Rajan, Sonali (sr2345)

Sonali Rajan

Associate Professor of Health Education
Senior Associate Director of Research, Edmund W. Gordon Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME)

Educational Background

Post-Doctoral Training, Behavioral Sciences - National Development and Research Institutes (2010 - 2012)
Doctor of Education, Health and Behavior Studies - Teachers College, Columbia University (2010)
Master of Science, Applied Statistics - Teachers College, Columbia University (2011)
Bachelor of Science, Biological and Environmental Engineering - Cornell University (2005)

Scholarly Interests

Dr. Sonali Rajan is Professor in the Department of Health Studies & Applied Educational Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. She holds a secondary faculty appointment in the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health. And she is currently the Senior Associate Director of Research of the Edmund W. Gordon Institute for Urban and Minority Education. Dr. Rajan is a school violence prevention expert, who studies gun violence and adverse childhood experiences. She holds faculty affiliations with the CDC-funded Columbia Center for Injury Science and Prevention, the Columbia Scientific Union for the Reduction of Gun Violence, the Columbia Population Research Center, Trauma-Free NYC, and the Digital Futures Institute. She currently co-produces Re(Search) for Solutions, a podcast hosted by the Media and Social Change Lab at Teachers College devoted to amplifying creative and evidence-based solutions to the persistence of gun violence. For over 15 years, Dr. Rajan has collaborated closely with the non-profit organization Girls on the Run and currently serves on their National Board of Directors. She is co-leading research on school violence funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And she is the Inaugural President of the Research Society for the Prevention of Firearm-Related Harms. Selected publications are listed below.

Selected Publications

*Denotes Teachers College student authors
**Denotes Mailman School of Public Health student authors

Rajan S. (2024). “Anxiety and School Gun Violence in America: Reimagining Solutions.” In press for “Anxiety Culture: The New Global State of Human Affairs,” (Ed. J. P. Allegrante, Johns Hopkins University Press).

Rajan S, **Reeping PM, *Ladhani Z, Vasudevan LM, & Branas CC. (2022). Gun violence in K-12 schools in the United States: Moving towards a preventive (versus reactive) framework. Preventive Medicine, published online ahead of print.

Rajan S. (2022). Pursuing an evidence-informed approach to the prevention of gun violence. In press at the American Journal of Public Health.

Martin R, Rajan S, Shareef F, Xie K, Allen K, Zimmerman M, & Jay J. (2022). Racial disparities in child exposure to neighborhood firearm violence before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. In press at the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Grummitt L, Kelly E, Barrett E, Rajan S, Newton N, & Keyes K. (2022). Clustering childhood adversity in the U.S. and associations with mental health and substance use among youth. In press at the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

**Bancalari P, Sommer M, & Rajan S. (2022). Community gun violence exposure among urban youth: An overlooked externality of the endemic of gun violence in the United States. Adolescent Research Review, published online ahead of print.

**Reeping PM, Klarevas LJ, Rajan S, Rowhani-Rahbar A, Heinze J, Zeoli AM, Goyal MK, Zimmerman M, and Branas CC. (2022). State gun laws, gun ownership, and K-12 school shootings: Implications for school safety. Journal of School Violencepublished online ahead of print.

Kreski NT, Chen Q, Olfson M, Cerda M, Martins SS, Mauro PM, Branas CC, Rajan S, & Keyes KM. (2022). Online bullying victimization and offline violence-related behaviors among a nationally representative sample of US adolescents 2011-2019. Journal of School Health, published online ahead of print.

Rajan S. (2021). School safety and violence: Drawing on a public health approach. International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 18(3), 307-318.

Rajan S, Arora P, Cheng B, *Khoo O, & Verdeli H. (2021). Suicidality and exposure to school-based violence among a nationally representative sample of Asian American and Pacific Islander adolescents. School Psychology Review (Special Issue: School Violence and School Safety), published online ahead of print.

*Myers D, Mueller T, & Rajan S. (2021). “Gun Violence in Schools: Implications for Youth Well-Being” In press at the Palgrave Encyclopedia of Critical Perspectives on Mental Health.

**Reeping PM, Gobaud AN, Branas CC, & Rajan S. (2021). "K-12 School Shootings: Implications for Policy, Prevention, and Child Well-Being." In Ending the War Against Childrne: The Rights of Children to Live Free from Violence (D. Laraque-Arena and B. Stanton, Eds). In press at Pediatrics Clinics of North America.

**Reeping PM, Jacoby S, Rajan S, & Branas CC. (2020). Rapid response to mass shootings: A review. Criminology and Public Policy, 19(1), 295-315.

Rajan S, Branas C, *Myers D, & Agrawal N. (2019). Youth exposure to violence involving a gun: Evidence for adverse childhood experience classification. Journal of Behavioral Medicine (Special Issue), 42(4), 646-657.

Rajan S, Jahromi L, Bravo D, Umaña-Taylor A, & Updegraff K. (2019). Maternal self-efficacy serves as a protective function for children’s BMI in the context of teenage motherhood. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 40(8), 633-641.

Formica M, Rajan S, & Simons N. (2019). Healthcare indicators and firearm homicide: an ecologic study. Journal of Aggression, Conflict, and Peace Research, 11(2).

Rajan S & Branas CC. (2018). Arming schoolteachers: What do we know? Where do we go from here? American Journal of Public Health, 108(7), 860-862.

Rajan S, Branas CC, Hargarten S, & Allegrante J. (2018). Funding for gun violence research is key to the health and safety of the nation. American Journal of Public Health, 108(2), 194-195.

