RISE Scholars

Melissa Fuster, PhD, MS
CUNY Brooklyn College
RISE Cohort 6


Biography

Melissa Fuster is an Assistant Professor in Public Health Nutrition at City University of New York (CUNY) Brooklyn College and a Faculty Fellow at the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute. Dr. Fuster has over ten years of experience in community-based research, focused on minority and immigrant populations in the United States and, internationally, in Central America and the Hispanic Caribbean. Her research interest include food security and the sociopolitical and cultural factors affecting food practices, nutritional outcomes, and the policies implemented to affect them. She holds a PhD in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition from Tufts University and a BA in Sociology and Anthropology from Florida International University.

Personal Story

Public health and nutrition research has focused on documenting associations between health outcomes and the social and environmental determinants of health. My work has contributed to this scholarship, through interdisciplinary research that address the cultural and social factors affecting food practices in context of migration and food insecurity. This research has included juxtapositions of community and expert perspectives, seeking to improve the bridge between policies and interventions and the population we intend to help. While community based interventions, such as nutrition education initiatives, have sought to improve the lifestyle factors of individuals to prevent and treat cardiovascular and other diet related conditions, these often fail to address the social and environmental determinants of health in this population. My interest in implementation science stems from a desire to move beyond documenting disparities to understand how to best apply what we already know. I am particularly interested in community-based interventions and national policies designed to target obesogenic environments, as well as underlying causes of health disparities, such as income inequalities. I trust that the training and mentoring received through the RISE Program will provide a needed theoretical and methodological toolset to reach this next step in my research agenda.