Virginia Chaidez photo portrait

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Virginia Chaidez

Assistant Professor

BS, Foods and Nutrition, San Diego State University, 1999
PhD, Nutrition, Designated Emphasis in International and Community Nutrition, University of California, Davis, 2009

My research interests tend to focus on health disparities, particularly those affecting the Latino population including obesity, diabetes and developmental disabilities. My approach to research generally consists of mixed methods and more recently making deliberate attempts to work across disciplines for new insight and approaches to addressing complex public health problems.  My research on child-feeding practices in the context of obesity prevention has provided new insight into common parenting styles of Latino families which have been shown to affect outcomes.

My research in autism have provided a better depiction of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and diagnosis disparities in Latinos; a better estimate in the prevalence of gastrointestinal (GI) problems in children; and established a link between GI problems and problematic behaviors in children with ASD.  Current interests are focused on working with Community Health Workers (CHW) to conduct research that informs best practices for the role CHWs can play in community health and wellness.  This work will tie into more specific projects that will address health disparities including obesity, diabetes, and mental health.

Professional Highlights

Honors and Recognition
Autism Speaks Top Ten Research Advances of 2013
January 2015-present, Assistant Professor, Nutrition and Health Sciences Department, University of Nebraska-LincolnApril 2012-December 2014, Evaluation Analyst, University of California CalFresh Nutrition Education Program, State Office (CalFresh is the brand name for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program aka SNAP)August 2011-June 2012, Nutrition Consultant, Sacramento Employee Training Agency (SETA) –Head StartNov 2009-April 2012, Postdoctoral scholar, Public Health Sciences Department, University of California, Davis, & the Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (M.I.N.D) InstituteApril 2008-June 2012, Health Education Instructor for Worksite Wellness, Kaiser Permanente, Sacramento, CaliforniaApril 2001-2003, Clinical Dietitian, Tri-City Medical Center, Oceanside, California,
Society for Nutrition Education & Behavior (SNEB)American Society for Nutrition (ASN)Public Health Association of Nebraska (PHAN)Community Health Worker Association of Nebraska (CHWA)