Momentum Center | Driving Discovery to End Childhood Obesity

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Professor of Psychology
Specialty: Socioeconomic Status, Achievement, Parenting

“Putting a collaborative group of researchers together is the only way to really address the public health issues we are facing. The Momentum Center has taken a large step in bringing together scientists who can make a difference in obesity research. I will provide guidance on parenting issues and quantitative methods, but will represent only one of many perspectives found with this group.”

Pamela Davis-Kean is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and a Research Professor at the Institute for Social Research and the Center for Human Growth and Development at the University of Michigan. Her primary focus is on parental educational attainment and how it can influence the construction of the home environment throughout childhood, adolescence, and the transition to adulthood. Achievement is the primary outcome that she studies, and she is an expert in the use of standardized testing with children. Dr. Davis-Kean stresses the importance of doing quality psychological research through the use of replication methods and large-scale data sets. She earned her PhD at Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Davis-Kean’s faculty profile

Associate Professor of Psychology
Specialty: Addiction, Binge Eating

“Cross-disciplinary research is essential for making progress in combating a problem as complicated as obesity. The Momentum Center provides an important opportunity for scientists from various backgrounds to collaborate on innovative approaches to understanding, preventing, and treating childhood obesity.”

Ashley Gearhardt is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Food and Addiction Science & Treatment (FAST) Lab at the University of Michigan. Her research centers on evidence linking obesity and substance dependence, which has led to increased interest in the role of an addictive process in problematic eating behavior. As part of her research, she examines cognitive and neural processes of symptoms associated with food addiction, and does so through neuroimaging, eye tracking, and measurement development. Dr. Gearhardt is also interested in how food environments (e.g., food commercials, food-related product placements) may lead potentially addictive foods to have widespread clinical and public health consequences. She earned her PhD from Yale University.

Dr. Gearhardt’s faculty profile

Susan Gelman, PHD More
Professor of Psychology and Linguistics
Specialty: Food decision-making in children; Children's understanding of nutrition

Dr. Susan Gelman is the Heinz Werner Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and Linquistics. Dr. Gelman’s research interests include cognitive development, language acquisition, categorization, inductive reasoning, causal reasoning, and relationships between language and thought. She earned her PhD in Psychology, with a PhD minor in Linguistics at Stanford.

Dr. Gelman’s faculty profile

Professor of Communications Studies
Specialty: Media Psychology

“The Momentum Center offers the opportunity for cross-disciplinary research collaboration, which is essential for the kind of macro-level problem solving needed to address highly complex and pervasive problems such as child obesity.”

Kristen Harrison’s research concerns the relationship between child media exposure and health outcomes related to food, nutrition, body image, disordered eating, and obesity. Her work has been funded by the William T. Grant Foundation, the Illinois Council for Food and Agriculture Research, the Illinois Department of Human Services, and the U. S. Department of Agriculture. Professor Harrison is co-founder of the University of Illinois STRONG Kids Program, a transdisciplinary research initiative engaged with media, marketing, and family predictors of early childhood obesity. Since 2011, she has been director of the Media Psychology group at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, where she is extending her STRONG Kids work with Michigan preschoolers. She earned her PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Dr. Harrison’s faculty profile