Youth Obesity Research Team
The ImpacTeen Youth Obesity Research Team is identifying and tracking information at the state, community and school level on policies, programs, and other environmental influences related to diet and physical activity to evaluate their effectiveness in reducing obesity among youth.
Directing this component of the project is Lisa Powell, PhD (UIC). Other core members of the ImpacTeen Childhood Obesity and Physical Activity Research Team include Dianne Barker, MHS (Barker Bi-Coastal Health), Frank J. Chaloupka, PhD (UIC), Jamie F. Chriqui, PhD, MHS (UIC), Sherry Emery, MBA, PhD (UIC), Kerri Lowrey, JD, MPH, Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, RD, PhD, Anna Sandoval, MPH (UIC), Sandy Slater, PhD (UIC), John Tauras, PhD (UIC), Lindsey Turner, PhD (UIC), Shannon Zenk, PhD, MPH, RN (UIC).
LISA POWELL, PhD (UIC)
Lisa Powell, PhD, is a Senior Research Scientist in the Institute for Health Research and Policy and a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Powell has extensive experience as an applied micro-economist in the empirical analysis of the effects of public policy on a series of behavioral outcomes. As Director of the RWJF funded ImpacTeen Youth Obesity
Research Team and as PI on a NRI USDA funded project that examines the importance of economic, lifestyle and social influences on obesity much of her current research is on assessing the importance of economic and environmental factors (such as food prices and access to food stores, eating places, and parks, gyms and other facilities for physical activity) on food consumption and physical activity behaviors and as determinants of BMI and the prevalence of obesity. Dr. Powell's research also examines school-level food and fitness policies and the association of school meal participation and children's weight status. In other health-related work, Dr. Powell's work has examined the importance of peer and parental influences on teen smoking, while other studies have highlighted the role of prices and public policies with regard to alcohol use among college students and educational and violence-related outcomes.
DIANE C. BARKER, MHS (Barker BiCoastal Health Consultants)
Dianne C. Barker, M.H.S, runs a consulting firm based in Los Angeles, and serves as a principal investigator on several research and evaluation projects administered by the Public Health Institute in Oakland, CA. The consulting firm, Barker Bi-Coastal Health Consultants, Inc. (BBHC), specializes in developing and reviewing program initiatives, designing evaluations, and conducting survey research for public health philanthropies, community-based organizations, and government agencies. Prior to establishing BBHC in 1996, Ms. Barker spent seven years in philanthropy, overseeing health services research, program evaluations and public health grantmaking. During her tenure at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), she was responsible for overseeing several public health-related evaluations, as well as co-developing the first RWJF program addressing nicotine treatment, the Smoke-Free Families program, the initial State Medicaid Survey, and the first RWJF program to link environmental and behavioral data, the Bridging the Gap Initiative. Under her leadership as the co-chair of the National Partnership to Help Pregnant Smokers Quit Policy Working Group, the National Partnership has produced the Medicaid Tool Kits for national and state decision-makers. As co-principal investigator of the National Youth Smoking Cessation Survey funded by RWJF, NCI and CDC, Ms. Barker's recent research examines the effect of environmental and policy factors on quitting behavior among older adolescents and young adults. In September, 2006, Ms. Barker received a Substance Abuse Policy Research Program Grant to investigate the impact of smoke-free air policies on young smokers' demand for, and use of smoking cessation treatments.
FRANK J. CHALOUPKA, PhD (UIC)
Dr. Chaloupka is a professor of economics in the department of economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Business Administration. He is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research Health Economics Program. He received his doctorate in economics from the City University of New York Graduate School in 1988. Dr. Chaloupka's research focuses on the economic analysis of substance use and abuse, primarily among youth and young adults. He has conducted extensive research on the effects of prices and substance control policies on the demands for tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs, and on related outcomes. Dr. Chaloupka has published over 25 articles in such journals as the Journal of Political Economy, American Economic Review, Journal of Health Economics, Economic Inquiry, Eastern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Journal, and Contemporary Economic Policy; and numerous book chapters and working papers.
