Assistant Professor and Interim Associate Dean for
Georgia State University
Dr. Rodney Lyn serves as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University. His research is focused on childhood obesity prevention, school and community health, and the reduction of health disparities. He has special interest in identifying effective policy and system approaches to increasing physical activity and healthy eating in children and has published numerous peer-reviewed article on these topics. Dr. Lyn directs the Policy Leadership for Active Youth (PLAY) initiative, a collaborative effort between the state’s research universities and statewide partners to address childhood obesity by connecting an emerging evidence-base to practice and policy. Over the past 10 years, Dr. Lyn has worked closely with state agencies, professional associations, not for profit organizations, and the philanthropic community to prevent childhood obesity. He is an active member of the CDC’s Physical Activity Policy Research Network (PAPRN). He serves as Deputy Director for the Center of Excellence on Health Disparities Research.
Prior to joining the faculty at Georgia State University, Dr. Lyn served as a Research Associate in the School of Public Health. While serving in positions at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and Georgia State University’s Department of Nutrition he conducted school and community-based obesity prevention. He has special interest in the role of public policy in shaping environments, influencing behaviors and public health.
Dr. Lyn teaches Public Health Policy, Foundations of Public Health Administration and Policy, Childhood Obesity Prevention, and Introduction to the Healthcare System.
Despite the clear association between poor health and social and economic disadvantages, recent results from the County Health Rankings, supported by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), reveal a paradox of sorts. Analysis of the county rankings data across a subset of eight states located in the South reveals that certain counties with low median household incomes and a high proportion of racial/ethnic minorities reflect county health rankings that are above the median in their respective states, and in some cases are among the top quartile. An important question is why? What enables these communities to do what so many other demographically similar communities have not – create a community context that promotes a “culture of health?” These counties provide an excellent opportunity to conduct exploratory research aimed at identifying and understanding the salient factors that seem to moderate the negative health outcomes associated with social, geographic, and economic disadvantage. This study is a cross-case comparative analysis of four communities, two ranked highly and two ranked in the lowest quartile. The goal is to identify similarities and differences between these groups of communities as a first step toward establishing approaches to health promotion for vulnerable populations. Such knowledge holds promise for identifying potentially modifiable or replicable factors that promote a “culture of health” in communities at greatest risk for inequities.
My New Connections Experience
I applied to the New Connection Program to obtain valuable mentoring, collaboration, and support which would allow me to increase the impact of my work by connecting me to others working nationally on obesity prevention, health disparities, and public health. The New Connections Program, through its focused mentoring and training components, is providing an opportunity for me to build upon existing strengths and knowledge, expand technical research skills, and continue my work to address health inequities. The program provides opportunities for me to learn from peers and other scholars, while connecting me with the national RWJF and individuals committed to public health.
My research interests are in understanding the drivers of obesity and its related chronic diseases and applying interventions to reduce population risk, particularly among children and youth. It has been well-established that obesity is a complex problem that requires a multi-level ecological approach for prevention. My research agenda is focused on developing, implementing, and evaluating interventions that utilize policy, systems, and environmental approaches to promote community health. Additionally, I have a scholarly focus on informing public health practice around chronic disease prevention by evaluating the use of evidence-based approaches and publishing guidance for practitioners in peer-reviewed and continuing education formats.
- New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
- Award Year: 2014
- Project Name: Examining paradoxical outcomes in the County Health Rankings: a cross-case comparison of four communities in the South