Faculty & Staff

Miriam NelsonMiriam E. Nelson, PhD

Director, Professor

Miriam E. Nelson, PhD is director of the John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention and Professor of Nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. She is also a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, an honor reserved for those who have demonstrated leadership and research in the field of exercise. For the past 19 years, Dr. Nelson has been principal investigator of studies on exercise and nutrition, work supported by grants from the government and private foundations. In 2007 to 2008, Dr. Nelson was appointed to serve as the vice chair of the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. The report was used to develop the inaugural Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans released in October of 2008. She is currently serving on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for the US Department of Agriculture. Dr. Nelson currently chairs the Science Board of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. More about Miriam Nelson


economosChristina D. Economos, PhD

Associate Director, Associate Professor

Christina Economos is the Associate Director of the John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention, the New Balance Chair in Childhood Nutrition, and an Associate Professor at the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and the School of Medicine, Tufts University. Dr. Economos received a Bachelor of Science from Boston University, a Master of Science in Applied Physiology and Nutrition from Columbia University and a doctorate in Nutrition Science from Tufts University. More about Christina Economos


choumenkovitchSilvina Choumenkovitch, PhD


Silvina Choumenkovitch, PhD, is a researcher at the John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention and an instructor at the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. She is also an adjunct scientist in the Nutritional Epidemiology Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. More about Silvina Choumenkovitch


foltaSara C. Folta, PhD

Assistant Professor

Sara C. Folta, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. She has a research interest in communications and intervention strategies to promote positive behavior change in the areas of physical activity and nutrition. More about Sara Folta



Jeanne P. Goldberg, PhD, RD


Jeanne Goldberg, professor of nutrition, is Founding Director of the Graduate Program in Nutrition Communication at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. More about Jeanne Goldberg



Jen Sacheck, PhD

Associate Professor

Dr. Sacheck is an associate professor of nutrition at the John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention within the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Dr. Sacheck has a master's degree in exercise science and a doctorate in nutrition science from Tufts University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School in muscle physiology. She is an active member of both the American College of Sports Medicine and The Obesity Society. More about Jennifer Sacheck

Associated Faculty

fentonMark Fenton, MS

Adjunct Professor

Mark Fenton is a national public health, planning, and transportation expert. He hosted the "America's Walking" series on PBS television, and has been a consultant to the University of North Carolinaís National Center for Safe Routes to School. He was also a facilitator for the walkable community workshop series of the National Center for Bicycling and Walking. A former editor of WALKING magazine, Mark was a member of the United States national race walking team from 1986 to 1991, and competed in the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Trials in the 50-kilometer (31-mile) race-walk. He studied biomechanics at the Massachusetts Institute Technology, where he earned BS and MS degrees, was a researcher at the Olympic Training Centerís Sports Science Laboratory in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and manager of Reebok's Human Performance Laboratory. Mark has research publications and articles related to exercise science, physical activity promotion, and community level interventions. He's a vocal advocate for non-motorized transportation, a frequent consultant on bicycle and pedestrian community plans, and recognized authority on public health issues and the need for community, environmental, and public-policy initiatives to encourage more walking, bicycling, and transit use.


hyattRaymond Hyatt, PhD

Assistant Professor, Tufts School of Medicine, Public Health and Community Medicine

Dr. Raymond R. Hyatt is a medical sociologist who studies the effects of the social construction of families and communities on health outcomes. His work focuses on the role that social capital, family units, and community organizations play in the production of health. More about Raymond Hyatt



Aviva Must, PhD

Professor, Tufts School of Medicine, Public Health and Community Medicine

Dr. Must is the Morton A. Madoff Professor of Public Health at the Tufts University School of Medicine, and Chair of the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine. Her research area is the epidemiology of obesity, with a focus on long-term physical and psychosocial health consequences of childhood growth characteristics and obesity effects at critical periods across the lifespan, such as adolescence and pregnancy. More about Aviva Must


Rebecca Seguin, PhD

Assistant Professor at Cornell University

Dr. Seguin co-wrote the StrongWomen Strength Training curriculum and managed StrongWomen from 2003-2008. She is currently an assistant professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. She is principal investigator of the StrongWomen Healthy Hearts Follow-up Study, and co-investigator on ongoing StrongWomen research initiatives. She also conducts StrongWomen Ambassador trainings and StrongWomen Strength Training Workshops with partners across the US. More about Rebecca Seguin

Doctoral Fellows

Stephanie Anzman-Frasca, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Stephanie holds a doctoral degree in human development and family studies from the Pennsylvania State University. Prior to joining ChildObesity180, she worked for six years as a graduate research assistant and then as a postdoctoral scholar at Penn Stateís Center for Childhood Obesity Research. She received a bachelorís degree from Bucknell University, with majors in psychology and French.

