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Julian Robles, standing outside Venable Hall

Research Profile: Healthier Communities Through Better Eating

October 11, 2022

Julian Robles (UNC ’23, CSS 7) is a biology and religious studies double-major from Kannapolis, NC, with a minor in chemistry. His research focus aims to foster improved health and eating behaviors in minority communities.

Where do you conduct your research?

I am currently working in the Living F.R.E.E. Lab, led by Dr. Rachel Goode in the UNC School of Social Work.

What research questions does your lab study?

Our lab focuses on investigating the effects of eating disorders, obesity, and other eating-based behaviors in minority communities. Based on these impacts, we research ways to improve eating behaviors in these communities for a healthier community.

Please tell us a little about your specific research project.

The research project that I have been the most involved in is the SATISFY Study. In this study, we are testing a new way to help people maintain the weight loss they have already achieved. Instead of using conventional weight maintenance programs, I’ve helped investigate alternate techniques to control hunger and improve eating behaviors. By teaching people how to recognize the different types of hunger they are feeling and introducing them to healthy eating habits, we want to see if people can maintain their weight while being comfortable with the new approach. I helped recruit participants and met with them when we had to collect data and complete vital surveys.

How has this experience shaped your future goals?

I started doing research in this lab over the summer, and I was a bit unsure if research was the type of work for me. However, I soon learned that I enjoyed the research a lot since I was working with participants in the SATISFY Study. This has warmed me up to the idea of conducting research full-time, so I may do that in the future!

What has been the most fun or interesting part of your research?

The most interesting part of my research is working with the participants. You get to know who they are, and I felt like I got a chance to make a positive impact on the people I was working with. Also, I was motivated to investigate health disparities in minority communities to find new ways of closing these disparities since these disparities can apply to my community.

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