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Associate Professor

Contact Info

Research Interests

Childhood obesity prevention; healthy eating; physical activity; school policy; built environment; accelerometry
Experiences & Accomplishments
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Loyola College
My goal is to improve the health of children through the evaluation & implementation of programs & policies to prevent obesity.

I am a nutritional epidemiologist with additional training in assessment of physical activity. My research falls into 5 main categories: 1) School/Child Care Wellness Policy Implementation, 2) Pediatric Obesity Prevention Intervention Studies, 3) Environmental Influences on Health Promoting Behaviors of Children, 4) Physical Activity Assessment via continuous wear ankle accelerometry, and 5) Measures development of obesity/nutrition-related constructs.

I began my career focusing on obesity prevention via individual-level behavior change strategies as Co-I on several of Dr. Black's NIH-funded obesity prevention trials. Now, I incorporate individual-level behavior change strategies into the design and implementation of multi-level interventions that include policy, systems, and environment to expand reach and impact.

I was the first author on a publication in 2010 describing the validation of a 2-item screen for food insecurity: Cited nearly 500 times, the screen is used widely in research and practice. In 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy recommendation that all children be screened for food insecurity using the 2-item screen. In March 2020, when pandemic control policies went into effect, I worked with the Maryland Department of Education to initiate a USDA evaluation of school meal implementation during school closures. A report was the basis of multiple USDA regional briefings and shared with local media. In 2021, we received “Phase II” funding for the project.

Through leadership training opportunities, including the Association of American Medical Colleges Early Career Women Faculty Development, UMSOM Dean’s Leadership Program and the Dannon Institute, I gained mentoring and teaching skills. With excellent mentors as role models, I have mentored 79 trainees and have 37 manuscripts co-authored with trainees and 32 as first author. In addition to developing a strong teaching and mentoring portfolio, I have been appointed or elected to lead multiple institutional, local, and national initiatives.
Honors & Awards
2021- Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB), Advisory Committee on Public Policy, Health Promotion Policy Award for a Group Contribution to Policy Change (awarded to ad hoc COVID-19 Nutrition Response Working Group, co-chair)
2020- Dean’s Faculty Award for Diversity and Inclusion
2020- Society for Health And Physical Educators, Maryland (SHAPE Maryland) 2020 Distinguished Advocate for Healthful Living
2019- University of Maryland School of Medicine Dean’s Scientific Leadership Program
2019- Inducted into the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health, Beta Tau Chapter
2017- American Journal of Preventive Medicine Certificate of Excellence in Reviewing
2012- B.E.A.T. (Built Environment Assessment Training) Institute
Competitively selected to attend a 6-day, intensive training on measures to evaluate changes to the built environment with respect to diet and physical activity and to be recognized as a BEAT fellow.
2013-2015- National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Award for Pediatric Research: Competitive Renewal,
Project Title: “Using situation and environment to prevent obesity in pediatric populations”
2011-2013-National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Award for Pediatric Research
Project Title: “Using situation and environment to prevent obesity in pediatric populations”
2011- Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Early Career Women Faculty Professional Development Seminar
Competitively selected as a female scientist with leadership potential in academic medicine to attend a leadership training that provides an introduction to the knowledge and skills needed to follow the path to leadership in a Medical School setting
2009- Dannon Institute Nutrition Leadership Institute
Competitively selected as an outstanding early stage investigator in nutritional sciences to attend a week-long workshop and to be recognized as a Dannon NLI fellow
2005- The Elsa Orent Keiles Fellowship in Human Nutrition in International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Select Publications
Peer Reviewed Journal Articles *indicates a mentored student or post-doctoral fellow
  • Wang Y, Zhu E, Hager ER, Black MM. Maternal depressive symptoms, attendance of sessions and reduction of home safety problems in a randomized toddler safety promotion intervention trial: A latent class analysis. PLOS ONE. (in press)
  • Trude A*, Armstrong B*, Machado A, Wickwire E, Covington L, Wang Y, Hager E, Black M. Waking Up to Sleep’s Role in Weight Gain and Blood Pressure among Predominantly Black Adolescent Girls in Low-Income, U.S. Urban Communities: A Longitudinal Analysis. Sleep Health. (in press)
  • Kuhn AP*, Kowalski A, Wang Y, Selam H, Rahmaty Z, Black M, Hager E. Impact of COVID-19 Control Policies on Physical Activity of Children Varies by Age. International Journal of Environmental Research in Public Health. (in press)
  • Kowalski A, Kuhn AP*, Lane HG, Trude ACB*, Selam H, Hager ER, Black MM. Changes in family food security at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Public Health Nutrition. 2021;10:1-23.
  • Cohen JFW, Hecht AA*, Hager ER, Turner L, Burkholder K, Schwartz MB. Strategies to Improve School Meal Consumption: A Systematic Review. Nutrients 2021;13(10):3520. PMCID: PMC8538164