Lauren Au, MS, RD

USDA Doctoral Fellow in Obesity

Lauren Au is working with Dr. Sacheck on assessing the impact of varying doses of vitamin D on serum vitamin D in 4th-8th grade schoolchildren. Lauren's research interests include understanding the associations of dietary vitamin D, adiposity, and skin color to serum vitamin D in children. Lauren received her MS and RD in nutrition and public health at Columbia University and her BS in dietetics at the University of California, Berkeley.

Stacy Blondin, MS

USDA Doctoral Fellow in Obesity

Stacy Blondin is working with Dr. Economos on the ChildObesity180 School Breakfast Initiative. She is interested in researching nutrition policies and programming within institutional settings, currently those targeting childhood obesity in public schools. Stacy earned her masterís degree in nutrition at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and her bachelorís degree in psychology at Harvard College.

Becca Boulos, MPH

USDA Doctoral Fellow in Obesity

Becca is a USDA Doctoral Fellow and PhD candidate at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. For the past four years, she has worked on the community-based participatory research (CBPR) intervention Assessing and Preventing Obesity in New Immigrants ("Live Well"). Currently, Becca is the community engagement specialist for ChildObesity180. Becca is passionate about using CBPR as a way to ignite individual and community activism and ownership over changing psychological and social conditions that influence weight-related behavioral decisions, such as dietary intake and physical activity. Her dissertation assesses how interactions among health behaviors, stress, and coping behaviors influence weight status in diverse populations. Before coming to Tufts, Becca received her MPH with a concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences from the Yale School of Public Health and her BA in Communications from The George Washington University.

Alison Brown, MS

USDA Doctoral Fellow in Obesity

Alison received her bachelorís degree in pre-med from Spelman College and her masterís degree in applied physiology and nutrition from Columbia University. She assisted with the grant re-submission for the StrongWomen-Healthy Hearts program for African Americans. Specifically, the grant proposes to adapt and implement the StrongWomen curriculum for African American women. Alison's particular areas of interest include perceived levels of stress and program adherence along with the theoretical frameworks elucidating health disparities in the U.S. Alison is developing a unique specialization within the Food Policy and Applied Nutrition program which focuses on developing, managing, and implementing minority-targeted nutrition interventions.

Biz Haselwandter, MS

Nestlé Doctoral Fellow

Biz Haselwandter is currently working on her thesis and for the VIVE (Vitality, Independence, and Vigor in Elders) Study. Her research interests include the built environment, older adults, and physical activity. She recently received her MS in food policy and applied nutrition from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. She also holds a BS in psychology and classical studies from Tufts. Prior to coming to Friedman, she worked in Private Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and Merrill Lynch.

Daniel P. Hatfield, MS

USDA Doctoral Fellow in Obesity

A former high-school teacher and coach, Dan is especially interested in physical activity and nutrition policies and programming for children in underserved communities. As a 2010-2011 Albert Schweitzer Fellow, he helped launch a health and fitness program for middle-school-aged boys in East Boston and remains active in that community. He earned his MS in nutrition communication at Tufts and a BA in English language and literature from Princeton.

Emily Kuross Vikre, MS

Friedman Citizen's Doctoral Fellow

Emily received a BA in biology from Carleton College and an MS in nutrition communication from the Friedman School. While completing her master's degree, she also worked for two years as the health and fitness program senior educator and FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Children's Fellow at the Boston Children's Museum. Emily's research focus is on Community Based Participatory Research and understanding how academic researchers and community members can most effectively collaborate to address nutrition and physical activity issues in underserved communities.

Sarah Sliwa, MS

New Balance Fellow

Sarah Sliwa recently received her masters degree in food policy & economics from Tufts University and holds a BA in international relations also from Tufts University. Prior to pursuing her doctoral degree Sarah worked for Dr. Economos and other Center faculty on the Children in Balance Initiative.

