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Sheldon Oliver Watts, PhD, MPH

Photo of Sheldon Watts

Clinical Research Professor
Community Health and Prevention
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BS, Nutrition/Biology, Cornell University; MPH, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Boston University; PhD, Nutritional Sciences, New York University


Sheldon Oliver Watts PhD, MPH is the National Director of the African American Collaborative Obesity Research Network (AACORN), based at Drexel University, and Clinical Research Faculty in the Dornsife School of Public Health. Dr. Watts works on AACORN’s productivity, growth, marketing, impact, and organizational stability and the integration of these issues into school and university environments. His academic and professional efforts to date have focused on creating actionable opportunities to improve the health of marginalized populations from varying perspectives. His energy, broad skillset, and passion for improving the lives of underserved and marginalized populations underscores AACORN’s core mission. His work with AACORN includes creating and executing a marketing strategy that establishes AACORN as the “go-to” center of excellence for research and action regarding nutrition, physical activity, and weight-related health promotion/improvement of black Americans; leading externally funded action research to expand and consolidate AACORN's capacity and reputation for interorganizational, intersectoral, and interdisciplinary research and dissemination strategies; and assuring deliverables to funders, preparing project reports, and otherwise representing AACORN externally.

Visit the AACORN website

Research Interests

  • behavioral health
  • community engagement
  • community-based participatory research
  • chronic disease risk management
  • faith-based partnerships
  • health disparities
  • minority health
  • nutrition education
  • overweight/obesity prevention
  • participatory action research


Bass SB, Scarpulla MC, Patterson, F, Watts SO, Twersky, S. Integrating Liberal Arts Learning Outcomes in the Development and Implementation of a Multisection Undergraduate Public Health Capstone Course. Pedagogy in Health Promotion; 2016, 2373379916670657

Lancaster KJ, Schoenthaler AM, Midberry SA, Watts SO, Nulty MR, Cole HV, Ige E, Chaplin W, Ogedegbe G. Rationale and design of Faith-based Approaches in the Treatment of Hypertension (FAITH), a lifestyle intervention targeting blood pressure control among black church members. American Heart Journal; 2013; 167(3): 301-7.

Watts SO, Piñero, DJ, Alter M, Lancaster KJ. An Assessment of Nutrition Education in Selected Counties in New York State Elementary Schools (K-5). Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior; 2012; 44: 474-80.

Lancaster KJ, Watts SO, Dixon LB. Dietary Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease Differ among Ethnic Subgroups of Black Americans. Journal of Nutrition; 2006; 136: 446-51.

Dalton S, Watts SO. Defining Childhood Obesity: Revised 2000 Growth Charts, Body Mass Index, and Public Perceptions. Topics in Clinical Nutrition; 2002; 17: 7-20.

Resources or additional information (e.g. white papers, presentations, toolkits for public use)

Patterson F, Bass SB, Twersky S, Watts, SO, Scarpulla, M. Promoting Course Fidelity and Faculty Autonomy in the Context of a Multi-Section Undergraduate Public Health Capstone Course. 2013 Undergraduate Education for Public Health Summit.

Watts SO, Lancaster KJ, Piñero, DJ, Alter M. An Assessment of Nutrition Education in Selected Counties in New York State Elementary Schools (K-5). Experimental Biology 2011. FASEB Journal. 2011; 24: A274.

Lancaster KJ, Midberry SA, Watts SO, Cole HV, Schoenthaler AM, Ogedegbe GO. Lifestyle Barriers to Managing Hypertension in People of African Descent. Experimental Biology 2011. FASEB Journal. 2011; 24: A205.

Watts SO, Lancaster KJ, Piñero, DJ. An Examination of Teacher-Led Nutrition Education in New York City Elementary Schools, Grades K-5 (Pilot Study). Experimental Biology 2007. FASEB Journal. 2007; 20: A515.

Lancaster KJ, Watts, SO, Dixon, LB. Differences in CHD risk and dietary patterns in ethnic subgroups of Black American, 44th Annual Conference in Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2004. Circulation. 2004; 109:E143.

Watts SO, Lancaster KJ, Dixon, LB. Dietary patterns in ethnic subgroups of Black Americans. Experimental Biology 2003. FASEB Journal.2003; 17: A286.