Miriam E. Nelson

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Miriam E. Nelson (born 1960) is a social entrepreneur, researcher, international best-selling author[1][2] and administrator in higher education. She was most recently the president at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, before stepping down from the position.[3][4] She was also director of the Sustainability Institute at the University of New Hampshire. Previously, she was associate dean of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service and a professor of nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.[5] Nelson has been the principal investigator of multiple studies on exercise, nutrition, and public health[6][7][8][9][10][11] and has leveraged her research to create community-based, evidence-supported interventions that improve nutrition and physical activity nationally.[12] Her most recent research focuses on food sustainability and food systems.

Personal life[edit]

Nelson grew up in Media, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. Nelson's father was a senior executive at Scott Paper Company and her mother is an award-winning artist. Throughout her youth, Nelson was an avid horseback rider, competing at the national level in Three-Day Equestrian events. She graduated from the Tatnall School in Wilmington, Delaware. She received her undergraduate education from the University of Vermont (class of 1983, magna cum laude) majoring in nutrition.[13] She is married to Kinloch Earle, a classical violinist.[14] They have three grown children.


In 1983, Nelson began her career in nutrition and physical activity research as a doctoral fellow in the Human Physiology Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. Nelson’s research on the effects of nutrition and strength training on bone health in older adults[15][16][17][18] provided the evidence for her StrongWomen book series.

Nelson served one year as an AAAS Congressional Fellow for Senator Patrick Leahy in 1987. In 1989, Nelson returned to Tufts University to further pursue her research. Nelson began teaching at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy in 1990 and continues to hold professorships at the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, and the Tufts University School of Medicine at Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts.

In 1999, Nelson founded the Center for Physical Fitness (the name was changed in 2002) to the John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention at Tufts University. Nelson has been involved in the development of research initiatives that have shown significant results in obesity prevention, women’s health, children’s health, increased physical activity, and improved nutrition.

In 2007 to 2008, Nelson was appointed to serve as the vice chair of the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee for the US Department of Health and Human Services. The report was used to develop the inaugural Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans released in October 2008. Nelson also served on the 2010 and 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee for the US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. In 2013, Nelson chaired the Science Board of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.

In 2018, Nelson was appointed as the seventh president of Hampshire College, succeeding Jonathan Lash. Emerging publicly in 2019, the college encountered substantial financial and enrollment challenges which Nelson took a lead in addressing.

StrongWomen Book Series[edit]

Nelson is the author of the nine books in the StrongWomen series, including five New York Times bestsellers.[1][2] The titles include: Strong Women Stay Young; Strong Women Stay Slim; Strong Women, Strong Bones; Strong Women Eat Well; Strong Women and Men Beat Arthritis; The Strong Women’s Journal; Strong Women, Strong Hearts; Strong Women, Strong Backs; and the Strong Women’s Guide to Total Health. Strong Women, Strong Bones received the "Books for a Better Life Award" for best wellness book of 2000 from the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Dr. Nelson’s tenth book, The Social Network Diet: Change Yourself, Change the World, was published in 2011.[19] Nelson’s co-authors on the books include Dr. Ronenn Roubenoff, Dr. Kristin Baker, Dr. Alice Lichtenstein, Mr. Larry Lindner, Ms. Sarah Wernick, Ms. Judy Knipe, and Ms. Jennifer Ackerman.

Other activities and awards[edit]

Nelson has appeared in her own PBS special entitled Strong Women Live Well and served as the chief scientific adviser for PBS’s NOVA Marathon Challenge documentary.[20]


