Kim Gans, HDFS Faculty Spotlight, February 2022


Kim GansKim Gans is a nutritionist and behavioral health researcher. She is primarily interested in intervention development and evaluation research in community-based settings to improve diet, physical activity and/or weight. The majority of her research has been with ethnic minority, low income and/or low literate populations. Much of her research includes multi-level approaches to improve diet and/or physical activity through changing home, work, school, childcare, and neighborhood nutrition and physical activity environments in conjunction with behavioral interventions. Her research has also focused on applications of innovative health technology, particularly computerized tailoring using print, video, web and/or texting. Another emphasis of her work is on translational research to study the dissemination of effective interventions to various community and clinical settings. Kim is also an expert in intervention mapping, a step-wise protocol for developing theory- and evidence-based health promotion programs and has collaborated on designing interventions for cytomegalovirus prevention, HPV vaccine promotion, violence prevention, and social isolation among others.

Kim has been interested in health for as long as she can remember.  She loved to watch medical shows on TV from a young age.  She began her college education as a first generation college student with an interest in medicine and majored in Biology as an undergraduate at Duke University. While there, she took an interdisciplinary course called Perspectives on Food and Hunger that excited her about nutrition and changed the trajectory of her career.  Instead of medical school, she decided to get an MPH degree in nutrition at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Public Health. Her first job after graduation was working for the WIC program at Health Center #6 in Philadelphia and then she joined the Pawtucket Heart Health Program, one of three NIH-funded community-based heart disease prevention projects in the US.  While working, she went back to school part-time at the University of Rhode Island to get her PhD in Nutrition. Upon graduation, she became an Assistant Professor (Research) in Community Health at Brown University, which later became the Brown School of Public Health. Kim was on the Brown faculty from 1992-2014 and also served as deputy director and later director of the Brown Institute for Community Health Promotion. In 2014, she joined the faculty in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at UConn.

Kim has served as a principal investigator, co-investigator, or faculty mentor on over 50 grants funded by NHLBI, NCI, NICHD, NINR, NIMHD, NIDDK, CDC, USDA, multiple foundations, and state agencies. She has published 120 peer reviewed articles and book chapters. She has also developed numerous educational materials, programs, and dietary assessment tools for the public and providers. Kim is an avid collaborator who enjoys creating multidisciplinary research teams, and a passionate mentor – serving as primary mentor for junior faculty on 4 K grants, 4 diversity supplements, and co-mentor on many more. She won the Institute for Collaboration in Health, Interventions and Policy (InCHIP) Faculty Mentoring award in 2020.

At the national level, Kim has been in leadership roles for the American Public Health Association, American Heart Association, International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, and Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network. She has been on the editorial board for two journals and served as a reviewer for 28 other journals. She also has reviewed multiple grant proposals for NIH, USDA, foundations and international federal agencies. Locally, she has been in leadership roles for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, RI Food Policy Council, and RI Hunger Elimination Task Force.  She also serves as Director of Community Engagement for Brown School of Public Health.

Outside of work, Kim enjoys spending time with her family and golden doodle Jasmine, reading books (she has been in the same book club since 1986), genealogy research, wine-tasting, crossword puzzles, connecting with her Mom Squad over good food and wine, and exercising, especially boxing and walks on the beach.

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