JAMIE F. CHRIQUI, PhD, MHS (UIC)
Jamie F. Chriqui, Ph.D., M.H.S. is the Director of Policy Surveillance and Evaluation for the Health Policy Center within the Institute for Health Research and Policy and a Research Associate Professor in Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has nearly 20 years' experience conducting public health policy research, evaluation, and analysis, with an emphasis on obesity, substance abuse, tobacco control, and other chronic disease-related policy issues. Dr. Chriqui has led a number of efforts to develop quantitative measures of the extensiveness of state and local level public health policies. Her research interests focus on examining the impact of law and policy on practices, community environments and individual behaviors/attitudes. For the Bridging the Gap and ImpacTeen projects, she directs all state, local and school district obesity policy research as well as leading the state tobacco control policy research activities. As part of this work, she directs the Bridging the Gap annual nationwide evaluation of school district wellness policies as well as the ongoing annual surveillance of state taxes on sugar and artificially sweetened beverages, snacks, and restaurant sales. Previously, she led the state illicit drug law and substance abuse treatment policy research efforts for the project. Prior to joining UIC, Dr. Chriqui served as Technical Vice-President of the Center for Health Policy and Legislative Analysis at The MayaTech Corporation and, previously, as a policy analyst at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She holds a BA in Political Science from Barnard College, Columbia University; an MHS in Health Policy from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health; and a PhD in Policy Sciences (Health Policy concentration) from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
MBA, PhD (UIC)
KERRI LOWREY (MayaTech)
Kerri McGowan Lowrey, J.D., M.P.H., is Associate Technical Vice President for Research and Evaluation and Senior Legislative/Policy Analyst with the MayaTech Corporation in Silver Spring, Maryland. She holds a juris doctorate degree from the University of Maryland School of Law and a master's degree in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Ms. Lowrey has more than 10 years of experience in legal and policy research and analysis, writing and editing, and oral presentations and lectures. Her areas of research include the role of law in cancer prevention, particularly in the areas of tobacco use and obesity prevention; health inequities; and legal and ethical implications of nanotechnology. For the ImpacTeen project, Ms. Lowrey provides contract support, analyzing state legislative and regulatory provisions that address safe routes to school-engineering, enforcement, and/or educational provisions that enable schoolchildren to walk or bike to school safely. Ms. Lowrey has also conducted legislative research and analysis of state criteria for local school wellness plans under the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (PL 108-265). Ms. Lowrey is a member of the bar of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals (inactive). Her specialized training includes a four-year term as a Cancer Prevention Fellow within NCI's Office of Preventive Oncology, where she assisted in developing the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Ethics Track. Ms. Lowrey lectures regularly on the role of law and policy in cancer prevention and control and has published an article entitled Legal and Ethical Issues in Cancer Genetics in the Seminars in Oncology Nursing (August 2004), which was cited in the Oncology Nursing Society's revised position statement, "Cancer Predisposition Genetic Testing and Risk Assessment Counseling" (October 2004).
RD, PhD (UIC)
Punam Ohri-Vachaspati is an Associate Professor of Nutrition at Arizona State University’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation. Dr. Ohri-Vachaspati holds a Master of Science degree from University of Delhi and a Ph.D. in Applied Nutrition and Food Policy from Tufts University School of Nutrition. She is also a Registered Dietitian. Dr. Ohri-Vachaspati has extensive experience in designing and evaluating community based interventions to prevent chronic diseases and promote healthy behaviors. Her current work focuses on understanding the social-ecological determinants of obesity. She is co-leading a 5 city study in New Jersey to investigate the influence of food and physical activity related environments on childhood obesity and related behaviors. She has studied food environments in schools, childcare centers, and in community settings and has assessed the impacts of food access and obesogenic environments on consumption behaviors and weight status.
