CHEER CHAMPION OF THE WEEK: JEN NICKELSON
Jen Nickelson, PhD, RD, MCHES®, began her career 30 years ago as a registered dietitian because she appreciated and valued the influence of nutrition on health. Working as a clinical dietitian, she recognized the importance of disease prevention and shifted her focus to public health. Today, Dr. Nickelson shares her expertise and passion for nutrition and health as an Associate Professor of Health Science at the University of Alabama and consultant for CHAMPS National, CHEER’s new program to increase breastfeeding rates and decrease racial disparities.
Working at the University of Alabama (UA) allows Dr. Nickelson to pursue her love for research, teaching, and service. She tells us, “Helping students learn from community members who hold the knowledge and expertise about the issues we are trying to address – and knowing that my influence on public health is multiplied through my students and community members – is particularly fulfilling.”
Dr. Nickelson firmly believes that good health starts with good nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life. This belief ignites her passion for examining societal and parental influences on infant and toddler nutrition, especially breastfeeding. Dr. Nickelson’s research focuses on understanding social and environmental influences on children’s eating behaviors, breastfeeding, childhood obesity prevention, and maternal and child health issues. She and her colleagues are currently examining the intersection of structural racism, rurality, and childhood obesity as members of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program. Additionally, she oversees the Lactation Lab, a group of dedicated UA students eager to promote breastfeeding as students and in their professional careers.
Dr. Nickelson shares: “Understanding, influencing, and supporting parents’ ability to breastfeed will ultimately impact children’s nutrition status, health, and quality of life – now and in the future.”
CHEER is excited to collaborate with Dr. Nickelson on CHAMPS National and thrilled to celebrate her as our CHAMPion of the Week!