Many students within the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health have expressed an interest in examining the intersection between food and health. Food impacts the health of both humans and the environment, both in relation to how it is grown and what access looks like for various communities. Although there are many reasons why humans choose their diets, often the lack of resources prevents them from making healthy choices. Students are exploring the public health implications of industrial agriculture versus sustainable agriculture and the health impacts of pesticides. 

Examples of departmental research on food and health:

Dr. Dana Barr has worked with two migrant farmworker cohorts: one in southern California and one in North Carolina. She has primarily investigated pesticide exposure, the use of personal protective equipment, and behaviors related to these exposures and neurological outcomes. With funding from The Organic Center, Dr. Barr has measured pesticides, antibiotics and synthetic hormones in commercial milk products.  In addition, she and Dr. P. Barry Ryan conducted an NIH-funded study to evaluate pesticide residues in baby food.  

Dr. Juan Leon works in Mexico to understand routes of microbial contamination of fresh vegetables and fruits to prevent produce outbreaks. In Bolivia, Dr. Leon is researching if malnutrition worsens the effect of the rotavirus vaccine. In the U.S., Dr. Leon's domestic research includes understanding the prevalence of parasitic diseases among immigrant Latin Americans, such as especially Chagas. Dr. Leon is also working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to understand how Latin Americans in the U.S. access care through the American health system, especially when they are at risk for parasitic diseases. 

Food Faculty and Research Interests

Dana Boyd Barr, PhD, Research Professor
Exposure assessment, biomarkers, endocrine disruptors, environmental analytical chemistry

Juan Leon, PhD, Assoicate Professor, Jointly Appointed with Global Health 
Vaccines, infectious diseas, community based research, maternal and child health, rural healt, safe water, sanitation and hygiene, disease pathogenesis

EH 527 Biomarkers and Environmental Public Health Spring
EPI 591L Methods in Nutritional Epidemiology Fall
GH 580 Environmental Microbiology: Control of Food and Waterborne Diseases Spring
GH 552 Global Elimination of Micronutrient Malnutrition Fall
GH 538 Food and Nutrition in Humanitarian Emergencies (Short course) Spring
ENVS 585 Special Topics: Eating in Captivity
ANT 252 Fast Food/Slow Food

Burrowes, Vanessa - “The effect of stages in the food production process on microbial quality of high-risk produce collected near the U.S.-Mexico border.” Advisor: Juan Leon

Patel, Opal - "Association Between Food Outlet Density and Overweight/Obesity Among Adults in Delhi, India." Advisor: Dana Barr

Pennington, Whitney - “Establishing a method for microbiological evaluation of fresh produce at risk for Salmonella contamination.” Advisor: Karen Levy

Pierce, Timmy - "Seafood Consumption, Glycemia, and Diabetes in Chennai, India: a Cross-Sectional Study." Advisor: Matthew Gribble

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Donato, Caitlin - "Development of a produce handling training manual for small scale farmers."

Fine, Matthew - "Fruits and vegetables on prescription: Bringing prevention into primary care."

Gowin, Malinda - "Food security among students on Emory's main campus."

Moore, Alysa - "Urban farm action plan for the Atlanta BeltLine."

Ross, Alexandra - "The environmental health impacts of food systems: An argument for sustainable agriculture."

Open Hand Atlanta, Open Hand Intern (Atlanta, GA): Open Hand is a non-profit organization located that works to help those who have a low socioeconomic status through food delivery. They work to provide health and alleviate chronic health problems through provision of healthy and safe foods. APE will entail working specifically with their Community Garden to help develop community outreach programs, work with corporate sponsors and create education materials. 

Food Fortification Initiative, Communications Assistant (Atlanta, GA): Create a module for OPENPediatrics, a continuing education platform through Boston Children’s Hospital. The goal of this module is to teach medical professionals about neural tube defects and how to prevent them. The underlying theme is the importance of folic acid during childbearing years and how folic acid and food fortification can help prevent neural tube defects. 

Georgia Farmer's Market Association, Program Assistant for FM Tracks & Food Demonstration Training (Norcross, Georgia): Work to provide assistance to the new market manager and food demonstration programs. Aid in program creation, management, training, and data collection. Partner with two outside organizations, Oldways and Wholesome Wave Georgia, to aid in writing a new program curriculum and to gain insight into the needs and wants of the farmers and consumers at farmer's markets. 

Wholesome Wave Georiga, Georgia Fresh For Less Program Manager: Georgia Fresh for Less promotes healthy and affordable eating habits by matching SNAP/EBT dollars — dollar for dollar —at participating farmers markets. When you spend $10, you get $10 for free to spend on fresh, local fruits and vegetables. This program supports local farmers and contributes to the state’s food economy – more than $3.1 million since 2009. By encouraging shoppers at local farmers markets, Georgia Fresh For Less makes healthy, nourishing choices affordable for low-income families and brings a new customer base to local farmers.


Who are we?

The Rollins Garden is one of many Educational Gardens around Emory’s campus. It is home to many veggies and herbs such as lettuce, kale, peas, tomatoes, rosemary, lavender, basil, and dill. Our garden is also home to some flowers and strawberries.

Our Goal:

The goal of the Rollins garden is to educate students and faculty about sustainable food sources by growing and harvesting our own crops. We hope to highlight how fun and easy gardening is and how you can continue to grow food in your own home. Enjoy garden-grown food and related activities such as recipe sharing, terrarium building, and composting! We are open to seed planting suggestions, as we believe the Rollins garden should be a collaborative effort.

How to get involved:

The Rollins Garden is run by the student organization Rollins Environmental Health Action Committee (REHAC) garden coordinator. Volunteer opportunities include garden maintenance, weeding and watering. During the spring and fall we have seed planting days, and throughout the summer and fall we harvest!

The Educational Gardens on campus are maintained by teams and welcome volunteer workers. If you would like to join a team or want additional information, contact the Educational Garden Coordinator at