When it comes to a healthy lifestyle, physical activity is key, says Elizabeth Budd, who has joined the UO faculty as one of four early career scholars recruited into positions in the Health Promotion and Obesity Prevention Initiative.
The initiative, one of the UO provost's Clusters of Excellence chosen in 2014, aims to use a multidisciplinary approach to combatting the nation's obesity epidemic, which affects 12.5 million youth — about 17 percent of the population.
Budd, who worked through the summer completing an international chronic disease prevention project at Washington University in St. Louis, said that her research is designed to reach the public as quickly as possible.
Being part of a cluster, she said, is what brought her to Eugene. "I am joining a team of really smart, down-to-earth people who are doing exciting work that is complementary to mine. I couldn't ask for anything better," she said soon after accepting the position.
"I think there's a kind of clear building of research questions among the four of us," she said recently, referring to fellow recruits Nicole Giuliani, Tasia Smith and Nichole Kelly who also joined the initiative, which is part of the Prevention Science Institute based in the College of Education.
"My contribution is much more focused on physical activity than the others," she said. "My work is very involved in the community. I'm interested in before, during and after-school programs. These require the involvement of families, teachers and school administrators. It includes neighborhood programs and policies within schools, as well as everyone involved in the lives of adolescents after the school day.
"Any research questions that I have should have strongly mapped-out implications for not only research but practice as well for any kind of practitioners working with students, youths and adolescents," she said.
Budd, whose academic home is the Department of Counseling Psychology and Human Services, has joined other College of Education researchers on a proposal for an innovative technology-based program to serve youth in underserved rural communities in Oregon.
"I'm excited about the prospect of this project coming to fruition, and I'm especially looking forward to collaborating with so many talented students, faculty members and community members," she said.
Beginning in winter quarter, Budd will teach "Contemporary Issues in Public Health," a course that she is designing. The course, she said, will touch upon the latest public health problems facing both the United States and the world. It also will focus on factors that are in play in determining health disparities.
Her doctoral dissertation at Washington University examined the role of physical activity enjoyment in adolescent girls and how enjoyment and physical activity differ by their social and physical environments, race, socioeconomic status and body fat percentage.
Budd grew up in Oregon and is happy to be returning. "We have a beautiful campus," she said. "It's green, inviting for pedestrians and cyclists, and it has many comfortable places to enjoy a cup of coffee. I look forward to spending a lot of time on campus."
—By Jim Barlow, University Communications
NOTE: This story is the fourth of four Friday stories about faculty members hired for the Health Promotion and Obesity Prevention Initiative in the UO's Clusters of Excellence.