Maria Van Rompay (Lammi), PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Maria is a postdoctoral research fellow working with Dr. Jennifer Sacheck on the Daily D Health Study, and an Adjunct Instructor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. For the past 2 years, she worked as a postdoctoral associate in the Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, where her primary focus was a crossover dietary intervention study of a gene-diet interaction involving dietary fat and blood lipids in Caribbean Hispanics. She received her doctorate in nutritional epidemiology from the Friedman School, and a BA in biological sciences from Cornell University. Before coming to Tufts, she had several years of experience working in complementary and alternative medicine research. Maria's main research interests include investigating dietary, sociodemographic, and cardiometabolic risk factors associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes in ethnic groups experiencing health disparities, particularly US Hispanics.


Heather M. Angstrom, MS

Senior Project Coordinator, Out-of-School Time Initiative, ChildObesity180

Heather holds an MS in health communication from the Tufts School of Medicine and a BA in studio art and womenís studies from Colgate University. Prior to joining ChildObesity180, she worked for five years as the program coordinator for Tuftsí Water: Systems, Science and Society graduate research and education program and the Tufts Institute of the Environment.

Peter Bakun, BS

Senior Statistical Programmer

Lisa Burgin, BFA

Administrative Assistant to the Chair, ChildObesity180

Lisa holds a bachelorís degree in theatre from Salem State University as well as a minor in womenís studies. Prior to joining ChildObesity180, she worked for five years as the senior administrative assistant at Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnershipís Essential Care Program. She is also a co-founder and co-owner of an internationally touring theatre company.

Valerie Clark, MS, RD

Project Coordinator, StrongWomen-Healthy Hearts

Valerie Clark is the project coordinator for the national dissemination of StrongWomenĖHealthy Hearts. Valerie received her MS in nutrition from Case Western Reserve University and her BS in nutrition from Cornell University. Valerie has worked at the John Hancock Research Center since 2007 on projects focusing on childhood obesity prevention and, more recently, on adult fitness.

Teresa Dicolen, MPH, CHES

Regional Research Coordinator, ChildObesity180

Teresa holds a masterís in public health from the University of California, Los Angeles and a bachelorís in psychology from Stanford University. Prior to joining ChildObesity180, she worked as a health educator and counselor within hospital and school settings, interned with the Sonoma County Department of Health Services in California, and served as an AmeriCorps member in South Los Angeles.

Holly Carmichael Djang, MA

Director, Breakfast Initiative, ChildObesity180

Holly holds a masterís degree in family science from the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining ChildObesity180, Holly led the research team at a NYC-based nonprofit with a focus on public education reform, designing and conducting multiple large-scale mixed-methods research projects. She has over ten years of experience conducting research in the fields of public health and public education.

Karen Fullerton, MEd, RD

Regional Project Coordinator, ChildObesity180

Karen holds a masterís degree in education from Tufts University and a bachelorís degree in dietetics from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She is a registered dietitian and completed her dietetic internship at the Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts Medical Center. Prior to joining ChildObesity180, Karen worked as a research coordinator at the JHRC. She has also worked as a nutrition services director where she managed program operations for the sixteen town region administered through Minuteman Elder Services.

Megan Halmo, MPH, LCSWS

Senior Project Coordinator, Breakfast Initiative, ChildObesity180

Megan holds a bachelorís degree in psychology from The University of Michigan, and earned an MSW and MPH from the Boston University dual degree program in social work and public health. Megan has previously worked in administration and research in higher education and as a social worker in the non-profit sector.

Linda Harelick, DrPH

Director of Operations and Communications, ChildObesity180

Linda Harelick, DrPH, is Director of Operations and Communications at ChildObesity180. She has significant and senior level, multi sector experience having worked in several of the key sectors that are part of ChildObesity180. She has nearly 25 years of professional experience. She spent 17 years at Kraft Foods overseeing strategic planning and marketing for iconic brands such as Maxwell House Coffee and Post Cereal. She attained the position of Senior Vice President of Consumer Services where she strengthened Kraftís ability to connect and deepen relationships with consumers. Upon leaving Kraft Foods in 2008, she returned to academia to attain a doctorate in public health policy and management. She completed an internship in the area of preconception health assessing knowledge and behaviors among low socioeconomic women. Her dissertation focused on disparities in oral health outcomes and issues of access to dental services. While completing her degree, she served as the associate project director of a regional health planning initiative. More about Linda Harelick

Julianne Heck, BA

Sustainability Manager, ChildObesity180

Prior to joining ChildObesity180, Julianne worked as the grant writer for the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition; worked in fundraising at several diverse nonprofits; supported analysts at an SEC-registered investment fund; and interned at both the United Nations Development Programme and a local organic farm. She holds a BA in interdisciplinary creative studies from Hofstra University, and is an MA candidate in international law at the UN mandated University for Peace.

