Structural Approaches to Youth Alcohol Use and HIV Risk, Tanzania: An NIH funded study aimed at exploring adolescent alcohol use in the context of a new national alcohol policy in Tanzania. The participatory research with adolescent girls and boys, and the adults in their lives, will seek to better understand the accessibility, affordability and availability of alcohol to youth in urban Tanzania, and the subsequent risky sexual behaviors in which they engage after drinking alcohol.
Sommer, M., Hirsh, J.S., Nathanson, C. & Parker, R. (2015) Comfortably, safely and without shame: Defining menstrual hygiene management as a public health issue. American Journal of Public Health. 105(7): 1302-1311.
Sommer, M., Sutherland, C. & Chandra-Mouli, V. (2015) Putting menarche and girls into the global population health agenda. Reproductive Health, 12(24). Published online Mar. 26, 2015. DOI: 10.11186/s12978-015-0009-8.
Sommer, M., Likindikoki, S., & Kaaya, S. (2015) "Bend a fish when the fish is not yet dry": Adolescent boys' perceptions of sexual risk in Tanzania. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44(3): 583-595.
Sommer, M. & Sahin, M. (2013) Overcoming the taboo: Advancing the global agenda for menstrual hygiene management for schoolgirls. American Journal of Public Health, 103(9): 1556-1559.
Sommer, M. and Parker, R. (Eds.) (2013) Structural Approaches in Public Health. UK: Routledge
Sommer, M. (2013) Menarche: An overlooked indicator for population health in low-income countries. Public Health Reports 128(5) 399-401
Sommer, M. (2012) Menstrual hygiene management in humanitarian emergencies: Gaps and recommendations. Waterlines 31(1-2) 83-104
Sommer, M. (2011) An overlooked priority: Puberty in sub-Saharan Africa. American Journal of Public Health 101(6) 6-16
Parker, R. and Sommer, M. (Eds) (2011) The Routledge Handbook of Global Public Health UK: Routledge
Sommer, M. (2009) Ideologies on sexuality, menstruation and risk: Girls' experiences of puberty and schooling in northern Tanzania. Culture, Health and Sexuality 11(4) 383-398