Parlee Center for Science and the Common Good

  • Alexa Beachum headshot

Alexa Beacham

Junior Parlee Center Fellow

When I first came to Ursinus I had every intention of majoring in only Biology and attending medical school after graduation. However, those plans changed when I decided to take Biomedical Ethics on a whim my freshman year. In that class I was first introduced to health disparities and inequities in healthcare. That moment- and moreover that class- initiated my passion for health activism. After taking a myriad of classes that discussed the intersection of science and society, I realized I truly had a passion for Health Policy, and decided it would be best to pursue a PhD in Public Health after graduating. Public health comes in all shapes and sizes, but I intend to follow a path that allows me to continue researching trends in minority health that inform policy, in addition to advocating with communities by regularly engaging in direct service and community building.

My Major / Minor / Campus Organizations

Major in Biology / Major in Applied Ethics / Minor in Anthropology /

 Fellow for the Center for Writing and Speaking / Scholars and Service

My Favorite Parlee Center Events

Dr. Hill visits Ursinus College

Intellectual Life at Ursinus College Conference

Panel: Addressing inequalities in health and in access to healthcare

Mitch Hunter’s Agriculture in 2050: The Path Forward

My Parlee Center Fellow Courses

Biomedical Ethics, Applied Ethics, Philosophy of Law, Science and the Common Good, & Innovations in Biology.


I work with Dr. Volpe in the Health Experiences Across the Lifespan Lab, where we study how race related social experiences impact the physical and mental health of marginalized communities, with an emphasis on the Black community. I specifically investigate the limitations of coping mechanisms that preserve physical health in a situational context of racial discrimination. Additionally, we investigate how expectations can cause body shaming and policing in the black community.


In the summer of 2017 I interned at the Franklin Institute in Science Communication and Informal Science Education. I worked with a team of exhibit designers and social scientists to effectively create a museum interactive which would explain how environmental factors affect an individuals’ health through epigenetic modifications. I also worked on another interactive that communicated how different stressors, and particularly chronic stressors like poverty, food insecurity, and racial discrimination can impact the effectiveness of one’s immune system.

After I graduate from Ursinus I plan to work in health policy and community health, to do this effectively I’ll obtain my PhD in health policy.

Life After Ursinus

Science ought to be purposeful– and the Parlee Center for Science and the Common Good communicates this message with every speaker event, panel, podcast and course. For me, the Parlee center has allowed me to realize the extent to which health is influenced by socioeconomic factors and the Center has exposed me to the field of minority health and minority health disparities. Systemic racism, poverty, and environmental disadvantages plague marginalized communities and influence health outcomes just as much as biological factors. After experiencing the minority health speaker series in the fall of 2016, I realized the extent to which the social determinants of health are determined by race and socioeconomic factors. Since then, I’ve focused on this injustice constantly in my personal and professional life.