Julia Bloom Herzog, MPH

Director of the Office of Program Management, ChildObesity180

Julia has been a part of the ChildObesity180 team since its inception in 2009, serving originally as the project manager and now as the director of the Office of Program Management. Prior to joining ChildObesity180, Julia managed a community-based childhood obesity prevention intervention at Tufts University in rural areas across the United States. Over the past ten years, Julia has focused her work on projects related to childhood nutrition and addressing health and social disparities. Julia received her MPH, concentrating in social and behavioral science, from the Boston University School of Public Health.

Allison Knott, RD

Communications Specialist, ChildObesity180

Allison is a registered dietitian with a masterís degree in nutrition communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Prior to joining ChildObesity180, she worked in a variety of nutrition research and clinical dietetic positions. Allison received a bachelorís degree in food and nutrition from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and went on to complete a dietetic internship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Alyssa Koomas, MS, MPH, RD

Regional Project Manager, ChildObesity180

Alyssa is a registered dietitian with a masterís in food policy and applied nutrition as well as a masterís in public health, both from Tufts University. She received a bachelorís degree in environmental science from UC Berkeley and completed her dietetic internship through Simmons College. Prior to joining ChildObesity180, Alyssa worked in community-based participatory research as well as in public health nutrition programming.

Nicole Lanoue, MA

Grants and Finance Administrator

Nicole holds a bachelorís degree in French from the College of the Holy Cross and a masterís degree in international law and human rights from the UN mandated University for Peace. Prior to joining the John Hancock Research Center, Nicole worked in non-profit development and served as an AmeriCorps member in central Illinois.

Vanessa Lynskey, BA

Program Administrator, ChildObesity180

Vanessa received her bachelorís degree in community health and American studies from Tufts University and is currently pursuing an MH from the Tufts University School of Medicine. She has worked with ChildObesity180 in various capacities since its inception in 2009.

Nesly Metayer, MPA, EDM candidate

Senior Manager, Community Engagement, ChildObesity180

Nesly has 23 years of experience in applying management principles and organizational development to community health issues. Serving most recently as the project manager for an NIH-funded research study and adjunct professor of management at Suffolk University, Nesly has previously held senior positions in public health and community engagement. Nesly earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Haiti; an MPA from the National School of Administration, International Institute of Public Administration; a DESS from the University of Paris XI; and a doctorate in administration from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. He has been awarded a Doctoral Research Fellowship at the Mandel Center/EDM Non-Profit Fellowship and is a candidate for an executive doctorate in management at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.

Elizabeth Nahar, MSW, MBA

Director of Sustainability, ChildObesity180

Prior to joining ChildObesity180, Elizabeth spent over six years developing and managing childhood obesity prevention initiatives including the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Childrenís Hospital and Children in Balance, a program based at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Her professional education and experience have focused on developing mission-based organizations related to health and education. Elizabeth received her masterís degrees in social work and business administration from Boston College.

Molly Newman, MS, RD

Senior Project Manager, ChildObesity180

Molly is a registered dietitian with a masterís degree in nutrition science. She previously worked as a clinical dietitian in a pediatric obesity prevention clinic at Childrenís Hospital in Boston. She has also worked in the field of nutrition communications for the public relations firm Weber Shandwick in Chicago. Prior to becoming a dietitian, Molly worked for over ten years as an event and project manager for companies including Fidelity Investments and the Museum of Science in Boston.

Fran Newton, BA

Center Administrator

Fran manages the center's day-to-day organization and operations with a focus on center administration, communications, and managing growth of the center. She graduated from Boston College with a degree in mathematics and, prior to joining the JHRC, spent most of her professional career in the insurance industry at John Hancock Financial Services. While there, she successfully passed the first 5 actuarial examinations to meet the requirements for associateship in the Society of Actuaries.

Elizabeth Olson, MPH

Project Coordinator, The Daily D Health Study

Prior to joining JHRC in her current role, Elizabeth worked as a student research assistant on the Fit study, which was the pilot study for the Daily D Health Study. She also earned her MPH from the Tufts University School of Medicine during that time. Before returning to graduate school, she worked for the March of Dimes, the American Cancer Society, and as a volunteer English teacher in Viet Nam. She received her BA from the University of California Santa Cruz in international law & politics. Her primary interests are in maternal and child health, and in the elimination of health disparities around the globe.

