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Getting to Know Dr Shauna Downs, Public Health Nutritionist

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Shauna Downs, PhD, MS, is an associate professor in the Department of Health Behavior, Society, and Policy at the Rutgers School of Public Health. A former figure skater, her research now focuses on interventions to promote healthy and sustainable food choices and exploring how our changing climate, food systems, diet, and nutrition are inextricably linked.

Throughout February, The American Journal of Managed Care® will be introducing you to the next generation of great thinkers and groundbreakers in health care. They represent the fields of oncology, public health, and managed care and are fast making their marks as key opinion leaders in their fields.

Shauna Downs, PhD, MS, is an associate professor in the Department of Health Behavior, Society, and Policy at the Rutgers School of Public Health. A former figure skater, a significant part of her training growing up in Alberta, Canada, was ensuring she had the proper nutrition to fuel her athletic training. This morphed into a focus on exercise physiology, as a first-generation university graduate, which she followed with a master’s degree in nutrition and a PhD in public health. Her research includes focuses on interventions to promote healthy and sustainable food choices and exploring how our changing climate, food systems, diet, and nutrition are inextricably linked.

“I think diets are really important, and then I also think the linkages between public health and climate change and climate variability are really only in the beginning stages of people starting to see them. But it's going to continue to be a really, really important part of public health,” she emphasizes. “Because I work in the food nutrition space, and I see it from the populations I work with…talking about the changes in weather and how that's impacting their ability to grow food that then impacts their food security, and their nutrition outcomes, their economic productivity. There's all these things that are happening related to climate change.”

We hope you enjoy getting to know Dr Downs and learning more about the field of public health nutrition research, the affordability and convenience barriers that make healthy eating challenging, and the impact of both on underserved communities. She also offers some advice for the next generation of public health advocates.

For our previous interviews in this series, you can click over to meet Chandler Cortina, MD, MS, FSSO, FACS, assistant professor of surgery and breast surgical oncologist at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin, and Doug Marks, MD, director of the NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island Cancer Clinical Trials Office and associate professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

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