Principal Investigator

Dr. Ross Profile PictureKathryn M. Ross, Ph.D. M.P.H. | CV

Dr. Ross is an Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical & Health Psychology and in the Social and Behavioral Sciences program in the College of Public Health and Health Professions. Her research focuses on the prevention and treatment of adult obesity, with particular emphasis on improving the long-term maintenance of weight loss and developing effective behavioral weight management interventions that can be disseminated on a public-health level. Increasingly, she has begun to investigate the integration of newer technology into weight management interventions as a way of lowering cost of treatment delivery and increasing intervention reach. Dr. Ross currently teaches within the Social and Behavioral Sciences concentration in the MPH and PhD in Public Health programs. She advises masters and doctoral students both in the Department of Clinical Psychology and in Public Health.

Research Coordinator

Meena Shankar Presenting at SBM

Meena Shankar, M.S., R.D., C.C.R.C.

Meena Shankar is the Research Coordinator for the Health Promotion Lab in the Department of Clinical and Health psychology. She earned her B.S. and M.S. in Nutrition from the University of Florida and is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Clinical Research Coordinator. Before working in the research setting, Meena was a clinical dietitian assessing nutritional requirements of patients with gastrointestinal diseases, heart disease, and diabetes. She recently finished work on a behavioral weight management study that took place in 14 rural North Florida counties. Outside of work, she enjoys reading and traveling.

Graduate Students

Andrea Brockmann

Andrea N. Brockmann, M.A. | CV

Andrea Brockmann is a fifth-year graduate student in the Department of Clinical Health Psychology. She earned her B.S. in psychology from Missouri University of Science and Technology, and her M.A. from Northern Arizona University. During her time at NAU she completed a thesis focused on outcomes in a women’s weight loss program, and was a member of a neuroscience lab examining the interaction between depression and sleep apnea. After graduating from NAU Andrea engaged in clinical work in a rural community health center focused on psychiatric rehabilitation and integrative care. Throughout her academic and clinical journeys she has always been interested in the intersection between physical health and emotional health, specifically in obesity treatment. Andrea’s primary research interests are in developing obesity interventions informed by theory from a multi-disciplinary perspective, with particular interest in physical activity and weight loss maintenance. During her free time she enjoys exercising (from taekwondo to trapeze), cooking/baking, and traveling.

Umelo Ugwoaba, M.S. | CV

Umelo Ugwoaba is a fifth-year doctoral student in the Department of Clinical Health Psychology. He is from Seattle and received his Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Washington. As an undergraduate he worked at the Early Childhood Cognition Lab (ECCL), assisting with projects which explored the development of fairness concerns in infancy. At the same time, Umelo worked with the Sports Medicine Department at UW as an athletic training intern, providing injury treatment and rehabilitation services for student-athletes. After graduating, Umelo continued to work at the ECCL while applying for Peace Corps. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Indonesia, he served as an English instructor with secondary projects in leadership and youth development. Umelo’s interests are in health promotion and the development of effective behavioral interventions which lead to improved health outcomes at both the individual and community level. Outside of the classroom and the lab, he enjoys reading, listening to music, and playing sports.

kelsey a headshotKelsey M. Arroyo, M.S.| CV

Kelsey Arroyo is a third-year graduate student in the Department of Clinical Health Psychology. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from William Smith College in Geneva, NY where she worked on projects examining the relationship between mindfulness, cognitive fusion, and health behaviors as a research assistant. Kelsey also received her Master of Science in Health Promotion from the University of Connecticut where she assisted with projects that leveraged mHealth tools and social media to deliver behavioral weight loss interventions. Throughout her academic journey, Kelsey has developed an immense interest in how novel health communication strategies influence health-related knowledge, attitudes, and behavior regarding eating and physical activity. She is also interested in the development of effective behavioral weight loss interventions using such strategies. In her free time, Kelsey enjoys exploring new walking trails and parks, spending time with friends, watching sports, and trying out new restaurants.

taylor headshotTaylor N. Swanson, B.A.| CV

Taylor Swanson is a second-year graduate student in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Public Health, and Human Development from the University at Albany in New York in 2019. After graduating, she was a research assistant at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, where she worked on a longitudinal study assessing the psychosocial and physical health components of pediatric obesity. Taylor’s current research interests include the relationships between health behaviors, psychosocial factors, environment, and health literacy within individuals with or at risk of chronic illness. She is also interested in how these relationships interact so that lifestyle management and prevention interventions can be developed at both the individual and community levels. During her free time, Taylor likes to exercise, read, and travel.

