Erica Tukiainen, MD, MPH
Born and raised in Finland, Erica emigrated with her family to Los Angeles in 2010. After high school, Erica received a full athletic scholarship to play for the UCLA women’s basketball team where she served as a four-year starter. While balancing life as a student-athlete, she majored in French and completed her pre-medical studies. During her undergraduate studies, Erica met Dr. Yancey whose mentorship sparked her interest in pursuing public health and preventive medicine. She gained valuable research experience as one of Dr. Yancey’s “Spark Plugs” on various Instant Recess projects at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. To continue her journey into preventive medicine, entering David Geffen School of Medicine was the most natural choice for her. Medical school has taught her the skills and tools to address the individual medical issues, as well as the underlying social and environmental factors that limit communty’s ability to make healthier choices. After her third year of medical school, Dr. Tukiainen earned her M.P.H. at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health where she spent a year learning about health disparities, community-based participatory research and obesity prevention. She completed medical school at UCLA and trained in Family Medicine with a focus on community medicine, adolescent health and physical activity promotion.
Christopher Viya Chau, MS, MPH, RD
Christopher Viya Chau is committed to working at the intersection of obesity research, healthful lifestyle interventions, and nutrition program evaluation. A proud native of Los Angeles, CA, Christopher earned a BS in biology from UCLA. After joining the NYC chapter of Teach For America and earning his MS in adolescent education, Christopher taught high school and spearheaded the first nutrition and health curriculum at his school. Inspired to deepen his understanding of public health nutrition, Christopher returned to school to earn his post-baccalaureate in nutrition, MPH from UCLA, and credential as a registered dietitian. While at UCLA, Christopher served under the visionary leadership of Dr. Toni Yancey as a project coordinator for the CDC-funded UCLA REACH Healthy-By-Default Project. He collaborated with esteemed research and community partners to implement and disseminate Instant Recess® and other “healthy-by-default” strategies among African American and Latino populations, nationally. These experiences led Christopher to pursue a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree with a focus on public health nutrition at the University of California, Berkeley.
Christopher’s dissertation project aims to move the field of childhood obesity prevention forward by identifying long-term predictors of eating behavior, abdominal fat development, and heart disease risk among communities of color. His study sample consists of over 2,000 black and white girls, who were recruited from San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Washington, DC metropolitan areas and followed from 1987-1997. His work aims to expand the current obesity literature, impact clinical practice, and inform obesity prevention programs. In the future, he plans to explore how nutrition and physical activity policies and programs can change the social environment and influence behaviors of young children. Christopher hopes to continue the fight against obesity and chronic disease so that future generations can live longer—not shorter—lives than their parents.
Jasel D. Martin, DrPH, MS, MBA, CPT, EP-C, CHES
Dr. Jasel Martin currently, is a post-doctoral fellow in the Pharmaceutical Health Services Research Department in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She completed her DrPH (Doctorate of Public Health) at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, CA. Her dissertation was a cross-sectional study observing the relationships between social support, self-regulation and leisure time physical activity in Black college-aged women.
Dr. Martin’s research has been situated within the context of physical activity engagement and chronic disease outcomes. Her training and experience have equipped her to develop robust research and community initiatives addressing the causes and outcomes of obesity, using Patient Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR), Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR), Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER), Exercise Physiology, Health Equity and Patient Engagement.
Her research aims to address systemic issues that promote chronic illness by engaging all members of the research learning community (including lay community members), developing a theoretical basis, and testing measures using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Furthermore, it fills a significant gap in the literature by focusing on racial and social disparities, and minority community involvement related to physical activity and health promotion.
She is a pioneer in the process of applying Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) to physical activity and lifestyle, to make an impact on a variety of health-related outcomes. One goal of her research will be to compare the effectiveness of supervised versus non-supervised physical activity on physical activity engagement and chronic illnesses. Another goal of her research is to determine the effectiveness of physical activity on health outcomes as the type, dose and intensity of physical activity changes.