Under the direction of Sarah Colby, the Research on Eating and Activity for Community Health (REACH) laboratory conducts research on factors that impact why we eat what we eat and creative ways we can communicate about health to effectively change behavior.  This research often involves community-based interventions that address nutrition behavior with children, adolescents, and young adult populations.

In the REACH lab , our research focuses on the intersection of food insecurity, food justice, social determinants of health, and sustainable agricultural systems.

We consider complex patterns of behavior and seek to develop, test, and evaluate the implementation of multilevel research interventions and programs focused on what we grow, cook, and market, and how to change the environments we live in for the better.

We also look at creative ways to communicate, educate, and use technology to change behavior and improve health for individuals, families, and communities.

Dr. Colby has had more than 100 publications, 150 presentations, and 10 million dollars of federal grant funding. Her research has always been based on work with collaborative teams of diverse researchers and her funding has provided support for health science-related research training for more than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Her latest 4.9 million-dollar USDA funded project, Get Fruved, was a CBPR project in which college students partnered with researchers to assess their own environments, set priorities for change, advocate for environmental changes, and develop and implement programs to promote health. The Get Fruved program was tested with 80 university campuses across the nation and a companion program was developed in which college students worked with high school students to help high school students assess their own environments, set their own priorities, implement health promotion activities, and advocate for environmental changes to support health lifestyles. The developed Get Fruved curriculum/tool kit resources have been made freely available to the public.   Although the Get Fruved program was initially developed to be used as a model for college students to work with high school students, the long-term vision for the program was for both the college and high school students then to mentor middle school students do the same service learning approach to community health promotion. Beyond improved community health outcomes, hundreds of diverse young people (who otherwise may not have had exposure to health science-related research) have successfully participated in science research and expanded their scientific knowledge, skills and interests.

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