DeShong, Nadorff working to address state's obesity challenges

Two faculty members in Mississippi State’s psychology department are working this summer on a statewide initiative to educate scientists on new trends in obesity research.

Hilary L. DeShong and Danielle K. Nadorff, both assistant professors, are two of 10 faculty members from Mississippi institutions of higher learning to join the 2019 Community-Engaged Research Summer Institute. Held at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Trent Lott Center in Hattiesburg, it begins June 23.

Hosted by the Mississippi Center for Clinical and Translational Research, the institute provides intensive training for a collaborative week of discussion and investigation, training junior investigators in all aspects of planning and conducting community-engaged study related to obesity.

MCCTR partners with the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Tougaloo College and the University of Southern Mississippi, and provides participants the chance to work with policy leaders from Mississippi and the Gulf South region.

“Obesity is a major health concern for Mississippians, along with high rates of diabetes, hypertension and coronary disease,” said Mitchell Berman, professor and head of MSU’s psychology department, who noted that clinical and behavioral scientists provide a “unique perspective” in obesity treatment and prevention.

“Dr. Nadorff’s interests in custodial grandparents have important implications for the generational transmission of obesity-related health behaviors. Dr. DeShong is an expert in personality and maladaptive health outcomes, which has implications for identifying the populations for whom specific interventions might be most effective,” Berman said.

DeShong said instruction she will receive at the conference is “vital training” at the current stage of her career. “This is particularly relevant given that I am beginning to transition from risk and protective factors within broad health psychology into research within the field of obesity.”

“I have developed a translational research program that focuses on the relationship between general personality and health-related behaviors,” DeShong said. “This training opportunity is ideal for me as I continue to develop my own unique research line and apply for various grants.”

Nadorff said the conference will provide needed mentorship “on a topic of great importance for a severely understudied, at-risk population.”

“I also highly value being able to make connections with leading scholars in this area who may be willing to collaborate on or help mentor grant applications to NIH,” Nadorff said. “I feel this training will greatly enhance my ability to meet other scholars and make connections that will enhance my research for years to come.”

An MSU faculty member since 2012, Nadorff earned her Ph.D. in lifespan developmental psychology as well as a graduate certificate in university education from West Virginia University in 2011.

A native of Masontown, West Virginia, Nadorff conducts research on custodial grandchildren and their grandparents. She studies the physical, social, cognitive, emotional and behavioral outcomes for custodial grandchildren compared to children raised in foster care. She is the principal investigator and program director for the Grandfamilies Support Group of Starkville, a Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP) funded by the Brookdale Foundation, in partnership with Family Centered Programs.

A faculty member at MSU since August 2017, DeShong conducts research on topics relating directly or indirectly to obesity such as physical health, mental health, sleep problems, eating habits, nutrition, illnesses and medications, and physical activity.

A native of McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania, DeShong earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Oklahoma State University in 2017.

MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,300 students, 300 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs and 25 academic majors offered in 14 departments. Complete details about the College of Arts and Sciences or the Department of Psychology can be found at or

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Sarah Nicholas | College of Arts and Sciences

Return to Memo

Mississippi State University  •  Mississippi State, MS 39762  •  Main Telephone: (662) 325-2323  •   Contact: The Editor  |  The Webmaster  •   Updated: June 17, 2019Facebook Twitter