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BEAT Planning Committee

Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH
University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine and School of Nursing

Jim Sallis, PhD
University of California - San Diego

Brian Saelens, PhD
University of Washington

Amy Hillier, PhD
University of Pennsylvania, PennDesign Department of City and Regional Planning


2012 BEAT Faculty Instructors

Course(s) taught are listed below each name. Click on each name to view the bio.

Mariela Alfonzo, PhD
Environmental Audits

Alexis Dinno, ScD, MPH, MEM
Data Analysis

Christina Economos, PhD
Policy Change

Joel Gittelsohn, PhD
Measuring the Food Environment in Minority Communities

Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH
Nutrition Environments Overview, NEMS, Self-Report Measures of Physical Activity and Nutrition Environments

Kathryn Henderson, PhD
School Nutrition Environments

Amy Hillier, PhD
GIS: Geographic Information Systems

Thom McKenzie, PhD
Observation of Parks and Playgrounds

Lisa Powell, PhD
Databases and Economic Analysis

Daniel Rodriguez, PhD, MST
Built Environment and Transportation

Jim Sallis, PhD
Built Environment and Physical Activity Overview, Self-Report Measures of Physical Activity and Nutrition Environments

Brian Saelens, PhD
EAPRS: Environmental Assessment of Public Recreation Spaces

Dianne Stanton Ward, EdD
Home Nutrition Environments


Planning Committee Profiles

Karen Glanz photo
Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH
George A. Weiss University Professor
School of Medicine and School of Nursing
University of Pennsylvania

Karen Glanz is the George A. Weiss University Professor in the School of Medicine and School of Nursing and Director of the Center for Health Behavior Research at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Glanz's current research emphasizes understanding and preventing health risk behaviors related to nutrition and obesity, skin cancer prevention, cancer screening, and tobacco control. She has been continuously funded for the past 15 years with more than $25 million in grants as Principal Investigator. Karen Glanz's scholarly contributions consist of more than 350 journal articles and book chapters. She is senior editor of Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research, and Practice (Jossey-Bass Inc.), a widely used text now in its fourth edition. Dr. Glanz is the 2007 recipient of the Elizabeth Fries Health Education Award from the James and Sarah Fries Foundation. Dr. Glanz was formerly a Professor of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education and Epidemiology, Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Research Scholar, and Director of the Emory Prevention Research Center at the Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH) at Emory University, where she is currently adjunct faculty. She is a member of the federally appointed Task Force on Community Preventive Services and was recognized in 2006 as a Highly Cited Author by, in the top 0.5% of authors in her field over a 20-year period.


Jim Sallis photo
Jim Sallis, PhD
Professor, Family and Preventive Medicine and Division of Behavioral Medicine
University of California, San Diego

Jim Sallis is the Distinguished Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine, Chair of the Division of Behavioral Medicine, and Director of Active Living Research, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. His primary research interests are promoting physical activity and understanding policy and environmental influences on physical activity and nutrition. He is the author of over 375 scientific publications, on the editorial boards of several journals, and was identified as one of the world's most cited authors in the social sciences. He served on the editorial committee for the 1996 U.S. Surgeon General's Report, Physical Activity and Health. Dr. Sallis is co-author (with Neville Owen) of Physical Activity and Behavioral Medicine (Sage, 1999). In 2004, Time Magazine identified him as an"obesity warrior".


Brian Saelens, PhD
Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Seattle Children's Research Institute
University of Washington

Brian Saelens is a health psychologist and Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Seattle's Children's Research Institute and the University of Washington. Dr. Saelens conducts research in environmental influences on physical activity and eating and on the psychosocial factors that influence individual choice for weight-related behaviors. He is also interested in evaluating and improving behavioral treatment for pediatric overweight. He is an author on over 100 scientific publications and his work has been supported by grant funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, USDA, and the National Institutes of Health.


Amy Hillier
Amy Hillier, PhD, MSW
Assistant Professor, PennDesign Department of City and Regional Planning
University of Pennsylvania

Through a stroke of good luck, Amy Hillier learned GIS and spatial statistical analysis skills while earning her MSW and PhD in social welfare at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work. She currently teaches introductory GIS courses at Penn in the city planning, urban studies, social work, and public health programs and serves as a formal and informal GIS consultant to numerous Philadelphia-based nonprofits.  Her research focuses on the spatial analysis of public health disparities, including access to healthful foods, physical activity, and exposure to outdoor advertising. She has also used historical GIS methods to research mortgage redlining ( and W.E.B. Du Bois’ classic book, The Philadelphia Negro (


Angie Cradock, ScD, MPE
Senior Research Scientist and Deputy Director, Harvard Prevention Research Center
Harvard University

Angie Cradock is a Senior Research Scientist and Deputy Director of the Harvard Prevention Research Center (HPRC) in the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. The HPRC works with communities, community agencies and other state and local partners to develop, implement, and evaluate methodologies and interventions to improve nutrition and physical activity and reduce overweight and chronic disease risk among children, youth, and their families.

