Dr. Molly De Marco

Molly De Marco, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Nutrition


Molly De Marco, PhD MPH is a Research Scientist at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and an Assistant Professor with the Department of Nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. She conducts research on determinants of health disparities and food insecurity and focuses on community-based research that engages low-income and historically marginalized populations. For 20 years, she has used community-engagement strategies including use of community advisory boards, equitable compensation of those with lived experience of poverty and food insecurity as experts and human-centered design when conducting her research (https://hpdp.unc.edu/fforc/community-engagement-experience/)

Dr. De Marco leads the Food, Fitness + Opportunity Research Collaborative, based at HPDP. For the past ten years, she has directed a program, funded through the USDA SNAP-Ed Program, to assist SNAP recipients to make healthy food purchases, engage SNAP recipients in community gardens to build access to healthy food, extend Summer Meals to more SNAP-eligible families, build county-level food policy councils and reduce barriers to being physically active. She also leads healthy food choice research in grocery and convenience stores in rural and low-income communities and assesses how to build food and financial well-being, all with a racial equity lens. She co-developed and teaches, each Spring term, Nutrition 245, Sustainable, Local Food Systems – Intersection of Local Foods and Public Health, a community learning course.

Molly De Marco in the Gillings News

Representative Courses

NUTR 245: Sustainable, Local Food Systems--Intersection of Local Foods and Public Health

Research Activities

Interests Include:

•    Health disparities
•    Food systems
•    Community-based participatory research
•    Food insecurity

Key Publications

Growing partners: building a community-academic partnership to address health disparities in rural North Carolina. De Marco M, Kearney W, Smith T, Jones C, Kearney-Powell A, Ammerman A (2014). Prog Community Health Partnersh, 8(2), 181-186.

Locally-grown fruit and vegetable purchasing habits and the association with children’s diet. De Marco M, Gustafson A, Gizlice Z, Ammerman A (2014). Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition, 9(3).

Assessing the readiness of black churches to engage in health disparities research. De Marco M, Weiner B, Meade SA, Hadley M, Boyd C, Goldmon M, et al (2011). J Natl Med Assoc, 103(9-10), 960-967.


  • PhD, Health Promotion & Health Behavior, Oregon State University Department of Public Health, 2007
  • MPH, Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health, 2000