Nutrition Policy Institute Staff
Nutrition Policy Institute staff volunteering at Alameda County Community Food Bank.
"In the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it."—President Obama
NPI Researchers and Staff
PhD, RD, Director and UC Cooperative Extension Specialist
Lorrene Ritchie is the Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI). She has devoted her career to sharing, synthesizing, developing and collaborating on nutrition policy research. The goal of her work is the prevention of food insecurity, obesity and diabetes, and the promotion of health and wellness. Her current research interests involve evaluation of the relationship of programs and policies, in particular the federal nutrition assistance programs, on children’s dietary intakes and weight status in school, childcare and other community settings.
Kassandra, a project policy analyst, is dedicated to creating a more equitable and sustainable food system through research, advocacy, program evaluation, and improvement to public nutrition policy. Her work at NPI centers around food security, early childhood nutrition, and school nutrition interventions.
Sibani Michael Bose
BA, Chief Business Officer
Sibani is the head of the NPI Operations Team delivering administrative services to the research arm of the unit. She is a seasoned higher education administrator who specializes in research administration and works closely with other members of NPI to serve our mission.
Carolyn is a project policy analyst at NPI. Her research interests converge at the intersection of nutrition, agriculture, and equity. Current projects include expanding access to California-grown produce in corner stores and the California corrections system.
Celeste is a project policy analyst and works on several projects to improve the nutrition of children through changes in food retail, school, and childcare settings.
Wendi Gosliner leads research projects at the Nutrition Policy Institute and teaches at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. She has dedicated her career to understanding and working to improve policies and programs that affect population health and nutrition, with a focus on eliminating health disparities and improving federal food and nutrition programs. She has studied interventions in schools, childcare centers, WIC, SNAP, and SNAP-Ed, and is particularly interested in the nexus of research, public policy and community-based efforts to improve health.
Christina’s primary focus area is healthy beverages, particularly drinking water, the healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages. She studies drinking water access and consumption, particularly in children. She works with colleagues across the country to promote and advocate for drinking water access and to reduce disparity in access to and consumption of healthy beverages.
LLB, Policy Director
Ken Hecht has spent his career as a legal services attorney and as a nutrition advocate developing opportunities for low-income Californians. At NPI he focuses on the federal food programs with special attention to early childhood. He works to ensure that NPI’s research and evaluations have the strongest possible policy impact.
Sridharshi works as a Data Analyst at NPI on multiple projects, including the Healthy Communities Study, with the aim of contributing to the fields of public health and nutrition through her skills in data management and analysis.
Janice's primary research interests include evaluation of community-based programs and policies. Examples include examining the impact of school wellness policies and the effectiveness of health food retail interventions. She contributes to several NPI projects such as the Kaiser Permanente Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Initiative, the NHLBI-funded Healthy Communities Study, and working in the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Evaluation Research Unit.
MPH '24, UC Global Food Initiative fellow
Katherine is a UC Berkeley School of Public Health graduate student and NPI's UC Global Food Initiative Communications Fellow. Her interests lie in nutritional psychiatry, the Slow Food Movement, and improving federal school nutrition programs. She will be extending her impact beyond the classroom through written, visual, and online communications about nutrition policy, food security, federal food programs, and food policy issues.
Danielle Lee is a registered dietitian and public health nutrition researcher working to increase access to healthy and sustainable food. Her work at NPI focuses on internal and external communications and research related to healthy beverage policies, early childhood feeding and federally funded food programs including the Special Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
Meirong develops and prepares budgets for NPI, as well as financial reports for grants and proposals. She is responsible for managing, planning, monitoring and administering budget and payroll functions.
Amanda has worked with the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Branch (NEOPB) of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and now with NPI's Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Research and Evaluation Unit. Her primary research interest is impact and outcome evaluation of various nutrition education interventions with low-income audiences.
Kaela Plank is an evaluation specialist on the SNAP-Ed Nutrition Education Obesity Prevention team who works on a variety of projects. She wants to contribute to the evidence base of effective public health strategies that aim to improve healthy food access and safe, active living opportunities for all Californians. Her past research has mainly focused on the retail and school settings where she worked on projects involving healthy snack incentives and ReThink Your Drink programming.
Richard is a data analyst who primarily works on evaluation and reporting projects for CalFresh Healthy Living in partnership with the California Department of Public Health. Previously, he worked on projects related to school-based interventions and chronic disease prevention among children.
MPH, RD, EP-C
Suzanne Rauzon integrates project/fund development and communication planning to achieve NPI’s mission and goals in her role as Director of Strategy. Her research interests are in food, physical activity, community health evaluation, and measurement using the population dose concept.
Carolyn has devoted her career to improving the lives of underserved populations in California through evaluation and applied research. Her primary focus at NPI's Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Research and Evaluation Unit is to provide overall project coordination and technical assistance for local health departments conducting impact and outcome evaluations of nutrition education interventions. She also provides research and evaluation expertise to the California Department of Public Health and other SNAP-Ed agencies.
Ron works to promote a more equitable and sustainable food system. Areas of interest include policy and systems change to increase access to healthy food in low-income and immigrant communities and promoting improved diet, nutrition and health among agricultural workers. Ron enjoys opportunities to conduct fieldwork and community-based research. He has lived and worked in Central America and is fluent in Spanish.
Evan has worked with the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Branch (NEOPB) of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) since 2009, and with NPI's Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Research and Evaluation Unit since 2015. His primary research interest is process evaluation for California SNAP-Ed nutrition education interventions.
