Prior to joining the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences at the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, she completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in Minority Health and Health Disparities in the Division of Preventive Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. She also served as a postdoctoral scholar, studying the impacts of digital inequality on STEM-related career intention among urban minority youth at Michigan State University from 2014-2015.
Dr. O’Neal’s extension and research programs focus on the advancement of health and health equity through the development of sustainable, high-impact, community-based health and wellness programs to increase health at every stage of life. Her current extension and research efforts include community-based approaches to promote weight-related chronic disease prevention and management, especially among health vulnerable populations. Specifically, the programs seek to develop targeted educational programming and behavioral lifestyle interventions to improve health outcomes throughout the state of Florida and beyond.
Dr. O’Neal teaches graduate and undergraduate courses focused on social and economic disparities within communities.
Dr. O’Neal earned a B.A. in Psychology from Tougaloo College, a M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Assumption College, a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management from Tennessee State University, and a Ph.D. in Medical Sociology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family, visiting parks, and traveling to nearby beaches.
My research program focuses on obesity-related chronic disease disparities among health vulnerable populations. This research is guided by a broad primary question: How do we reduce health disparities among rural, low-income, and/or racial/ethnic minority populations (priority population)? Utilizing the social-ecological model, my team and I investigate the relationship between interpersonal, intrapersonal, community, and environmental factors and healthy eating and physical activity among the priority population. My current projects include: 1) The Rural HEALTH Study, which seeks to expand our knowledge of factors influencing health behaviors among the priority population, 2) The HomeStlyles Project, a middle-childhood obesity prevention intervention for parents, and 3) The Let’s Walk Program, which seeks to develop a physical activity intervention focused on weight management. My research concentrates on
- Health Disparities
- Minority Health
- Obesity Prevention
- Weight Management
- Rural Health