Health & Human Development
Carmen Byker Shanks, PhD, RDN
Dr. Carmen Byker Shanks’ teaching, research, and outreach expertise lies in behavioral and social sciences focused on food, nutrition, and human development. She teaches courses that explore community nutrition, research methods, human development, culinary methods and management, and sustainable food systems. She leads the Human Nutrition and Behavior Research Group of the Food and Health Lab (FAHL) at Montana State University (MSU).
She addresses nutritional needs of communities through direct collaboration and the use of nutrient analysis tools, surveying, sensory testing, food environment instruments, food weighing, plate waste, mapping, inventories, and qualitative data collection. Dr. Byker Shanks' research program aims to increase dietary quality of children and their families while contributing to healthier food environments and systems, decreasing health disparities and nutrition-related diseases, and promoting positive human health and development throughout the course of life. Dr. Byker Shanks holds a BS in Dietetics and PhD in Behavioral and Community Science from Virginia Tech.
Programs and Research Projects
Her current research contributes to understanding the socioecological factors that impact dietary quality, nutrition behaviors, food security, and human health and development in three applied areas:
- child nutrition in the school food environment,
- family decisions in the consumer food environment, and
- food assistance programs’ contributions to child and family nutrition.