Su Pak, BA

Marketing Associate, Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP), ChildObesity180

Lindsay Peterson, MS, MEd

Project Manager, The GREEN Project

Lindsay Peterson is the project manager for The GREEN Project, a school-based nutrition intervention linking healthy eating and eco-friendly behaviors. The goal of the project is to improve the nutritional quality of foods children bring from home to school while reducing environmental impact. Lindsay, a former middle school teacher, earned her bachelorís degree and MEd at the University of Notre Dame. She is a graduate of the nutrition communication program at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts.

Erin Quinn, BA

Administrative Assistant

Erin is the administrative assistant to Christina Economos. She is a former high school social studies teacher, and received her bachelorís degree in history, along with a double minor in secondary education and black studies, from Fairfield University. Prior to joining the JHRC, Erin worked in administrative support at Robert Half International.

Emily Rak, MS

Senior Project Coordinator, Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP), ChildObesity180

Emily Rak received her MS in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition from Tuftís Friedman School in 2011. She now serves as the Project Coordinator on ChildObesity180ís Physical Activity in Schools Initiative. She received her BA in anthropology from the University of Vermont in 2007.

Hayden Ross, MS

Program Design Associate, Active Schools Acceleration Project, ChildObesity180

Prior to joining ChildObesity180, Hayden worked for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and for the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada where she recruited schools to participate in the Safe Routes to School program. She also worked as the physical education facilitator for the Clark County School District. Hayden is a former president of the Nevada Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and served as a member of the Nevada K-12 Health and Physical Education Standards Revision Committee. She also served as an appointed member of the Nevada Fitness and Wellness Council. Hayden attended the University of New Mexico where she earned a BS in physical education and health as well as an MS in sports administration.

Mackenzie Sehlke, BA

Staff Assistant

Mackenzie is the staff assistant to Miriam E. Nelson, and provides support to the StrongWomen program. Mackenzie is a second year masterís candidate studying food policy and applied nutrition, specializing in community-based nutrition policy and programing at Tufts University.

Shanti Sharma, PhD

Senior Researcher, ChildObesity180

Shanti has a science background with a PhD in biochemistry. She spent the last nine years at the University of Rochester Medical Center where she served as managing editor of a scientific journal and taught a graduate level course in scientific communication. In addition, Shanti held positions in research support and graduate program management within the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of Rochester.

Katie Smyrski Smith, MPH

Researcher, ChildObesity180

Katie holds an MPH in epidemiology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a BS in nutrition science from the University of Alabama. Prior to joining ChildObesity180, Katie worked as a program coordinator for the Department of Emergency Medicine Research Division at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Charlette Steed

Project Coordinator, The Daily D Health Study

Before coming to the JHRC, Charlette worked at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the Center for Community-Based Research. She has spent a considerable amount of time working in underserved communities providing counseling and education on the importance of physical activity and making healthier food choices to combat obesity. She received her BA in psychology with a concentration in neuroscience from Williams College in 2004.

Kyle Washburn, MBA, MEd

Senior Initiative Manager, Restaurants, ChildObesity180

Kyle delivers strategic, initiative and programmatic expertise in obesity prevention, health services and health education having previously worked in several leadership roles at the Boston Public Health Commission. He has directed, advised and consulted on various child, youth and adult nutrition and physical activity programs including Adolescent Wellness, Get Active! and Boston Moves for Health. He holds a BS in Physiology and Health Sciences from the University of Arizona and both an MEd and MBA from Boston University.

Nathaniel Whitman, MA

Initiative Director, Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP), ChildObesity180

Nate brings to the organization a deep background in strategy and business development, having held leadership roles with notable firms including Live Nation Entertainment, Liberty Media, and The Boston Consulting Group. He has served as an expert consultant to leading equipment, events, and nutrition companies in the health and wellness space. Nate holds both undergraduate and masterís degrees from Stanford University.

Catherine Wright, MS

Project Administrator, The GREEN Project

Catherine is the project administrator for the GREEN Project Lunch Box Study, a school-based nutrition intervention that seeks to improve the nutritional quality of the foods that children bring from home to school by linking healthy eating with eco behaviors. She received her master's degree in food policy and applied nutrition from the Friedman School and has worked with the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, primarily on projects focused on food marketing to children. Prior to returning to graduate school, Catherine worked for more than ten years for the PBS documentary series ďFrontline,Ē serving most recently as the seriesí story editor.

Joelle Zaslow, BS

Grants and Finance Coordinator

Joelle holds a bachelorís degree in communication studies from Emerson College. Prior to joining the John Hancock Research Center, Joelle worked as grant writer for the Appalachian Mountain Club.