Shakira Smith has been awarded the prestigious President’s Diversity Dissertation Fellowship for 2019-2020. She is a dual-Ph.D. student in the Health Behavior program in the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington and the Counseling Psychology program in the School of Education.
“Diet-related, chronic illnesses are a major issue and expense in our healthcare system, but especially so for black folks. That said, food – not nutrition; just food as people recognize it – is simply not enough of the conversation around healing and closing health inequities. Personally, I think this is true in all sectors, but in my area of expertise, mental health, it’s especially so. In this project, I hope to expand our integration of food and diet into mental health conceptualization beyond the lens of nutritional epidemiology, as well as highlight the benefits of being in relationship with a garden space,” said Smith. “I’ve been fortunate to have a committee full of faculty who have thoroughly and consistently supported my ideas. This award feel likes an extension of that from the department and IU as a whole,” she added.
“We are thrilled that this prestigious award will underwrite Kira’s cutting edge and critical public health research. She is a trailblazer in this field; merging public health, food systems, critical race theory, and psychology to advance the health of black women,” said Dr. Beth Meyerson, Bicentennial Professor at IU School of Public Health-Bloomington and Smith’s dissertation co-chair.
The President’s Diversity Dissertation Fellowship was established in 2014 to provide one year of support to advanced doctoral students who are completing Ph.D. dissertations to help offset a scholar’s living expenses while completing the dissertation. This competition is specifically aimed at graduate students who are underrepresented minorities (URMs) in their field and the URM designation applies to racial, ethnic, gender, and disability classification.