Melissa N. Laska PhD, RD » Faculty

Research Interests:The prevention of excess weight gain among young people; environmental, social and behavioral determinants of body weight in childhood, adolescence and young adulthood; community food access in underserved areas.

Associate Professor, Epidemiology & Community Health

Work Div. Epidemiology & Community Health 1300 S. 2nd Street, Suite 300 Minneapolis MN 55454 United States Work Phone: 612-624-8832
Photo of Melissa N. Laska PhD, RD


  • PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
  • RD, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics/Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN
  • BS with Honors, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY


Nutrition / Diet, Obesity

Professional Experience:

  • 2012 – present: Associate Professor, Division of Epidemiology & Community Health, University of Minnesota
  • 2015 – present: Director, Public Health Nutrition Program, University of Minnesota
  • 2015 – present: Co-Director, Obesity Prevention Center, University of Minnesota
  • 2007 – present: Senior Adviser, Health Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • 2005 – 2012: Assistant Professor, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN


  • Janet Clay White Lecturer in Community Nutrition, Cornell University, 2014
  • Fellow, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2014
  • Women’s Faculty Cabinet, University of Minnesota, 2014-2017
  • City of Minneapolis Healthy Living Community Leadership Team, 2012-2015
  • Council Member, The Obesity Society, 2011-2014
  • Fellow, The Obesity Society, 2011
  • NCI/TREC (Transdisciplinary Research in Energetics and Cancer) Trainee Award for Excellence, 2010
  • Delta Omega Honorary Public Health Society, 2005
  • University of North Carolina Impact Award, 2005
  • Society for Epidemiologic Research Abraham Lilienfeld Award, 2004
  • American Society for Clinical Nutrition Young Investigator Award Finalist, 2003

Research Projects:

  • The STORE (STaple food ORdinance Evaluation) Study
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Melissa Laska
    Funding agency: NIH/NIDDK, CDC, Johns Hopkins Global Center on Childhood Obesity
  • Evaluating Innovative Weight Reduction Strategies for College Students
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Melissa Laska/Dr. Leslie Lytle
    Funding Agency: NIH/NHLBI
  • Understanding Disparities in Obesity and Weight Behaviors by Sexual Identity
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Melissa Laska
    Funding Agency: NIH/NICHD
  • Project EAT-IV (Eating and Activity in Adolescents and Young Adults)
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer
    Funding Agency: NIH/NHLBI
  • Cross-study Analysis of Coordinated Randomized Clinical Trials for Weight Management: The EARLY (Early Adult Reduction of weight through LifestYle intervention) Trials
    Principal Investigator: Dr. Steve Belle
    Funding Agency: NIH/NHLBI

Selected Publications: