Lauren Au

Lauren Au




Assistant Researcher
University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nutrition Policy Institute

Professional Bio

Prior to joining the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Nutrition Policy Institute, I was a postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for Weight and Health, where I managed several research projects, conceptualized research designs and generated research funds. From 2013 to 2014, I served as a AAAS Congressional Fellow to a U.S. Senator and developed nutrition and health legislation, including helping to introduce the bipartisan Summer Meals Bill, and preparing policy briefs on federal nutrition and health policies. From 2009 to 2013, I was a USDA obesity graduate research fellow for Tufts University, Friedman School for Nutrition Science and Policy. During my time at Tufts, I served as a consultant for the HBO film “The Weight of the Nation” (2012). I also worked as a registered dietitian for the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City in 2009.

I completed a PhD in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition from Tufts University, an MS in Nutrition and Public health from Columbia University and a BS in Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics from UC Berkeley.

Project Description

Identify trends in the intensity of school nutrition programs and policies in a national evaluation of elementary and middle schools in diverse communities. Examine the association between the current school nutrition environment and children’s weight status by income and race/ethnicity

My New Connections Experience

My goal is to obtain the training and mentored research experience that will fully prepare me to establish myself as an independently funded investigator who is able to design, implement, evaluate, and disseminate school-based nutrition interventions to reduce childhood obesity in vulnerable populations. More specifically, support from this RWJF Healthy Eating Research New Connections award allows me to acquire the enhanced skills in school nutrition environment assessment, health disparities, and advanced statistical methods that will equip me to successfully compete for R01 funding to validate my findings in school-based randomized-controlled trial interventions.

Being part of both the RWJF New Connections and Healthy Eating Research networks will be critical for my development as an academic researcher. Further, support from this grant will afford me the protected time for additional relevant coursework and direct training with mentors who will provide practical experience towards becoming an independent and productive investigator capable of conducting large-scale school-based interventions and developing policy-level strategies to prevent childhood obesity and reduce health disparities.

Research Interests

My research interests include nutrition interventions aimed to support obesity prevention in underserved racial/ethnic groups. My previous work focused on dietary vitamin D within racial/ethnic minorities and overweight/obese populations. In my postdoctoral career, I shifted my research to understanding how to promote healthier eating and prevent obesity in federal nutrition assistance programs, such as the Women, Infants and Children Program and the National School Lunch Program. My current portfolio includes a wide variety of epidemiologic, intervention, qualitative and quantitative evaluation projects in partnership with organizations ranging from state and federal agencies to small private and nonprofit organizations.

The Details
  • New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
  • Award Year: 2016
  • RWJF Team/Portfolio: Healthy Eating Research
  • Project Name: Examining the Association Between Schools’ Nutrition Environment and Children’s Weight Status by Income and Race/ethnicity

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