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Rainier Masa

Associate Professor
Research Director, Global Social Development Innovations
L. Richardson Preyer Early Career Scholar

Rainier Masa, Ph.D.


Tate-Turner-Kuralt Building


325 Pittsboro Street

Chapel Hill, NC 27599

O: 919-962-6531

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Dr. Rainier (Rain) Masa is an associate professor at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work. He joined the SSW faculty in 2016. He is the research director at the Global Social Development Innovations Center, a research fellow at the Centre for Social Development in Africa at the University of Johannesburg, and an affiliated investigator with the Philippine Health Initiative Research Service and Training at Brown University. He is also a faculty affiliate of the UNC African Studies Center and a member of the UNC Center for AIDS Research. He is a past recipient of the Matthew O. Howard Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring and the Dean’s Recognition of Teaching Excellence awards. Dr. Masa’s research focuses on the socioeconomic aspects of health in low-resource communities. His work addresses the intersection of economic security, stigma, and HIV among adolescents and young adults. His current research examines how multiple forms of economic insecurity and stigma affect risk for HIV transmission, uptake of HIV prevention services, and progression along the HIV care continuum, particularly among key populations.

Degrees and Licenses

Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
MSW, Washington University in St. Louis
BA, University of Santo Tomas (Manila, Philippines)

Primary Program

Global Social Development Innovations


Safe Zone

Research and Professional Interests

Economic Security
HIV Prevention and Treatment
Intersectional Stigma
Positive Youth Development
Health Equity

Principal Investigator

A Feasibility Study of Umwini, an Asset-Based Intervention for Young People Living with HIV in Zambia
Intersectional Stigma and Resilience among Young Latino Sexual Minority Men to Improve HIV Testing and PrEP Use


Siyakha Youth Assets and Employability Project (South Africa)

Recent Publications

Masa, R. & Chowa, G. (2020). Household food insecurity and educational outcomes in school-going adolescents in Ghana. Public Health Nutrition.

Masa, R., Bates, C., & Chowa, G. (2020). Direct and indirect associations of food insecurity, adolescent-parent relationship, and adolescent future orientation. Journal of Family Issues.

Masa, R., Khan, Z., & Chowa, G. (2020). Youth food insecurity in Ghana and South Africa: Prevalence, socioeconomic correlates, and moderation effect of gender. Children and Youth Services Review, 116.

Masa, R., Baca-Atlas, S., & Hangoma, P. (2021). Walking and perceived lack of safety: Correlates and association with health outcomes for people living with HIV in rural Zambia. Journal of Transport and Health, 22, 101140.

Masa, R. & Sharma, A. (2021). Invariance of the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale across different groups of adolescents and young adults. Food and Nutrition Bulletin.

Masa, R., Shangani, S., & Operario, D. (2021). Socioeconomic status and psychosocial resources mediate racial/ethnic differences in psychological health among gay and bisexual men: A longitudinal analysis using structural equation modeling. American Journal of Men’s Health.


SOWO 510

Foundations for Evidence-Based Practice and Program Evaluation

Spring 2017-2018, 2020


SOWO 530

Foundations of Social Welfare and Social Work

Fall 2015-2016, 2018-2019


SOWO 793

Asset Development Practice and Policy

Spring 2016, 2019


SOWO 834

Advanced Policy Practice

Spring 2018, Fall 2018-2020


SOWO 835

Poverty Policy

Spring 2014-2020


SOWO 910

Research Methods in Social Intervention

Doctoral Program