Erika L. Abel

Dr. Erika L. Abel is a clinical professor of biology in the Honors College at Baylor University.  She earned a Ph.D. from the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Department of Environmental Health’s program in Toxicology at the University of Washington in 2003.  Subsequently, she was an NIH-supported postdoctoral fellow and then a research professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where she studied genetic and environmental factors that contribute to skin and pancreatic cancer risk. Since joining Baylor in 2011, Dr. Abel has continued to conduct research on a variety of topics with Baylor undergraduates, and she has taught courses in molecular cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, and biological research design. She serves on multiple task forces and committees, including the Prehealth Advisory Committee for the College of Arts and Sciences and the implementation team for the Baylor Life Sciences in Dublin study abroad program.  Dr. Abel has received multiple awards for her work with and on behalf of undergraduates, including acknowledgment as a Baylor Fellow, the Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement Research Mentor of the Year for 2016, and a National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences. She has collaborated with Texas A&M AgriLife researchers on work relating to USDA/FDA guidelines for veterinary drug use with regard to food safety as well as with groups considering water safety.

Dr. Abel’s current research interests include:

  • Best practices in pre-medical education for bridging concepts in the hard sciences to an understanding of a) the role of governmental and non-governmental organizations in protecting health and b) the socioeconomic challenges faced by patients that impact health
  • Factors that influence public compliance with health guidelines and/or civic support of public health efforts, including awareness of how safe food, water, and pharmaceuticals are produced
  • Psychosocial and religious determinants of access to clean food, water, and medications, including a focus on vaccination rates
  • Socioeconomic factors that influence health outcomes in long-term cancer survivorship, including access to healthcare and nutritious foods

Dr. Abel is actively seeking collaborative opportunities and is highly interested in facilitating undergraduate honors theses on the topics listed above in service to organizations in need.  In particular, Baylor has a significant number of talented pre-medical and pre-dental undergraduates routinely seeking opportunities to conduct internships or meaningful literature reviews and/or data analysis; Dr. Abel is happy to facilitate placing these students where need exists and ensuring that they are well-prepared in advance of the internship:

View curriculum vitae.


Baylor University Garland School of Social Work
811 Washington Ave.
Waco, Texas 76701
(254) 710-6900