UGA student chosen for Kellogg Fellowship on health disparities

UGA student chosen for Kellogg Fellowship on health disparities

Athens, Ga. – Caree Jackson, a Ph.D. foods and nutrition candidate at the University of Georgia, is one of 15 scholars chosen nationwide for the Kellogg Health Scholars Program.

Jackson, who will graduate in August, will focus on community-based participatory research that combines the efforts of those in academia, communities and public health. During the two-year fellowship, which includes an annual stipend of about $60,000, she will pursue her research at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md.

The Kellogg Health Scholars Program is funded with grants totaling $13.5 million by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The goal of the program is to support researchers as they develop knowledge on the nature of social disparities in health and interventions to reduce those disparities, according to information provided by Kellogg. The program also emphasizes working closely with community leaders to develop the skills necessary to advocate for policies to reduce health disparities.

“Caree’s selection to participate in the Kellogg Health Scholars Program is a testament to the innovative programs she has developed during both her master’s and doctoral programs,” said Rebecca Mullis, chair of the foods and nutrition department in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

For her master’s research, Jackson combined participatory theater with nutrition messages targeting lower-income African-American elementary school students. “Lil Red Ridin’ thru da ‘Hood” provided a new look at the “Little Red Riding Hood” story by emphasizing the importance of good nutrition and exercise. The play, featuring an African-American cast, combines live theater, hip-hop music, dance steps and audience participation. Jackson’s research demonstrated that theater is a viable medium for teaching nutrition to younger children.

For her dissertation, Jackson spent a semester working in an after-school program with African-American middle school students. The students developed a dinner-theater program that included a play emphasizing nutritional messages and an appropriate menu to accompany it. Ultimately, the students performed for family and friends, who dined on food prepared by a professional chef based on the students’ menu. Jackson’s research showed that the use of hands-on activities provided the students a sense of ownership of the messages being conveyed and ensured they also learned the importance of nutrition and exercise.

Jackson received funding from the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation for both her master’s and doctoral projects.

“Being named a Kellogg Health Scholar means that I will be able to spend much of the next two years focusing on expanding my research skills and establishing ongoing projects using the arts to educate children and teens about good nutrition and exercise habits,” Jackson said.