People

Principal Investigator

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

kmross@phhp.ufl.edu | 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.

mns@phhp.ufl.edu

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.

Postdoctoral Associates

Chelsea Larsen PHD

Chelsea Carpenter, Ph.D., M.P.H.

clarsen1@phhp.ufl.edu | CV

Dr. Chelsea Larsen is a first year Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Clinical & Health Psychology in the College of Public Health and Health Professions. She received her Bachelors of Education from the University of Tennessee Knoxville and both her MPH and PhD from the University of South Carolina. Her research centers on the utilization of technology for the dissemination of evidence-based behavior change interventions and how different technologies, specifically wearable devices, smartphones, and online networking platforms, can be used to prevent and treat chronic disease. In particular, she is interested in technology-based interventions focused on physical activity promotion and sedentary behavior reduction. Outside of work, Chelsea enjoys eating good food, cuddling with her cats and traveling to as many places as possible. 

Graduate Students

Abe Eastman at SBM 2018Abe Eastman, M.A. M.S.

aeastman@ufl.edu | CV

Abe Eastman is a fifth year graduate student in the Department of Clinical Health Psychology. He earned his B.A. from Knox College and his M.A, from Boston University. After graduating from BU he continued to work there on a number of projects in the Translational Research Program at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders. Abe then had the opportunity to work at Community Substance Abuse Center Boston. Throughout his academic career Abe has been interested in health promotion and behavior change with a special interest in obesity and physical activity. Abe’s primary research interest is in understanding the psycho-social factors influencing weight regain and designing interventions to mitigate weight regain. In recent years Abe’s interest has turned to examining acceptance based weight loss interventions. In addition, Abe is interested in societal and policy level interventions that can lead to increased utilization of health behaviors (e.g. exercise and proper nutrition) and reduce rates of obesity. When not working on research projects or school, Abe enjoys competing in strongman, spending time with friends, and listening to podcasts.

Andrea Brockmann

Andrea N. Brockmann, M.A.

a.brockmann@ufl.edu | CV

Andrea Brockmann is a fourth-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.

uugwoaba@ufl.edu | CV

Umelo Ugwoaba is a fourth-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 M. Arroyo, M.S.

kelsey.arroyo@ufl.edu| CV

Kelsey Arroyo is a second-year graduate student in the Department of Clinical Health Psychology. She received her B.S. 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 M.S. 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.

taylorswanson@phhp.ufl.edu| CV

Taylor Swanson is a first-year graduate student in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology. She received her B.A. in Psychology, Public Health, and Human Development from the University at Albany in New York. 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.

Research Assistants

alexandra photo Alexandra McMahon, B.S.

mcmahona@ufl.edu

Alexandra McMahon is a first-year graduate student in the College of Public Health and Health Professions. She is currently pursuing her Master of Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology. Her undergraduate studies in Microbiology and Cell Sciences at the University of Florida combined with her graduate studies in Epidemiology, prompted her interest in studying human health and methods of health promotion. Alexandra was previously involved with a research lab in genomics and the Hereditary Cancer Center at Shands. Additionally, Alexandra took part in efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at UF through work with the Screen, Test and Protect Program, a CDC Mask Study and various vaccination clinics in Gainesville. Her academic and practical experiences helped solidify her vision to focus her research efforts on methods to improve patient health through the integration of science and medicine. During her free time, Alexandra enjoys walking and running, spending time with friends and family, and listening to music. 

abigail headshotAbigail Gracy

a.gracy@ufl.edu

Abigail Gracy is a fourth-year undergraduate student in the College of Public Health and Health Professions. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Health Science degree with a major in Health Science. After graduating, she plans to attend medical school, but is also considering alternative career paths in the health field. Abigail previously volunteered as a research assistant at the Center for Environmental and Human Toxicology where she studied gene expression in Daphnia magna. More recently, Abigail obtained her Certified Nursing Assistant license. She plans to become employed as a CNA in hopes of gaining more patient care experience. Abigail’s passion for human and environmental health along with her academic experiences led to her interest in health promotion. While volunteering with the lab, she hopes to learn more 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.

MPH Interns

crystal headshotCrystal N. Johnson-Mann, MD

crystal.johnson-mann@surgery.ufl.edu

Dr. Crystal Johnson-Mann is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery and 2nd year graduate student in the College of Public Health and Health Professions where she is pursuing a Master of Public Health. She is originally from South Carolina and obtained her B.S. in Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina where she was a student-athlete as a member of the volleyball team. She obtained her Doctor of Medicine from the Medical University of South Carolina and then completed her residency in general surgery at the same institution. After residency graduation, she relocated to Charlottesville, VA where she completed her fellowship in Minimally Invasive Surgery at the University of Virginia. She has been on faculty in the Department of Surgery since the Fall of 2018 as a minimally invasive and bariatric surgeon. She serves as the Assistant Chair of Inclusion and Wellness for her department and as the 4th year medical student clerkship director. Her primary research interests include bariatric surgery, anti-reflux surgery, gastroesophageal reflux disease, diversity in medicine, and equity in healthcare access, delivery, and outcomes.

Lab Alumni

Graduate students: