Whitney Robinson, PhD, FTOS

Whitney R. Robinson, PhD, FTOS


Here are some questions and answers from our interview with TOS Fellow Whitney R. Robinson, PhD, FTOS, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at UNC Gilling’s School of Global Public Health.


Q: What is your title and organizational affiliation?

A: I am an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at UNC Gilling’s School of Global Public Health.


Q: Please tell us about your current work and your professional developmental trajectory?

A: I am an epidemiologist who specializes in quantitative methodology for studying health inequalities. A common theoretical underpinning of my work is the life course framework, particularly hypotheses that stress and nutritional exposures during critical periods in utero and during childhood have enduring effects on adult health risk. My work has shown that childhood obesity is not a major driver of the Black-White disparity in prostate cancer incidence. I have also found that perinatal and childhood poverty and stress may predispose females, more so than males, to adult obesity. Ongoing research investigates causes of race- and SES-based disparities in breast cancer incidence and methodological explanations for the "obesity paradox" in survival among cancer patients.


Q: What is one of your professional or personal qualities that has contributed to your success?

A: Both intellectual curiosity and warmth have served me well.


Q: What advice do you have for today's junior obesity researchers?

A: Interdisciplinary collaborations are attractive to many funding agencies.


Q: What aspects of obesity research are the most exciting to you right now?

A: I'm excited that we may finally be turning the corner on rising obesity prevalence. Now I want to know, why? What environmental or behavioral changes have worked? As an epidemiologist, figuring out the "Why?" is very exciting to me.


Q: What are your favorite things to do when you're not at work?

A: Exercise classes (the only way I know the newest pop music!), catching up on TV shows (Orange is the New Black is a current favorite), and reading magazines over a good cup of coffee.