roger figueroa

Roger Figueroa, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.Sc. is a Provost New Faculty Fellow (2019-2020), Assistant Professor (eff. 7/1/20). Dr. Figueroa's research combines concepts and methods across disciplinary boundaries to examine interconnections between the social and behavioral determinants of health, with a particular focus on children’s energy-balance behaviors in underrepresented and low-income communities. To date, Dr. Figueroa has developed a comprehensive skill foundation in research methods, including training in a broad range of quantitative (i.e., advanced linear modeling, structural equation modeling, psychometrics) and qualitative methods (i.e., grounded theory, ethnography, qualitative GIS), mixed-methods, and systematic review methods. Roger has received training and research funding support from the USDA, NIH, and from other institutional-level grant programs.

412 Savage Hall
Cornell University
244 Garden Ave, Ithaca NY, 14853
Dr. Figueroa's Curriculum Vitae

katherine baker

Katherine Baker is a Ph.D. student in Community Nutrition. Originally from Milwaukee, she earned her B.A from. New York University. She next earned her M.S. in Human Nutrition and her M.P.H. in Environmental Health Science with a certificate in Climate & Health for Columbia University. Katherine is passionate about health equity and her current work focused on neighborhood food environment and nutrition security in the Fig lab. In the future, Katherine hopes to continue working in public health nutrition, and to continue to explore her interest in the intersection of environmental health and nutrition.



reah chiong

Reah Chiong is a 2nd year Ph.D. student in Nutritional Sciences with a concentration in Community Nutrition. During her undergraduate career at California State University – Long Beach, where she received her Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics and Food Administration and a Minor in Child Development and Family Studies, she was funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) to undergo formal research training through the BUILD program. This immersive experience in research propelled her to pursue her Ph.D. at Cornell to study the interplay between food behaviors and attitudes, social and cultural identities, and health. Since joining the FIG lab, she has gained valuable experience and skills - from developing a manuscript using nationally representative data to contributing to various grants to co-leading a systematic review focused on food assistance. Currently, she serves as the Project Coordinator of the Food Research Initiative on the Experience of Nutrition Diversity and Security (FRIENDS) project in the FIG lab, a community-driven project aiming to conceptualize and to address food insecurity in Upstate New York. She hopes to utilize her creativity, her background in nutrition, her minors in Sociology and Public Policy, and her passion for the community to implement healthy, equitable, and sustainable food-related policies and practices to address nutrition needs of families and children especially those belonging in minority groups. Reah’s favorite pastimes during quarantine include working on jigsaw puzzles, cooking, and art. 

gabe fuligni

Gabe Fuligni is an undergraduate in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University, majoring in Human Biology, Health, and Society and minoring in Global Health. His research interests include the social determinants of health and the root causes of nutrition and health disparities, which brought him to the FIG Lab, where he is currently working on an Honors Thesis investigating the use of adolescent proxy reports on obesity-related parenting behaviors. He is also passionate about the outdoors and loves hiking and running.




nasra ismail

Nasra Ismail is an undergraduate student at Cornell University majoring in International Agricultural and Rural Development, concentrating in food systems and minoring in Health Equities, on the pre-med track. Her interests include early childhood development, as well as bridging healthcare disparities and social inequalities. These combined interests are what led her to the FIG lab, where she is able to expand on her passions and explore the convergence of social inequities and health. Outside of academics, she enjoys cooking, crime podcasts, and exploring nature.



Ruyu Liu

Ruyu Liu is a registered dietitian and research technician at Northeastern University. She earned her B.S. in Dietetics and M.S. in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During her time there, she was involved in several clinical trials investigating the relationships between nutrition, body composition, and cognition. For her master’s project, she studied the association between genetic variants and retinal carotenoid concentrations in children. In addition, Ru assisted with the program evaluation for a SNAP-ed funded culinary nutrition education program (Illinois Junior Chefs). Her current research interest lies in the social and environmental determinants of food choices among historically marginalized populations. She hopes to use community-based interventions to address health disparities. In her free time, Ru enjoys working out, hiking, and playing board games with friends and family.

julio salas

Julio Salas is a Senior majoring in Human Development on the pre-med track. He was born and raised in Corona, Queens, NY, and transferred from Queensborough Community College (QCC) to Cornell. As a child and adolescent, he didn’t understand anything concerning psychology and sociology. It wasn’t until QCC and Cornell that he discovered the social sciences – a discipline that gave him many answers and changed his life. As a result of this, Julio’s many passions lie in the realm of wanting to do everything he can to improve the lives of people, specifically children from underserved communities – similar to the one where he was born and raised. Julio is an aspiring pediatrician, and his research interests revolve around the influence of the environment on development and outcomes (e.g., health outcomes). Whether it be one’s food environment, household, or neighborhood, Julio is fascinated by the interaction between an environment and a human’s development. Julio enjoys reading books, listening to podcasts, loves drinking coffee, and recently has gotten into financial literacy.

lucy xin

Lucy Xin is an undergraduate student at Cornell University majoring in Nutritional Sciences with a minor in Health Policy. She joined the FIG lab as a PRYDE scholar because of her passions in understanding the intersections between childhood obesity and social and behavioral determinants of health. She is also interested in understanding how health disparities and other factors impact marginalized communities. In her free time, Lucy loves playing the piano and viola, watching crime shows, and spending time with family and friends. 



FIG Alumni

jamie chen

Jamie Chen is an undergraduate student at Cornell University majoring in Nutritional Sciences, with further minors (and passions!) in Biomedical Science and Global Health. She is very interested in applied clinical research through a socio-ecological lens. Her passions in this area of work have led her to the FIG Lab, where she is excited to explore the intersections between social-behavioral-economical determinants of health, metabolic disease, and childhood development. In her free time, Jamie enjoys film-making, listening to podcasts, and exploring bio-hacking.

arely perez

Arely Perez, Collaborator and Research Support, was born and raised in Houston, TX. She received her bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from Texas A&M University and her master’s degree in Health and Kinesiology from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Arely has ten years of experience working directly with research funded studies and projects related to obesity and diabetes prevention, and physical activity and nutrition. Currently, she is project coordinator for the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program at the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at UT Health San Antonio. Since joining the IHPR in 2012, her research focus has been on cancer survivorship and Latino cancer health disparities. Arely's research interests include: addressing health disparities, improving the quality of life of underserved populations, healthcare administration, and learning new methods to better serve her community. In her spare time Arely enjoys running/working out, reading, traveling and spending time with her fur babies, Ojos (kitty) and Robby (pup).



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