Dean Marcus


Dean Bess Marcus, PhD is the second dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. In 2017 she succeeded Terrie Fox Wetle, who became the school’s inaugural dean in 2013.

Dean Marcus has published more than 250 papers on the role of exercise in health and how to motivate people to maintain healthy behaviors such as physical activity and smoking cessation. She first arrived at Brown as a postdoctoral scholar in 1988 after earning her master’s degree and Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Auburn University. After five years as an assistant professor, she became an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior in 1995 and then a full professor in 2000. In 2004, she became director of the Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at the Miriam Hospital, an affiliated hospital partner for Brown. In 2007, Marcus joined the faculty of Brown’s Department of Community Health and remained on the faculty when the department became the School of Public Health in 2013.

When the opportunity arose in 2011 for Marcus to become chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California San Diego, she remained an adjunct professor at Brown to facilitate ongoing collaborations with Brown researchers. UCSD appointed Marcus as the School of Medicine’s inaugural senior associate dean for public health in 2014.

In that role, she created the Institute for Public Health, promoted public health research and education activities across campus and supervised the medical school’s public health degree offerings. She oversaw the establishment of a bachelor of science in public health, the first undergraduate degree offered by the School of Medicine, a doctoral degree program in biostatistics and a master of public health program.

Throughout her career, Marcus has supervised, mentored and advised scores of students and taught hundreds more. She has served as principal investigator or co-investigator on a wide range of National Institutes of Health grants on physical activity behavior. She has regularly participated in panels for the American Heart Association, American College of Sports Medicine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Institutes of Health, which have created recommendations and guidelines on the quantity and intensity of physical activity necessary for health benefits. Marcus served on the executive committee for the Development of a National Strategic Plan for Physical Activity and on the board of directors for the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance.

In addition to her master’s and doctoral degrees from Auburn, Marcus holds a bachelor of arts in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis.

To request a meeting with Dean Marcus please email Rebecca Laferriere.