Emily Kuross Vikre, MS
Ph.D. Candidate, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Friedman School, Tufts University, Boston, MA
Mentor Dr. Goldberg
My research interest is in exploring the social influences on health. I am interested in what makes a culture strong enough to stimulate new, or maintain old, health behaviors – specifically eating and physical activity behaviors. I am also interested in how a culture of health is created. Therefore, I am interested in the influences of social networks (people’s family, friends, and other acquaintances), traditions, shifting group norms, the media, and communication on health. As a master’s student I worked in housing developments in Boston with low-income, minority families, creating educational programming about nutrition and physical activity that was responsive to the interests and cultures of the families. The programming also, notably, brought together families that hadn’t known each other before and created a new community within each housing development that was interested in pursuing healthy activities together.
Currently I am working in the John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention, and am involved with the grant entitled Assessing and Preventing Obesity Among New Immigrants, led by Dr. Christina Economos. This research, happening in Somerville, MA, is community based participatory research (CBPR), meaning that members of the community are heavily involved in the planning, implementation, analysis and publication of the research. The research is a randomized controlled trial working with 435 mother-child pairs who have immigrated to Somerville within the last 5 years, which will use culturally sensitive programming to prevent increases in obesity over a 2 year period. As the research progresses, I hope to add to it through description and evaluation of the CBPR component. I also plan to assess the social networks of the mothers in the trial and look for associations between the characteristics of the social networks and eating and physical activity norms and behaviors.