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Kelsey L. Barrett, B.A.| CV

Kelsey Barrett is a first-year graduate student in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. After graduation, she continued work as a research assistant in a child development lab where she established a project focusing on exploring children’s beliefs and predictions about the impact of nutrition on individuals who vary in body type or physical activity level. Broadly, Kelsey’s current research interests include health disparities in the context of obesity among rural communities. She is also interested in the development of accessible weight management interventions. In her spare time, Kelsey enjoys sewing, buying too many house plants, and occasionally running.

Research Assistants

abigail headshotAbigail Gracy, B.H.S.

Abigail Gracy works as a research assistant at the Health Promotion Lab. She recently graduated from UF with her Bachelor of Health Science degree and plans to attend medical school following two gap years. Currently, she also works as a medical assistant at a local urology clinic. Prior to graduation, Abigail volunteered with the lab and wrote her senior honors thesis under the mentorship of Dr. Ross. She also volunteered as a research assistant at the Center for Environmental and Human Toxicology where she studied gene expression in Daphnia magna. Abigail’s passion for human and environmental health along with her academic experiences led to her interest in health promotion. As a research assistant with the lab, she hopes to continue learning about the social and psychological factors influencing health behaviors. In her free time, Abigail enjoys watching Gator sports, spending time with friends and family, and exploring Florida’s beaches.

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Dylan Burrows, B.A.

Dylan is a volunteer research assistant working with the UF Health Promotion Lab. After graduating from UF with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Dylan is taking a gap year, engaging with research and the Gainesville community as he prepares graduate school applications. He is chiefly interested in counseling psychology and plans to pursue an advanced degree in the field. Specifically, Dylan is motivated to analyze disparities in mental health accessibility and outcomes. In his college career, he took part in dialogue groups and elective coursework that instilled a desire to look deeper at institutionalized barriers in the mental health system, and health care at large. In his free time, Dylan loves curating music of all sorts, thrifting in the Gainesville area, and cheering on the Gators.


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Kristina Hall, B.A.

Kristina Hall works as a research assistant in the Health Promotion Lab. She graduated in 2021 from the University of California Davis with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Communication. She plans to apply to graduate programs in psychology to further her education in the field. She also works as a research coordinator in the Neuromotor and Behavior Lab in the College of Human Health and Performance at UF, where she helps investigate sensorimotor adaptation and neural processes. Kristina’s interest in research, along with her advocacy for mental and physical health, has led her to the intersection of health promotion. She strives to learn more about improving health outcomes for individuals and how research can advance our understanding of the factors that play a role in these outcomes. In her free time, she loves watching soccer and teaching spin classes.

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Kendall DeFranco

Kendall DeFranco is a fourth-year undergraduate student and volunteer research assistant at the Health Promotion Lab. She is pursuing her Bachelor of Health Science degree with a minor in Dance and plans to attend medical school following a gap year after graduation. Kendall has been dancing since the age of four and is growing an interdisciplinary awareness of her passion for science and the arts by also pursuing the Dance in Medicine certificate with the UF Center for Arts in Medicine. Additionally, Kendall works part-time as a medical scribe in the UF Health Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and she is an Ambassador for the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions through the Health Professions College Council. She wishes to continue learning about empowering patient populations to achieve wellness at the individual and community level through the experiences she is gaining as a research assistant in the lab. In her free time, Kendall enjoys running, exploring nature, baking, and spending time with friends and family.

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Mark Motsch

Mark Motsch is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Psychology and Family, Youth, and Community, Sciences with minors in Spanish, Leadership, and Nonprofit Organizational Leadership. He hopes to earn his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology but is not yet sure what specialization he would like to pursue. Mark’s passions for fitness, psychology, research, and making a difference in the community have brought him to the Health Promotion Lab, where he is excited to watch participants reach their long-term goals. Outside of the lab, Mark is a research assistant for the University of Florida’s Nonprofit Research Lab studying faculty giving through university philanthropy programs, a Resident Assistant, a Registered Behavior Technician, volunteers at the Child Advocacy Center and Alachua County Crisis Center and is the treasurer of UF NaviGators International. In his free time, you can find Mark at every Gators football game, exercising, playing pickup sports at Southwest Recreation Center, traveling, or trying new restaurants in Gainesville with friends.

Lab Alumni

Postdoctoral Associates:

Graduate students:

MPH Interns:

Research Assistants:

  • Alexandra McMahon, B.S. (2020-2022)