Nalini Ranjit, PhD

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Associate Professor, Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Ranjit’s research interests span two broad areas: social and behavioral epidemiology, and design and evaluation of behavioral interventions. Her work in social and behavioral epidemiology includes several highly cited studies examining environmental, socioeconomic, racial /ethnic, psychosocial factors and behavioral factors associated with disparities in a variety of population health outcomes, including chronic disease biomarkers, health risk behaviors, obesity, and mortality. Her second broad area of research, the design and evaluation of behavioral interventions, is focused on detailed evaluation of effectiveness of interventions, by decomposing the effects of multi-component interventions, and identifying why some subpopulations and some behavioral outcomes appear especially susceptible to the effect of particular interventions. In both areas of research, her work is informed by an explicit focus on quantitative methodologies.

Prior to joining the Austin campus, she held research positions in the Center for Social Epidemiology at the University of Michigan and at the Alan Guttmacher Institute, NY. She obtained a PhD in Demography from Cornell University in 1999.

Currently, she is the evaluation lead for the USDA-funded Texas! Grow! Eat! Go! (TGEG) project, and is Co-PI on GAVA, a community-wide environmental intervention designed to improve levels of physical activity and healthy eating in Dove Springs, a largely Hispanic community east of Austin. Dr. Ranjit is also Director of the Data Core, an initiative designed to support and maintain a high level of excellence and productivity in research activity at the Center. In this capacity, she provides research guidance to doctoral and post-doctoral students in Austin. She also regularly teaches a core, doctoral level course on Research Design and Analysis.

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Current Projects

School Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (SPAN)

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The SPAN survey was established to track the prevalence of overweight and obese school-aged children in Texas.

CATCH Middle School

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The Central Texas CATCH Middle School Project (CATCH MS) was a school-based health promotion initiative aimed at promoting physical activity, healthy eating and obesity prevention among middle school students living in central Texas.

Texas SNAP-Ed Evaluation

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Texas SNAP-Ed Evaluation, is a two-year project to evaluate, on a statewide basis, the effectiveness of SNAP-Ed nutrition education and obesity prevention programming activities delivered by Implementing Agencies throughout the state of Texas.

Texas Childhood Obesity Prevention Policy Evaluation (T-COPPE)

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This project is a collaborative effort that will study the impact of two recent policies: the Safe Routes to School program and an important rule revision to the federal food allocation package administered by the Texas Women, Infants and Children program.


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Food Retail: Evaluating Strategies for a Healthy Austin (FRESH-AUSTIN) aims to further evaluation of the City of Austin's Healthy Food Access Initiative, and increase understanding of the complexities within a community food system.

GO! Austin / ¡VAMOS! Austin (GAVA)

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GAVA is a coalition of residents, community leaders and nonprofits dedicated to improving the health of children in Dove Springs and 78745.

Recent Publications

Perceived Parental and Peer Social Support Is Associated With Healthier Diets in Adolescents.

(Haidar A*, Ranjit N, Saxton D, Hoelscher DM. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2019 Jan 1;51(1):23-31.)

Effect of media use on adolescent body weight.

(Cha EM*, Hoelscher DM, Ranjit N, Chen B, Gabriel KP, Kelder SH, Saxton DL. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2018, 15:E141. Doi: 10.5888/pcd15.180206)

Association between parent and child weight status among private school children in Delhi, India

(Greene-Cramer B, Harrell MB, Hoelscher DM, Sharma S, Ranjit N, Gupta V, Nazar G, Arora M; Glob Health Promot.; 2018)

Designing Place-Based interventions for Sustainability and Replicability: the Case of Go! Austin/Vamos! Austin

(Hussaini, A., Basu, S., Pulido, C., Ranjit, N; Frontiers in public health; 2018)

Perceived weight and bullying victimization in boys and girls

(Carey FR, Wilkinson AV, Ranjit N, Mandell D, Hoelscher DM; J Sch Health; 2018)