  1. ^ a b "Best sellers advice:Hardcover". The New York Times Company. 1997. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b Best Sellers: Hardcover Advice
  3. ^ https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/04/05/hampshire-college-president-steps-down/efnBx5AJUhtq8KwaYMqi9H/story.html
  4. ^ "Miriam Nelson, Prominent U.S. Health Scholar, Educator, and Policy Adviser, Named President of Hampshire". Hampshire College.
  5. ^ Nelson | Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy Archived 2013-10-23 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Economos, Christina D.; Hyatt, Raymond R.; Must, Aviva; Goldberg, Jeanne P.; Kuder, Julia; Naumova, Elena N.; Collins, Jessica J.; Nelson, Miriam E. (2013). "Shape Up Somerville two-year results: A community-based environmental change intervention sustains weight reduction in children". Preventive Medicine. 57 (4): 322–7. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.06.001. PMID 23756187.[non-primary source needed]
  7. ^ Economos, Christina D; Bakun, Peter J; Herzog, Julia Bloom; Dolan, Peter R; Lynskey, Vanessa M; Markow, Dana; Sharma, Shanti; Nelson, Miriam E (2012). "Children's perceptions of weight, obesity, nutrition, physical activity and related health and socio-behavioural factors". Public Health Nutrition. 17: 170–178. doi:10.1017/S136898001200479X.[non-primary source needed]
  8. ^ Folta, Sara C; Seguin, Rebecca A; Ackerman, Jennifer; Nelson, Miriam E (2012). "A qualitative study of leadership characteristics among women who catalyze positive community change". BMC Public Health. 12: 383. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-383. PMC 3406954. PMID 22640012.[non-primary source needed]
  9. ^ Seguin, R. A.; Heidkamp-Young, E.; Kuder, J.; Nelson, M. E. (2012). "Improved Physical Fitness Among Older Female Participants in a Nationally Disseminated, Community-Based Exercise Program". Health Education & Behavior. 39 (2): 183–190. doi:10.1177/1090198111426768. PMC 3727397.[non-primary source needed]
  10. ^ Sliwa, Sarah; Goldberg, Jeanne P.; Clark, Valerie; Junot, Jessica; Nahar, Ruth; Nelson, Raymond R.; Tovar, Bridgid; Economos, Elizabeth; Collins, Miriam E.; Edwards, Alison; Hyatt, Christina D. (November 2011). "Using the Community Readiness Model to Select Communities for a Community-Wide Obesity Prevention Intervention". Preventing Chronic Disease. 8 (6): A150. PMC 3221589. PMID 22005643.[non-primary source needed]
  11. ^ Seguin, Rebecca A.; Economos, Christina D.; Palombo, Ruth; Hyatt, Raymond; Kuder, Julia; Nelson, Miriam E. (2010). "Strength training and older women: A cross-sectional study examining factors related to exercise adherence". Journal of aging and physical activity. 18 (2): 201–18. PMC 4308058. PMID 20440031.[non-primary source needed]
  12. ^ Hellmich, Nanci (September 13, 2011). "'Change Clubs' get Americans moving". USA Today.
  13. ^ The Campaign For UVM - Leadership
  14. ^ Sarasa Musician: Kinloch Earle
  15. ^ Nelson, M. E.; Meredith, C. N.; Dawson-Hughes, B.; Evans, W. J. (1988). "Hormone and Bone Mineral Status in Endurance-Trained and Sedentary Postmenopausal Women". Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 66 (5): 927–933. doi:10.1210/jcem-66-5-927.
  16. ^ Lamon-Fava, S.; Fisher, E. C.; Nelson, M. E.; Evans, W. J.; Millar, J. S.; Ordovas, J. M.; Schaefer, E. J. (1989). "Effect of Exercise and Menstrual Cycle Status on Plasma Lipids, Low Density Lipoprotein Particle Size, and Apolipoproteins". Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 68: 17–21. doi:10.1210/jcem-68-1-17.
  17. ^ Nelson, Miriam E; Fisher, Elizabeth C; Dilmanian, F Avraham; Dallal, Gerard E; Evans, William J (1991). "A 1-y walking program and increased dietary calcium in postmenopausal women: Effects on bone". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 53 (5): 1304–11. PMID 2021138.
  18. ^ Morganti, CM; Nelson, ME; Fiatarone, MA; Dallal, GE; Economos, CD; Crawford, BM; Evans, WJ (1995). "Strength improvements with 1 yr of progressive resistance training in older women". Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 27 (6): 906–12. doi:10.1249/00005768-199506000-00017. PMID 7658954.
  19. ^ Miriam E. Nelson, Ph.D.: The Social Network Diet: A Little Help From Your Friends
  20. ^ NOVA | Marathon Challenge

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