Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, PhD, RD
Arizona State University
450 N 5th StreetPhoenix, Arizona, 85004
Fellowship Year: (2016-2017)
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Discipline / Profession:
Punam Ohri-Vachaspati is a professor of nutrition at the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion (SNHP) at Arizona State University, where she teaches graduate-level courses focused on survey research and obesity prevention. As a public health nutrition expert, Ohri-Vachaspati mentors students interested in exploring public health approaches for improving healthy food access, eating behaviors, and health outcomes. At SNHP, she created a new multidisciplinary master’s degree in obesity prevention and management and led an online course on health and wellness that attracted over 16,000 students from 185 countries.
Ohri-Vachaspati’s research examines the impact of policy and environmental change approaches on food access and physical activity opportunities in low-income, minority communities. For the past 10 years, her work has been funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, among others. Currently, she is a dual Principal Investigator on an NIH/RWJF-funded 5-year longitudinal study in 4 low-income, high-minority cites in New Jersey. This study is tracking a cohort of more than 1,000 children over time to examine if changes in their environment result in changes in weight status and associated behaviors. In addition, Ohri-Vachaspati’s work examines policies and programs in schools and community settings. She has extensive experience in designing and implementing community-based nutrition interventions.
Ohri-Vachaspati has served on the editorial boards for the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Public Health Nutrition. She is also a registered dietitian and received her PhD and master’s degrees from Tufts University School of Nutrition in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition. She completed her undergraduate education at University of Delhi, India.