The Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB) will honor Colleen K. Spees, PhD, MED, RDN, LD, FAND with the Early Professional Achievement Award in acknowledgment of her notable contributions to the field of nutrition early into her career at the 2020 SNEB Annual Conference held virtually on July 20 – 24.
Dr. Colleen Spees serves as Associate Professor in the Division of Medical Dietetics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. She also holds joint academic appointments in the Department of Extension, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and the Department of Human Sciences, College of Education and Human Ecology (EHE).
Dr. Spees’primary focus of nutrition education and scholarship involves conducting garden-based biobehavioral interventions aimed at providing optimal nutrition for vulnerable populations. In this capacity, she collaborates closely with experts in Extension, nutritional sciences, public health, food and crop science, social work, medicine, and policy that seek to improve access to culturally appropriate, health-promoting and functional foods by impacting food availability, food access, food quality, and food use.
Her novel and multifaceted behavioral interventions have received national recognition. Orchestrated around a 3+ acre garden, these tailored family-based interventions serve as a successful model of translational science, integrating theory-based nutrition education, novel technologies, motivational interviewing, produce harvesting, and cooking demonstrations.
Her research efforts have resulted in over 30 national and international presentations and over 80 peer-reviewed scientific publications and abstracts. She believes the future of nutrition education must embrace individualized behavioral programs for targeted clinical scenarios, and her goal is to develop, implement, and test these evidence-based interventions to support our changing healthcare paradigm.
In 2016, Dr. Spees expanded her reach to investigate one of our most vulnerable and underserved populations. At that time in Ohio, more than 60,000 children lived in food-insecure households. To address this need, she adapted her proven garden-based intervention to test a rural and urban summer feeding program for high-risk families. The results from her 2014 feasibility study led to a highly competitive 5-year, $1 million USDA-NIFA Grant.
Dr. Spees shared her future research plans, “As a ‘boots on the ground’ educator and researcher, I hope to continue exploring new cohorts that can benefit from our efficacious behavioral interventions and delve more into the active ingredients that predict long-term adherence to successful behavior change. I have strong preliminary data and an extramural grant currently pending in this area. If funded and successful, I would love to disseminate my findings at a future SNEB meeting!”
Dr. Spees has been recognized for her contributions to nutrition research and education efforts from many organizations including the Ohio Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Cancer Society, and American Institute for Cancer Research.
An active member of SNEB, she recently served on the Nominating Committee and reviews abstracts for SNEB as well as manuscripts for the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. She’s presented SNEB webinars and is active in several Divisions.
Christopher A. Taylor, PhD, RDN, LD, FAND says, “I have had the honor to work with her as a colleague and a mentor for almost a decade and I have watched her develop through her PhD program and all the way to a recent successful tenure review in the College of Medicine.”
Dr. Spees offer some advice to early career professionals. She writes, “As a non-traditional PhD RD (receiving my doctorate in my mid-40s), I think perserverance, grit, and building strong collaborations are key to the success of young investigators in today’s competitive environment. Half of life is showing up. The other half is being someone folks WANT to collaborate with. Doors open when you do your best work and lift other up. Organizations, like SNEB, provide the perfect opportunity for young professionals to engage with nationally- and internationally-recognized professionals. Challenge yourself and jump right in!”