Dr. Shannon Zenk Selected for College's Top Honor

Photo of Dr. Zenk in her officeShannon Zenk, PHD, MPH, RN, FAAN, professor in the Department of Health Systems Science, has been selected as a Nursing Collegiate Professor. This is one of the highest honors in the UIC College of Nursing, offered to faculty members who demonstrate a record of excellence in research, scholarship and teaching.
“Dr. Zenk is an exceptionally talented, dedicated and productive scientist who has had an outstanding impact on UIC, the discipline of Nursing, and health science nationally and internationally,” says UIC Nursing dean Terri Weaver.

Through a transdisciplinary approach, Zenk’s research has made multiple contributions to the science on social determinants of obesity and health. She has worked to identify effective environmental and policy instruments to improve population health and reduce racial/ethnic and socioeconomic inequities. Zenk has been at the forefront of building this science since her first study documenting Detroit "food deserts", or low-income areas that provide poor access to healthy foods, published in the premier American Journal of Public Health (2005) and highly cited by other researchers. Her work on food deserts has expanded well beyond Detroit and is widely used in reports of local and federal government agencies, including the Institute of Medicine and the USDA, as well as policy and advocacy organizations, such as PolicyLink, Local Initiatives Support Corporation. It has helped to promote nationwide concern about food access among citizens and policymakers alike, and that in turn has led to new policies to improve healthy food access such as the federal Health Food Financing Initiative and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) retailer stocking requirements.
The impact of Zenk’s research is widely recognized. She has published some 75 journal articles and book chapters. Scholars will understand the excellence indicated by her Google Scholar h-index of 26 and more than 2,000 citations of her first-authored articles. Based on her expertise in environmental factors, investigators from many disciplines, institutions and countries seek her input and collaboration on studies addressing a broad spectrum of health outcomes. Zenk’s collaborations have produced 23 funded national grants totaling over $42 million.

“In addition to her outstanding research record, Dr. Zenk also has an excellent record for classroom teaching and individual student mentoring,” says Weaver. “She serves as a remarkable role model to her students.”

Through her funded research, Dr. Zenk has employed 38 graduate students, as well as several undergraduate students. She has mentored students or post-doctoral fellows as first author or co-author on 32 journal articles/book chapters and 48 presentations.

Says Weaver: “Dr. Zenk is extraordinarily well qualified and most deserving of this honor.”