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Panelist Bio


Melinda S. Sothern, PhD
Associate Professor and Director of Health Promotion LSU-HSC School of Public Health

Melinda S. Sothern, PhD is an Associate Professor of Research and directs the Section of Health Promotion in the Division of Behavioral and Community Health in the Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center, School of Public Health and the Prevention of Childhood Obesity Laboratory at the LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Her research has been widely published in scientific journals and recently edited a scientific textbook, The Handbook of Pediatric Obesity: Clinical Management (Taylor and Francis, 2006), and co-authored a book for parents and pediatricians entitled Trim Kids (2001, Harper Resource, NY, NY). She is currently serving as Principal Investigator on two National Institute of Health (NIH)-sponsored studies entitled, Insulin Sensitivity in Children with Low Birth Weight and Exploring Mechanisms of the Metabolic Syndrome in African American and Caucasian Youth. She is also currently a co-investigator in the NIH-sponsored, 6-year study entitled, Increasing Physical Activity Patterns in Adolescent Girls: the TAAG Study, with seven other sites nationwide, directs the physical activity intervention of the NIH-sponsored study, Environmental Approaches for the Prevention of Weight Gain: The Wise Mind Study, and is Co-PI and mentor of two other NIH-funded studies: 1) Environmental Determinants of Physical Activity in Parks, and 2) Training translational researchers in Louisiana (COBRA). Dr. Sothern also serves as consultant to several NIH funded studies including, a school based study entitled, LA Health at the LSU PBRC.

Dr. Sothern recently co-authored a position paper and serves as faculty for the American Dietetic Association pediatric weight management certification program. She is considered a national spokesperson for overweight youth and has been featured extensively in national and international television, radio and print media including: Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN International, Fox News TV, 48 Hours, Nicolodeon TV, The Oprah Show, Discovery Channel, CNN International, Yorkshire TV British Broadcasting Co., USA Today, Associated Press - World News, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, Parents Magazine, Parenting, Better Homes and Garden, Prevention Magazine and many others.

Dr. Sothern has led her field in establishing standardized guidelines for prescribing exercise for children with increasing levels of obesity and is best known for her work in promoting active play as a means of preventing and treating childhood obesity. She has been a member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the NAASO: The Obesity Society for more than fifteen years, is a fellow and council member of The Obesity Society and currently serves as Past Chairman of the Pediatric Obesity Interest Group. She is also past member of the Obesity Society Public Affairs Committee and current member of the Publication and Education Committee and is a scientific presenter for The Obesity Society Distinguished Lecture Series. Dr. Sothern is a member of the American Heart Association/Clinton Foundation Advisory Board. She has provided over 100 invited scientific lectures to universities and medical centers, is a reviewer for the National Institutes of Health and numerous pediatric, obesity and exercise scientific journals and provides scientific advice to several major national and international corporations.

Current Topic


09/16 - Pass or Fail? Louisiana’s Education System

How well is the state’s public school system really performing?

One national survey ranks Louisiana as 49th for academic achievement of public school students. Another national report ranks the state dead last. So, how well is the state’s public school system really performing? Where is there room for improvement? What will the new federal “Every Student Succeeds Act” mean for education in Louisiana? And how have the historic summer floods changed things? Louisiana Public Square explores these issues and more on “Pass or Fail? Louisiana’s Education System” Wednesday, September 28 at 7 p.m. on LPB HD and in New Orleans on WLAE.

The panelists are
• Superintendent Michael Faulk, Central Community School System
• James D. Garvey, Jr. , BESE Board President
• Scott Richard, Executive Director, Louisiana School Boards Association
• Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith, D- Baton Rouge; House Education Committee

LPB CEO Beth Courtney and LSU Manship School of Mass Communication professor Robert Mann host the show. The program features interviews with Louisiana Education State Superintendent John White; Debbie Meaux, President of the Louisiana Association of Educators; Brigitte Nieland with the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and Caddo Parish School Superintendent Dr. Theodis Lamar Goree.

“Pass or Fail? Louisiana’s Education System” can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.

Learn More!

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Special Presentation


05/16 - Louisiana Veterans Coming Home

What challenges do our returning veterans face?

Coming Soon!


10/16 - Election 2016

What concerns are on citizens’ minds as they go to the polls this fall?

Recent Topics


08/16 - Louisiana Post-Katrina: A Decade of Difference (encore)

What difference has a decade made?


07/16 - Regular and Extraordinary: Legislative Review

Who are the winners and losers in Louisiana’s budget battle?


06/16 - Symbol or Statement? History in Public Spaces (encore)

Is the display of Civil War statues in public justified or do they belong only in museums?


05/16 - Louisiana Veterans Coming Home

What challenges do our returning veterans face?

»»» View all Topics!
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