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Arnold School of Public Health

Ph.D. graduate joins Harvard University as research associate

February 8, 2019 | Erin Bluvas, 

Caroline Glagola Dunn technically graduated in December, but she made the move to Boston back in October after successfully defending her dissertation. The Ph.D. in health promotion, education, and behavior (HPEB) alumna then began a new chapter as a research associate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Dunn’s group studies the impact of policy, systems and environment changes to prevent obesity and diet-related diseases, specifically in vulnerable populations. In her position, she focuses on how these changes impact children and households with children. Dunn is working on several projects, including menu-labeling policy and food assistance programs (e.g., SNAP, WIC). She’s also been able to continue some of her work with colleagues at UofSC.

It’s a role Dunn was well prepared for by her HPEB program, particularly through her concentration in nutrition programming and promotion. Outside the classroom, Dunn immersed herself in conducting applied research as a member of the Behavioral Research in Eating (BRIE) Lab. Led by HPEB associate professor Brie Turner-McGrievy, the BRIE Lab focuses on helping people eat healthier, lose weight and prevent chronic disease—often aided by the use of emerging technologies.

The Arnold School prepared me to be an independent researcher, to discuss my ideas, to brainstorm with others, and to seek out opportunities at every turn.

-Caroline Dunn, Ph.D. in HPEB graduate

“I had opportunities to work with so many amazing faculty members and was encouraged to reach outside of my immediate research group. I especially appreciated the chance to build relationships with other graduate students and faculty from different departments in the School and beyond,” Dunn says. “The Arnold School prepared me to be an independent researcher, to discuss my ideas, to brainstorm with others, and to seek out opportunities at every turn. Working with students and mentors in the BRIE lab and in the Prevention Research Center helped to shape my research interests and taught me so many valuable lessons about collaboration and teamwork.”

The opportunity to work with Turner-McGrievy was one of the reasons Dunn chose UofSC (exercise science professor Sara Wilcox also became an important influence), and strong mentor relationships have continued to be a priority for Dunn. Fortunately, she has found mentors in her new position as well.

“I was so lucky to have two amazing and strong mentors, Dr. Turner-McGrievy and Dr. Wilcox, during my time at the Arnold School, and I am so lucky to have amazing mentors here at Harvard,” Dunn says. “One of my favorite things about my current position as a research associate is the amazing collaborators that I get to work with on a daily basis.”

Originally from Gainesville, Florida, Dunn earned a master’s in human nutrition from the University of Alabama and became a registered dietitian. She began her Ph.D. at the University of Florida before transferring to Carolina in 2015.

During her doctoral program, Dunn won the Citation Abstract Award and the Meritorious Student Abstract Award from the Society of Behavioral Medicine. She was also named a Research Oral Presentation Room Winner at USC Graduate Student Day and awarded the Malcolm U. Dantzler Scholarship from the S.C. Public Health Association. Dunn is an Arnold School Fellow and a scholarship recipient from the American Council on Consumer Interests.

She served as Chair of the Nutrition Education for Children Division within the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior and is a member of the Columbia Midlands Dietetic Association, the South Carolina Dietetic Association and the South Carolina Public Health Association. Dunn has published numerous peer-reviewed papers and abstracts, received her own research funding, taught several academic courses, and mentored seven undergraduate and master’s students.   

She plans to continue her research and service activities in her new position and throughout her career. “Like at the Arnold School, my new position has offered me so many chances to collaborate with researchers inside and outside of my department and program,” Dunn says. “I am looking forward to continuing to grow my professional community and create research relationships that I hope to continue throughout my career.”


HPEB doctoral student Caroline Dunn receives two abstract awards from the Society of Behavioral Medicine

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