Rajan S, Ruggles KV, Guarino H, & Mateu-Gelabert P. (2018). Heroin use and drug injection among youth also misusing prescription drugs. American Journal of Health Behavior, 42(1): 144 – 155.

*Nelson H & Rajan S. (2018). Barriers, facilitators, and challenges to successful school-based screenings. Health Behavior and Policy Review, 5(4), 57-71.

*Guerra L, Rajan S, & Roberts K. (2018). The implementation of mental health policies and practices in schools: An examination of school- and state-factors. Journal of School Health, 89(4), 328-338.

Leonard N, Casarijan B, Fletcher RR, Cisse CP, Sherpa D, Keleman A, Rajan S, Salaam R, Cleland C, & Gwadz M. (2018). Mobile application of theoretically-based emotion regulation strategies using a wearable sensor: Feasibility and usability among homeless adolescent mothers. Journal of Medical Internet Research: Pediatrics and Parenting, 1(1), published online.

Rajan S, Vasudevan LV, Ruggles KV, Brown B, & Verdeli H. (2017). Firearms in K-12 schools: what is the responsibility of the education community? Teachers College Record, published online October 5, 2017 (22187).

Rajan, S., Roberts, K., Guerra, L*., Pirsch, M*., & Morrell, E. (2017). Integrating health education into core curriculum middle school classrooms: Successes, challenges, and implications for urban youth. Journal of School Health, 87(12), 949-957.

Rajan S, *Weishaar T, & Keller B. (2016). Weight and skin color as predictors of vitamin D status: Results of an epidemiological investigation using nationally representative data. Public Health Nutrition, 20(10), 1857-1864.

Simmons J, Rajan S, Elliot L, & Goldsamt L. (2016). Implementation of online opioid overdose prevention, recognition, and response trainings for professional first responders: Year 1 survey results. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 169, 1-4. 

*Pelcher A. & Rajan S. (2016). After-school program implementation in urban environments: Increasing engagement among adolescent youth. Journal of School Health, 86(8), 585-594.

*Weishaar T, Rajan S, & Keller B. (2016). Probability of vitamin D deficiency by body weight and race-ethnicity. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 29(2), 226 – 232.

Aronson I, Cleland C, Perlman D, Rajan S, Sun W, Ferraris C, Mayer J, Ferris D, & Bania T. (2016).  Mobile screening to identify and follow-up with high risk, HIV negative youth. Journal of Mobile Technology in Medicine, 4(3), 5(1), 9-18.

Rajan S, Namdar R, & Ruggles KV. (2015).  Aggressive and violent behaviors in the school environment among a nationally representative sample of adolescent youth. Journal of School Health, 85(7), 446 - 457.

Aronson ID, Marsch LA, Rajan S, Koken J, & Bania TC. (2015). Computer-based video to increase HIV testing among emergency department patients who decline. AIDS and Behavior, 19(3), 516 - 522.

Ruggles KV & Rajan S. (2014). Gun possession among American youth: A discovery-based approach to understand gun violence. PLOS ONE, 9 (11): e111893.

Leonard NR, Rajan S, Aregbesola T, & Gwadz M. (2014). HIV testing patterns among urban YMSM of color. Health Education and Behavior, 41(6), 673-681.

Aronson ID, Rajan S, Marsch LA, & Bania TC. (2013). How patient interactions with a computer-based video intervention affect decisions to test for HIV. Health Education and Behavior, 41(3), 259-266.

Rajan S, Leonard NR, Fletcher R, Casarijan B, Casarijan R, & Cisse C. (2012). Ambulatory autonomic activity monitoring among at-risk adolescent mothers. Journal of Mobile Technology in Medicine, 1(3), 25 - 31.

Rajan S & Basch CE. (2012). Fidelity of after-school program implementation targeting adolescent youth: Identifying successful curricular and programmatic characteristics. Journal of School Health, 82(4), 159-165.

Related Articles

To Stop Gun Violence, We Need Evidence-Informed Solutions. This New Research Society Will Help.

As the first president of the Research Society for the Prevention of Firearm-Related Harms, TC’s Sonali Rajan will lead efforts to advance interdisciplinary work and strengthen the critical field

Black Children Were Disproportionately Affected by Gun Violence During Pandemic, New Study Shows

The new findings from TC’s Sonali Rajan and colleagues quantify gun violence as “a source of racial inequity starting in childhood”

Gun Violence a ‘Solvable Problem,’ But Not a Quick Fix

In an interview with New York 1, TC gun violence expert Sonali Rajan discusses the research behind policy proposals

Gun Violence Can Be Prevented with Research-Backed Policies

Following the murder of 19 children and two adults in the Uvalde school shooting, TC’s Sonali Rajan and Louis Klarevas join colleague Charles Branas in a call for reforms with proven results

Historic Funding: NIH Grant Opens Door for TC and Mailman Study on Gun Violence at the Intersection of Public Health and Education

A $2 million grant from the National Institute of Health will fund a gun violence study co-led by TC’s Sonali Rajan

Arming Ourselves with Facts

Reducing gun violence entails listening to truths – and each other

Shots that Echo for a Lifetime

A new TC-led study argues for greater recognition of the consequences of youth exposure to gun violence

A Right Worth Fighting For

Confronting the national public health epidemic of gun violence

Repealing the Dickey Amendment

Gun violence will continue without federally funded research, argue TC’s Rajan and Allegrante

Rethinking Gun Violence in Schools: A call to focus strategies on prevention

In The Hechinger Report, Sonali Rajan and Charles Branas argue for a change in thinking

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