Dr. Sönmez is Associate Dean for Faculty, Research and Graduate Programs at UCF College of Business. She holds a doctorate from Penn State University, a Master’s degree from Clemson University, and a B.B.A. from Bernard Baruch College/City University of New York.
Her research is interdisciplinary and applied and delves broadly into the nexus of leisure, work and health. Her work has evolved through several phases, beginning with a focus primarily on the management and mitigation of impacts of various natural or human-caused tourism crises. Her research later broadened to include health risks of vacation travel as well as other forms of population mobility—namely occupational. Dr. Sönmez’s current work focuses on the occupational health and safety of immigrant and minority service sector workers (e.g., hotel housekeepers, restaurant workers, cruise ship workers). She has recently begun incorporating complexity theory into her work by using a systems science approach to deconstruct the complex and dynamic nature of her research questions.
Dr. Sönmez currently serves as PI on a research grant funded by the NIH/NIMHHD, titled Delineating Hispanic Immigrants’ Allostatic Load Dynamics through Simulation Modeling, with an interdisciplinary team of leading scholars. The study draws on syndemics, systems science, and dynamic simulation modeling methodologies to effectively capture the underlying, dynamically-complex etiology of Hispanic immigrant worker health disparities, focusing on the hospitality and tourism sector, with potential to lead to impactful structural policy interventions.