Dr. Diana Hernández is a sociologist by training, and her work focuses on the social and environmental determinants of health and examines the impacts of policy and place-based interventions on the health and well-being of socioeconomically disadvantaged populations. Her foundational research on energy insecurity—defined as the inability to adequately meet household energy needs—has explored the multiple dimensions of this phenomenon identifying sociodemographic disparities, adverse consequences, and promising interventions toward energy equity and justice.
Much of her community-oriented research has been done in collaboration with community groups and government agencies around the country. Moreover, several of her projects have been conducted in her native South Bronx neighborhood, where she has led small-scale housing redevelopment projects. Dr. Hernández is the principal investigator on several projects related to structural interventions in low-income housing, energy efficiency upgrades, or otherwise related to alleviating the consequences of poverty on health.
Her research has been published in leading academic journals and she has contributed to various media outlets as a content expert. Professor Hernández teaches graduate level courses on qualitative research methods, design, and analysis; public health leadership; and energy justice. She is the co-director of the Energy Opportunity Lab at the Center for Global Energy Policy and deputy director of the Center for Environmental Health and Justice in Northern Manhattan. She serves on NYC’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board. In 2022, she was the recipient of the Public Health Catalyst Award from the Boston Congress of Public Health and a Distinguished Alumni honoree from Hunter College. Her first book about energy insecurity in America is due to be published in 2023.