About Us


Core Staff



David Buff
Office Coordinator

David Buff is the Office Coordinator for the Center of Health Behavior Research. He is a graduate of Temple University and has several years of experience in academic administration. While not at work, Dave enjoys spending time with his wife, attending concerts, and rooting on the Phillies.


Margaret Clawson, MPH
Project Coordinator

Margaret Clawson is a NEMS Master Trainer and Project Coordinator for NEMS as well as co-coordinator of the Built Environment Assessment Training Institute. She received her Master's degree in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a concentration in Health Behavior and Health Education. Before attending graduate school, Margaret was a Peace Corps volunteer in Guinea, West Africa. Her interests include participatory research, minority health, obesity prevention, and translation and dissemination of research. Some of her previous work areas include HIV care, HIV prevention, youth empowerment, lay health advisors and Latino health.


Erica Davis
Senior Research Coordinator

Erica Davis is a Senior Project Coordinator with the Center for Health Behavior Research. Erica has 5 years of experience working in public health research, training, and project coordination including work as a Master Trainer on the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey (NEMS), the Built Environment Assessment Training (BEAT) Institute and Pool Cool, a skin cancer prevention program geared towards staff and patrons in aquatic settings. Erica graduated from Emory University with a Bachelor of Arts in Religion with a concentration in Chemistry and a minor in Studio Arts. Outside of the office, Erica enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and testing out her new (and sometimes healthful) creations on her friends and co-workers.


Sarah Green, MPH
Research Project Manager

Sarah Green is a Research Project Manager with the Center for Health Behavior Research and is involved in several CHBR projects, including the Perceived Food Environment Study (NEMS-P) and the Community Engagement and Research Core (CEAR Core). She earned a Masters degree in Public Health from Emory University, with a concentration in Behavioral Science and Health Education. Some of her research interests include obesity prevention, health promotion, community health, and community-based participatory research.

Sara Grossman

Sara Grossman
Project Coordinator

Sara Grossman is a Project Coordinator with the Center for Health Behavior Research. She is involved in the Community Engagement and Research Core (CEAR Core) and the Prostate Cancer Community Engagement, Evaluation and Dissemination Core (Pro-CEED Core). Sara is currently enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Public Health program. She received her Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from The George Washington University with a concentration in global health and a minor in public health. Her previous experience includes research and programmatic work to promote health for underserved communities.


Colleen Watts
Project Coordinator

Colleen Watts is a project coordinator at the Center for Health Behavior Research. Her previous experience includes program development at Philabundance, where she helped create food access by building food pantry capacity. Colleen is a graduate of Lehigh University and holds a Baking and Pastry Diploma from the Art Institute of Philadelphia. She is active in the Philadelphia Women's Culinary Guild and is a Director at Large for the Kensington Community Food Coop. She lives in Fishtown with her husband Christian and daughter June.

Student Research Assistants


Aditi Gogate

Bio coming soon!


Graceann Palmarella

Graceann Palmarella is a Research Assistant with the Center for Health Behavior Research. Graceann is currently enrolled in the Master of Public Health program at The University of Pennsylvania. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Community Health from the University of Maryland's School of Public Health. She is interested in Health Behavior and Health Education, especially in regards to Nutrition and Physical Activity.


picture coming soon

Zhi Pan

Bio coming soon!


Matthew Phillips

Matthew is a Research Assistant at the Center for Health Behavior Research. He is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Public Health from Temple University, where he also works as a Teaching Assistant. Matthew has a Bachelors of Science in Public Health from Temple University, with a focus on nutrition and health education. Matthew enjoys traveling, cooking, hiking, and weekends at the beach. Upon graduation in May, he hopes to find a job at a research institute in Philadelphia.


picture coming soon

Alexandra Tomlinson

Alexandra Tomlinson is a Research Assistant at the Center for Health Behavior Research. She is currently pursuing dual Masters degrees in Public Health and Social Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. Alexandra received her bachelor’s degree in Communications with a focus in social media influence and a minor in Nutrition, Health and Society from Cornell University. Alexandra is interested in preventive health initiatives, primarily fitness and nutrition. Outside of the lab she enjoys to run, practice yoga, cook, read and anything outside.

Trainees & Mentees


Elizabeth Lowenthal, MD

Dr. Lowenthal is a pediatrician whose research focuses on understanding factors that may improve treatment outcomes among HIV-infected children and adolescents in resource-limited settings. Before coming to the University of Pennsylvania and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in 2008, she lived in Botswana for 4 years, serving as the Associate Director of the Botswana-Baylor Children's Clinical Centre of Excellence, a large African clinic dedicated to the care and treatment of HIV-infected children. She completed her medical and post-graduate training at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas and is a student in the Masters of Science in Clinical Epidemiology program at the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently the Principal Investigator for a Botswana-based CDC-PEPFAR Public Health Effectiveness grant focused on understanding factors related to treatment adherence among HIV-infected adolescents, as well as the recipient of a K23 career award from the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Lowenthal is mentored by Karen Glanz at the Center for Health Behavior Research.


Ronac Mamtani, MD

Ronac Mamtani is a Hematology/Oncology fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, currently pursuing a Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology (MSCE) at the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CCEB). He majored in Human Biology Health and Society at Cornell University. After receiving his medical degree from Stony Brook School of Medicine, NY, Ronac completed residency in internal medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Cornell Medical Center. His research interests focus on genitourinary cancers. His thesis, under the mentorship of Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, Director of the Center for Health Behavior Research, investigates the association between anti-diabetic agents and bladder cancer in diabetics.


Marilyn Santana, MD

Marilyn Santana is a fellow in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. She received her medical degree from Universidad Francisco Marroquin, Guatemala. Her research interests are in diabetes type 2, obesity and metabolic syndrome. In the future, she hopes to become a faculty member of a Guatemalan university to teach and emphasize research in the Guatemalan population.


Charmaine Wright, MD

Charmaine Wright is an Assistant Professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine and an Associate Program Director of the Internal Medicine and Pediatrics Residency Program. With a passion for maternal child health and Dr. Glanz as her mentor, Dr. Wright is developing an intervention to decrease postpartum weight retention among low income mothers with health texting, social support, and exercise and nutrition support. She is also collaborating with Dr. Sara Slattery to pilot a physician-run exercise program for obese and diabetic patients who receive their care from the 3701 Market Street Cooper Practice. With an interest in health disparities and measuring and augmenting self-efficacy, Dr. Wright hopes to improve healthy behaviors among vulnerable populations.

Recent Trainees and Students

Robert Hsu

Robert Hsu

Robert Hsu was a Research Assistant at the Center for Health Behavior Research. At Penn, he is pursuing a dual degree in biology and business with an individualized concentration in public health. Outside of school, Robert is a project leader for Social Impact Consulting, a biweekly columnist for the Daily Pennsylvanian, project leader at Penn Fitness for Life, and an intern at Campus Health Initiatives of Student Health Service. Robert is also working on an independent research project funded by the College House Research Fellows Program on contact lens care protocol compliance and a public health promotion project called the Healthy Food Truck Initiative. In the future, he hopes to attend graduate school and pursue a career in public health.

Lauren Johnson

Lauren Johnson

Lauren Johnson is a Research Assistant at the Center for Health Behavior Research. Currently, she is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a minor in Urban Studies. She is the historian for Penn's Black Student League and a mentor at West Philadelphia High School. Lauren enjoys cooking, shopping, and spending time with her friends.

© The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania || Site best viewed in a supported browser. || Site Design: PMACS Web Team