California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo Professor of Kinesiology and Director of STRIDE Center for Obesity Research
The work of Suzanne Phelan, Ph.D., has profoundly influenced the lives of her students as well as those of mothers and children everywhere. As a professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and as director of Cal Poly’s STRIDE Center for Obesity Research, her research focuses on lifestyle interventions before, during and after pregnancy that can reduce the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes — thus protecting the health of current and future generations.
In one study, Dr. Phelan found that low-intensity behavioral intervention during pregnancy can reduce postpartum weight retention and improve dietary restraint and self-monitoring of body weight.
Dr. Phelan has produced a highly respected body of scholarship published in peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of the American Medical Association, the New England Journal of Medicine, Obesity, and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. She regularly publishes with Cal Poly students, including 16 undergraduate co-authors.
“I’m most excited about the potential for our work to empower women and men of childbearing age to engage in healthy eating, activity, and weight control behaviors before the birth of a child, even prior to conception, which may protect the health of future generations,” says Dr. Phelan.
She has sustained National Institutes of Health funding of more than $12 million dollars over a decade, a testament to her high-quality research program.
Dr. Phelan is also leading a multi-disciplinary effort to improve health outcomes of women and children in California’s central coast through the Cal Poly Women and Infants’ Mobile Health Unit, funded by generous contributions from community members. From this mobile unit, community health care professionals will provide free pre- and postnatal care and counseling. The mobile unit will also create opportunities for undergraduate students, medical residents and other learners to help treat a diverse and historically underserved patient population.
Dr. Phelan received her Ph.D. and master’s from MCP Hahnemann University and several undergraduate degrees from the University of Colorado, Boulder.