Research Interests: factors that influence ingestive
behavior and the development of obesity in humans, caffeine use
among adolescents, and exercise and nutrition interactions
My path to Exercise and Nutrition Sciences was very circuitous. I began conducting research on steroid hormones and visceral pain as an undergraduate at Florida State University. For graduate school, I wanted to continue to study behavior, but decided to switch to reproductive behavior. My dissertation research focused on the effects of energy restriction on reproductive behavior and neurophysiology in the female musk shrew (Suncus murinus). This species stores little fat and has a high metabolic rate, so they are very sensitive to small fluctuations in food intake. For my first post-doc, I joined the Cellular and Developmental Neurobiology Section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Here my research focused on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which estradiol regulates the function of gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons in the brain. Although I really enjoyed my experience at the NIH, I wanted to return to studying behavior. I decided to make a major shift in my research emphasis and begin studying human ingestive behavior. I joined the laboratory of Dr. Leonard Epstein here at UB in January of 2005 and began to study factors that influence eating behavior in children and adults, including food variety, genetics, television, and food additives. In the fall of 2008, I joined the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences as an Assistant Professor and the director of the Nutrition and Health Research Laboratory.