Distinguished Achievement Award

Each year the Rollins School of Public Health presents an award to an alumnus/a who has made an outstanding contribution in the field of public health. Given in recognition of a lifetime of career achievement, recipients exemplify dedication to the public health ideals of promoting health and preventing disease.


Dr. Diane Harris, '10 MPH

Diane Harris

In 2010, Diane Harris, PhD, MPH, graduated from the executive MPH program at the Rollins School of Public Health with the goal of building her career around creating healthy food environments. She holds a PhD in Animal Science and Nutrition from Cornell University, and she has focused her public health work on the challenge of increasing access and availability of healthy foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, so that individuals can more easily make choices to support a diet that promotes wellness and prevents chronic disease.

Dr. Harris’s career has included positions in both academia and government, and in each of these settings she has developed new research and programmatic initiatives to advance wellness and prevent chronic disease. Dr. Harris currently serves as a Health Scientist and Team Lead at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Emory University in the Nutrition and Health Sciences Program, and will be among the first adjunct faculty in Georgia State University’s Department of Nutrition. Her expertise lies in promoting policy, systems, and environmental strategies that increase access and availability to healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables, in multiple settings from worksites to schools to early care and education. Her philosophy in leadership is to foster a culture of teamwork, collaboration, and service. She also provides mentorship and career-development advice to fellows, students, and other trainees. 

While earning her degree at Rollins, Dr. Harris served as a laboratory researcher at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, where she directed a research program and supervised technical staff in studies investigating the activity of food-derived phytochemicals in pancreatic and colon cancer prevention. She was also co-director of the Gene-Nutrient Interaction Core of the UCLA-NCI Clinical Nutrition Research Unit, and later co-director of the UCLA-NCCAM Animal Model Core for the UCLA Center for Excellence in Pancreatic Diseases. She has over 25 publications from this period that provide insight into the activity of a number of food and herbal medicine-derived compounds on carcinogenic pathways, particularly those inflammatory pathways involved with cancer initiation and progression.

Dr. Harris provides subject matter expertise to the CDC and to the field of public health nutrition, conducting strategic planning toward positive outcomes, and developing programs with inherent technical complexities and rich political context. She prides herself on being an effective catalyst for connecting people and ideas, and enjoys collaborating with individuals and organizations with diverse interests. She is extremely knowledgeable about US health and nutrition policy, and is often called upon as a national expert in a number of areas related to creation of healthy food environments. In particular, as a public health practitioner, she gravitates toward programs and applications of community nutrition that reduce health inequities and provide increased access points for obtaining healthier food options for low-income consumers. 

We are pleased to recognize Dr. Harris with our Rollins School of Public Health Distinguished Achievement Alumni Award.


Criteria for Selection

  1. The individual shall be a recent graduate of Rollins and will have made an outstanding contribution to public health at a community, state, national, or international level.
  2. The contribution(s) should have been made subsequent to receiving a degree from Rollins.

Nomination Procedure

Please complete our Award Nomination Form

All nominations are confidential and will be considered for three years, unless otherwise indicated by the nominee. If needed, the committee will contact the nominee to update the application.


For more information, please contact:

Michelle James
Senior Director, Alumni & Constituent Relations
Rollins School of Public Health
1518 Clifton Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30322
Tel: (404) 727-4740
Fax: (404) 727-9853
Email: sphalumni@emory.edu