Assistant Professor, Health Behavior and Health Systems
Education & Experience:
I am proud to have a rich history as a health professional holding a Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics from Texas Christian University, a Master’s degree in nutrition from Texas Woman’s University and a Doctorate in Public Health from the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC). I have worked as both a healthcare provider and a public health practitioner.
As such, I have a passion for helping people navigate healthcare. This passion was born watching my two young adult daughters dealing with medical issues in the current healthcare environment. As a result, I chose to do my Public Health Doctoral Residency focusing on health literacy at the University of Texas Center for Health Communication and Literacy Coalition of Central Texas (LCCT). While in my residency, I was hired by the LCCT as Director of Health Literacy. There, I worked making recommendations focused on injury and hospital readmission prevention as well as improved health and wellness through effective health communication.
Teaching Areas & Public Health Interests:
I have accumulated a great diversity of skills, expertise and experience that I draw from in my teaching. I have taught at both the university and community college levels, served as a health coach and public speaker and worked with patients as a clinical provider. Recently, I helped develop a smart coaching tool for people trying to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors. Early in my career, I worked in both hospital and nutritional health and wellness. Currently, I teach Maternal Child Health Nutrition and Food Safety at UNTHSC.
I gained experience in Food Safety and Security during my tenure as Director of Issues and Crisis Management for the local region of the National Dairy Council. As a part of that role, I collaborated with farmers, industry, law enforcement, governmental agencies and other animal groups to take preventive measures and communicate effectively regarding potential animal health issues and food security. My food safety experience developed as a dietitian and public health practitioner dealing with food borne illness prevention and abatement.
My experience with public health and health literacy began as an Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Health Professions at UNTHSC. In that position, I wrote the Medical Nutrition Therapy Curriculum for the UNTHSC Professional and Continuing Education Office and crafted it to teach physicians to educate patients about nutrition using plain language messaging. Additionally, I participated in research teaching librarians and clinicians health literacy basics and planned three UNTHSC Health Literacy Symposia.
Professional Activities & Awards:
I am a member of the Texas Public Health Association. In my residency, I received the UT School of Nursing, TCRSS Community and Academic Collaborative Research Award and was the recipient of an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Doctoral Student in Public Health Scholarship. In 2010, I served on a collaborative committee of CDC and the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response to develop emergency preparedness core competencies for mid-level health care workers. In 2009, I completed the Homeland Security certified course in Preparedness and Response to Food and Agriculture Incidents.
I am a registered and licensed dietitian and a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) as well as the Texas Academy (TAND) and have served the profession in many roles. For the Society for Nutrition Education (SNE), I served as Chair of both the Nutrition Education for Children Division and the Communications Division. I also served on the Council for Public Policy and co-chaired the Social Marketing Division for SNE. I completed the Commission on Dietetic Registration Certificate of Training in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management and served on the TAND Board as Director-At-Large for Communications. I have also been a member of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitian Association (CPSDA) since its inception.
I recently served as a media representative for the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. With over 15 years of experience as a media spokesperson on both a national and local level, I received the “Media Award” from TAND for my work on nutrition-based media and the “Distinguished Scientist Award” for my health literacy research highlighting the registered dietitian as part of an inter-professional team assisting people in understanding their nutrition, health and wellness protocol.
My research has focused mainly on health literacy, the ability for people to obtain, read, understand and use healthcare information in order to make appropriate health decisions and follow instructions for treatment. As such, one of my studies focused on Implantable Medical Device websites which were found to not only be too complex, but devoid of many behavioral theory constructs to educate or empower people to make informed decisions. Currently, I am working on a study with Meals on Wheels, Inc. of Tarrant County, Texas, to validate a health literacy screening tool for the homebound population over age 65. This will allow providers to spend more time coaching people and engaging them with appropriate health and nutrition resources to maintain their health and wellness. Subsequently, they will be better able to remain in their own homes as they age.
This page was last modified on November 13, 2017