The Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB) has partnered with the Korean Society of Community Nutrition (KSCN) to present Marissa McElrone, PhD, RDN with the KSCN-SNEB Student Award during the 2020 SNEB Annual Conference presented virtually on July 20 – 24.
After earning a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences from Penn State University, McElrone worked as a Minority Health Promotion Coordinator and later as a WIC Nutritionist with various non-profits in both Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. She also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania, East Africa for two years focusing on maternal and child nutrition, HIV/AIDS and malaria prevention, water safety and sanitation, and women’s empowerment.
McElrone completed her PhD in Nutritional Sciences with an emphasis in Community Nutrition from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) in May 2020. While at UTK, she also completed a dietetic internship and recently earned her Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credentials. During her graduate studies, McElrone served as a Nutrition Leadership Trainee through the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, the State Project Coordinator on the multi-state, USDA funded iCook 4-H research project, and a Research Assistant on a variety of interdisciplinary projects with diverse domestic and international communities.
During her time at UTK, McElrone completed a summer internship with the Blackfeet tribe in Montana where she led a project seeking to address food security and food sovereignty issues on the reservation. Additionally, she taught English as a Second Language classes to local refugees and immigrant communities and returned to Africa as a field assistant on a community research project. Furthermore, McElrone served on the steering and policy committees for the East Tennessee Childhood Obesity Coalition during her tenure at UTK.
McElrone’s research aims to explore and address cultural, socioecological, and behavioral factors related to disparities in food security and nutrition equity through culturally relevant, community-based interventions to address these issues among diverse, socially disadvantage populations. Specifically, her dissertation research used a community-based model to identify and culturally adapt an existing evidence-based curriculum (iCook 4-H) to address the unique dietary acculturation barriers to and facilitators of food security among Burundian and Congolese refugee families. With passions to promote nutrition and health equity, McElrone’s future research agenda is focused on investigating and addressing barriers to and facilitators of food security through community-based interventions and policy, systems, and environmental change approaches aimed to improve access to healthful foods. In August 2020, McElrone will start a tenure-track position as an Assistant Professor in Public Health at University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.