Courtney A. Pinard

In Funded Scholars
Courtney A. Pinard
Courtney A. Pinard

Courtney A.



Research Scientist 
Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition

Professional Bio

Courtney Pinard, Ph.D., is a Research Scientist at the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition and also holds a Special Dean’s appointment as Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Promotion, Social & Behavioral Health in the College of Public Health with the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Dr. Pinard has expertise in policy and environmental approaches for health promotion in disparate populations, survey development and evaluation, and data analysis with a focus on multiple levels of influence related to food access and health behaviors. Dr. Pinard works closely with Dr. Yaroch at the Center on a number of different projects nationally, providing scientific input and collaboration.
Dr. Pinard received her PhD in nutrition and physical activity with an emphasis in behavioral science from Virginia Tech in 2010. She also holds a Masters in Human Kinetics (sport and exercise psychology) from the University of Windsor. Prior to working at the Center, Dr. Pinard was completing her graduate work and conducting in research and teaching as a Graduate Research Assistant and Teaching Assistant, resulting in over 10 years experience.

Dr. Pinard has experience leading and collaborating on projects comprising of state and local partnerships to address childhood obesity utilizing a range of approaches such as secondary and primary data analysis, qualitative methodology, and intervention at individual, community and policy levels. Dr. Pinard has collaborated on studies funded both federally and non-federally in areas including obesity prevention, local food systems and health, and food insecurity. Dr. Pinard’s current funded studies focus on access to healthful foods for low-income families, health surveillance, and survey development/evaluation. Dr. Pinard was recently awarded a RWJF New Connections Grant to develop a comprehensive toolkit of measures to assess the healthy corner store environment.

Project Description

The current proposal seeks to address a measurement gap in food access research by assessing various factors in corner stores within the context of the larger food environment related to childhood obesity prevention. Using mainly qualitative approaches, a toolkit of measures will be developed. The long-term goal is to create a toolkit with consistent and comparable measures of the healthy corner store food environment. For this study, we propose to develop measures for a healthy corner store measures toolkit specific to store-owners, parents, and adolescents. Specific aims are:

Aim 1. To identify factors, which influence the successful implementation of corner store projects in specific targeted populations (store-owners, parents, and adolescents), as well as barriers, in rural and urban settings. This will be achieved through conducting a literature review to ascertain relevant factors previously identified among parents and adolescents. Since virtually no work has been done among store-owners, key informant interviews will be conducted with rural and urban store-owners to identify pertinent factors, including environmental variables.

Aim 2. To modify existing measurement tools and develop new ones to better assess healthy food access. Tools specific to store-owners, parents, and adolescents, will be modified and/or developed based on information obtained in Aim 1.  Key informant interviews will then be conducted with both local and national content experts working on healthy corner store efforts to obtain information to finalize the tools, which together will form a comprehensive toolkit to assess healthy food access in rural and urban settings.

The overall intent is to utilize the pilot information obtained and subsequent toolkit to help inform the development of a larger study to evaluate the reliability and validity of these instruments, to ultimately aid in childhood obesity prevention assessment efforts.

My New Connections Experience

I wanted to apply for a New Connections grant through Healthy Eating Research given the parallels of my own research interests and the mission and focus of HER. I am passionate about public health and improving food environments through policy and environment level change and excited that HER New Connections has provided me the opportunity to contribute to the way we assess healthy corner store initiatives. In addition, being a first generation college student from a low-income family I can understand the challenges many communities face in healthy food access and thought that the New Connections mechanism would be a great way to launch my career.

Being a part of New Connections is an honor and will benefit me as a new investigator in terms of advancing my skill set through mentorship and training opportunities and networking with leaders in the field as well as other New Connections grantees. The technical assistance, mentoring, and networking opportunities provided through the New Connections program will help shape my research and career path.

Research Interests

Policy, and environmental approaches to health promotion and reduction of health disparities in the following ways: childhood obesity prevention; the influence of the home environment on health behaviors; the relationship between food insecurity, food systems and food access; the public health impact of local food systems; and survey development and evaluation .

The Details
  • New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
  • Award Year: 2013, Healthy Eating Research 
  • RWJF Team/Portfolio: Childhood Obesity
  • Project Name: Assessing the Healthy Corner Store Environment: Development of a Measurement Toolkit for Use Across Rural and Urban Settings.

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