As a health disparities researcher, I conduct 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 among impoverished, minority youth that reside in urban communities. Thus, my research lies at the intersection of poverty, race/ethnicity, nutrition, and health (e.g., obesity and type 2 diabetes). Understanding and intervening on health disparities is complex and requires a multidisciplinary approach. As such, the majority of my research involves collaborators from diverse training backgrounds (e.g., economics, sociology, food science, business marketing, technology, 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.
Title: The Advanced Cooking Education (ACE) 4-H After School Club: Curriculum Development and Pilot Test
Location: New York City
Brief Overview: A nutrition education and culinary science 4-H after school club that will consists of healthy snack offerings, mindfulness exercises, nutrition education, and cooking labs where students work in pairs to prepare an ethnic dinner meal. There will also be career and professional development activities about the various opportunities in the field of nutrition. The curriculum is currently being developed and will be pilot tested with 8th grade students at 3 middle schools that receive Title I funding in NYC.
Refereed Journal Articles
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. Examining the Feasibility of Selling Whole Grain Snack Packs in New York City Corner Stores.
Leak TM, Gangrade N, Tester J. Examining the Feasibility of Preparing adn Offerign Whole Grains: Precerptions of Low-Income Caregivers of a Child with Prediabetes.
Tester J, Leak TM. Increased whole grain liking and intake in low-income youth with prediabetes: A food delivery pilot study.
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
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)
As an educator, I am constantly exploring innovative teaching strategies that engage students in the learning experience. For example, I applied a flipped classroom model to teach an undergraduate Health Behavior and Health Education Theory course. Using this learner-center pedagogical approach, students completed readings and reviewed online instructional materials prior to class. The classroom was reserved for interactive activities (e.g., Think-Write-Pair-Share) and in-depth discussions.
08/18-12/18 Introduction to Public Health (NS 1600), Professor. Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY.
09/16-03/17 Supervised Field Training and Report Writing (HSC 4500), Adjunct Professor. Nursing and Health Science Department, California State University-East Bay. Hayward, CA.
06/16-08/16 Health Behavior and Health Education Theories (HSC 3700), Adjunct Professor. Nursing and Health Science Department, California State University-East Bay. Hayward, CA.
06/15-07/15 Introduction to Nutrition (Nutr 295), Adjunct Professor. Nutrition and Food Studies Department, George Mason University. Fairfax, VA.
09/13-12/13 Food Operations Management (FScN 4732), Teaching Assistant. Food Science and Nutrition Department, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Saint Paul, MN.
01/13-05/13 Community Nutrition (FScN 4614), Teaching Assistant. Food Science and Nutrition Department, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Saint Paul, MN.
09/13-12/13 Child and Adolescent Nutrition (Pubh 6903), Teaching Assistant. School of Public Health, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Minneapolis, MN.
Spring 2019 Professor: Kathleen Rasmussen, ScD. Public Health Nutrition (NS 4500). Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities (Lecture 1) and The Farm Bill (Lecture 2). Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY.
Fall 2019 Professors: Katie Fiorella, MPH, PhD & Rebecca Nelson, PhD. Food Systems and Health (VTPMD 6121). Intervening to Change Eating Patterns. Cornell University Public Health. Ithaca, NY.
Fall 2019 Professor: Nancy Wells, PhD. Healthy Places: Design, Planning, and Public Health (DEA 2700). Healthy Environments for Urban Youth. Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY.
Spring 2018 Professor: Kathleen Rasmussen, ScD. Public Health Nutrition (NS 4500). Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities (Lecture 1), Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Lecture 2), The Farm Bill (Lecture 3). Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY.
2015-2017 Postdoctoral Training, Public Health Nutrition Program, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley, CA.
2015 Ph.D. Nutrition, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities ,Saint Paul, MN.
2010 M.S. Nutrition, Meredith College, Raleigh, NC.
2007 B.A. Spanish, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.