Dr. Leslie Cunningham-Sabo, Director of the School-Based Childhood Obesity Prevention Laboratory
Leslie Cunningham Sabo, PhD, RDN
Leslie has led federally-funded school- and community-based nutrition intervention research projects for more than 20 years, using a community-based participatory research approach. She has spent time working with diverse populations in both rural and urban school districts and communities to design, implement, and evaluate nutrition and physical activity programs for both children and adults. Leslie has expertise in the development of dietary and food choice assessment tools. A recent focus has been to determine the impact of experiential cooking interventions on children’s fruit and vegetable preferences, and cooking attitudes and self-efficacy. Currently, Leslie serves as Project Director for “Fuel for Fun: Cooking with Kids plus Parents and Play.” This is a 5-year, nearly $2.5M childhood obesity prevention project applied research activities, training of future scientists, and translation of findings to school and community settings. Leslie also teaches a graduate nutrition education and theory course and an undergraduate community nutrition course. For fun, Leslie enjoys gardening, hiking, snowshoeing, biking and kayaking with husband Mark and other family and friends.
Xanna Burg, MPH
Xanna currently serves as the Research Coordinator for Fuel for Fun. Xanna completed her undergraduate degree in Dietetics at the University of Georgia and her Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the Colorado School of Public Health at CSU. Xanna worked as a Graduate Research Assistant in the lab and has a background working with schools and communities to teach nutrition and cooking classes, build and maintain school gardens, and support farm to school efforts. Xanna is passionate about ensuring youth have the best chance to grow up healthy through policy, systems, and environment work. In her free time, Xanna enjoys gardening, quilting, and hiking or backpacking in the mountains.
Stephanie Smith, PhD, RDN
Stephanie is a registered dietitian nutritionist and received her doctorate in Food Science and Nutrition from Colorado State University. Her research focused on the implementation and evaluation of behavioral economics-based strategies to increase middle school student vegetable consumption with school lunch. She currently is an Assistant Professor at the University of Northern Colorado and collaborates with researchers on Fuel for Fun to assist with data analysis and contribute to manuscripts. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys hiking with her husband and two golden retrievers, cycling, and reading.
Jessica Clifford, MS, RDN
Extension Nutrition Specialist
Jessica is an Extension Nutrition Specialist at Colorado State University in the Department of Food Science Human Nutrition. In 2013, she received a Master of Science degree in Food Science Human Nutrition from Colorado State University and as part of the program completed a dietetic internship to become a registered dietitian nutritionist. Upon graduating with her masters, Jessica was hired by the Department of Food Science Human Nutrition to work as an Extension Nutrition Specialist and as the Intervention Coordinator for the Fuel for Fun: Cooking with Kids Plus Parents and Play program. Jessica currently collaborates on Fuel for Fun projects in her role as an Extension Nutrition Specialist. Jessica’s interests include experiential education to improve cooking skills and food preferences as well developing effective nutrition education materials. She enjoys cooking, running, hiking, and traveling.
Melissa Pflugh Prescott, PhD, RD
Melissa assists with data analysis and contributes to manuscripts and grant proposals on the Fuel for Fun project. Melissa also coordinates an integrated research, extension, and education project called Healthy Planet, Healthy Youth. Healthy Planet, Healthy Youth investigates, implements, and evaluates strategies for school food waste reduction and food recovery. She completed her doctoral degree in Public Health at the New York University. Melissa is a registered dietitian, has a master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, and completed her undergraduate degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Florida. Her past experiences include working as a Research Assistant at the Institute of Education and Social Policy (IESP) at NYU and managing a school-based obesity prevention program across seven elementary schools located in Harlem and Washington Heights, NYC. Melissa’s research interests include school food and wellness policies, community-based approaches to childhood obesity prevention, and health disparities.
Alicia is a graduate student in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Colorado State University specializing in community nutrition. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Virginia. Alicia has worked in clinical research focused on symptom management and quality of life at VCU Massey Cancer Center in Richmond, VA. She is also experienced in teaching healthy cooking classes with children and preparing school meals for elementary school children of low-income families through her work at Edible Education in Richmond, VA. Alicia contributes to the Fuel for Fun: Cooking with Kids Plus Parents and Play program by assisting with data collection and entry, conducting literature reviews, and providing general program support. Her research interests focus on how the cooking experience changes food behavior and on reducing food waste in creative ways. Alicia's goal is to become a registered dietitian and continue being involved in cooking related research. She wants in her career to provide individuals with the skills and confidence to cook more to improve their health and learn how to reduce their food waste. In her free time, Alicia enjoys running, hiking, cooking, and exploring the outdoors of Colorado.
Cameron is a MPH graduate student in the Colorado School of Public Health at CSU, concentrating on Physical Activities and Healthy Lifestyles. He works as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition on the Healthy Planet Healthy Youth program. Cameron graduated from Appalachian State University with a bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition: Dietetics and Johnson & Wales University with an associate’s degree in Culinary Arts. Most recently Cameron worked with the Eagle County School District in the Nutritional Services department acting as the support specialist for the food services throughout the district. Prior to working in schools he worked in private restaurants as a chef. After graduation Cameron hopes to pursue a career in the public services sector developing and implementing policy for the National School Lunch program both locally in Colorado and nationally. In his free time, Cameron can often be found on his road bike or snowboard (season dependent), cooking something "fancy" or reading a good book.
Andrew is a graduate student in the department of Food Science and Human Nutrition here at CSU. While getting his bachelor’s degree in nutritional science at Brigham Young University, Andrew discovered how empowering an education in nutrition can be in helping him develop healthy eating habits, and he wants to help others in that same way after he graduates from CSU and becomes a registered dietitian. Andrew is constantly trying to invent new and creative ways of adding vegetables to his diet, and he hopes to help kids adopt that same enthusiasm through the Fuel For Fun program. In his spare time, Andrew enjoys a variety of hobbies, including baking artisan bread, rollerblading, and studying chess.
Megan is a graduate student in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Colorado State University specializing in community nutrition. She works with the Fuel for Fun: Cooking with Kids Plus Parents and Play program and as a Graduate Teaching Assistant within the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Megan graduated from Stony Brook University in New York with a bachelor’s degree in Health Science with a concentration in Public Health & Community Health Education. During her time at Stony Brook, she assisted with the construction and maintenance of school and community gardens as an intern for a student-run service organization. She also gained management experience through her work with the Stony Brook Athletics Fueling Station. Following graduation, Megan wants to become a registered dietitian and incorporate her interests in public health and advocacy into her career. In her free time, you can usually find Megan running, cooking, hiking, or reading a book in a favorite coffee shop.
Sam graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry from SUNY Geneseo in 2013. Inspired to seek adventure outside her home state of New York, she moved to Telluride, CO to live the mountain life for three years before returning to academics with a focus on nutrition. Sam decided on dietetics as a career path with the goal of bringing evidence-based nutrition information and programs to the public. Sam hopes to improve food security, child health outcomes, and the local food system through her work in the School Based Childhood Obesity Prevention Lab, as well as in her future career. When not diligently working towards these ends Sam spends her time cooking, skiing, hiking, and playing disc golf.