1. Can you tell us about the work you do with the Family Resiliency Center?
I feel extremely grateful to the FRC. Through this Center's various activities, I have been introduced to some amazing research collaborators (Dale Kehr, Illinois Extension; Dr. Angela Wiley and Dr. Gail Ferguson; and Dr. Barbara Fiese and Brenda Koester) and have enjoyed seeing how my research - with others - can make a positive impact on people's health and lifestyle. My research and teaching focus is on media and advertising. Read More on Michelle Nelson's research and teaching here
I have done guest lectures and online teaching for members of the FRC - mostly related to advertising and its potential influences on people's health attitudes and behaviors. One semester, graduate students in my advertising class conducted interviews and an online survey with mothers to gather information on family meal-times and help gauge their responses to the meal-time minutes public service announcements, which resulted in a collaborative research paper.
In the last two years, I have worked with members of the FRC (Gail, Brenda, Barbara) and their students on the JUS Media? Programmethanks to a grant from the Christopher Family Foundation and one from the NIH. My role is to provide the research and insights into the negative (and sometimes positive) effects of media for building healthier families. Together, we developed a food-focused media literacy intervention for adolescents and their mothers in Jamaica. We are in year two of the project right now where we are meeting with key stakeholders to figure out a way to build sustainability for our program related to health and family in Jamaica. Read More
2. You and your research team just returned from a successful international research trip to Jamaica, what was the best part of the trip?
Some of our team members were able to meet Jamaica's Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world! Alas, I went home 'early' (almost midnight!) that evening and missed out on that opportunity. That might have been the best part!
The best part was hearing and seeing, first hand, the gratitude from the stakeholders and the difference from the participants that this program has made in their lives. For me, research is more than a journal publication or book. It is about making a real (and positive) impact on people and their lives. The warmth and the genuine appreciation for our team and these same feelings expressed within our team make all of the hard work and late nights worth the effort. I attribute these 'bests' to our leader, Dr. Gail Ferguson, our international team, and to the warmth and openness of the Jamaican people we have met on our journey.
3. What is your favorite food or meal?
Good question! I was one of those picky eaters that scholars in the FRC write about when I was a child. Not sure what changed, but I enjoy trying and eating most foods now. I especially like a good spicy Indian or Thai meal. I don't use a recipe and make variations depending on what's available in my fridge, but my go-to meal on a cold night is something like this recipe for butternut squash curry.
4. What are your favorite hobbies?
Spending time in nature - hiking, kayaking, biking with family and friends | Traveling - especially visiting new places, learning about different cultures and lifestyles and trying new foods | Reading and writing fiction. I was a nerdy, book worm as a child - turned English major. Still love to escape into a good read.