Tommy K. Begay, PhD, MPH

Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. Tommy K. Begay is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Arizona College of Medicine.  He is a Cultural Psychologist by academic training, utilizing attributes of sociocultural theory, and cultural-historical psychology. From this approach, human cognition and development – specifically, neurodevelopment and neuroplasticity – depend upon environmental stimulation provided through social interaction, context, and culture. Basically, all activities and behaviors lend to physical and functional changes to the brain – and changes to the brain influence behavior. The results collectively contribute to the higher psychological processes of consciousness, identity, and personality. Dr. Begay also possesses a Master of Public Health degree, with a special focus on International Health.

Originally from Dinétah, the Navajo Nation, Dr. Begay currently resides in Tucson, Arizona. There he is associated with psychosocial health education programs, positive psychology, and self-empowering mechanisms associated with substance abuse recovery and behavior modification. 

Research Interests: 

Dr. Begay’s research interests include Native American health, especially in relation to the impact of American Indian historical trauma, and the subsequent evolution of intergenerational, maladaptive coping behaviors that contribute to the disproportionately high rates of stress-related chronic diseases, cancer, interpersonal violence, accidents, substance abuse, and addiction. Contributing factors to the contemporary health and wellness of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Dr. Begay is also interested in the impact of chronic stress, childhood trauma, and early childhood adversity on later-life health, wellness and resilience. Of particular interest is the use of psychoneuroimmunology to assess the impact of chronic stress, and psychological trauma on associated body systems.

Degrees
  • PhD: University of Arizona, 2012
  • MPH: University of Arizona, 1997
  • BS: University of Arizona, 1983
Honors and Awards
  • American Heart Association Student Stipend Award, The Navajo Coronary Study,1996
  • Centennial Achievement Master’s Student Award, University of Arizona, 1995
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., Distinguished Leadership Award, University of Arizona, 1994