Dr. Cradock’s research primarily focuses on the social, policy and environmental factors associated with physical activity and nutrition behaviors among youth.  Specific areas of interest include school and neighborhood environments, community-based intervention research, and policy research. She holds a Doctor of Science degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. 


Faculty Instructor Profiles


Mariela Alfonzo, PhD, MURP

Urban Imprint

Mariela Alfonzo, Ph.D, is the Founder and Principal of Urban Imprint, an urban design research and consulting firm established in 2005. She is also the Founder and CEO of State of Place, a startup that generates a “credit rating” for neighborhoods that creates an urban design profile for communities and lays out a roadmap for and sustainable community growth. Additionally, she is a Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Technology, Society, and Culture at NYU-Poly. Dr. Alfonzo is an expert on the triple bottom line of urban design. She examines the relationship between the built environment and behavior, focusing on walkability, social interaction, sense of community, consumption behavior, and sustainability within the context of retail, mixed-use, and neighborhood revitalization throughout the U.S. Bridging the worlds of academia and practice, Urban Imprint translates how these environment-behavior interactions impact economic and social value, and consequently develops evidence-based sustainable planning, design, and development solutions.


Alexis Dinno, ScD, MPH, MEM

Assistant Professor
Portland State University

Alexis Dinno is an assistant professor of community health at Portland State University. Dr. Dinno earned both a M.E.M. and a M.P.H. from Yale University and an Sc.D. from the School of Public Health at Harvard University where her research unpacked the relationships between urban residential property abandonment and elderly experiences of depression in New Haven, CT using both multilevel modeling techniques, and loop analyses of causal feedback. Before coming to PSU, Dr. Dinno was an Adjunct Professor at California State University East Bay, where she taught epidemiology to graduate and undergraduate students, and developed new methods in applied multivariate statistics. Dr. Dinno was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. Her broad areas of interest include social epidemiology, social ecology and quantitative modeling. In addition to her work in community health, Dr. Dinno is an avid capoeirista. She teaches graduate courses in epidemiology, environmental health and biostatistics.


Christina Economos, PhD
Associate Director
John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention
Tufts University

Christina Economos, Ph.D., 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 Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and the Tufts University School of Medicine. As director of ChildObesity180, Dr. Economos is forging new research methods in the area of childhood obesity prevention, which has led to new public policy aimed at improving children’s health. Her work engages theory and scientific evidence as vehicles to spark systemic, community based change. She is the principal investigator of multiple large-scale studies examining childhood nutrition and physical activity with the goal of inspiring behavior, policy, and environmental change to improve the health of America’s children. Dr. Economos currently serves as an appointed member of the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention, and she previously served on the institute’s Committee on an Evidence Framework for Obesity Prevention Decision-Making from 2008 to 2010.


Joel Gittelsohn, PhD
Associate Professor, Center for Human Nutrition
Johns Hopkins, Bloomberg School of Public Health

Dr. Gittelsohn is a Professor in the Center for Human Nutrition, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health who specializes in the use of qualitative and quantitative information to design, implement and evaluate health and nutrition and physical activity intervention programs to reduce risk for chronic disease in disadvantaged ethnic minority populations. With 132 publications in peer-reviewed journals, he is a leading researcher in the area of formative research and the application of cultural information for intervention development. He has applied these methods and interventions for the prevention of obesity and diabetes among Pacific Island peoples, American Indians, First Nations, Inuit/Inuvialuit and in inner-city Baltimore, to reproductive health issues of women in developing countries, to nutrient deficiencies of Nepalese children and women, and to improve infant feeding in diverse settings. He has developed and evaluated interventions based in homes (home visits), schools, churches and food stores.

Dr. Gittelsohn’s primary work in the past decade has been the development and evaluation of environmental approaches to improve diet and reduce risk for chronic disease. He has conducted store-centered intervention trials aimed at improving food availability and providing skills and nutrition education needed to support healthy food choices in Majuro atoll (Marshall Islands Healthy Stores), on three American Indian reservations (Apache Healthy Stores, Navajo Healthy Stores), in Baltimore City (Baltimore Healthy Stores, Baltimore Healthy Eating Zones, HealthyBodies/Healthy Souls), for Native Hawaiian communities (Healthy Foods Hawaii, Rachel Novotny, PI), and in the Arctic (Healthy Foods North). He developed a multi-institutional (food store, school, health services) program for diabetes prevention in First Nations. These programs have shown success in increasing knowledge, healthy food purchasing and consumption of healthy promoted foods.


Kathryn Henderson, PhD
Director of School and Community Initiatives
Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University

Kathryn E. Henderson, Ph.D., is a psychologist and Director of School and Community Initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Queen’s University at Kingston, Canada, and completed her clinical internship at Harvard Medical School and her post-doctoral training in the Yale Department of Psychology. She was Clinical Director of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders from 2003 to 2008. Dr. Henderson has published and presented on binge eating, weight bias and stigma, the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity, the food environment in schools and childcare, and psychosocial and behavioral factors in bariatric surgery. Dr. Henderson’s research has been funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations’ Healthy Eating Research and Active Living Research programs, the National Institutes of Health, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. Her current research projects include the study of school and childcare wellness policies; interventions in childcare settings to promote nutritional quality in the context of food insecurity; environmental modifications to the school cafeteria to improve nutritional quality; impact of the revised WIC package on food purchases; and statistical methods for assessing school-based interventions.



Thom McKenzie photo
Thom McKenzie, PhD
Professor of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences
San Diego State University

Dr. Thom McKenzie is Emeritus Professor of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences at San Diego State University. He has authored or co-authored over 160 scientific papers, and has been an investigator on 13 large-scale multidisciplinary research projects supported by the National Institutes of Health. He is currently Co-Principal Investigator on two obesity prevention programs in San Diego and an investigator on five studies of physical activity and associated variables in parks and recreation centers.


Lisa Powell, PhD

Sr. Research Scientist & Research Associate Professor
Department of Economics, University of Illinois, Chicago

Lisa Powell, Ph.D. is a Senior Research Scientist in the Institute for Health Research and Policy and Research Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Powell has extensive experience as an applied micro-economist in the empirical analysis of the effects of public policy on a series of behavioral outcomes. As Director of the RWJF funded ImpacTeen Youth Obesity Research Team and as Principal Investigator on NIH funded projects much of her current research is on assessing the importance of economic and environmental factors (such as food prices and taxes; access to food stores, eating places, and facilities for physical activity; and television food advertising exposure) on food consumption and physical activity behaviors and as determinants of body mass index and the prevalence of obesity. Dr. Powell’s research also examines school-level food and fitness policies and the association of school meal participation and children’s weight status. In other health-related work, Dr. Powell's work has examined the importance of peer and parental influences on teen smoking, while other studies have highlighted the role of prices and public policies with regard to alcohol use among college students and educational and violence-related outcomes.


Daniel Rodriguez, PhD, MST
Associate Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning
Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology
Director, Carolina Transportation Program
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Daniel Rodriguez is a teacher, researcher, and planning consultant with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  His research focuses on the relationship between the urban environment and behavior. He is the author of more than 60 peer reviewed publications and a co-author of the book Urban Land Use Planning (University of Illinois Press). Dr. Rodriguez’s research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, among others. He is currently appointed to a standing committee of the National Academies’ Transportation Research Board and serves in the editorial board of journals such as the Journal of the American Planning Association, Journal of Sustainable Transportation, and Journal of Transport and Land Use.


Dianne Stanton Ward, EdD

Professor, Department of Nutrition
Gillings School of Public Health, University of North Carolina

Dr. Ward serves as director of Doctoral Program within the Department and as associate director of the Diet, Physical Activity, and Body Composition Core of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC). Dr. Ward’s research focuses on the prevention of obesity and the promotion of healthy diets and physical activity through interventions implemented in child care, schools, communities, and homes. Dr. Ward has been PI for NIH- and CDC-funded research projects that test interventions to promote healthy weight development in children and families. Currently, she is the PI for a 4-year intervention (1R01 HL091093) to prevent obesity by developing parenting skills in parents of young children. An additional focus of her work is the development of measures to assess home environmental factors associated with physical activity, diet, and obesity. Dr. Ward also led the team that developed a policy and environmental intervention for child care, the Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care, or NAP SACC, a highly regarded program within the public health community and used by many states to support healthy weight development in young children.