Category Archives: News

Nicole Larson, PhD, MPH, RDN, LD, Receives 2022 Huddleson Award

Nicole Larson, PhD, MPH, RDN, LD is the recipient of this year’s 37th annual Huddleson Award for the article, “Barriers to Accessing Healthy Food and Food Assistance During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Racial Justice Uprisings: A Mixed-Methods Investigation of Emerging Adults’ Experiences” which was featured in the September 2021 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2021:121 (9):1679-1694).

Nicole Larson

Dr. Larson is currently a Senior Research Associate in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. She is an instructor for two courses within the School of Public Health and advises graduate students in the Master of Public Health Nutrition and Nutrition Master of Science programs.


Dr. Larson is a nutritional epidemiologist and registered dietitian with expertise in the eating behaviors of child, adolescent, and young adult populations. Her research focuses on the identification of factors within social and physical environments that may be modified to promote healthy lifestyle behaviors and reduce barriers to the attainment of health equity among diverse populations. Much of her work is designed to inform the development of population-based strategies to help young people and their families who experience food insecurity and other barriers to accessing adequate healthy food.

Dr. Larson’s current work includes serving as project director for a longitudinal study of eating and activity behaviors among young people, an instructor, and training coordinator for the REACH T32 program that provides mentorship and support for predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees in the field of eating and activity research.

Dr. Larson served as a member of the Board of Editors of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (JAND) from 2008-2017 and continues to serve as an ad hoc reviewer for JAND along with other journals. She currently serves on the Board of Editors for the Journal of Adolescent Health. Larson’s professional memberships include the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior; and the American Public Health Association.

Dr. Larson has received numerous awards and honors including the Elaine R. Monsen Award for Outstanding Research Literature from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2018.Dr. Larson has authored or co-authored 160 peer-reviewed research articles, sixteen professional publications and book chapters, and 57 poster or podium presentations.

Larson received her bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition Science from St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN and completed a Dietetic Internship at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She completed a Masters of Public Health in Nutrition from the School of Public Health, University of Minnesota and went on to participate in two Pre-doctoral fellowships; Larson completed the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health Training Program and Adolescent Health Protection Training in the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health and in the Center for Adolescent Nursing, School of Nursing both at the University of Minnesota. Larson received her PhD in Nutrition from the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN.

The coauthors for the article include Tricia Alexander, MPH, RD, LD, a graduate research assistant, Jaime C. Slaughter-Acey, PhD, MPH an associate professor; Rachel Widome, PhD, MHS an associate professor, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, MPH, RD a professor all who are in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. and Jerica Berge, PhD, MPH, a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health , University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Ms. Alexander is currently pursuing a PhD in epidemiology and had a large role in carrying out the research described within the article; she was involved both as an interviewer and coder of the transcripts that were used to identify themes.

The prestigious Huddleson Award honors a registered dietitian who was the lead author of a peer-reviewed article that made an important contribution to the dietetics profession and that was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics during the previous calendar year.

The award, bestowed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, is named for Mary Pascoe Huddleson, editor of the Journal from 1927 to 1946. The award carries a $1,000 honorarium, and the winner is recognized during the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Board of Editors Webinar.

All relevant manuscripts published in the Journal over the past year are considered by the Senior and Associate Editors to develop a list of the top 5-7 papers. Impact of the paper, relevance of the topic and quality of the research are key criteria. Once the top contenders have been identified, these are sent to the Board of Editors for their consideration and evaluation. The list is rank ordered and sent back to the Editor in Chief for final tally and the winner is identified.

