President Obama Honors CSU Researcher Among Outstanding Early-Career Scientists

President Obama today named a Colorado State University researcher among 94 researchers to receive the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Colorado State University’s recipient, Laura Bellows, is a researcher and Extension specialist who specializes in childhood obesity issues. She is in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition in the College of Applied Human Sciences.

Bellows is recognized “for outstanding work in understanding how healthy eating habits and physical activity patterns established in preschool are maintained over time to reduce childhood obesity,” according to White House officials.

Bellows’ research interests include childhood obesity, particularly in early childhood; development, implementation and evaluation of theory-based nutrition education and physical activity programs; and chronic disease prevention. Child behaviors, such a dietary intake and physical activity, can place children at risk for overweight and are shaped by many characteristics, including individual characteristics as well as school, family and environmental characteristics. While many behaviors have been shown to influence dietary intake, physical activity and weight status, Bellows, along with colleagues at Colorado State, look at two additional behaviors – food preference and motor performance – that need further exploration. Bellows’ work is centered on two CSU-based interventions – Food Friends and Mighty Moves – that have successfully demonstrated increases in both children’s willingness to try new foods and motor performance in preschool-aged children.

The Presidential early career awards embody the high priority the Obama Administration places on producing outstanding scientists and engineers to advance the nation’s goals, tackle grand challenges and contribute to the American economy.

Sixteen federal departments and agencies join together annually to nominate the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies’ missions. Bellows was recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees Extension.

“It is inspiring to see the innovative work being done by these scientists and engineers as they ramp up their careers—careers that I know will be not only personally rewarding but also invaluable to the Nation,” President Obama said. “That so many of them are also devoting time to mentoring and other forms of community service speaks volumes about their potential for leadership, not only as scientists but as model citizens.”

The awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.