Maryam Khojasteh, program officer, joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Research, Evaluation, and Learning (REL) unit in 2019. Her work focuses on developing, managing, and implementing rigorous and evidence-based research to advance health equity and promote a Culture of Health. She views her role as “employing my urban planning and community development skills to support research and evaluation strategies that will further the Foundation’s understanding of community conditions that can affect an individual’s ability to attain the best possible health outcomes.”
Previously, Khojasteh held academic and research positions—at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; the State University of New York at Buffalo; Shahid-Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran; and the University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran—that focused on the intersection of urban planning and public health. She used community-based and mixed-method approaches to uncover how food system planning can both revitalize communities and create healthier food environments. Her work included areas such as socioeconomic impacts of urban agriculture; bridging the gap between underserved consumers and smallholder farmers; the motivation of immigrants to engage in healthy food retail; and the impact of immigrant food entrepreneurship on community well-being in small and medium-sized towns and suburbs.
Khojasteh has authored many journal articles and book chapters on food systems; healthy food environments; immigrant food enterprises; and hunger and nutrition. She has also lectured and presented on food systems planning and healthy communities, research methods, and a host of other topics.
She holds a PhD in city/urban, community, and regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania. She earned a Master of Urban Planning (MUP) from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a BS in urban studies from the University of Tehran, Iran. Born in Tehran, she now lives in New Brunswick, N.J., where her leisure time includes reading, cooking, and caring for her two cats.