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Sarah Samuels Award Recipients


American Public Health Association, Food & Nutrition Section’s Sarah Samuels Award

Dr. Marlene Schwartz serves as director for the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University. She received her PhD in psychology from Yale University in 1996. Prior to joining the Rudd Center, she served as co-director of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders from 1996 to 2006. Dr. Schwartz’s research and community service addresses how home environments, school landscapes, neighborhoods and the media shape the eating attitudes and behaviors of children.  She has collaborated with the Connecticut State Department of Education to evaluate nutrition and physical activity policies in schools and preschools throughout the state.  She co-chaired the Connecticut Obesity Task Force in 2010 and has provided expert testimony on obesity-related state policies. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Food Bank. Dr. Schwartz has received research grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Institutes of Health to study school wellness policies, the preschool nutrition environment, the effect of food marketing on children, the relationship between food insecurity and nutrition, and how federal food programs can improve the accessibility and affordability of healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods. The Food & Nutrition Section is proud to award this honor to Dr. Schwartz.





Geri Henchy was selected for the first American Public Health Association, Food and Nutrition Section’s Sarah Samuels award. Geri is the director of nutrition policy and early childhood programs at the Food Research and Action Center in Washington DC. She is a tireless advocate for childhood nutrition and her determination and perseverance have had a positive impact on nutrition policy at many levels.





University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health’s Sarah E. Samuels Scholarship 


emily altman



Emily’s passion lies at the intersection between nutrition and food security. She is currently working towards her MPH in Public Health Nutrition at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Originally from North Carolina, she attended Emory University where she graduated as an Anthropology and Global Health major summa cum laude. She then spent two years as a Child Hunger Corps member at the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County where she evaluated child nutrition programs. At UC Berkeley, she currently serves as a UC Global Food Initiative Food Security Fellow.

Beheshti Nima
Nima Beheshti holds a Bachelor’s degree in both Biological and Political Sciences, earned from UC Irvine, and has just begun the first year of his MPH in Public Health Nutrition at UC Berkeley. He is interested in nutrition disparities among immigrant groups, as well as the politics of food. Nima plans on applying to medical school after his MPH degree, and to eventually work with the immigrant community. He dreams of working abroad with the United Nations one day.
Gustafson Emily
Emily Gustafson holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a minor in Nutrition and Health Promotion, from the University of Southern California. She is currently in her first year of the MPH Public Health Nutrition program at UC Berkeley. Emily is most interested in studying the role of cooking in nutrition and health, particularly in low-income children. She plans to work in the school setting, joining current efforts to improve child nutrition and health education through school gardens and cooking programs.
Ismail Mehreen
Mehreen Ismail holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers University, and is now in her first year of the MPH Public Health Nutrition program at UC Berkeley. Mehreen is also an AmeriCorps VISTA alumna and has worked for two years on federal nutrition program outreach, primarily with food stamps and children’s after school programs. At Berkeley, she hopes to build research skills and work on healthy food access interventions in underserved communities.
Kim Hyunju
Hyunju Kim holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health Studies and International Studies from Johns Hopkins University, and is now in her first year of pursuing her MPH in Public Health Nutrition at UC Berkeley. During college, she worked for a mixed-method nutrition intervention research and studied Korean American store-owners in high-poverty, urban settings. She is passionate about studying healthy eating in the context of under-resourced populations. She plans to study behavioral interventions and eventually work as a public health professional in developing countries.
Schlag Kate
Kate Schlag holds a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from the University of Southern California and is now in her first year of pursuing her MPH in Public Health Nutrition. She is passionate about childhood nutrition and obesity prevention as well as food psychology and helping to shape healthier attitudes about food. She is concurrently taking classes to become a Registered Dietitian and eventually wants to work as a nutrition educator and consultant for both children and adults.
California Center for Public Health Advocacy’s Sarah E. Samuels Award for New Health Professionals


Sandra PI

Sandra Viera is a graduate of the University of San Francisco with a Master in Public Administration and Policy (2012) and earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from California State University, Long Beach (2007). As the former Associate Director of Policy at Latino Health Access, she coordinated multi-sector, long-term healthy eating and active living initiatives focused on changing policy, systems and environmental change. Currently in her role as a Program Manager at Prevention Institute, Sandra works to promote safe and healthy communities through projects focused on improving the built environment, increasing equitable opportunities for physical activity and play and providing trainings in the areas of coalition building, collaboration and policy systems and environmental change. Sandra had the pleasure and honor of working with Sarah Samuels for many years and considers her a hero in the field.


California Food Policy Advocate’s Sarah Samuels Public Health Fellow 

Rebecca Womack is currently finishing her second year of the MPH Public Health Nutrition program at UC Berkeley. She is passionate about leveraging evidence-based policy to create a just and healthy food system for people and the planet. She has several years of experience working to improve the quality and appeal of school-based federal nutrition programs. As a Fellow at CFPA, she drew on that experience by performing research that helped lead to AB 2449, a law that would ensure California school children have adequate time to eat lunch. Rebecca plans to continue to advocate policies at the local, state, and federal levels that improve access to “good, clean, and fair” food.