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Virginia Stage Honored with the SNEB Nutrition Education Research Award

Virginia Stage, assistant professor and nutrition education and behavior specialist with the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences, has been honored with the prestigious Nutrition Education Research Award by the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB). The award recognizes Stage’s outstanding research achievements in the field of nutrition education.

Since starting her academic career in 2013, Stage has displayed exemplary dedication and commitment to advancing the field of nutrition education. Her exceptional efforts have resulted in securing over $5 million in federal funding to support her research and extension programming in this domain. Stage’s exceptional research contributions have garnered significant recognition. She currently serves as the principal investigator on multiple projects, including a $1.3 million Science Education Partnership Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences within the National Institutes of Health, and the recently awarded Center for Disease Control and Prevention High Obesity Program. Additionally, she has served as a co-investigator on several projects, including a currently funded “Discovery Research PreK-12” grant funded by the National Science Foundation. Many of these projects have centered on integrating food-based learning and science experiences in the preschool classroom, paving the way for innovative educational approaches.

Throughout her career, Stage has consistently demonstrated her expertise and commitment to disseminating knowledge through various channels. She has authored over 50 peer-reviewed publications in highly respected journals, showcasing the impact of her research findings. She has also presented her work at over 70 national-level peer-reviewed conferences, further solidifying her standing as a thought leader in nutrition education. Recognizing the importance of practical applications, Stage has authored or co-authored four integrative curricular resources, providing valuable tools for educators. She has also taken a hands-on approach to fostering educational growth by training more than 300 pre-K-8 teachers in the implementation of integrative, food-based learning strategies in their classrooms.

Virginia Stage receiving the 2023 SNEB Nutrition Education Research Award

Stage’s work is characterized by active community engagement, involving stakeholders throughout the development, implementation, evaluation and dissemination of her programs. This inclusive approach has not only enhanced the impact of her initiatives but has also garnered her recognition from various quarters. Her contributions have been acknowledged with multiple early career awards, underscoring her commitment to advancing nutrition education. 

In her nomination letter, Chris A. Taylor from The Ohio State University, wrote, “Dr. Stage is a forward-thinking innovator. By simultaneously working to improve health and educational outcomes using culturally sensitive approaches, her research has the potential to transform how the field approaches nutrition in early childhood settings. Through her programs, young children develop critical thinking as scientists, using principles of scientific discovery and hands-on learning. Passionate about teachers, children and their families, she is an advocate for children to engage in their learning, to help them develop healthy eating behaviors early in life. Dr. Stage is helping to change the nutrition and science education landscape in schools serving communities with limited resources.”

Stage says, “I am honored to receive SNEB’s award for Nutrition Education Research award. However, the recognition belongs to the many individuals who have taught, mentored and supported me throughout my career. Our team’s work would not be possible without my students, staff, collaborating colleagues, mentors and funders. I would also like to recognize the special teachers, school administrators and families across North Carolina who share our passion for improving children’s health. These community partners come alongside our team and tirelessly put in the hard work every day to ensure young children receive the head start they need to lead long healthy lives.”

The SNEB Nutrition Education Research Award serves as a testament to Stage’s unwavering dedication, remarkable achievements and transformative contributions to the field of nutrition education. Her groundbreaking research and commitment to community involvement have set a new standard for excellence in the discipline.