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The overall goal of the Section is to represent the interests of individuals of diverse backgrounds (including but not limited to: race, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity) at all levels of The Obesity Society - from Council to representation at the annual meeting.



  • To increase the visibility of Diversity Section activities through the Society's communication tools; including but not limited to: the website, eblasts, and member newsletters.
  • To develop a comprehensive Section program for the annual meeting
  • To foster a mentoring program within the Society


Diversity Leadership Award

Significant racial and ethnic disparities continue to exist in the occurrence of obesity. The 2015 Diversity Leadership Award from TOS's Diversity Committee and Diversity Section aims to recognize an investigator whose research has made a significant difference in the field of obesity disparities.


TOS is pleased to announce that Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, FTOS, will receive the namesake award and Jose Fernandez, PhD, FTOS, has been chosen as the first recipient of the Shiriki Kumanyika Diversity Leadership Award. A plaque will be presented at the Diversity Section Meeting at ObesityWeek 2015 on Wednesday, November 4th at 6:30-8:30pm. Congratulations to these recipients!



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Join the Diversity Section

All section members must be a member of The Obesity Society. 

If you are not a member of The Obesity Society, join today.  Be certain to select the Diversity Section when completing your profile.

If you are already a member and would like to join the Diversity Section please login to your member profile and select the Diversity Section. Once you have updated your profile, you will receive all communications pertaining to the section.

Please contact Shameeka Green, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Volunteer Coordinator if you have any questions.



Martina Raquel Gallagher, PhD, MSN, RN (Chair 2014-2015)

University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TXMartina Gallager

Dr. Gallagher's research is on the prevention and treatment of obesity in Latino families, with current research focusing on the incorporation of sleep hygiene into weight loss/management interventions in community settings. Her work blends biobehavioral factors and cultural perspectives with the goal of understanding how these factors and perspectives influence the long-term adherence to healthy lifestyle behaviors in Latinos. Her funded studies have focused on the maternal influence on lifestyle factors that place preschool children at risk for obesity. Dr. Gallagher received a BSN, MSN in Administration of Community and Healthcare Systems, with minors in Teaching and Informatics, and PhD with an emphasis on health promotion of Hispanic families from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington School of Nursing in Seattle, WA, where she learned basic sleep concepts, and data collection, analysis and interpretation of objective and subjective sleep measures in community settings.


Mindy Dopler-Nelson, PhD (Chair-Elect 2014-2015)Mindy Nelson

University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA

Dr. Dopler Nelson is an independent nutrition consultant working with the City of Lowell and Lowell Bicycle Coalition as an advocate to improve bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure toward Complete Streets.  In an effort to improve bicycle safety, awareness, and acceptance, she is currently conducting the CANDLES study, which includes distribution of bike lights to non-users throughout the city.  She also consults with Coalition for a Better Acre to improve nutritional status in low income populations and volunteers her nutrition expertise with the Merrimack Valley Time Exchange.  Her research interests are broadly focused in the area of the interaction of built-in environment and genetics on lifestyle, particularly diet and physical activity on the prevention and treatment of obesity, and its related comorbidities. Her work blends biobehavioral, genetic, and environmental factors with the goal of understanding how these factors interact to influence the long-term adherence to healthy lifestyle behaviors in individuals with disordered eating patterns. She currently investigates food preferences based on SNPs, substance abuse, and physical activity. She also studies the effects of macronutrients on risk for disease.  These findings will inform weight loss/management interventions in the community and clinic environments. Dr. Dopler Nelson was previously an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts College of Health Sciences in Lowell where she taught community nutrition, medical nutrition therapy I & II, introduction to nutritional sciences, directed studies, and senior research.  She conducted research assessing (1) the health effects of consuming 12 eggs/week, (2) cardiometabolic risk in female shift workers, (3) effect of MSG on neuronal activity, and (4) the prevalence of food addiction in college students and associations with ADHD and binge drinking. Dr. Dopler Nelson received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley, Master of Science in Nutritional Science and PhD in Nutritional Biology with an emphasis on endocrinology and biostatistics from the University of California at Davis. She completed a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Stanford Prevention Research Center at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, where she designed a weight loss intervention integrating cognitive behavioral therapy focusing on sleep quality, and data collection, analysis and interpretation of (1) the influence of SNPs on weight loss outcomes, and (2) oxidized LDL measures in individuals with moderate hypercholesterolemia consuming various forms of garlic.


