My work examines the social (systems and environments) determinants of diet and nutrition behaviors among underserved populations in the United States and Latin America, including the Caribbean, and seeks to apply this knowledge to create sustainable improvements to support healthful diet behaviors.
Trained in nutritional sciences, my approach to public health draws from the fields of epidemiology, policy, and sociology. This interdisciplinary approach is critical to address the questions of how to best support healthful nutrition behaviors, using sociology (intersectionality of poverty, race/ethnicity, gender, social capital); policy (evaluation of policies meant to reduce obesity or encourage healthful eating; translation of public health evidence into practice); public health (behavioral risk factors of health status, diet and health disparities). My methodology draws from epidemiology and quantitative sociology (cohort and case-control studies, structural equation modeling) and from anthropology and qualitative sociology (ethnography, participatory methods, qualitative approaches).
My global collaborations are rooted in the LAC region, and include an affiliated investigator position at INCIENSA in Costa Rica, a Visiting Scholar position at the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico, a School Feeding Associate with the World Food Programme in Rome, a position that required me to work in various cities in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Bolivia, Paraguay and Ecuador. Spanish is my first language and I speak French fluently.
I have managed over $2,000,000 as Principal and co-Principal Investigator in my research studies. I am a Scholar of the Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness, affiliated with the Honey Nashman Center for Civic Engagement at GWU, and the GW Food Institute, contributing to grant review from faculty, students, and stories for the groups.
I have a solid methodological and theoretical foundation to study the social determinants of dietary behaviors and health consequences in global settings and among vulnerable populations in the USA. This foundation is rooted in five years of NIH-funded pre-doctoral research fellowship to study public health nutrition, a post-doctoral Cancer Training Award Fellowship to study preventive and health promotion, and two-year Visiting Assistant Professorship at GW.
Teaching:I strive to create a learning environment that enables students to acquire the skills, knowledge, competencies, and confidence needed to make a significant contribution to the field of global public health nutrition. I have taught undergraduate and MPH-level courses. Some of these courses I created de-novo, and others, I had to restructure significantly. My mission is to prepare the next generation of global health nutrition professionals who can integrate nutrition into the core of public health practice, and emphasize the implementation and evaluation of global nutrition programs and policies.
Service: I am an affiliated faculty of the GW Food Institute, the Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute, the Honey Nashman Center for Civic Engagement. As part of this service, I have presented my work to students and faculty across the university, mentor students, writing for websites or blogs, and collaborating on their initiatives.
I serve as the global nutrition adviser of the Public Health Nutrition program, housed in the Department of Exercise Science and Nutrition. Within that program, I advise all students interested in global nutrition on their practicum, course-work, and Culminating Experience.
During my time at GW, I have served on a number of committees, including School of Public Health By-Laws Committee, the undergraduate public health major expansion task force, and as the Faculty Head for the School Student Affairs Advisory Board, the Diversity Task Force. I have participated in the SPHHS Strategic Planning Working Group on Global Health, numerous opportunities to evaluate research on Research Day, ISCOPES activities.
Outside of GW, I serve on the Horizon Foundation/Howard Co Unsweetened National Advisory Committee; I advise Prince George's County Council on nutrition legislation; I was part of the Somos Una Voz Charitable Foundation Expert Advisory Board; the RCMI Faculty Advisory Board for the University of Puerto Rico.
My professional service also includes reviewing manuscripts that have been submitted for peer-review publication in journals, including Public Health Nutrition, Journal of American Dietetics Association, and the Journal of the American Public Health Association among others. I have also reviewed abstracts for a number of conferences, including the annual American Society for Nutrition conference.
Professional Service – Global/International:
As an affiliated investigator of the Instituto Costarricense de Investigación y Enseñanza en Nutrición y Salud (INCIENSA), I work with nutrition investigators in Costa Rica to inform the Ministry of Health about public health, epidemiologic surveillance to inform policymaking. I have also been/am a reviewer for University of Costa Rica, University of Puerto Rico, the USAID Mini-University, SENACYT (Secretaría Nacional de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación) in Panama, and CONACYT (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología) Mexico's equivalent of the National Science Foundation.