For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Mariana Chilton, PhD, MPH

Mariana Chilton

Health Management and Policy, Center for Hunger-Free Communities
Download CV


AB, History and Literature: Latin America, Harvard University; MA, Folklore & Ethnography, University of Pennsylvania; MPH, Epidemiology, University of Oklahoma; PhD, Folklore & Folklife, University of Pennsylvania


Mariana Chilton, PhD, MPH, is a Professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University. She is the Director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities and is Co-Principal investigator of Children's HealthWatch, a national research network that investigates the impact of public assistance programs on the health and well-being of young children and their caregivers. Dr. Chilton founded Witnesses to Hunger, a movement to increase women's participation in the national dialogue on hunger and poverty. She is Principal Investigator of the Building Wealth and Heath Network, which is designed to incentivize entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Her research publications address trauma, food insecurity and the advancement of the human rights framework to advise the right to food in the US. Most recently she served as the Co-Chair of the Bi-partisan National Commission on Hunger, where she was appointed to advise Congress and the United States Department of Agriculture on how to end hunger in America. 

She has testified before the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives on the importance of child nutrition programs and other anti-poverty policies.  She has served as an advisor to Sesame Street and to the Institute of Medicine.  Her awards include the “Nourish Award” from MANNA, the “Unsung Hero Award” for Improving the Lives of Women and Girls from Women’s Way and the Young Professional Award in Maternal and Child Health from the American Public Health Association.  Her work has been featured in the documentary A Place at the Table, and in the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, public radio and CBS National News

Dr. Chilton received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Oklahoma, and Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University.

Research Interests

  • Nutrition
  • Community Engaged Research
  • Health Disparities
  • Health Policy
  • Maternal and Child Health
  • Mental health and Behavioral health
  • Urban Health
  • Violence and Trauma
  • Human Rights
  • Food Insecurity


*indicates Drexel students

Booshehri, L.G., Dugan, J., Patel, F*., Bloom, S., & Chilton, MM. §  (2018). Trauma-informed Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): A Randomized Controlled Trial with a Two-Generation Impact. Journal of Child and Family Studies,

Sun, J.*, Patel, F.*, Rose-Jacobs, R., Frank, DA, Black, MM, Chilton MM. § Mothers’ Adverse Childhood Experiences and their young children’s development. American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Ataiants J,* Cohen C,* Riley AH,* Tellez Lieberman J,* Reidy MC,* Chilton MM§: Unaccompanied Children at the United States Border, a Human Rights Crisis that can be Addressed with Policy Change. J Immigr Minor Health. 2017.

Sun, J.*, Patel, F.*, Kirzner, R, Newton-Famous, N., Owens, C*, Welles, S., Chilton, MM. The Building Wealth and Health Network: Methods and Baseline Characteristics from a randomized controlled trial for families with young children participating in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)" BMC Public Health, 2016, 16:583

Chilton, MM, Knowles, M*, Bloom, S.,. The intergenerational circumstances of household food insecurity and adversity. Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition. May 2016, pp. 1-29.

Sun, J.*, Knowles, M.*, Patel, F.*, Frank, DA, Heeren, T, Chilton, MM.  Childhood adversity and adult reports of food insecurity among households with children. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. May 2016, Volume 50 (5): pp 561-572.

Knowles, M*, Rabinowich, J*, Gaines-Turner, T^, Chilton, MM. Witnesses to Hunger: Methods for Photovoice and Participatory Action Research in Public Health.  Human Organization, 2015, 74 (3).

Chilton, MM, Knowles, M*, Rabinowich, J*, Arnold K.* The relationship between childhood adversity and food insecurity: 'It's like a bird nesting in your head'. Public Health Nutrition 2015:1-11. DOI:

Knowles, M*, Rabinowich, J*, Ettinger de Cuba, S, Cutts, DB, & Chilton, MM. (2015). "Do You Wanna Breathe or Eat?": Parent Perspectives on Child Health Consequences of Food Insecurity, Trade-Offs, and Toxic Stress. Matern Child Health J. doi:10.1007/s10995-015-1797-8

Hillier A, Chilton MM, Zhao Q, Szymkowiak D, Coffman R, Mallya G. Concentration of Tobacco Advertisements at SNAP and WIC Stores, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2012. Preventing Chronic Disease 2015; 12:140133. DOI: