Dr. Gray has been been involved with numerous research projects throughout his career in academia. Many are still in-progress as of April 2020.

Below you'll find only a sampling of Dr. Gray's ongoing research. If you have any questions about current or past projects, please feel free to reach out using the contact information listed here.

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Above: Dr. Gray presents "COIL: A Global Experience for Everyone," as part of an Internationalizing the Curriculum and Campus Conference at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities on February 28, 2020.
IUHPE 2019 COIL presentation


Dr. Gray has researched presented and speecialized in a method known as Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL). COIL is a way to co-create virtual international learning experiences with a faculty partner from a university in another country. Dr. Gray has worked with numerous faculty members to describe the implementation of what they call “COILed” courses, presenting on how to get started, how to overcome various challenges, and how to ensure impact using COIL. You can find information on his presentation at the University of Minnesota (image shown above) here. Dr. Gray has presented in New Zealand on this matter and recently began consulting with two International partners from the UK so that others may looks to to implement their own COIL projects in the future. Since its inception, COIL has grown to be integrated into classes across the globe, building the concept of cultural awareness. Cases from the University of Minnesota partnered with Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom, and Obafemi Awolowo University, in Nigeria to implement a COIL project to engage undergraduate students. Identifying the process using technology, reporting student learning outcomes, and recommendations for successful COIL projects.


With the support of a K award from the National Institute of Health, Dr. Gray will critically review the broader determinants of college students' health. Through an intersectional review of some of the most high-profile literature related to mental health, Dr. Gray's research will provide context for the experiences of black, minority and ethnic (BME) college students between the ages of 18 and 23, in hopes of identifying some of the most critical barriers in access to mental health services for minoritized students.

Health Coaching

Dr. Gray is currently collaborating with Dr. Helen Doane on in-progress project, "Use of health coaching strategies among college students compared to those who are self-directed." This research began fall 2019 with the HERO health coaches and Dr. Gray's two health and wellness classes. We utilized health coaches with one class and the other was self-directed. Data is currently being collected.

Social Networks and Social Support

Dr. Gray recently began work on research project: “Development of Social Networks and Social Support via a Group Advising Model." The goal of the project is to evaluate the impact of our public health group advising model using social network theory. This theory posits that relationships between and among individuals can influence beliefs and behaviors and that resources at both the individual and community levels “may have direct health-enhancing effects and may also diminish the negative effects on health due to exposure to stressors” (Heaney & Israel, 2008). While this theory is typically applied to the development of public health interventions, its constructs are also important in understanding student social networks and support for our undergraduate students.

Undergraduate Student Perceptions

Dr. Gray was a collaborator on poster presentation, "Undergraduate Student Perceptions of Public Health Leadership," originally scheduled for May 4th, 2020. Due to COVID-19 complications, the presentation has been rescheduled to September 15th-16th at the Minnesota Public Health Association Annual Conference. Using data from in-class applied qualitative research, the presentation will outline students’ perceptions of leadership and their role as public health leaders in Minnesota and the greater region. Attendees of the presentation will learn about pedagogical approaches to addressing leadership in public health as well as how public health undergraduate students view leadership and their place as public leaders.

Undergraduate Underrepresented Research Program

With the partnership of Dr. Hanson and Dr. Versnik Nowak in the public health program, Dr. Gray has created a new program to usher in and develop a new group of researchers. With the approval of Dean Jill Pinkney Pastrana, the University of Minnesota, Duluth Campus will pilot a new research program that focuses on students underrepresented in research. The pilot begins in Fall 2020; each student receives a stipend once accepted into the program, participant incentives, conference fees, and other accrued costs. UURP will run for the full academic year. Students must be sophomores or juniors to participate and write a letter of interest to showcase writing skills and areas of interest. Once selected, they will have regular one on one meetings with mentors and monthly full cohort meetings with a different focus each month. This program will seek more sustainable funding as we move past the pilot year. UURP is based on foundations of the McNair program currently running out of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities each summer.

Human nutrition presentation (1).pptx
Above: UMD Student Maria Granada's Honors Program Presentation. For more information, please contact Granada at

Student Work

Maria Granada is a Honors Student at University of Minnesota Duluth. Dr. Gray consulted on Granada's honors project in Human Nutrition during Spring of 2020. Dr. Gray is very proud of the fantastic work Granada did on this project. You can view her presentation on the right. Please feel free to contact Maria Granada at with any further questions or inquiries about this project or the Honors Program.