2022 Huddleson Award Nominees

Additional manuscripts and their first authors nominated for the award this year include:

  • “Dietary Supplement Use in US Army Personnel: A Mixed-Methods, Survey and Focus-Group Study Examining Decision Making and Factors Associated With Use” Asma S. Bukhari, PhD, RDN
  • “Native Youth Participating in the Together on Diabetes 12-Month Home-Visiting Program Reported Improvements in Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 Diet Quality Domains Likely to Be Associated with Blood Pressure and Glycemic Control” Kirstie Ducharme-Smith MS, RD, LDN
  • “Introducing Dietary Self-Monitoring to Undergraduate Women via a Calorie Counting App Has No Effect on Mental Health or Health Behaviors: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial” Samantha L. Hahn PhD, MPH, RD
  • “Use of an Observational Comparative Strategy Demonstrated Construct Validity of a Measrue to Assess Adherence to the Satter Division of Responsibility in Feeding” Barbara Lohse, PhD, RDN
  • “Evidence That Changes in Community Food Environments Lead to Changes in Children’s Weight: Results from a Longitudinal Prospective Cohort Study” Punam Ohri-Vachaspati PhD, RD

The Minnesota Obesity Prevention Training (MnOPT) Program is recruiting for one postdoctoral fellowship position

The Minnesota Obesity Prevention Training (MnOPT) Program is recruiting for 1 postdoctoral fellowship position that will begin on or after September 1, 2022. Trainee will engage in research that focuses on the biology of obesity, clinical research on human obesity, and/or applied studies of treatment and prevention in community settings. Central to the MnOPT mission is having a strong mentoring environment for trainees organized around two training tracks: 1) epidemiology/ behavioral research and 2) basic sciences/ clinical studies.

The deadline for applications is 4pm on Monday, August 1, 2022.  For details and application:

Note, there are NO predoctoral positions open at this time. 

U of M , Mayo Win $19.4 Million Grant to Study Heart Health Disparities

Center will address heart disease in Minnesota’s communities of color.
“We are looking at cardiovascular disease, hypertension and obesity as chronic diseases that disproportionately affect BIPOC communities,” said Dr. Michele Allen, an associate professor at the U Medical School’s Department of Family Medicine. “We are trying to understand as one of those key drivers is racism at multiple levels and how it plays out in the development of chronic diseases and outcomes.”
Star Tribune 10/19/2021

Michael Oakes, Interim Vice President for Research

Michael Oakes, PhD (HWRC Affiliate Faculty) was named interim vice president for research in June, following previous VP Chris Cramer’s departure earlier this year. In the position, he oversees the institution’s $1+ billion research enterprise across all campuses and facilities. He also directly manages units responsible for sponsored projects, research and regulatory compliance, and technology commercialization, as well as 10 interdisciplinary academic centers and institutes.
Faculty & Staff SPHere: 09/07/21

Wearable fitness trackers are highly effective in weight loss efforts

“Wearable fitness trackers represent a practical option for people who are overweight or obese and who have weight-related conditions. They allow users to set and track physical activity and provide constant reminders to get up and move—which promotes self-monitoring and self-regulation,” says corresponding author Dr. Zan Gao (HWRC Affiliate Faculty) in a statement per South West News Service.
StudyFinds 8/9/2021

Announcement—New: Social Determinants of Health data set

The Healthcare Delivery Research Program of the National Cancer Institute is excited to share the Social Determinants of Health data set.

Request the data set and documentation at

This data set includes, for each US census tract (defined using 2010 census tract boundaries), certain social determinants of health data elements, including race/ethnicity, education, poverty, urban/rural, socioeconomic status, and racial residential segregation indices defined using 2008-2012 American Community Survey data and 2010 definitions of rural urban commuting areas.

The Social Determinants of Health data set is publicly available, pending an application and data use agreement.

The Social Determinants of Health data set was created as part of research activities of the NCI-funded Population-based Research to Optimize the Screening Process (PROSPR) network.

For questions regarding this new data set, please contact

Designing online grocery stores to support those striving to eat healthy for weight loss

With the rapid growth in online grocery shopping, researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health (study lead and HWRC co-director, Lisa Harnack) sought to identify design features online grocery stores should consider to support the increasing number of Americans striving to eat healthy for weight loss. Their findings were recently published in the journal Public Health Nutrition.
—Read more: UMN News and Events 7/13/21, Grocery Dive Brief 7/26/21