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Graduate Students
  • Marisa Creatura, RD
     
    Research Assistant
    Department of Allied Health Sciences                                                                 
    University of Connecticut                                                                                        358 Mansfield Road, Unit 1101 
    Storrs, CT 06269-1101
                                                                    
    Email: marisa.creatura@uconn.edu
                                                               
    Biography
    Marisa is a Master’s in Health Promotion student, working under Dr. Tania Huedo-Medina. Her research interests include the impact of the Mediterranean diet on chronic diseases, as well as mindfulness-based eating practices. She received her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from the University of Connecticut. She is a Registered Dietitian, and currently working at UConn’s Student Health Services providing nutrition counseling for a variety of student concerns. Future plans are to work in a career that allows her to continue to research, educate, and spread awareness of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and mindful eating to promote lifestyle change and healthier eating habits in Americans.
  • Carnisha Gilder
     
    Research/Teaching Assistant
    Department of Allied Health Sciences                                                                 
    University of Connecticut                                                                                        358 Mansfield Road, Unit 1101 
    Storrs, CT 06269-1101
                                                                    
    Email: carnisha.gilder@uconn.edu
                                                               
    Biography
    Carnisha Gilder is a first year Doctoral Student in Health Promotion Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Tricia Leahey. Carnisha’s research interests include weight-loss management and obesity treatment in underserved communities. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Society from Cornell University in 2013 and most recently a Master’s in Health Promotion Sciences from the University of Connecticut in 2016. Her Master’s thesis was entitled Unhealthy Workplace Ergonomics as Predictors of Musculoskeletal Pain: Implications for an Ergonomic Intervention. She hopes to combine her four passions of health promotion, teaching, helping others, and traveling in her future career.
  • Brittany Larsen MS, RD
     
    Research/Teaching Assistant
    Department of Allied Health Sciences                                                                 
    University of Connecticut                                                                                        358 Mansfield Road, Unit 1101 
    Storrs, CT 06269-1101
                                                                    
    Email: brittany.larsen@uconn.edu
                                                               
    Biography
    Brittany is a first-year Doctoral student in Health Promotion Sciences with Dr. Valerie Duffy, PhD, RD, as her major advisor. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Sciences specializing in Dietetics from South Dakota State University in 2012.  She earned her Master of Science degree in Health and Human Performance with a concentration in Nutrition and Wellness while simultaneously completing her dietetic internship at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 2013. She earned her Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential in 2014 and worked as a clinical dietitian in a rural eastern Montana hospital for 2 1/2 years prior to returning to school to pursue her doctorate. Her research interests lie broadly in the field of nutritional epidemiology and obesity etiology and prevention.  Alongside Dr. Duffy, she is involved with research relating to the variation of nutrigenomics on taste and its influence on food preference, dietary selection, and deviations from adherence to a healthy diet for obesity prevention.  Specifically, she works as a research assistant assessing chemosensory function in smokers and is researching the effects of e-Cigarette intervention.  Future plans include completion of a post-doctorate with a goal of a predominantly research-focused career in an intergovernmental organization or academia.
  • Megan Mahoney, RD
     
    Research Assistant
    Department of Allied Health Sciences                                                                 
    University of Connecticut                                                                                        358 Mansfield Road, Unit 1101 
    Storrs, CT 06269-1101
                                                                    
    Email: megan.m.mahoney@uconn.edu
                                                               
    Biography
    Megan is a Master’s in Health Promotion student working under Ellen Shanley.  She completed her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Framingham State University's Coordinated Program, and is now working as a Registered Dietitian at UConn’s Student Health Services, providing nutrition counseling to students, and also as a teaching assistant in the Department of Allied Health.  In the future, I plan to continue spreading my knowledge and passion for nutrition, with a particular interest in counseling and educating teens and young adults.
  • Shane Sacco, M.S.
     
