Michele Polacsek is a social and behavioral scientist trained at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health where she received a master’s degree in international health in 1989 and a doctoral degree in social and behavioral health in 1994.
She was a visiting assistant professor at the University of New Mexico from 1993-1997, teaching in the Department of Communication and Journalism and the Master's in Public Health Program. After moving to Maine in 1997, she was employed through the Maine Center for Public Health first as Social Scientist and then as the Scientific Director of the Maine Harvard Prevention Research Center form 2003-2008 before joining the public health faculty at the University of New England in 2009.
For over 12 years she has been focused on reducing childhood obesity and improving youth physical activity and nutrition environments. Key projects include The Maine Youth Overweight Collaborative, which was a joint project of the Maine Harvard Prevention Research Center and the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to address primary care response to the childhood obesity epidemic. She also recently served as Principal Investigator for a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to assess school food marketing environments. On another recent project, she served as co-PI on a qualitative research study to investigate motivations for obesity related policy-making in a Maine tribal community setting.
In 2009 Dr. Polacsek was appointed to a faculty position at the University of New England where she is currently Associate Professor of Public Health.