As director of the NINR, Zenk will oversee the annual budget of nearly $170 million,
which supports extramural research at institutions across the country. NINR supports
and conducts basic and clinical research which spans and integrates behavioral and
biological sciences and develops the scientific basis for clinical practice.
Zenk will begin her new role as the NINR director this fall. Currently, she is a Nursing
Collegiate Professor in the Department of Population Health Nursing Science at the
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Nursing, and a fellow at the UIC
Institute for Health Research and Policy.
Zenk’s own research focuses on the social inequities of healthcare. Her goal is to
identify effective, multi-level approaches to improve health and eliminate racial,
ethnic and socioeconomic health disparities.
Throughout her career, Zenk has supported work on urban food environments, community
health solutions and veterans’ health. Zenk and her colleagues helped bring national
attention to the problem of inadequate access to healthful foods in low-income and
Black neighborhoods through original research on the built environment and food deserts.
Zenk earned a bachelor’s in nursing, magna cum laude, from Illinois Wesleyan; master’s
degrees in public health nursing and community health sciences from UIC; and a doctorate
in health behavior and health education from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
In 2019, Zenk was inducted into the International Nursing Researchers Hall of Fame.
She was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 2013. In 2012, Illinois
Wesleyan presented Zenk with the School of Nursing Distinguished Alumna Award.