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New director announced for NEXUS

Lori Kowaleski-Jones will lead the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences' interdisciplinary research institute.

It is our distinct pleasure to announce that Lori Kowaleski-Jones has accepted the leadership role of director of the Interdisciplinary Exchange for Utah Science (NEXUS). She brings extensive experience leading large interdisciplinary research teams and administrative experience in her role as chair of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences to NEXUS.

NEXUS is an interdisciplinary research institute housed in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. NEXUS welcomes researchers across the University of Utah who desire to collaborate on research projects concerning society’s grand challenges, including (1) social disparities and physical/mental health, (2) climate change, the environment and well-being (3) communicating science to the community (4) suicide/violence (5) families and health and (6) opioids.

We want to thank Professor Ken Smith for his service as Director of NEXUS for the past 2.5 years.  Professor Smith launched numerous important initiatives within NEXUS including the Dialogues on Disparities series and Pilot Grant program. He also secured the NSF grant to open the Wasatch Front Research Data Center, which he will continue to direct.

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Lori Kowaleski-Jones

Lori Kowaleski-Jones is Professor and Chair (2015-2021) of the Department of Family and Consumer Studies.  She is also a core faculty member in the Masters of Public Policy Program, contributing a course in survey research methods. She also serves on the executive board of the Wasatch Front Research Data Center.

She is a sociologist, with training in family demography and public policy. Her main research interests are in the areas of physical and social wellbeing of individuals and families with a focus on how public policy, food insecurity, neighborhood environments and family factors maximize individual wellbeing across the life course.

Over the past ten years, a key focus of her research has been a team science effort with colleagues in the Energy Balance Research Group to assess the role of the built environment for health outcomes. Currently, she is the principal investigator on a National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases project that examines the role of the neighborhood environment in the transmission of intergenerational diabetes risk using data from the Utah Population Database.

Additionally, other current work involves an intervention aimed at increasing the reach of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit programs through innovatively extending the provision of free tax preparation via partnerships with the health care system and community organizations.