    Research Assistant
    Department of Allied Health Sciences                                                                 
    University of Connecticut                                                                                        358 Mansfield Road, Unit 1101 
    Storrs, CT 06269-1101
                                                                    
    Email: shane.sacco@uconn.edu
                                                               
    Biography
    Shane J. Sacco is a Health Promotion Sciences doctoral student, working under the advisory of Dr. Tricia Leahey and Dr. Tania Huedo-Medina. In 2010, Shane earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Connecticut, and in 2012, he achieved a Master of Arts in Psychology from Central Connecticut State University. Over the last decade, Shane has worked on various academic and industrial grants, primarily in the roles of coordinator and data manager. Since 2008, Shane has collaborated with Dr. Crystal L. Park in the psychology department at UCONN. Together, they have published three articles and presented multiple posters regarding coping and well-being in Heart Failure patients.

    Currently, Shane is assisting Dr. Leahey with cleaning and analyzing clinical data which examines the potential benefits of coaching in weight loss. With this, Shane plans to focus upon his efforts on helping to determine the possible underlying psychological factors which may influence findings. Specifically, Shane intends to present and publish findings in relation to how particular motivational drives associate with weight outcomes. Shane is also continuing to pursue knowledge in advanced statistical methods and considerations, business intelligence, and information technology.  


    Park, C. L. & Sacco, S. J. (2016). Spiritual Issues and Healthcare Providers: Impact of Desires, Constraints, and Unmet Needs on Heart Failure Patients’ Well-Being. Psychol Health Med. 2016 Nov 14:1-10.

    Sacco, S. J., Park, C. L., Suresh, D. P., & Bliss, D. (2014). Living with Congestive Heart Failure: Psychosocial Resources, Meaning, Gratitude & Well-Being. Heart Lung. 2014 May-Jun;43(3):213-8.

    Park, C.L., Sacco, S. J., & Edmondson, D. (2012). Expanding Coping Goodness of Fit: Religious Coping, Health Locus of Control and Depressed Affect in Heart Failure Patients. Anxiety Stress Coping. 2012 Mar;25(2):137-53.

    Sacco, S. J. (2012). Transactional Goodness-of-Fit: Examining the Role of Appraisal in Coping Fit. Google Books. http://content.library.ccsu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/ccsutheses/id/1824
  • Roman Shrestha
     
    Research Assistant | Teaching Assistant
    Department of Allied Health Sciences                                                                 
    University of Connecticut                                                                                        358 Mansfield Road, Unit 1101 
    Storrs, CT 06269-1101
    Office: (203) 781-4690
    Fax: (203) 781-4606  
                                                                    
    Email: roman.shrestha@uconn.edu                                                             
    Website: www.roman-shrestha.grad.uconn.edu        
     
    Biography
    Roman is a doctoral candidate in public health program at the University of Connecticut Health Center, under the advisement of Dr. Michael Copenhaver. He holds a Master in Public Health (MPH) degree from the University of Connecticut Health Center and a Bachelors in Science (Major: Biology & Chemistry) from Wiley College. His research interests lie broadly in the areas of HIV prevention, with particular focus on combination approach to HIV prevention (i.e., integration of biomedical and behavioral interventions), neurocognitive impairment, and substance abuse. His doctoral dissertation focuses on “adapting and testing an evidence-based bio-behavioral intervention among people who use drugs in the context of community based clinical settings”. Under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Copenhaver, he is currently leading a project that involves integrating an evidence-based biomedical approach (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis; PrEP) with a brief evidence-based behavioral approach (Community-friendly Health Recovery Program; CHRP) that incorporates innovative tools (e.g., mHealth technology, cognitive remediation strategies) specifically designed to accommodate the disruptive impact that neurocognitive impairment may have on PrEP adherence and HIV risk reduction behaviors. He has been involved in a number of NIDA- and CDC-funded research projects that deal with HIV risk reduction among priority populations within community-based, clinical, and criminal justice settings.

