Deborah Tate, phd

Deborah Tate is a professor in the Departments of Health Behavior and Nutrition as well as the director of CHAI Core. She has 20 years of research in behavioral weight management, particularly delivered through web and mobile platforms. Dr. Tate conducted several of the first randomized trials using the Internet and new technologies to deliver behavioral treatments for obesity and has continued to conduct a programmatic series of studies to determine which features of digital weight control programs contribute to efficacy.

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Carmina Valle, phd, MPH

Carmina Valle is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition with over a decade of experience in the field of cancer prevention and control. Dr. Valle’s research focuses on developing and evaluating technology-based behavior change interventions to eliminate disparities in cancer. Her research interests include using emerging technologies to promote physical activity and weight control, health behavior interventions for young adult and under-served cancer survivors, and tailored health communications.

Heather Wasser, PhD, MPH, RD, IBCLC

Heather Wasser is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition, a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She has more than 15 years of professional and research experience aimed at improving the health and wellness of families with young children. Dr. Wasser's research focuses on the design of behavioral interventions at the intersection of nutrition and child development. Her research interests include using new technologies to improve maternal and infant diet, interventions promoting social support for pregnant women and mothers during the first 1,000 days, and the use of emerging intervention frameworks, particularly the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST).

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Brooke Nezami is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition with 9 years of experience in behavioral weight control interventions. Her research focuses on using technology to increase adherence and improve dietary behaviors and increase physical activity in young adults and families with young children. Dr. Nezami’s research interests include smartphone-based interventions for weight control, just-in-time adaptive interventions (JITAIs), and using technology to adapt and disseminate weight control interventions for underserved, rural families.



Karen hatley, mph

Karen received her BSPH and MPH in Nutrition at UNC Chapel Hill.  After working as a Nutrition Consultant for the NC Department of Health and Human Services, she went on to serve as the Managing Director of the UNC Clinical Nutrition Research Center (now the Nutrition Obesity Research Center). In 2006, she joined Dr. Tate’s research group as her Project Manager and is involved in all aspects of the research group including grant submissions; intervention design, development and implementation; manuscripts and overall management of the lab and numerous research studies being conducted by Dr. Tate.



Molly received her MPH at UNC Chapel Hill in Health Behavior. She joined Dr. Tate’s research group in 2005 and now assists with all aspects of research including intervention delivery, material development, and writing. She is interested in promoting healthy lifestyles and finding strategies to make healthy changes sustainable for different types of people.


Kristen received her PhD in Exercise Physiology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2005, and has been a member of Dr. Tate’s research group since 2008. She serves to develop and deliver behavioral interventions. Her interests include enhancing participant engagement and retention, as well as understanding effective techniques that support long-term health behavior change.

Postdoctoral Fellows

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Lindsey Horrell, PhD, MPH, RN

Lindsey graduated with her BSN from Bellarmine University in 2014 and went on to complete her MPH in Health Behavior and PhD in Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on supporting healthy behaviors and and enhancing health outcomes among adolescent and young adult cancer survivors (AYA). Her current research explores innovative communication technologies to deliver survivorship care resources to AYAs as they transition from active treatment to survivorship care.

Doctoral Students


Julianne is a doctoral student in the Department of Health Behavior. She completed her BA in Neuroscience at Skidmore College and her MS in Interdisciplinary Studies (Health Promotion) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her research interests include obesity prevention, nutrition education, electronic and mobile health, rural populations, and using behavior change techniques to address health disparities.

Lex Hurley, MPH

Lex is a doctoral student in the Department of Health Behavior. He completed his BS in Human Biology at the University of Texas at Austin and his MPH at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at Abilene. His research interests mHealth methods and technology-based health promotion, rural populations, military populations, community-based participatory research, and nutrition and physical activity interventions for weight loss and chronic disease prevention.


Dori Steinberg, Phd, ms, rd

Elizabeth Lyons, phd, mph

Brie Turner-McGrievy, phd, ms, rd

Noel L. Kulik, phd

Melissa Crane, phd

Kelly Webber, phd, rd, ld

Jeanne Gabriele, phd

Brooke Nezami, phd, Ma

carmina valle, phd