SF State research garners prestigious support


Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supports researcher's work with populations at high risk for childhood obesity


San Francisco, February 3, 2011 (updated Feb. 7) – Associate Professor of Africana Studies Antwi Akom Ph.D. -- currently a Visiting Professor in the Environmental Energy and Technologies Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) -- has been awarded a $75,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to assess healthy eating and active living environmental change strategies for African American and Latino/a adolescents living in communities who are at the highest risk for childhood obesity.

Professor Akom is among a select group of junior investigators to receive the 18-month grant awarded through RWJF's New Connections Active Living Research program. Professor Akom will evaluate the impact of a regional, community-based after-school program in the following California communities: Richmond, Oakland, South Kern, Arvin, Santa Ana and Chula Vista. The program utilizes aspects of Hip Hop health literacy, social marketing, youth participatory action research, and participatory media to both educate youth and develop youth advocates who can use their knowledge and skills to address the root causes of childhood obesity in their communities. Professor Akom’s study is innovative because it analyzes two data sets: The Youth Social Marketing Longitudinal Survey (YSMLS) and the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) from UCLA’s center for health policy research. Socio-demographic, personal, attitudinal, psychosocial, behavioral and environmental measures are collected and geo-coded to census tract level for comparison.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Akom to a program that reflects the Foundation’s commitment to increasing the diversity in our grant making and in the broader fields of health research,” said Debra Pérez, Ph.D., M.P.A., M.A., the RWJF Senior Program Officer for the New Connections program. “More than a grant opportunity, New Connections serves as a lifelong professional network for diverse researchers and evaluators.”

Professor Akom's research focuses on the links between race, environmental health and educational equity in cities and schools; the role of the green economy in facilitating pathways to prosperity for vulnerable populations; and the role of community based participatory research in creating environmental health and educational equity in low-income communities and communities of color.

“I am extremely proud to be among the junior investigators honored with this prestigious grant," said Professor Akom. "It will provide me with the opportunities to work with a network of established experts in health and health care research and evaluate a program that has far-reaching implications for reducing childhood obesity in African American and Latino/a communities and beyond."

New Connections is a national program designed to introduce new scholars to The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and expand the diversity of perspectives that inform the foundation’s programming. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, RWJF works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect health and health care.

San Francisco State University is the only master's-level public university serving the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. The University enrolls more than 30,000 students each year. With nationally acclaimed programs in a range of fields -- from creative writing, cinema and biology to history, broadcast and electronic communication arts, theatre arts and ethnic studies -- the University's more than 140,000 graduates have contributed to the economic, cultural and civic fabric of San Francisco and the greater Bay Area.

Note: Portions in italics added on 2/7/11.


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