Collaborative Research Partnership to Transform School Health

A Partnership of the University of Washington
and Seattle Public Schools
Confluence Conference


Monday, November 7
1 pm to 5 pm
John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence


Welcome to the first edition of our quarterly newsletter


The purpose of the newsletter is to showcase information and activities of the partnership. Please be sure to subscribe to the newsletter to receive future editions.


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Project Overview

The purpose of this project is to develop a coordinated, long-term approach to conducting relevant, practical, and valid health research in Seattle Public Schools (SPS). This will be accomplished through thoughtful engagement of a broad range of stakeholders from the Seattle Public School District (SPS), community, and University of Washington (UW) to establish shared priorities, approaches and resources for conducting studies that will be of benefit to the school district and the children of Seattle.

Project Goals:

  1. Build a sustainable, collaborative research infrastructure between UW and SPS.
  2. Build collaborative skills and competencies for conducting research that is mutually beneficial for schools, communities and UW researchers.
  3. Analyze current data structures within SPS and design an integrated system of health and education data to inform research, practice and policy.
  4. Attract new resources for research and student health initiatives. 

Click here to view a one-page project description.


Meet the Team


Donna B. JohnsonDonna B. Johnson, RD, PhD - Principal Investigator

Dr. Johnson is an Associate Professor in the Nutritional Sciences Program and Associate Director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington. Dr. Johnson's focus is public health nutrition practice, and her work focuses on nutrition, obesity, and evaluation of population based interventions. She teaches courses in public health nutrition and maternal and infant nutrition and coordinates the Master in Public Health Public Health Nutrition Program.


Jill LewisJill Lewis, RN, MN, NCSN: Program Manager

Jill is the Program Manager of Student Health Services for Seattle Schools. In her role she is the manager of Seattle's 65 School Nurses a group of dedicated staff who support health and wellness in every Seattle Public School. With 47,000 student's health at stake, her interest is to support development of the body of knowledge that best supports academic achievement, and lifelong health and wellness for school ages children. Health and safety of the 25% of students with health concerns is the day today work for Ms Lewis and the nursing staff.


Glen E. DuncanGlen Duncan, PhD: Co Investigator

Glen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Washington. His academic background is in exercise physiology, and he focuses his research on new methods to measure physical activity and dietary behaviors objectively and the influence of the built and social environments on lifestyle behaviors in health. He is married and has two young daughters, and they live in the Green Lake neighborhood of Seattle. Glen regularly commutes to campus by bicycle and remains very active with running and martial arts.


Cori MarCorinne M. Mar, PhD: Project Data Specialist

Dr. Mar is the Director of the Statistics Core at the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology at the University of Washington. Her position involves helping people design, implement, and analyze research studies so that they can answer the (empirical) questions that are important to them.



Brenda SimonBrenda Simon, Project Data Specialist

Brenda is the Health and Wellness Data Steward in the Research Evaluation and Assessment Department at Seattle Public Schools. Her position focuses on performing data inventory of and data collection from all departments in Seattle Public Schools who deal with programs related to student health and wellness. Brenda has over 10 years of research experience from working in increasingly responsible positions with the University of Washington.


Lori S. DunnLori S. Dunn: PreK-12 Physical Education and Health Literacy Program Manager
Previous to joining the Seattle Public Schools, Dunn taught physical education for 23 years. In 2006 she was selected as the NASPE National High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year. Dunn is a past president of Washington and the Northwest District AAHPERD. Her professional interests are in teaching, curriculum development and advocating for quality programs.


Wendy WeyerWendy Weyer, RD: Nutrition Services
Wendy has been with Seattle schools for 7 years where she is the Project Manager for the Seattle School District's Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant with Seattle-King County Public Health. This grant is helping to purchase PE equipment for 21 low-income schools, to move salad bars into schools, to connect with local chefs and to launch the district's Harvest of the Month program. Harvest of the Month introduces students each month to locally grown fruits, vegetables, grain and dairy through a variety of nutrition education efforts that are in the cafeteria and classroom.


Mary PodrabskyMary Podrabsky, RD, MPH: Project Manager

Ms. Podrabsky is the Director of School and Community Initiatives at the University of Washington Center for Public Health Nutrition. Mary's work focuses on policy and environmental approaches to reducing obesity, including school-based projects related to the development, implementation and evaluation of school wellness policies.

Judy H. SwansonJudy Swanson, PhD: Research Coordinator

Dr. Swanson is a research coordinator at the Center for Public Health Nutrition. For 20 years, she has conducted research on school improvement efforts in urban schools throughout the United States. She now brings this expertise to focus on nutrition and health initiatives in schools.


Upcoming Confluence Conference


A diverse group of stakeholders from the Seattle Public Schools community and from the University of Washington research community will be coming together to begin developing a roadmap for ongoing school health research.   Please join us for this free conference.


Monday, November 7, 2011, 1 pm to 5 pm

John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence

2445 3rd Avenue South

Click here for more information and to register.


What Stakeholders Are Telling Us

Throughout the summer and early fall, the project team has been surveying and interviewing parents, health researchers, school health champions, health professionals, community-based organizations, members of the philanthropic community and school district staff to learn about their interests surrounding school health initiatives and research priorities.  Respondents represented a broad range of disciplines and roles.


With 150 surveys and more than 20 interviews conducted, click here to see highlights from what we have learned so far.



Visit Our Website


Center for Public Health Nutrition


Mary Podrabsky - Project Manager

Judy Swanson - Research Coordinator

This project is supported by:  1RC4HD066837-01 from the
National Institutes of Health-National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.