Director: Diana Thomas, Ph.D. is an associate professor of mathematics and Director of the Center for Quantitative Obesity Research at Montclair State University in New Jersey. Her research involves applications of mathematics to guide and inform patients regulating their body weight. Dr. Thomas’ models combine data collected from clinical trials involving human body weight regulation stretching back over a century to arrive at mathematically driven conclusions. Some of the questions she is investigating are “Why do individuals not lose more weight during exercise?”, “How can we objectively monitor diet in humans?”, and “What explains differences in weight change between individuals?” Dr. Thomas works closely with an interdisciplinary team of experts in nutrition, exercise, physiology, and medicine.
Amanda S. Birnbaum, Ph.D., MPH is an associate professor of public health and the Graduate Program Coordinator of the Master of Public Health in Community Health Education at Montclair State University. Her research interests focus on understanding and improving eating and physical activity behaviors, particularly among adolescents. Working from a social ecological perspective, Dr. Birnbaum combines quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate social environmental factors, such as neighborhood and school environments, as they relate to diet and physical activity. She also collaborates on developing and evaluating both local and national initiatives aimed at promoting healthier eating and physical activity among families and communities.
Michele Fisher, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator in Exercise Science and Physical Education at Montclair State University. Her research interests include the role of exercise in the management of cardiovascular risk factors and the application of age-appropriate physical activity in children and adolescents. She is the primary author of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) 2006 Guidelines for Undergraduate Exercise Physiology in a Physical Education Teacher Education Program and has published 17 refereed articles or abstracts, along with numerous professional presentations. Michele is an active member of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education and Dance (AAHPERD) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), having served on several committees related to Exercise Physiology and Research Programming over the years. She is also certified as a Clinical Exercise Specialist from the ACSM and has served as a lecturer and examiner for ACSM certification workshops for Health Fitness Specialist and Clinical Exercise Specialist.
Jinshan Gao, Ph.D. Gao earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from China Agricultural University, and Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Purdue University. During his Ph.D. studies, Dr. Gao focused on the investigation of free radical activities by employing mass spectrometry and the development of a new ionization source. Prior to joining Montclair State University, Dr. Gao spent one and half years as a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology. There he launched his research career in proteomics and glycomics by employing free radical chemistry and mass spectrometry. Dr. Gao is the author and coauthor of 12 original research papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and 2 U.S. patents.
Amir Golnabi, Ph.D. studied Mathematics and Computer Engineering at the University of Salamanca in Spain. After completing four years of coursework, he transferred to Montclair State University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 2007. Thereafter, he started his graduate studies at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, and worked on the "Computational Aspect of Microwave Imaging for Biomedical Applications." In June 2012, he completed his Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Engineering, and joined the Pulmonary Imaging and Bioengineering Laboratory at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School. During his postdoctoral research fellow training, he worked on "Complex Systems Approach to Bronchoconstriction in Asthma." He has a track record of peer-reviewed publications, conference presentations, and awards, including the Sylvia Sorkin Greenfield Award for the Best Paper Published in Medical Physics, 2013. He was also the recipient of the prestigious IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S) Graduate Fellowship for Medical Applications in 2010. Dr. Golnabi's research interest includes mathematical modeling, numerical methods, inverse problems, medical image processing, and image reconstruction algorithms. He holds a patent in System and Method for Collection and Use of Magnetic Resonance Data and Microwave Data to Identify Boundaries of Interest with two colleagues.
Andrada Ivanescu, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of mathematical sciences and member of the Center of Quantitative Obesity Research at Montclair State University in New Jersey. Her expertise focuses in the area of Biostatistics. She co-authored journal articles for Obesity Surgery, Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, and co-investigated NADPH oxidase activity and muscle microvascular endothelial function in obesity for a National Institutes of Health awarded grant. As a graduate research assistant in Biostatistics at Florida State University, Department of Statistics, she participated in the Diverse Populations Collaborative Group initiative to study the variability of the nadir of body mass index using meta-analysis strategies across cohorts of diverse populations.
David Konas, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of chemistry at Montclair State University. His research involves applying chemistry and chemical methods to answering questions related to health and medicine. Dr. Konas was a research associate and fellow at the Cleveland Clinic and maintains a collaboration with scientists there. Dr. Konas is currently working on the synthesis of modified biological compounds and the analysis of actual prepared food nutrient content found in various foodservice environments.
Meena Mahadevan, Ph.D., MHE is an assistant professor of nutrition and the Program Coordinator of the new Applied Nutrition concentration in the Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences at Montclair State University. Her research interests focus on using the socio-ecological model to understand the factors influencing the health and nutrition status of individuals faced with comorbid chronic conditions including HIV, diabetes and hypertension. Her work involves using both quantitative and qualitative methods to delineate the mechanisms and pathways by which the various personal, social, cultural and environmental factors unique to a population group intersect to impact their nutritional health outcomes. She also collaborates with several community-based agencies in Paterson and Newark on developing and evaluating interventions aimed at promoting better health-seeking practices and reducing health disparities among some of the most vulnerable sections of our our society, namely HIV-positive African American women, and impoverished South Asian immigrant women with low literacy levels.
Christopher McKinley Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. His research program explores how mediated and interpersonal resources influence health information seeking and health behavior change. Dr. McKinley is particularly interested in assessing the contribution of popular media and psychosocial factors on health decision-making. His research has addressed important public health issues, including, but not limited to, binge drinking, childhood obesity, healthy dietary habits, and mental illness.
Elena Petroff, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology and Molecular Biology at Montclair State University. Her research involves investigation of the mechanisms that trigger the growth of glial tumors, the most commonly observed brain tumor. She is currently supported by a National Institutes of Health grant to investigate the molecular mechanisms involved in ion channel interaction in glial cells and determine the effects of ion channel interaction on cell growth, proliferation, and migration. Dr. Petroff is a member of the Society for Neuroscience and the American Physiological Society. She currently serves on the Awards Committee of the American Physiological Society.
Mitchell Sitnick, Ph.D. comes from the University of Pittsburgh where he completed a Post-doctoral Research Fellowship in the Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism. He joins the department as a member of the new Center for Quantitative Obesity Research where he brings his expertise in the use of animal models of obesity and aging to help expand current and create new research opportunities. His research focuses on the interaction between lipids and skeletal muscle and its impact skeletal muscle growth and performance. After graduating from The College of New Jersey, Dr. Sitnick spent several years in the pharmaceutical industry working in both the Immunology and Biologics departments. During Ph.D. studies his primary research focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms by which skeletal muscle modulates its mass or metabolism under the chronic dysregulation of obesity and aging. Dr. Sitnick’s resume highlights eight published articles in professional journals and seven abstracts presented at research conferences. As a graduate assistant, he taught upper level undergraduate lab courses.