Carmen Samuel-Hodge, PhD, is the 2018 Barr awardee.

Samuel-Hodge, who earned a doctorate in nutrition in 2000 at the Gillings School, joined the Gillings School faculty in 2003. She has won a number of awards for her work in support of women and minority students and faculty, including the UNC University Award for the Advancement of Women (2015), the N.C. Dietetic Association Outstanding Educator Award (2014), and the UNC School of Medicine’s Minority Cohort Scholar.

Her recent research investigates how family interactions and functioning influence lifestyle behaviors. She is also interested in the measurement of psychosocial factors associated with chronic illness and weight management, particularly among lower-income populations and African-Americans with chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

“Camen’s passion for public health nutrition and her ability to think creatively to address complex problems – exemplified by her addressing the ’wicked problem’ of Type 2 diabetes among African-Americans – is one reason I recommended her to a national advisory role with the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) health disparities committee,” said her chair, Dr. Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, active ADA board member and ADA’s president for health care and education in 2011.

“Her participation with the committee has led to the creation of a new behavioral self-management program currently being piloted in several states. This work with ADA and her own research collaborations at UNC demonstrate her leadership capabilities, creativity and problem-solving skills. … Carmen is a terrific faculty member, a strong mentor and a supportive colleague.”

Alice Ammerman, DrPH, Mildred Kaufman Distinguished Professor of nutrition and director of the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, observed that Samuel-Hodge’s advice to her students captures the spirit of her approach to public health:

  • Respect the population you serve.
  • Train in the academy, but practice in the real world.
  • Get comfortable with complexity and ambiguity.
  • Remember that there are enough questions for everyone.
  • There are many right answers.

“Carmen is a highly successful researcher with a focus on health disparities and chronic disease prevention in African-American women,” Ammerman said. “Her research is always designed to address a challenging public health problem in a high-risk, underserved population and to lead to actionable public health improvements. She has a well-deserved reputation for excellent leadership of research teams conducting community-based nutrition interventions. An important part of her leadership stems from her ability to carefully plan for implementation of her projects.”

Established in 1975, the Harriet Hylton Barr Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes the achievements of alumni and their contributions to public health. Each year, it honors a deserving graduate of the School working full-time in public health or in a related field. The award carries the name of its 1980 recipient, the late Harriet Hylton Barr, who earned a Master of Public Health degree from the Gillings School in 1948 and dedicated 28 years of service to the School as an association professor of health behavior and the first director of alumni affairs.

 

This story is reposted from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

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