The Baton Rouge Scientist: Amanda Staiano
When you think of the world’s problem solver, do you think Baton Rouge? Whether it’s collaborating on coastal restoration, curing chronic disease, or discovering gravitational waves, scientists are researching the world’s most pressing problems right here in Baton Rouge. In fact, one of the world’s leading research facilities in healthcare and obesity, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, is located in the Capital Region. The best-in-class center researches the causes of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and dementia. One of the scientists producing this game-changing research is Baton Rouge young professional Amanda Staiano.
Amanda is an assistant professor and director of the Pediatric Obesity and Health Behavior Laboratory at Pennington. This Baton Rouge young professional is using her science to examine the causes and consequences of growing up with obesity. Her work goes beyond the walls of Pennington to doctors’ offices, preschools, summer camps, and even to the state legislature and Congress to promote healthy policies for Louisiana’s youngest citizens.
Find out how Amanda is using her research in Baton Rouge to change the way people think about healthcare.
Amanda’s passion for research and psychology became evident during her time as an undergraduate student at Louisiana State University. Her interest in health psychology sparked a need to re-engineer how families and kids live their daily lives in order to make healthier choices.
After graduating from LSU, Amanda attended Georgetown University to obtain her doctorate in psychology. She didn’t stay away long, returning to Baton Rouge to complete a full-time fellowship in which she studied obesity and the effects of insufficient physical activity.
Now, in her role at Pennington, Amanda is spinning the way we think of pediatric healthcare on its head and exploring ways technology can help families create positive changes in their health behaviors.
In our world, which is more high-tech than ever before, “screen time” can often over shadow “exercise time.” Understanding that technology is now a part of everyday life, Amanda recognized an opportunity to create new ways for people to get active. Thus began her study into exergaming. Amanda and her fellow researchers provide families with video games that require them to be physically active. The study showed that the technique not only increased children’s physical activity, but also improved their health and positively affected their confidence.
Using technology in this way, Amanda hopes to create a more personalized approach to medicine by delivering the right program at the right time to the right person – and making technology work for us and not against us. She continues to explore these themes in her current research and collaborate with numerous other groups to find the best ways to apply her findings.
Research makes no difference if it isn’t applied. That’s why Amanda works closely with hospitals, insurance companies, and even members of Congress to see her work implemented and making a difference in communities around the world.
The best part for Amanda? That Baton Rouge is big enough to provide resources, but small enough to gain access. She explains, “I’ve worked side by side with the Baton Rouge mayor’s office, U.S. congressional offices and state legislators, hospital CEOs, the chamber of commerce, university administrators, state insurance plans, parents, teachers, doctors… and they listen and want to be in on the action!” With a community so willing to help, Baton Rouge offers Amanda the perfect landscape to research and watch her science take hold.
When you think of groundbreaking scientists, #thinkBR.
There’s a lot more to Baton Rouge than all of us might think. We have great job opportunities, the friendliest people, a culture like nowhere else, exciting festivals, incredible cuisine, a wide variety of amazing parks and outdoor activities, and the list goes on and on. To find more #thinkBR stories, visit brac.org/thinkBR.