ANNA SANDOVAL, MPH (UIC)
Anna Sandoval is a research specialist for ImpacTeen. She received her master of public health degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1999. She has worked extensively on the ImpacTeen project overseeing community field data collection, including defining ImpacTeen communities, identifying local jurisdictions, and managing community information databases. Ms. Sandoval has worked on the ImpacTeen SmokeLess States Evaluation project coordinating and analyzing the legislative database. She has worked with the Centers for Disease Control Prevention Centers Tobacco Network and the State and Community Partnerships as project coordinator. Currently, Ms. Sandoval is working on the Food and Fitness project overseeing survey data collection and analyzing school district policies. Her research interests include youth ATOD, health education and promotion, health policy, and obesity and physical activity.
SANDY SLATER, PhD (UIC)
Sandy Slater, PhD, Senior Research Specialist at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), is a health policy analyst whose research focuses on the impact of state and local policies, and other environmental factors on health behavior. Since joining UIC, Dr. Slater has examined state and local policies, socioeconomic, geographic and store type variation in tobacco and alcohol retail marketing strategies and their association to youth smoking and drinking attitudes, beliefs, and behavior. More recently, Dr. Slater is investigating the impact of socioeconomic and other environmental factors on physical activity and obesity. Specifically, she conducts research aimed at understanding factors in the environment that provide opportunities, and those that constrain, the ability for individuals to be physically active. Her research has included examining the relationship between the availability of outdoor physical activity-related settings and commercial physical activity-related outlets on race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, as well as on youth physical activity behavior and overweight. Her National Institutes of Health-funded research examines the importance of school and community physical activity settings and opportunities on youth physical activity levels, overweight and obesity. She also developed a guide that inventories existing obesity-related data sources, identifies what factors are currently being measured, and what is missing from existing sources to determine what measures should be developed for future research.
JOHN TAURAS, PhD (UIC)
John A. Tauras
is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at the University
of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He also holds a Faculty Research Fellow
appointment at the National Bureau of Economic Researchís Health Economics
Program, which he has been affiliated with since January 1999. Prior
to his appointment at UIC, Dr. Tauras was a fellow at the University
of Michigan as part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundationís Scholars
in Health Policy Research Program. Dr. Taurasí research focuses on the
economic determinants health. Much of his research has examined the
impact of government intervention on the demand for tobacco, alcohol,
and illicit drugs. More recently, Dr. Tauras is investigating the impact
of economic incentives on physical activity and obesity. Dr. Taurasí
research has resulted in numerous publications and professional presentations
and has been funded by the National Institute of Health/National Cancer
Institute, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation, and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare. He has
served as an advisor to the World Bank on the economics of tobacco control
and has acted as a consultant to other private organizations and businesses.
LINDSEY TURNER, PhD (UIC)
Dr. Lindsey Turner
is a health psychologist and a Research Scientist at the Institute for
Health Research and Policy. Dr. Turner's research background includes
work on a number of health promotion projects aimed at children, families,
and communities, in the areas of skin cancer prevention, tobacco control,
nutrition and physical activity. Dr. Turner has a background in health
behavior theory, school-based survey and intervention projects, and
program evaluation. Dr. Turner currently leads the elementary school
data collection efforts for the RWJF-funded Bridging the Gap program,
which examines obesity-related policies and practices in schools across
SHANNON ZENK, PhD, MPH, RN (UIC)
Shannon N. Zenk, PhD, MPH, RN is Assistant Professor in Public Health Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Zenk received a joint MSN/MPH at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1999 and a PhD at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in 2004. Dr. Zenk is interested in neighborhood contributions to racial and socioeconomic disparities in health, spatial behaviors and exposures, and participatory approaches to community change. Much of her work focuses on examining inequalities in neighborhood food and activity environments and relationships between neighborhood built and social environments and obesity and related behaviors (dietary intake, physical activity). Dr. Zenk is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Institute of Nursing Research to participate in training on behavioral risk factors for obesity and to examine relationships between "activity-space" environments and obesity in urban adults. She is a Co-Investigator on grants funded by the NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Active Living Research, and United States Department of Agriculture.