PhD, MPH, Senior Epidemiologist
Hannah's primary research interests are in increasing access to quality physical activity and physical education programs in schools and communities. She contributes to several NPI projects, including Kaiser Permanente's Thriving Schools and Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) projects, CalFresh Healthy Living evaluation in partnership with California Department of Public Health, and the USDA/San Francisco Unified School District's Lunchroom Redesign evaluation.
Marisa Tsai is a public health nutrition data analyst who works on a variety of child nutrition projects, including WIC, school meals and child care standards. Through her work, she hopes to contribute to the development of evidence-based, policy-relevant strategies that improve equity and health outcomes of all communities.
Reka is a program assistant at NPI. She is passionate about working at the intersection of nutrition, public health, and social justice and working with communities to mitigate the impact of climate change on food security. Her past research focused on the cardiometabolic impacts of fiber supplementation, as well as iodine bioavailability after modulation of the gut microbiome. Reka supports NPI operational and research project functions, working collaboratively with NPI researchers and business departments at UC ANR and other UC and non-UC locations.
Nicole Vital contributes to the evaluation of a number of school health projects, including the Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools and Water First projects. Her work at the Nutrition Policy Institute builds upon her background of raising awareness about and access to healthy and sustainable food.
PhD, MPH, RD
Miranda Westfall is the director of NPI’s CalFresh Healthy Living Evaluation Unit. Miranda is a registered dietitian and public health nutrition researcher dedicated to conducting research that informs local, state, and national policies which shape the environments of children and families to promote healthy eating and active living.
Gail's research focuses on the evaluation of school- and community-based programs and policies that aim to reduce obesity, improve dietary intake and/or increase physical activity. She also leads or participates in other activities (literature reviews, expert panels, etc.) to inform program and policy directions concerning obesity, nutrition and physical activity.
Monica is a nutritional epidemiologist with experience in teaching, health research, data analysis, scientific communication, and nutritional interventions. She is committed to working as a collaborative and positive team member to address population health, disease prevention and to reduce health disparities.
PhD, RD, Assistant Professor of Nutrition, UC Davis
Lauren Au's research involves the assessment of dietary intakes and the food environment for the prevention of obesity in low-income, racially diverse populations. Her focus is on understanding how to promote healthier eating and prevent obesity in federal nutrition assistance programs, such as the Women Infants and Children (WIC) Program and the National School Lunch Program.
Jen is an assistant professor in UC Davis' Department of Human Ecology. Her research focuses on identifying modifiable determinants of childhood obesity and developing and testing programmatic, policy and environmental interventions to prevent obesity. Jen led an evaluation of the nation’s first soda tax in Berkeley, California. She has also examined primary care interventions for underserved youth, healthy retail programs, multi-sector community interventions to address childhood obesity, and the impact of screen time on adolescent sleep and health.
PhD, MPH, RD
Barbara's research focuses on the influence of contextual level effects on dietary intake, cardiometabolic risk factors and pregnancy outcomes, especially among vulnerable populations. Contextual level effects refer to the household food environment, namely household food insecurity, as well as the neighborhood or built environment measured as one's food, physical activity and social environment. Her research focuses on pregnant women, children and adults with diabetes. Her research includes surveys, direct observation of neighborhood attributes, data collection using anthropometric, questionnaire and a number of dietary intake approaches.
Kristine’s research focuses on identifying policies and programs to promote physical activity and reduce obesity and weight-related health disparities. She has conducted interventions in both the clinical and community setting with hundreds of children and their families, with a focus on low-income families, and has developed techniques that yield consistently high recruitment and retention in her studies. She has developed strong academic-community partnerships with multiple organizations, including health departments, public health clinics and community-based service organizations. Her research team has measured physical activity using accelerometers, pedometers and structured observation (SOFIT and SOPLAY) in thousands of children and adolescents. She mentors undergraduate, masters and doctoral students, as well as postdocs and fellows, and is committed to supporting our next generation of researchers and practitioners working to address obesity.
Suzanna’s research interests include investigating biological, behavioral, social and environmental contexts of health behavior among vulnerable child populations. Her approach to helping prevent chronic disease is by understanding how to improve lifestyle behaviors—namely sleep, nutrition and physical activity—among children and their families. Her long-term career goal is to conduct research that makes an impact on reducing health disparities in underserved communities.
NPI Researchers Emeritus
DrPH, RD, UC Cooperative Extension Specialist - Emeritus
Pat Crawford is the former Senior Director of Research at the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI), and she is a Cooperative Extension Specialist, emeritus. Prior to coming to NPI, she co-founded and directed the Center for Weight and Health at the University of California at Berkeley for 15 years. She is also an Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley. Dr. Crawford studies ways in which nutrition programs and policies can improve children’s dietary intake and reduce obesity. Dr. Crawford served on the California Legislative Task Force on Diabetes and Obesity and is an expert advisor for the Let’s Get Healthy California Task Force. She chaired the Institute of Medicine’s Workshop on Food Insecurity and Obesity and served on the IOM’s Committee on WIC Research, the Committee on Accelerating Progress on Obesity Prevention, and the IOM’s Standing Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention.
PhD, MPH, BSc
Karen’s primary research interests are food insecurity, charitable food assistance, obesity prevention, food system changes that incorporate population health and environmental protection objectives. Additional research interests include nutrition epidemiology and nutrition surveillance, nutrition program planning and evaluation in communities, dietary assessment methods, technical assistance to field and mentoring students and young evaluation researchers.