This site is an archive of a closed Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program, provided for educational and historical purposes. Please note that this content is not routinely updated and that contact information and social links may not work.

Shannon N. Zenk, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N., F.A.A.N.

  • Professor

Shannon N. Zenk, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N., F.A.A.N. is Professor of Health Systems Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing. Dr. Zenk uses quantitative and qualitative methods to understand social determinants of obesity and to identify effective environmental and policy approaches to reverse the obesity epidemic. Of particular interest are contributions of the built and social environment to racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in obesity among urban populations. Dr. Zenk applies innovative methods in her research such as systematic social observation, global positioning systems, ecological momentary assessment, and spatial statistics.


She has recently expanded her research to individuals’ entire activity space, rather than residential neighborhood alone, and interactions between geographic environments and stress. Much of her work is conducted in collaboration with communities. Dr. Zenk’s research is currently funded by the National Institute for Nursing Research and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research Program. Dr. Zenk holds a B.S.N. in nursing from Illinois Wesleyan University, an M.S./M.P.H. in public health nursing/community health sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Ph.D. in health behavior and health education from the University of Michigan. She completed post-doctoral training in cancer control and population science.



Research Articles