Here are some questions and answers from our interview with TOS Fellow Rebecca Puhl, PhD, FTOS, Deputy Director at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity.
Q: What is your title and organizational affiliation?
A: I am the Deputy Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. I obtained my Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Queen's University, Canada, and received my MA, MSc and PhD in Clinical Psychology at Yale University.
Q: Please tell us about your current work and your professional developmental trajectory.
A: My research addresses weight bias and discrimination experienced by children and adults who are affected by obesity. Over the past 14 years, my research has documented the prevalence and origins of weight bias and discrimination, assessed the impact of weight stigma in the media and its effects on emotional and physical health, tested interventions to reduce weight bias and assessed policy remedies to reduce weight-bullying in youth and laws to reduce weight discrimination in adults.
Q: What is one of your professional or personal qualities that has contributed to your success?
A: Translating my research to diverse (and often, non-research) audiences has contributed to my ability to see a broader impact of my work. As researchers, we often define the end-point of the research process as the publication of our work in a peer reviewed journal. But we need to go farther than this. We need to make a concerted effort to communicate and translate our research findings to the groups that we want to use our evidence, and disseminate our work to the people who can use it to make an impact. Being able to effectively communicate our research and translate it in a way that is meaningful to others, is an important skill for researchers to have.
Q: What advice do you have for today's junior obesity researchers?
A: Seek out multiple mentors. Rather than expecting one mentor to meet a diverse range of needs relevant to your training and professional development, look for different mentors that have strengths to help you meet specific needs. Having a network of different mentors can help you address specific issues more efficiently and effectively - whether it's for research mentorship, professional development, clinical training, a role model for balancing work family life, or emotional support.
Q: What aspects of obesity research are the most exciting to you right now?
A: This is an exciting time in the field for obesity-related policies that can improve public health. More than ever before, there is national discussion and debate about multiple policy initiatives that could help prevent and treat obesity. As researchers, our work can inform these discussions and policy decisions. Obesity-related research has a critical role to play in this national policy discourse.
Q: What are your favorite things to do when you're not at work?
A: Playing with my two boys.