School of Health and Human Sciences

Tracy R. Nichols

Tracy R. Nichols, Ph.D.
Ph.D in Developmental Psychology, Columbia University, NYC, NY (2002)
Office: 420 F Coleman Bldg.
Phone: 336-334-3240

Brief Bio


I am a scholar, a writer, a teacher, a mentor, a baker, and a late-blooming artist. I love poetry, fairytales, science fiction, and tarot cards. I love the smell and feel of oil paints. I am the mother of two grown children as well as two unruly English Bull Terriers: Matilda and Eloise. I care passionately for the well-being of mothers and I strive to have my research and advocacy reflect that passion.


Tracy R. Nichols, Ph.D. is a Professor of Public Health Education at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Her research focuses on reproductive health and justice for marginalized mothers. She examines issues of care provision and coordination along with social and structural stigmas. She also develops and evaluates specialized reproductive health programs. She applies an intersectional and critical lens to her work, which employs a combination of community-engaged, arts-based, and more traditional qualitative methodologies.

  • Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, Columbia University, NYC, NY,  2002
  • MPhil in Developmental Psychology, Columbia University, NYC, NY, 2002
  • BA in Social Research, The New School for Social Research, NYC, NY, 1988

Research Interests

• Reproductive health

• Reproductive justice

• Teen parenting

• Perinatal substance use

• Marginalized motherhoods

• Harm reduction

• Stigma

• Intersectionality

• Qualitative methodologies

• Arts-based research

• Community-engaged research

Current Projects

Dr. Nichols’ current work focuses on how we care for mothers with a substance exposed pregnancy (SEP) in North Carolina. Working closely with her writing team (Dr. Meredith Gringle, Dr. Amber Welborn, Amy Lee and Dorie Kogut), she is analyzing and disseminating findings from a seven-year grounded theory study on care provision. This study illuminates the importance of intersectional and structural stigma as well as troubles how evidence-based practices are constructed and implemented across complex adaptive systems of care. She recently conducted a related study with a community partner (YWCA of Greensboro) to develop and evaluate a specialized reproductive health program for methadone clinics. This work has also fueled her advocacy for mothers with an SEP, where she works to thwart punitive legislation that aims to separate families permanently. Future studies in this area will include an institutional ethnography to better understand the cascade of care provided for maternal opioid use.

Dr. Nichols is also currently working on a student led (Kunga Denzongpa) ethnographic study of maternal health among Bhutanese refugee women. This study has resulted in a published narrative case study on resiliency and leadership in the community along with an article examining issues of power and positionality in community based participatory research. Future papers will include a cross-case analysis of birth experiences as well as an ethnographic examination of maternal health experiences within the culture.

Selected Publications

Nichols, T.R. & Gringle, M.R. (in press). The role of bias in knowledge translation: Lessons learned from a dissemination of best practices in maternal opioid use, Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions.

Denzongpa, K., Nichols, T., Morrison, S.D. (2020). Situating positionality and power in CBPR conducted with a refugee community: Benefits of a co-learning reflective model, Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, DOI: 10.1080/14623943.2020.1733955.

Nichols, T.R. & Love. H. (2019). Providing reproductive health promotion in drug treatment clinics: A formative evaluation of a pilot program, Californian Journal of Health Promotion, 17(2), 41-51.

Denzongpa, K. & Nichols, T.R. (2019). “We can’t step back. Women specially…”: A narrative case study on resilience, independence, and leadership of a Bhutanese refugee woman, Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work, 35(1), 129-145.

Nichols, T.R., Biederman, D.J., & Gringle, M.R. (2017). Organizational culture and university response to parenting students: A case study, Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 54(1): 69-81, doi: 10.1080/19496591.2016.1219268.

Coley, S.L. & Nichols, T.R. (2015). Understanding factors that influence teen mothers’ doula utilization: A qualitative study, Journal of Perinatal Education, 25(1), 46-55.

Nichols, T.R., Gringle, M.R. & Pulliam, R. (2015). “You have to put your children’s needs and their best interests first or you’re really not a good mother”: Hegemonic motherhood and self-care practices among Black women, Journal of Women, Gender, & Families of Color, 3(2), 165-189.

Nichols, T.R., Biederman, D.J., & Gringle, M.R. (2015). Using research poetics responsibly: Applications for health promotion research, International Quarterly for Community Health Education, 35(1), 5-20.

Nichols, T.R., Brown, M., Coley, S., Kelley, A., & Mauceri, K. (2014). ‘I managed it pretty good’: Birth narratives of adolescent mothers, Journal of Perinatal Education, 23(2), 79-88.

Brown, V.A. & Nichols, T.R. (2013). Pregnant and parenting students on campus: Policy and program implications for a growing population, Educational Policy, 27(3), 499-530.