HHD doctoral student receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

May 14, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Allison Doub, a doctoral student in Penn State's Department of Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in nutrition, has been awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Doub is one of 2,000 graduate students in the 2014 fellowship class. According to the National Science Foundation, this year’s group comes from 442 baccalaureate institutions; 1,069 members are women and 382 are from underrepresented groups; 55 are persons with disabilities; and 37 are veterans.

The research agenda proposed in her fellowship application focuses on reducing the gap between science and practice by leveraging new media channels to accelerate the distribution and uptake of evidence-based parenting and nutrition information. Emphasis will be placed on parental use of food blogs by parents of preschool-aged children. Blogs are popular websites among young parents and may be a source of social influence on readers’ own feeding decisions.

Her dissertation project, which furthers work from her master’s thesis, will examine whether and how engaging with food-related blogs and other social media influences parental feeding decisions. The focal population will be parents of infants and preschoolers, given increasing evidence that the first three years of life are critical for obesity prevention. Her mentors in this work will be Meg Small, assistant director for innovations and social change in the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, and Leann Birch, professor emeritus of human development and family studies in the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State.

Doub’s goal is to develop an intervention or mechanism by which social media influencers may collaborate with scientists to distribute evidence-based information in accessible, persuasive ways.

Before receiving the NSF fellowship, Doub was the recipient of a U.S. Department of Agriculture Childhood Obesity Prevention Training Fellowship. A 2010 alumna of Penn State’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies, after graduation she worked at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry as a research assistant before returning to Penn State for graduate work in 2012.

Since 1952, the National Science Foundation has provided fellowships to individuals selected early in their graduate careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) continues to be a critical part of NSF's overall strategy in developing the globally-engaged workforce necessary to ensure the Nation's leadership in advancing science and engineering research and innovation. A high priority for NSF and GRFP is increasing the diversity of the science and engineering workforce, including geographic distribution and the participation of women, underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and veterans.

With its emphasis on support of individuals, GRFP offers fellowship awards directly to graduate students selected through a national competition. The GRFP provides three years of financial support within a five-year fellowship period ($32,000 annual stipend and $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the graduate institution) for graduate study that is in a field within NSF's mission and leads to a research-based master's or doctoral degree.

Last Updated May 15, 2014