Affiliate Profile: Kim Gans


Kim Gans, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at UConn whose research primarily focuses on community-based interventions geared to reduce food insecurity, improve nutrition, physical activity, and prevent obesity . Gans also uses innovative technology approaches to help people improve their health behaviors; this involves using computer algorithms to create interventions tailored to an individual’s needs and interests.

Gans has been interested in health for as long as she can remember. She initially went into college as a pre-med student in hopes of becoming a doctor. Her goals changed when she took a course on interdisciplinary perspectives on food and hunger. The class sparked her initial interest in nutrition and required Gans to volunteer at a local food bank, where she reflected on her career goals. Upon completing her undergraduate studies, she studied to obtain her master’s degree in public health, majoring in nutrition. While in graduate school Gans learned about a heart disease prevention research program in Rhode Island, for which she eventually worked and gained insight on community-based intervention research. Gans became very interested in research and decided to go back to school for her doctorate in order to be able to do her own research related to community-based interventions. She later received her PhD in nutrition from the University of Rhode Island.

Before joining the UConn faculty ten years ago, Gans worked in the School of Public Health at Brown University for 22 years with her research focusing on improving nutrition, physical activity and preventing/managing obesity. Gans’ initial work was mostly related to nutrition education and working with adults. As her career progressed, she began working with multiple age groups and taking into consideration the environment that people live in to help improve people’s behaviors. In recent years, Gans has done a lot of research in childcare settings and involving families with young children. “It’s better to catch the problem at an early age, because as an adult, one’s habits are deeply entrenched,” she says.

Involvement with CSCH
Gans appreciates the whole child perspective that the Collaboratory takes; “I really love the interdisciplinary nature of CSCH and how it brings together those who work with children across all areas,” she says. She also enjoys being able to network with many of the CSCH affiliates and work on projects as a team.

Gans is currently working on six externally funded research projects. These include Healthy Start/Comienzos, which is a clinical trial recruiting family childcare providers and parents of young children to work together to improve the diet of a child by providing healthier foods both in the childcare setting and at home. She is also working with the Center for Southeast Asians in Providence to study the effectiveness of multigenerational nutrition classes, text messages, and phone calls for Southeast Asian families and/or financial incentives for healthy foods at a local Southeast Asian market.

You can learn more about Gans and her projects through her UConn Faculty Page.

Fun Facts

Gans is an avid reader and has been part of the same book club since 1986. Her favorite book so far this year is Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver.

Undergraduate Researcher Elena Roberts interviewed Kim Gans and wrote this profile.