Public Health Research Area

Dr. Gwendolyn Roberts Francavillo has focused her scholarship agenda on Public Health Ethics and Holistic Stress Management in recent years. Student involvement, interdisciplinary collaboration, and aligning her teaching and scholarly activities are priorities for her research. Public Health Ethics studies assessed knowledge and attitudes regarding ethical decision-making and public health behaviors. Multiple holistic stress management studies have addressed: positive psychology; optimism and life satisfaction; stress levels and management techniques of health professions students; holistic modalities and pregnancy; and psychosocial factors that influence perceived stress.

Dr. Amy Allnutt’s research interests are in exercise and nutritional interventions, whole body vibration, and weight stigma. Weight bias has become the 4th leading cause of discrimination in the United States and it is particularly prevalent among health professionals. Results from her research are guiding curricular changes within her undergraduate and graduate classes to introduce health students to a more person-centric approach to treating obesity.

Dr. Julia Kish-Doto’s main research area focuses on the intersection between nutrition, climate change, and health communication. She works with students to design and test health education materials. Her research interests include patient-provider communication (e.g., how do doctors communicate with their patients?) and improving health literacy (e.g., how do consumers find, understand, and use health information?). Her current research explores, “What actions can healthcare providers take to encourage their patients, workplaces, and communities, to execute climate-friendly health decisions?” and “What do consumers know and understand about diet and disease prevention?”.

Dr. Sara Pappa, a Master Certified Health Education Specialist, manages a regional falls prevention initiative, including the implementation of evidence-based falls prevention programs and the direction of the Northern Virginia Falls Prevention Alliance. This work engages students with older adults in falls prevention awareness activities, community presentations and falls risk screenings. She is also interested in research designed to improve the professional preparation of public health students. Her background includes implementing and evaluating health promotion programs; conducting community health needs assessments; and developing community health improvement plans.