RWJF Health & Society Scholar:
Dr. Robinson is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, a fellow at the Carolina Population Center, and a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. The central theme of Dr. Robinson’s research is methodologic innovation for identifying the causes of population inequalities in cancer and obesity incidence. A common theoretical underpinning of her work is the lifecourse framework, particularly hypotheses that stress and nutritional exposures during critical periods in utero and during childhood have enduring effects on adult health risk. Her work has shown that childhood obesity is not a major driver of the Black-White disparity in prostate cancer incidence. She has also found that perinatal and childhood poverty and stress may predispose females, more so than males, to adult obesity. She has used age-period-cohort analysis to predict future trends in obesity prevalence in Millennials. Ongoing research investigates causes of race- and SES-based disparities in breast cancer incidence. From 2008-2010, Dr. Robinson was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the University of Michigan. Before that, Dr. Robinson received her PhD in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her dissertation explored why obesity prevalence is much greater in young U.S. Black women than in young U.S. Black men. Specifically, her research investigated to what extent adolescent behaviors and family demographics are associated with this gender disparity. That work showed that low childhood socioeconomic status could account for a large proportion of the female-map gap in obesity in U.S. Blacks and disadvantaged Whites. Dr. Robinson also holds a master’s degree in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she researched the association between early-life body size and rate of prostate cancer later in life.