Nobuko Kay Hongu, PhD, MEd, RD (Secretary/Treasurer, 2014-2015)

Nobuko Hongu

University Of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Dr. Nobuko (Kay) Hongu is an Associate Professor, Nutrition and Physical Activity Extension Specialist in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Arizona. Her role as an Extension Specialist is conducting applied research and non-formal educational programs, which are carried out off-campus, non-credit education formats in her areas of expertise, i.e. nutrition, obesity prevention, and physical activity enhancement. In her community programs she partners with state and county faculty members, and statewide clientele. In her ongoing research projects she develops, disseminates, and evaluates community-based nutrition and physical activity programs. She uses community-based participatory research strategies to improve eating habits and enhance physical activity, especially among low-income families. She is also interested in dietary and physical activity assessments using popular mobile technologies (e.g., GPS, mobile phones, text messaging). Dr. Hongu received a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Mukogawa Women's University, Japan, Master of Art in Education with an emphasis on exercise physiology from the University of Akron, Ohio, and Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences with an emphasis on fat metabolism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She completed a 4-year postdoctoral fellowship at Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, where she designed and investigated the effects of dietary supplement on lipid profiles, oxidative stress and inflammation during energy restriction in overweight and obese adults.


Wanda M. Thompson, PhD (Past Chair 2014-2015)

Rutgers University, Camden, NJ

Wanda M. Thompson received her PhD in Nursing from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2010. Her dissertation focused on health disparities and the development of a 12-week church-based physical activity intervention aimed at Black adolescent girls. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship in interventions to prevent / manage chronic illness at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research interest focuses on increasing physical active of minority girls, especially Black adolescent girls; physical activity measurement and interventions, health disparities, obesity prevention in minority youth. Dr. Thompson is committed to developing and implementing programs aimed at improving health outcomes for young Black women.


Mary-Ellen Harper, PhD (Council Liaison 2012-2015)

Mary-Ellen Harper

University of Ottawa, Canada

Dr. Mary-Ellen Harper is a Full Professor of Biochemistry in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, Canada. She completed her undergraduate degree at University of Guelph, followed by a PhD at the University of Ottawa under the supervision of Drs. John Patrick and Jean Himms-Hagen. Her thesis focused on mechanisms of facultative energy expenditure, including Na/K transport mechanisms and brown fat thermogenesis. Thereafter she held a postdoctoral fellowship at Cambridge University in the U.K. where she trained under the supervision of Dr. Martin Brand, and studied the effects of thyroid hormone status on the uncoupling of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. Current research interests are mitochondrial energetics, redox, proton leaks and the role of the uncoupling proteins; fundamental mechanistic aspects are studied, and the processes are also examined in the contexts of obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and oxidative stress. In collaboration with Ottawa Hospital and Heart Institute clinicians Drs. Bob Dent and Ruth McPherson, research has focused on metabolic and genetic factors contributing in inter-individual variation in weight loss. She has published 92 peer-reviewed papers, as well as a number of invited reviews and book chapters.Her research has been acknowledged by awards including several postdoctoral fellowship awards, a Polanyi Award (Physiology and Medicine), a Premier's Research Excellence Award, an Endowed Summer Research Fellowship (Marine Biological Lab, Woods Hole, MA), a Canadian Foundation for Innovation New Investigator's Award, and the national Centrum Award for excellence in nutrition and metabolism research. Demand for her unique expertise is exemplified by many international invitations to collaborate and to lecture. Dr. Harper has served on several national and international grant review panels. She also serves on various teaching and research committees at the University of Ottawa. In the Obesity Society, she has been an active member on several committees, and currently is a member of the Program and the Diversity committees. Dr. Harper has been a member of the Obesity Society since 1994.

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