Faculty Profile for Dr. Cassandra Maria Johnson

profile photo for Dr. Cassandra Maria Johnson
Dr. Cassandra Maria Johnson
Assistant Professor — School of Family & Consumer Sciences
FCS 279
phone: (512) 245-9196

Biography Section

Biography and Education

Cassandra M. Johnson, PhD, MSPH, serves as an Assistant Professor in the Nutrition and Foods Program at Texas State University.

Dr. Johnson serves as Co-PI and Nutrition Lead for Nutrition for Underserved Elders Via Application (or the NUEVA Project), a HHS/ACL-funded research project that leverages digital and technological approaches to build capacity for senior nutrition programs in Central Texas, and as Co-PI for Nutrition Leaders, a USDA-funded learning community to train the next generation of community and public health nutrition professionals. She maintains active collaborations with past projects, including the (1) USDA-funded Proyecto Mejorando la Esperanza en la Seguridad Alimentaria (MESA, Improving Hope for Food Security), a cognitive interviewing study to improve food insecurity measurement for Latino households with children, and (2) USDA-funded Salud para Usted y Su Familia (SPUSF, Health for You and Your Family) Project with the Haz Espacio para Papi (HEPP, Make Room for Daddy) behavioral intervention for Latino families living in U.S.-Mexico border communities.

Dr. Johnson’s research interests center on achieving equity in nutrition for historically socioeconomically disadvantaged populations through policies, systems, and environmental changes, including measurement and intervention approaches for rural communities, family systems, and older adults. Her research is interdisciplinary with theories and methods from public health and sociology. Dr. Johnson teaches courses in nutrition policy and research methods. She is involved with the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA) and Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM).

Research publications are available at Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=9pS6dhUAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=sra.

In 2017, she earned a Ph.D. in nutrition with a focus on intervention and policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health with a minor in epidemiology. Her doctoral training focused on family-centered approaches to address diet-related chronic diseases and community-engaged and mixed methods research in public health nutrition and sociology. In 2010, she completed the M.S.P.H. program at Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health in social and behavioral health. Her predoctoral training focused on food access and food insecurity for rural and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, including communities in Southeast Texas and colonias along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. Her team developed new methodological approaches to understand nutrition disparities with mixed methods, participatory visual methods, including participant-driven photo-elicitation (PDPE), and promotora/e models. Prior to transitioning to public health nutrition, Dr. Johnson studied industrial and systems engineering and worked as a consultant engineer.

Teaching Interests

Nutrition policy; research methods; writing.

Research Interests

Socioeconomic inequalities in nutrition; food access; food (in)security; food choices; behavioral nutrition interventions and programs; rural health; parental and maternal child nutrition; family systems; community based participatory research; promotor/a de salud models; research methodology, including theory and measurement; digi-tech approaches in nutrition assessment and intervention (Veggie Meter, mhealth).

Selected Scholarly/Creative Work

  • Johnson, C. M., Stubblefield, E. P., Godinich, B. M., Walker, M. D., Salcedo, R., & Allicock, M. A. (2023). A scoping review to explore the potential benefits of nutrition interventions for Latino/a adult cancer survivors in the US. Nutrients, 15(23), 4963. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15234963
  • McClain, A. C., Johnson, C. M., DiRado-Owens, C., & Dickin, K. L. (2023). How do Latino/a parents interpret and respond to the U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module? A qualitative cognitive interviewing study. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 123(10), S25–S45. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2023.07.007
  • Laviolette, C. P., Johnson, C. M., Butler, J. L., Biediger-Friedman, L. M., & Sharkey, J. R. (2023). Nutrition effects of a family-centered behavioral nutrition program for Mexican-heritage children in colonias in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Nutrients, 15(7), 1600. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15071600
  • Manboard, M., & Biediger-Friedman, L. M. (2021). [Review of The HOME Study: understanding how college students at a Hispanic Serving Institution coped with food insecurity in a pandemic, by C. M. Johnson & H. Thornton]. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(21), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111087
  • Johnson, C. M. (2021). Designing for multi-level behavior change: A father-focused nutrition and physical activity intervention for Mexican-heritage families in South Texas border communities. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(19), 10117. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/19/10117

Selected Awards

  • Award / Honor Recipient: Presidential Distinction Award for Excellence In Scholarly/Creative Activity, Texas State University. September 1, 2023
  • Award / Honor Recipient: Health Disparities Scholar 2019, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. August 16, 2019
  • Award / Honor Recipient: Impact Award, Graduate Education Advancement Board, UNC-Chapel Hill. April 2018
  • Award / Honor Recipient: Gillings Dissertation Award, Gillings School of Global Public Health, UNC-Chapel Hill. August 2016
  • Award / Honor Recipient: Inductee, Delta Omega (Honorary Society in Public Health). May 2010

Selected Grants

  • Biediger-Friedman, Lesli M (Principal), Qasem, Apan Muhammad (Co-Principal), Villagran, Melinda Morris (Co-Principal), Johnson, Cassandra (Co-Principal), Renick, Cecil O (Co-Principal), Hwang, Sangchul Scott (Supporting), Mendez, Francis A (Supporting), Sen, Keya (Supporting), Ramamonjiarivelo, Zo H (Supporting), Shanmugam, Ram (Supporting), Charles, Joni S J (Supporting). NUEVA - Nutrition for Underserved Elders Via Application, United States Department of Health and Human Services - Administration for Community Living, Federal, $2764270. (Submitted: March 10, 2022, Funded: August 1, 2022 - July 31, 2027). Grant.
  • Biediger-Friedman, Lesli M (Principal), Johnson, Cassandra Maria (Co-Principal). Food Security LEADers: Learning Communities and Experiencial Learniing Advancing Dietetics and Nutrition, USDA - NIFA, Federal, $275000. (Submitted: January 2021, Funded: August 2021 - August 2025). Grant.
  • McClain, Amanda C (Principal), Johnson, Cassandra Maria (Co-Principal), Dickin, Kate L (Co-Principal). Measuring food insecurity in Latino families: expanding understanding of their experiences through exploratory interviewing and cognitive testing, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Economic Research Service (ERS), Federal, $100000. (Submitted: February 19, 2021, Funded: May 1, 2021 - February 28, 2023). Grant.
  • Johnson, Cassandra Maria. New technology for evaluating success in a nutrition intervention with Mexican-heritage children, Research Enhancement Program, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, Texas State University, $7022. (Submitted: October 16, 2018, Funded: January 2019 - August 2021). Grant.

Selected Service Activities

Faculty Search Committee (Assistant Professor in Nutrition)
May 2023-Present
Nutrition and Obesity Policy and Research Evaluation Network (NOPREN)
January 2023-Present
Affiliate Member
Translational Health Research Center
April 2021-Present
Member, Leadership Team, Special Interest Group (SIG) on Socioeconomic Inequalities
International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA)
August 2019-Present
Monthly Seminar Series (WINS, Working in Nutrition Sciences) - Nutrition & Foods Program
August 30, 2019-Present