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PhD, School of Public Health, UNC-Chapel Hill, Cancer Epidemiology

School of Public Health
UNC-Chapel Hill
Cancer Epidemiology

Area of interest

Dr. Mendez is a nutritional epidemiologist whose research focuses primarily on dietary exposures and health outcomes such as obesity and related disorders, neurodevelopment, and cancer. She has a particular interest in methodological strategies for improving the measurement and analysis of dietary factors, including approaches to reduce error and bias. Along these lines, she also conducts research on food-borne contaminants as well as food groups and diet patterns, in an effort to better understand synergies within the food chain, including pathways through which beneficial dietary components may help to modify health risks of contaminant exposures. A current project extends these interests to explore whether prenatal exposure to chemicals found in the food chain may increase the risk of obesogenic growth in early life. In addition to etiology, her research also explores inequalities in dietary and contaminant exposures that may contribute to health disparities. The goal of her work is to gain greater insights on the role of diet in health by increasing the validity of dietary measures, as well as assessing synergies with non-dietary factors to understand their joint contribution to health outcomes and health disparities.

Awards and Honors

1983 Valedictorian, Belair High School, Jamaica
1987 Minority Summer Research Exchange Program, Stanford University
1988 Princeton University Class of 1942, Field Research Grant
1994-96 National Cancer Institute Training Grant, Predoctoral Fellowship
1996 Society for Epidemiologic Research (SER) student workshop award recipient
1996-2000 Carolina Population Center Predoctoral Trainee, UNC-CH
1997 Delta Omega Book Award (Department of Epidemiology outstanding student)
1997-2000 National Institute of Child Health and Development, Minority Predoctoral Fellowship
1998 Summer Minority Public Health Research Institute (UNC-CH), Scholarship Recipient
1998 Carolina Population Center/Mellon Foundation, Travel Award (dissertation research)
2000 Research Education Support Program, Predoctoral Fellowship, UNC-CH
2000 Elected member, Delta Omega (Public Health Honor Society)
2000 Dissertation Excellence Award nominee, School of Public Health, UNC-CH
2001-04 Dannon Foundation Nutrition Leadership Institute Participant
2002-04 National Institute of Child Health and Development Research Supplement, UNC-CH, Postdoctoral Research Grant

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