Tashara Leak
Tashara Leak
Assistant Professor
Division of Nutritional Sciences
Office

416 Savage Hall

Biography

As a health equity researcher, I design interventions that address socioeconomic and environmental influences on food choices, while drawing upon my expertise in mixed methods and community-based research. More specifically, I design innovative and culturally relevant interventions that aim to improve dietary behaviors and health outcomes of culturally diverse children and adolescents that reside in low-income, urban communities. Understanding and intervening on health disparities is complex and requires a multidisciplinary approach. As such, the majority of my research involves collaborators from a variety of backgrounds (e.g., food science, health psychology, etc.). I am deeply committed to conducting research that informs public health programming and policy. As such, the majority of my research studies have a clearly identified plan for translation from the very beginning.  

I am the Lois and Mel Tukman Assistant Professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences (DNS) at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) and I have a secondary faculty appointment as an Assistant Professor of Nutrition Research in Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine (New York, NY). As a health disparities researcher, I design innovative and culturally inclusive interventions that aim to improve dietary behaviors, and subsequent obesity-related health outcomes, among minority adolescents that reside in low-income, urban communities. Interventions that target obesity during adolescence are scarce and my research advances our knowledge of, 1) food preparation practices in low-income households as a means to intervene on adolescent dietary intake, 2) the effectiveness of behavioral economics to improve child and adolescent dietary intake, and 3) sociodemographic disparities in child and adolescent dietary intake. Furthermore, I am deeply committed to conducting research that informs public health programming and policy. 

Refereed Journal Articles

Leak TM, Setiono F, Gangrade N, Mudrak E. Youth Willingness to Purchase Whole Grain Snack Packs from New York City Corner Stores Participating in a Healthy Retail Program. Int J Environ Res and Public Health. 2019; 16 (3233): 1-12.

Overcash F, Reicks M, Ritter A, Leak T, Swenson A, Vickers Z. Children residing in low-income households like a variety of vegetables. Foods. 2018; 7, 1-9.

Leak TM, Aasand TA, Vickers Z, Reicks M. The Role of Adolescents From A Low Socioeconomic Background in Household Food Preparation: A Qualitative Study. Health Promot Prac. 2018. [Epub]

Tester J, Leung C, Leak TM, Laraia B. Recent trend towards increased intake of whole grains is not seen in lower-income adolescents: NHANES 2005-2012. Prev Chron Dis. 2017; E55 (14): E1-8.

Leak TM, Swenson A, Vickers Z, Mann T, Mykerezi E, Redden J, Rendahl A, Reicks M. Identifying feasible behavioral economics strategies that encourage home dinner vegetable consumption among low-income children. Public Health Nutr. 2017; 20 (8): 1388-1392.

Laraia B, Leak TM, Tester J, Leung C. Biobehavioral factors that shape nutrition in low-income populations: A narrative review. Am J Prev Med. 2017; 52 (2S2): S118-S126.

Leak TM, Swenson A, Vickers Z, Mann T, Mykerezi E, Redden JP, Rendahl J, Reicks M.  Testing the effectiveness of in-home behavioral economics strategies to increase vegetable intake, liking and variety among children residing in households that receive food assistance. J Nut Educ Behav. 2015; 47(2): e1-e9.

Leak TM, Benavente L, Goodell LS, Lassiter A, Lorelei Jones L, Bowen S.  EFNEP graduates' perspectives on the use of social media to supplement nutrition education: focus group findings. J Nut Educ Behav. 2014; 46 (3): 203-208.

Refereed Journal Articles Under Review

Leak TM, Gangrade N, Setiono F, Mudrak E. Facilitators and Barriers to Selling Whole Grain Snack Packs in New York City Corner Stores Participating in a Healthy Retail Program.

Leak TM, Gangrade N, Tester J. Facilitators and Barriers to Preparing and Offering Whole Grains to Children Diagnosed with Prediabetes: Qualitative Interviews with Low-Income Caregivers.

Tester J, Leak TM. Increased whole grain liking and intake in low-income youth with prediabetes: A food delivery pilot study. 

Fuster M, Leak TM, Galitzdorfer L. Barriers and Facilitators to Promoting Healthy Dietary Behaviors Among Hispanic Caribbean Populations: Dietitians’ Perspectives. 

2018-               Member, American Public Health Association

2016-               Member, International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity                             

2014-               Member, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics                                                                   Research Committee Member, National Organization of Blacks in Dietetics and Nutrition Member Interest Group (2014-2015)

2013-               Member, American Society for Nutrition          

                        Social Media Committee Chair and Graduate Student Representative, Nutrition Education Research Interest Section (2013-2014)                 

2012-               Member, Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior

                        Conference Abstract Reviewer (2019)

                        Program Planning Committee and Abstract Reviewer (2015)

                      Chair of the Issues and Resolutions Committee and Conference Planning Committee Liaison, Higher Education Division (2015)

                        Graduate Student Representative, Higher Education Division (2013-2015)

Teaching Goals

  1. To redesign NS1600 Introduction to Public Health.
  2. To create an inclusive learning environment in which students feel comfortable contributing to class discussions and feel that their perspectives are valued and respected.
  3. To collaborate with faculty who teach the other required courses for the Global and Public Health Sciences (GPHS) major in order to improve continuity.

Advising Goals and Accomplishments

  1. To mentor my DNS assigned undergraduate advisees as they navigate Cornell, offer professional development opportunities, and give advice about career opportunities post-graduation. 
  2. For my undergraduate research assistants, provide training on a variety of research methods, offer professional development opportunities, and give advice about career opportunities post-graduation.
  3. For my graduate and professional student advisees, provide training on a variety of research methods, offer guidance on developing writing skills (manuscripts and grants), help facilitate advancement in professional societies, offer professional development opportunities, and give advice on navigating next steps post-graduation.
  4. For my postdoctoral trainees, provide training on a variety of research methods, offer guidance on developing writing skills (manuscripts and grants), offer professional development opportunities, and give advice on establishing research independence.

NS 1600: Introduction to Public Health

HSC 4500: Supervised Field Training and Report Writing

HSC 3700: Health Behavior and Health Education Theories

Nutr 295: Introduction to Nutrition

FScN 4732: Food Operations Management

FScN 4614: Community Nutrition

Pubh 6903: Child and Adolescent Nutrition

DEA 2700: Healthy Places: Design, Planning, and Public Health (Guest Lecture)

NS 4500: Public Health Nutrition (Guest Lecture)

VTPMD 6121: Food Systems and Health (Guest Lecture)

DEA 2700: Healthy Places: Design, Planning, and Public Health (Guest Lecture)

2017, Postdoctoral Training, Public Health Nutrition Program, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley

2015, Ph.D., Nutrition, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

2010, M.S. Nutrition, Meredith College

2007, B.A.                                   , Spanish, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

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