When she was growing up in North Carolina, Stephanie Mazzucca discovered an interest in food based on family.
“We always cooked a lot,” she recalled. “I was often left to fend for myself and started watching the Food Network and mastering the family red sauce,” a legacy from her Italian heritage. So it wasn’t a big leap to a research focus on nutrition and physical activity for pre-school children, one of her specialties as a new assistant professor at the PRC.
“I do a little bit of everything,” she said, including chronic disease prevention for all age groups and dissemination & implementation. “I want to find out how to make a difference.”
In college, she started on a med-school track but soon realized it wasn’t for her. A mission trip to Nicaragua opened her eyes to the possibilities of public health. “I realized the environment of people and the systems to serve them there were in shambles,” she said. She took a public health job at the Children’s Healthy Weight Research Group while a graduate student at the University of North Carolina. “I found the field and it oriented with the way I saw the world,” she said. Preventing problems rather than fixing them after the fact appealed to her.
While getting her PhD, Mazzucca became friends with the PRC’s Rachel Tabak who told her about an opening. She joined as a postdoc in 2017 and became an assistant professor in January 2019.
She still loves to cook, although her research has given her a better appreciation for quality food, much of which she finds at farmer’s markets.
“Now, I meet the person who grew my kale!” she said.
Learn more about Steph here.
Check out our other student, staff and faculty spotlights.