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Researcher of the Quarter- Allison Karpyn

Dr. Allison Karpyn, PhD., is Senior Associate Director of the Center for Research and Education and Social Policy (CRESP) and Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Delaware. She is also an ACCEL Community Engaged (ACE) Research Awardee and member of the CEO Core. With the help of the ACE Pilot funding, Dr. Karpyn and her team were able to kick start their research on the impact of animal zoo characters on healthy food sales at a zoo concession stand.

The objectives of the study were to examine how increased availability of healthier items at a zoo concession stand affects sales and how animal character marketing on zoo menu boards affect sales revenue. In collaboration with the Brandywine Zoo (Wilmington, Delaware), an eight week intervention was conducted. On alternating weeks, zoo animal characters were systematically paired with and removed from healthy food items on the concession menu board. Sales and revenue were analyzed using frequencies, a Poisson regression model, and a negative binomial regression model, respectively. The results were that healthy item sales were higher during the weeks the animal cartoon characters were displayed, although there was no impact on revenue.

Dr. Karpyn remarked on the impact of the ACE award in her initial research, saying “ Without the ACE award we would have never been able to jumpstart the development of the intervention or measure its impact effectively in a partnership. The award encouraged such a strong collaboration with the community partner and it created a much deeper, stronger partnership than we would have achieved otherwise.”

If you’d like to learn more about this study, you can contact Dr. Karpyn at Also, be sure to check out  Dr. Karpyn’s newly published book, “Food and Public Health” (Oxford University Press).