    Publications

    Shrestha, R., Weikum, D., Copenhaver, M., & Altice, F. (2016). The Influence of Neurocognitive Impairment, Depression, and Alcohol Use Disorders on Quality of Life among Incarcerated, HIV-Positive Opioid Dependent Malaysian Men: A Moderated Mediation Analysis. AIDS & Behavior. (In press). doi: 10.1007/s10461-016-1526-3.
    Shrestha, R., Karki, P., Huedo-Medina, T., Altice, F., Madden, L., & Copenhaver, M. (2016). Correlates of willingness to use Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and the likelihood of practicing safer drug- and sex-related risk behaviors among high-risk drug users in treatment. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. (In press).
    Shrestha, R., Huedo-Medina, T., Krishnan, A., Altice, F., & Copenhaver, M. (2016). Examining the Acceptability of mHealth Technology in HIV Prevention among High-risk Drug Users in Treatment. AIDS and Behavior. (In press).
    Shrestha, R., Huedo-Medina, T. B., Altice, F., Karki, P., & Copenhaver, M. M. (2016). Acceptability of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Use: An Empirical Test of the Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills (IMB) Model among High-Risk Drug Users in Treatment. AIDS and Behavior. (In press).
    Shrestha, R., Karki, P., Huedo-Medina, T., & Copenhaver, M. Treatment engagement moderates the effect of neurocognitive impairment on antiretroviral therapy adherence among HIV-infected drug users in treatment. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care. (In press). doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jana.2016.09.007
    Huedo-Medina, T. B., Shrestha, R., & Copenhaver, M. M. (2016). Modeling a Theory-Based Approach to Examine the Influence of Neurocognitive Impairment on HIV Risk Reduction Behaviors among Drug Users in Treatment. AIDS & Behavior, 20(8): 1646-57. doi: 10.1007/s10461-016-1394-x
    Copenhaver, M., Shrestha, R., Wickersham, J. A., Weikum, D., & Altice, F. L. (2016). An Exploratory Factor Analysis of a Brief Self-Report Scale to Detect Neurocognitive Impairment Among Participants Enrolled in Methadone Maintenance Therapy. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 63, 61-65. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2016.01.002
    Shrestha, R., & Copenhaver, M. (2016). The Influence of Neurocognitive Impairment on HIV Risk Behaviors among High-Risk Drug Users: A Systematic Review. Frontiers in Public Health, 4:16. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2016.00016
    Karki, P., Shrestha, R., Huedo-Medina, T., & Copenhaver, M. (2016). The impact of methadone maintenance treatment on HIV risk behaviors among high-risk injection drug users: A systematic review. Evidence-based Medicine and Public Health, 2(e1229): 1-6. doi: 10.14800/emph.1229
    Shrestha, R., Karki, P., & Copenhaver, M. (2016). Use of Commercial Sex Workers among Men in Nepal: Prevalence, STIs/HIV-related Risk Behaviors, and Gender Ideology. Primary Prevention Insights. 2016:6, 11-17. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.4137/PPRI.S39664
    Shrestha, R., & Copenhaver, M. (2016). Association between Intimate Partner Violence against Women and HIV Risk Behaviors: Findings from the Nepal Demographic Health Survey. Violence Against Women. 22(13): 1621-1641. doi: 10.1177/1077801216628690
    Shrestha, R., Karki, P., Pandey, S., & Copenhaver, M. (2016). Adapting an Evidence-Based HIV Prevention Intervention Targeting High-Risk Migrant Workers: The Process and Outcome of Formative Research. Frontiers in Public Health, 4:61. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2016.00061
    Shrestha, R., Huedo-Medina, T. B., & Copenhaver, M. M. (2015). Sex-Related Differences in Self-Reported Neurocognitive Impairment among High-Risk Cocaine Users in Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program. Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, 9:17-24.
    Shrestha, R., Huedo-Medina, T., & Copenhaver, M. (2015). Gender Differences in Associations between Neurocognitive Impairment and Cocaine Use among High-Risk Cocaine-Dependent Methadone-Maintained Patients. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 156(0), e204.
    Shrestha, R., Krishnan, A., Altice, F., & Copenhaver, M. (2015). A Non-Inferiority Trial of an Evidence-Based Secondary HIV Prevention Behavioral Intervention Compared to an Adapted, Abbreviated Version: Rationale and Intervention Description. Contemporary Clinical Trials. 44: 995-102.
    Shrestha, R., Karki, P., & Copenhaver, M. (2015). Early sexual debut: A Risk Factor for STIs/HIV Acquisition among a Nationally Representative Sample of Adults in Nepal. Journal of Community Health, 41(1): 70-77. doi: 10.1007/s10900-015-0065-6
    Shrestha, R., & Copenhaver, M. (2015). Long-Term Effects of Childhood Risk Factors on Cardiovascular Health during Adulthood. Clinical Medicine Reviews in Vascular Health. 7:1-5. 10.4137/CMRVH.S29964.
    Shrestha, R., Karki, P., Suwal, A. & Copenhaver, M. (2015). Sex Trafficking Related Knowledge, Awareness, and Attitudes Among Adolescent Female Students in Nepal: A Cross-Sectional Study. PLoS ONE, 10(7): e0133508. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0133508
    Shrestha, R., Karki, P., & Copenhaver, M. (2015). Nepal Earthquake Exposes Significant Gaps in Disaster Preparedness. BMJ, 350: h2691.
    Shrestha, R., & Copenhaver, M. (2015). Developing an Evidence-Based Intervention Targeting High-Risk Migrant Workers. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 146(0), e99.
    Shrestha, R., & Karki, P. (2015). Using Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) Changes to Promote Physical Activity. BMJ, 350: h3024.
    Shrestha, R., & Karki, P. (2015). Tobacco Industry “Should Be Sued By UK Government” for Smokers’ Health Costs: Lessons From the United States. BMJ, 350: h3159.
    Shrestha, R., & Karki, P. (2015). Mitigating the Impact of Gun Violence on Children: Have We Covered All Dimensions? BMJ, 350: h3159.
    Shrestha, R., & Copenhaver, M. (2014). HIV Risk Behaviors among Returnee Male Migrant Workers in Nepal. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 140(0), e207.
    Baldwin, P., Shrestha, R., Potrepka, J., & Copenhaver, M. (2013). The Age of Initiation of Drug Use and Sexual Behavior May Influence Subsequent HIV Risk Behavior: A Systematic Review. ISRN AIDS, vol. 2013, Article ID 976035, 17 pages, 2013.
    Shrestha, R. (2013). Understanding HIV-Related Risk Behaviors among Returnee Male Migrant Workers in Nepal. Master’s Thesis, 470.
    Shrestha, R. (2012). Maternal Mortality in Nepal: Addressing the Issue. International Journal of Health Sciences Research. 2(9):65-74.
    Shrestha, R. (2012). Arsenic Contamination of Groundwater in Nepal: Good Public Health Intention Gone Bad. Student Pulse, 4(09), 1-3.).
     
