The American Academy of Health Behavior

2020 Mentorship Awardee





Daphne C. Hernandez, PhD, MSEd, FAAHB

Department of Research, Cizik School of Nursing, University of Texas Health Science Center – Houston


Dr. Daphne Hernandez is the Lee and Joe Jamail Distinguished Professor and Associate Professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center – Houston, Cizik School of Nursing. She is also a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance at the University of Houston. Dr. Hernandez has been a full member of the Academy since 2014. She was a member of AAHB’s Research Scholars Mentoring Program Class of 2015. She served as the 2019 Research Review Chair and currently serves on the board as a member delegate. She also holds leadership roles within the professional organization, National Council on Family Relations (NCFR), and is an Associate Editor for Family and Community Health.

Dr. Hernandez is a developmental psychologist who received interdisciplinary training throughout her graduate studies and postdoctoral fellowship. She has extensive experience studying gender and race/ethnic health disparities resulting from poverty-related issues, including food insecurity and obesity across the life span. Her areas of expertise also include investigating the health of low-income Latino immigrants, housing insecurity and homelessness, and adaptive athletes. Her research efforts have been funded by organizations including the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, William T. Grant Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and USDA.

She has served as a senior mentor for the Society for Research on Adolescence’s Young Scholars Program, in addition to the Robert Wood Johnson New Connections Mentoring Program. She also received a mentoring grant designed to support a junior researcher from the William T. Grant Foundation. In addition to AAHB, she has received a peer mentoring award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She is currently the Director (PI) of the Houston-area Opportunities for Undergraduate Student Training in Obesity and Nutrition (HOUSTON ) Academy. HOUSTON Academy is a USDA-funded program designed to train undergraduate students  in the area of nutrition, food insecurity, and obesity through experiential learning.

Dr. Hernandez received her AB in psychology and certificate in Spanish from Princeton University where she was a NCAA Division I diver. She then went on to earn her MSEd in psychological services from the University of Pennsylvania, where she also served as the diving coach for the women’s and men’s teams. Her PhD in developmental psychology was awarded from Boston College. She received postdoctoral training in public policy and poverty from the University of Michigan.

What does this award mean to you?

My mentors, from graduate school to my current position, have been instrumental in my professional development. My accomplishments reflect numerous individuals devoting time out of their day for me. I am thankful to now be in a position that I can mentor the next generation of health behavior scholars, with the goal to help mentees see their true potential. It is rewarding and truly an honor to have a national organization recognize my mentoring efforts and associated mentees’ accomplishments. I would like to thank Dr. Lorraine Reitzel (nominator) and Dr. Lisako McKyer (RSMP mentor) for mentoring me, in addition to supporting my mentoring efforts.

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