Karen Flórez, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Environmental, Occupational, and Geospatial Health Sciences
Dr. Flórez’s training and research experiences are directly related to her deep-rooted interest in the sociocultural determinants of diet and diet-related diseases. She first began exploring the intersection between culture and health as an undergraduate medical anthropology student, when she focused on understanding medical systems and health equity among disadvantaged populations. She further developed her interest in the sociocultural determinants of health behaviors at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health through the training she received in Department of Sociomedical Sciences. Throughout her graduate studies, she was exposed to different methodological and theoretical perspectives, which enabled her to explore the ways in which sociocultural factors (e.g., acculturation, fatalism) shape health behaviors among Latinos. After receiving her doctorate she began working at the RAND Corporation, where she had the opportunity to use social network analysis to investigate the role of social networks and ties within the food environment in an urban food desert in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has also continued her work on acculturation by conducting a cross-sectional analysis to investigate the association between exposure to the U.S. and obesity in a representative population of Mexicans living in the U.S and Mexico. She is also exploring the interplay between sociocultural and neighborhood-level factors and their impact on childhood obesity among low-income African American children. Taken together, these studies will inform her growing research portfolio in the area of diet and diet-related diseases among vulnerable populations of color.