    Research Support
    Ongoing Research Support
    UConn CHIP Seed Grant                     Shrestha (PI)                                       05/01/14-04/30/16
    Title: Developing an evidence-based intervention targeting high-risk migrant workers
    Description: A formative research study as a means to guide adaptation and refinement of the original Holistic Health Recovery Program (HHRP) such that it will be optimally designed for implementation with high-risk migrant workers in Nepal.
    Role: Principal Investigator
     
    Completed Research Support
    UConn CLAS Research Grant             Shrestha (PI)                                        05/01/11-05/01/13
    Title: HIV-related risk behaviors among returnee male migrant workers in Nepal.
    Description: A cross-sectional study conducted among returnee male migrant and non-migrant workers to assess the possible role of migration in spreading HIV and identified predictors of HIV-risk behaviors.
    Role: Principal Investigator
     
  • Chanchala Tiwari
    Email: chanchala.tiwari@uconn.edu

    Chanchala Tiwari is a Master's second year graduate student in Health Promotion Sciences. Being from Nepal, she completed high school from Orchid Science College in Nepal, a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Indian Academy College of Nursing in Bangalore India, and training for nursing in Nepal. Chanchala is a registered nurse and has worked in nursing as well as was an assistant lecturer at a medical college for students seeking a diploma in nursing.

    Chanchala's major advisor is Dr. Michael Copenhaver and works as a graduate research assistant with Dr. Copenhaver on secondary HIV prevention, Holistic Health for HIV (3H+) project at the APT Foundation in New Haven, CT.  Chanchala is working on behavioral interventions for individuals who are HIV+ as well as is using a biomedical prevention approach for HIV negative and high-risk drug users who receive pre-exposure prophylaxis treatment.
about AHS
There has consistently been a high demand for graduates of the DGS Program and job opportunities are expected to remain excellent.

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Department of Allied Health Sciences
College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources
358 Mansfield Road, Unit 1101
Storrs, Connecticut 06269-1101
Telephone: (860) 486-2834
Fax: (860) 486-5375