Summary: NEWS RELEASE Contact: Gretchen Wright or Johanna Diaz
August 31, 2010 202/371-1999
University of Illinois at Chicago's Zenk Named a
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation `Nurse Faculty Scholar'
Health Disparities Researcher Studying Obesity in Vulnerable Populations is Selected for
Prestigious Program to Advance Careers of Nation's Most Promising Junior Nurse Faculty
Chicago--Shannon Zenk, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N., an assistant professor at the College of Nursing
at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has won a competitive grant from the Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to study how social factors influence rates of obesity in vulnerable
populations. Zenk is one of just 12 nurse educators from around the country to receive the three-
year $350,000 Nurse Faculty Scholar award this year. It is given to junior faculty who show
outstanding promise as future leaders in academic nursing. The grant period begins next month.
"I am honored to receive this award," Zenk said. "The support I receive will give me the time
and mentoring that I need to address gaps in knowledge about how daily stressors interact with
the environment to affect obesity risk. I will examine whether living in neighborhoods with little
access to healthy food, few recreational opportunities and high rates of crime amplifies the
effects of stress among Latinas and Black women. The goal is to better understand how life
circumstances influence diet and exercise behaviors that put them at higher risk of obesity."
Study participants will enter information about their diet, exercise and daily stressors on
handheld computers. Zenk will use geographic mapping software to record information about