Melissa Laska, PhD, RD

Associate Professor, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health

Melissa Laska

Contact Info

nels5024@umn.edu

Office Phone 612-624-8832

Office Address:
300 West Bank Office Building

Mailing Address:
1300 S 2nd St
Room 300 West Bank Office Building
Minneapolis, MN 55454

PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

RD, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

BS with Honors, Cornell Unviersity

Summary

Dr. Laska’s expertise is in nutrition and obesity prevention. Over the past decade she has led a multifaceted research portfolio, with particular interests in modifiable and contextual determinants of obesity, dietary patterns, and food environments. Her work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Heart Association, and she has published more than 120 peer-reviewed manuscripts to date. She is currently PI of an NIH R01 investigating local policy impacts on community-level healthy food availability and serves as PI of the University of Minnesota NOPREN (Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network) research site.

Overall, Dr. Laska’s work has been influential in the field, having been cited more than 5,300 times in journals published in 16 languages from 54 countries. Her published work has been utilized in key recommendations and reports by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (including the Institute of Medicine), Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, American Academy of Pediatrics, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Public Health Association, Office of the Surgeon General, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing.

Expertise

Equity, food & nutrition, public health nutrition, obesity prevention, food environment, food access, healthy food retail, nutrition policy, food security

Research

Research Funding Grants

  • 12/14–11/18, NIH, "Impact of a Local Staple Food Ordinance on Food Choice and Calories Purchased," Principal Investigator
  • 7/16–6/17, NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, "Project EAT-IV: Eating and Activity in Adolescents and Young Adults," Co-Investigator
  • 4/16–3/19, US Department of Health and Human Services HRSA, "Exercise Intervention for Preventing Perinatal Depression among Low Income Women," Co-Investigator
  • 2/16–1/20, NIH, "Impacts of Later High School Start Times on Adolescent Weight and Weight-Related Behavior," Co-Investigator
  • 1/16–12/19, NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, "EAT 2010-2018: A Longitudinal, Multi-Contextual Study of Weight-related Problems," Co-Investigator
  • 7/15–6/18, HRSA Maternal and Child Health, "Public Health Nutrition Training Grant," Co-Investigator

Publications

See a full list of my publications on PubMed

Select Recent Publications

Teaching

Teaching Areas

I am the director of the Public Health Nutrition program and teach courses and advise students within the program.

Courses

  • PubH 3955/6955, Using Policy to Address Child & Adolescent Obesity Prevention

Community Engagement

Dr. Laska serves as the Co-Director for the Obesity Prevention Center at the University of Minnesota, which aims to prevent obesity through conducting and disseminating interdisciplinary research, preparing the next generation of researchers, and connecting the community to research on obesity prevention.

She also serves as a Senior Research Adviser to Healthy Eating Research (HER), a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focusing on policy strategies to promote healthy eating to prevent obesity among children and adolescents. Through this role she has convened and led several national scientific working groups and expert panels of leading scholars across the US who are conducting research on environment and policy change in U.S. communities.

Media

Video

In The News

SPH News

  • Convenience Stores Promote Unhealthy Food Purchases (Read more)

In The Media

  • Why 7-Eleven, inventor of the Slurpee, is now all about cold-pressed organic juice (Washington Post)