Steven Gortmaker, PhD
SteveHeadshotPRCPrincipal Investigator

Director, Harvard Prevention Research Center (HPRC)
Professor of the Practice of Health Sociology, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS)
Key Interests: Dr. Gortmaker’s research is focused on the health of children and adolescents, particularly households living in poverty and minority populations. The major goal of his research has been to identify modifiable risks for morbidity and mortality in the young, and to both initiate and evaluate interventions to improve these outcomes. He focuses on a broad variety of risks, ranging from sociological concepts such as income poverty, social stress and social networks, to behaviors such as smoking, inactivity (exemplified by television viewing) and diet. Interventions have included work at both the level of national and state policy, programs at the regional, county, school, hospital, clinic and individual level. Research includes collaborative work with research groups at Harvard, in the Boston area, nationally, and internationally. See Dr. Gortmaker’s full bio and published articles.

Charles Deutsch, ScD
Deputy Director, HPRC
Lead Investigator, Maine-HPRC
Deputy Director, Community Health Innovations and Research Program, Harvard Catalyst
Senior Research Scientist, SBS
Key Interests: Dr. Deutsch is interested in integrative systems approaches to health promotion and disease prevention. He has consistently focused on environments that promote the social, behavioral, and emotional dimensions of child and family health; systemic strategies for helping children and families isolated by stigmatizing conditions; and the roles in child and adolescent public health played by educators, other non-health professionals, and youth themselves. See the full bio here.

Angie Cradock, ScD
AngieHeadshotPRCDeputy Director, HPRC
Senior Research Scientist, SBS
Key Interests: Dr. Cradock’s research is primarily focused on the social and environmental factors associated with physical activity and nutrition behaviors among youth.  Specific areas of interest include school and neighborhood environments, community-based intervention research, and policy research. See Dr. Cradock’s full bio and published articles.



Faculty, Investigators, & Research Collaborators

Michele Polacsek, PhD
Associate Professor, University of New England
Project Director, Maine-HPRC
Co-Investigator, MYOC

Key Interests: Dr. Polacsek’s primary research focuses on investigating the effectiveness of policy level interventions in childhood obesity prevention. Currently, Dr. Polacsek serves as co-PI on a qualitative research study to investigate motivations for obesity related policy making in a Maine tribal community setting (2012-2013). See the full bio here.

Jennifer D. Allen, RN, MPH, ScD
Principal Investigator, Massachusetts Cancer Prevention Community Research Network
Key Interests: Dr. Allen’s research focuses on the development, evaluation and dissemination of community-based interventions to promote cancer screening and control among underserved populations, with an ultimate goal of reducing health disparities. Her overall aim is to generate an in-depth understanding of the individual, socio-cultural, and institutional factors that influence health behaviors (e.g., mammography screening) and decisions (e.g., informed decision-making for prostate screening). Such an understanding is critical to the successful translation and dissemination of clinical and biomedical advances (e.g., HPV vaccine) into programs that directly benefit those at greatest risk. See the full bio here.

Lilian Cheung, ScD
Director, Health Promotion & Communication, Department of Nutrition
Key Interests: Dr. Cheung’s work focuses on the translation of science-based recommendations into public health communications and programs, to promote healthy lifestyles for chronic disease prevention and control. See the full bio here.





Jessica Barrett, MPH
JessicaHeadshotPRCResearch Assistant
Primary PRC Roles: Data manager & analyst, cost-effectiveness modeling team lead
Current Projects: Active School Day, OSNAP, CHOICES, PAPRN, REACH
Key Interests: Physical activity policies and environments in schools and communities; physical activity measurement; analysis of physical activity monitoring data.
See a list of articles by Jessica Barrett.


Shaniece Criss, MPH
Media Advisor
Primary PRC Roles: Director, Producer, and Host of Video Projects; Media Campaign Manager
Current Projects: CORD, OSNAP, PRC Communication Team
Key Interests: Health Communication; Intervention Development; Cancer Prevention (with a focus on obesity), Maternal & Child Health.



James Daly
JamesHeadshotPRCResearch Assistant
Primary PRC Roles: Data collection and management; assist with reporting project results; administrative project support for the PRC and community partners
Current Projects: REACH, CHOICES, PICH
Key Interests: Nutrition and physical activity interventions; implementation and dissemination science; community-based participatory research; health disparities



Catherine Giles, MPH
KatieHeadshotPRCProject Manager
Primary PRC Roles: Manage implementation and evaluation of school and afterschool interventions and manage cost effectiveness study of childhood obesity policies and programs
Current Projects: OSNAP, Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration (CORD) Project, CHOICES
Key Interests: Physical activity and nutrition policy and environmental change interventions; community based participatory approaches to public health change; sustainable, low cost tools and resources for communities and organizations to improve health.
See a list of articles by Catherine Giles.

Erica Kenney, ScD, MPH
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Primary PRC Roles: Coordinator of NOPREN water studies; data analyst; CHOICES team lead
Current Projects: NOPREN, OSNAP, CHOICES
Key Interests: Nutrition policies and environments in schools and child care settings; engaging child care and school staff in promoting healthy environments; promotion of water consumption in school settings; evaluating cost-effectiveness of policy interventions to prevent childhood obesity; weight-based discrimination in schools.
See a list of articles by Erica Kenney.

Rebekka Lee, ScD
BekkaHeadshotPRCResearch Associate
Primary PRC Roles: Project manager, Leaders in Health instructor
Current Projects: REACH, Community Transformation Grants, OSNAP, Leaders in Health
Key Interests: Nutrition and physical activity interventions; organizational practice and policy strategies for change; implementation and dissemination science; health equity; measure development.
See a list of articles by Rebekka Lee.



Rebecca Mozaffarian, MS, MPH
RebeccaHeadshotPRCProject Manager
Primary PRC Roles: Data management and analysis, communications, literature reviews.
Current Projects: YMCA Afterschool Project, CHOICES, NOPREN.
Key Interests: Nutrition policies and environments in community-based settings.
See a list of articles by Rebecca Mozzaffarian.



Brett Otis

Brett OtisEditorial & Communication Assistant
Primary PRC Roles: Website management, editorial review of HPRC communications materials
Current Projects: PRC Communication Team, CHOICES
Key Interests: Translation and visualization of research through accessible, multi-platform, and multi-media channels to address major public health and environmental issues; physical activity and nutrition interventions; food policy and sustainability. 



Andrea Pipito, MS
brett headshotEvidence Review Coordinator
Primary PRC Roles: Coordinating with and providing technical assistance to research assistants; ensuring consistency in the methods applied for assessing the large body of literature; assisting the team in identifying the most efficient and transparent practices for future review
Current Projects: CHOICES
Key Interests: Sustainable policy and environment change efforts targeting communities and institutions for childhood obesity prevention; assessing the gaps between research and practice; health disparities.
See a list of articles by Andrea Pipito.

Arthur Sobol, MA
Programmer & Data Analyst
Primary PRC Roles: Answers programming and data analyses requests from staff members and students; reviews programs and papers written by students and staff members.
Current Projects: NHANES, OSNAP
Key Interests:  Training on updated software, especially SAS and Microsoft Office. 

Emily Wei, MS, MPH
EmilyHeadshotPRCCost Data Coordinator
Primary PRC Roles: Manages cost data, researches cost and statistical data pertaining to childhood obesity interventions; conducts research and provides project support for CHOICES; provides administrative support to the PRC.
Current Projects: CHOICES
Key Interests: U.S. food policy; physical activity and nutrition policy in schools and communities; sustainable food systems; impact of social and environmental factors on nutrition and physical activity behaviors; food security; health equity.