Executive Director and Research Associate Professor of Nutrition Education
Pam conducts research about the connections between a just, sustainable food system and healthy eating. She translates the results from her research into useful resources such as curricula for schoolteachers and recommendations for policy makers. Pam is the primary author of the three Linking Food and the Environment (LiFE) curriculum series books: Growing Food; Farm to Table & Beyond, and Choice, Control & Change and coordinated the development, evaluation and dissemination of the LiFE. Pam frequently speaks about nutrition education and sustainable food systems at meetings and conferences across the country. Pam also collaborates with several groups conducting food and nutrition education and working to increase access to healthy, sustainable food around New York City. She completed her BS and MS degrees in nutrition at Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey, and her EdD and RD from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Faculty Director and Mary Swartz Rose Professor of Nutrition Education
Isobel Contento, Ph.D., CDN is a Mary Swartz Rose Professor of Nutrition Education, Director of the Program in Nutrition at Teachers College Columbia University, and Faculty Director of its Laure M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Environment. Her degrees include a B.Sc. (Hons) from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research has focused on factors influencing food choice, particularly among children and adolescents, and the development and evaluation of school-based programs that link science education and nutrition literacy to increase an understanding of food and food systems. In recent years, she has focused on linking childhood obesity prevention to food system education in collaboration with colleague Dr. Pam Koch: Choice, Control and Change, funded by NIH, sought to reduce the risk of overweight in youth through an emphasis on personal agency and autonomous motivation in healthful food and activity choices; Food, Health and Choices, a study with fifth graders funded by USDA compared classroom curriculum and wellness policy in enhancing healthful choices; and evaluation projects examine the impact of changes in school meals, education, and physical activity on children’s healthful behaviors. She has also conducted research with adults on food choice motivations and interventions to improve health and reduce risk of chronic disease. She is particularly interested in the use of theory and research evidence to design and evaluate nutrition education programs and the intersection of education and policy. She has been active in the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB) for many years, serving on various committees including the Journal Committee, the Board of Directors, and currently the Board of Trustees of the SNEB Foundation. She has been a member of several national advisory committees including the committee of the Institute of Medicine that produced Nutritional Standards for Food in Schools and the Technical Expert Collaborative of the USDA Evidence Library for Nutrition Education. She has spoken widely in the United States and at international conferences and non-governmental organizations, including Canada, Taiwan, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Malta, Mexico, and El Salvador. She has published numerous articles and book chapters, and has served on the editorial boards of several journals. The third edition of her textbook, Nutrition Education, Linking Research, Theory and Practice was published in August, 2015.
Claire’s work focuses on building toward an equitable and sustainable food system. Claire takes the lead on policy efforts, community partnerships, and external relations for the Tisch Food Center. Her professional experience spans urban agriculture, food policy and community food security. Prior to the Center she was with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and before that served as Executive Director of Wasatch Community Gardens in Salt Lake City. She has a BA in Art History from Colgate University and a Masters in Library and Information Studies from University of California, Los Angeles.
Evaluation Project Coordinator
Raynika Trent has conducted community-based research and education research with K-12 populations in formal and informal learning environments. She received a BA from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, an EdM in Human Resource Education and Organizational Development from the University of Illinois, and a Master's in Food Studies from New York University.
Georgia Simatou is currently a research assistant at the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education and Policy. Before, she worked as an Agricultural Economist in the Department of Program Management and Cooperative Extension of the Panhellenic Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives, where she gained experience in grant writing, coordinating and implementing research projects aiming to promote sustainable patterns of production and empower small scale farmers. She is interested in the application of agricultural, food and environmental policies and their impacts in the local and international level.
She received a BS in Agricultural Economics and Rural Development from the Agricultural University of Athens and a Master's in Agribusiness Management from the Imperial College, University of London.
Dr. Laura Guerra received her Doctorate in Health Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her doctoral dissertation examined the association of school- and state-level factors with improved implementation of mental health policies and practices at secondary schools across the United States. Dr. Guerra received a B.A. in Economics from the University at Buffalo, a Masters in International Finance from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, as well as two Masters of Science in Applied Statistics and Nutrition from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Dr. Guerra has been consulting with Interactive Health, LLC since 2015, where she is part of a team of consultants who design and implement formative, process and summative evaluations for schools, non-profits and community grantees. In this role, Dr. Guerra collaborates with community coalitions, school district administrators, principals, mental health professionals and other community organizations to support grants.
Dr. Guerra will join Hofstra University’s MPH program in January 2018 as a Special Visiting Assistant Professor where she will teach Biostatistics and Epidemiology. Prior to returning to graduate school, Dr. Guerra worked extensively in both the financial services and advertising industries.
Doctoral & Master Students
Deborah is a doctoral candidate pursuing her PhD in behavioral nutrition. She is focusing her research on school food, specifically the impact teachers have on their students consumption of school lunch. She is also the doctoral scholar for Nutritional Ecology and Community Nutrition and manages the TC Nutrition Newsblasts. Deborah received her Masters in Nutrition and Public Health from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has an undergraduate degree in music from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Matthew is a doctoral candidate pursuing a PhD in behavioral nutrition. His current research focus is on school lunch participation, specifically how changes such as universal free lunch, healthier options, and cafeteria environment enhancement impacts participation. He is currently a doctoral scholar for Strategies for Nutrition Education and Behavior Change and Food, Nutrition, and Behavior. Prior to pursuing a PhD, he worked as a clinical dietitian in northwest Florida where his primary focus was inpatient and outpatient nutrition counseling, and diabetes self-management education. He also worked as adjunct faculty teaching undergraduate nutrition courses at Chipola College.
Communications and Policy Coordinator
Rebecca Valdez is the Communications and Policy Coordinator at the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education and Policy and is currently pursuing her MS in Nutrition Education. Before pursing her MS at Teachers College, Rebecca was the development and volunteer coordinator at a community-based nonprofit, where she managed corporate sponsorships, events and hundreds of volunteers. Prior to her role in development, Rebecca worked as a writing instructor in an intensive college-readiness program focused on helping individuals develop academic reading and writing proficiency and obtained her CELTA certificate to better assist her students. Rebecca has also worked at a global public relations agency where she conducted market research and developed communications for new consumer products. Rebecca earned her BS in Communications and Public Relations from Boston University.