Faculty Affiliates

faculty affiliates

Alison Brooks

Alison Brooks joined The George Washington University in 1972, and has been Professor of Anthropology since 1988. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard University in 1979. She also serves as Research Associate in Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Professor Brooks is actively involved in the training of scientists and museum personnel from African countries, and in the development and implementation of heritage policy in Africa. She edits a bulletin for teachers, entitled AnthroNotes, that is distributed three times a year to several hundred individuals and institutions interested in anthropological perspectives on current issues. She has led research projects in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Sweden, France, China, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Mary Cheh

Mary Cheh is a District of Columbia Councilmember for Ward 3 as well as a tenured constitutional law and criminal procedure professor at the George Washington University Law School and a member and former chair of the George Washington Law Public Interest Committee. She is the Elyce Zenoff Research Professor of Law, and is the recipient of numerous teaching and service awards at the University. Councilmember Cheh has served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, worked pro bono for the Centre for Applied Legal Studies in South Africa, served as a consultant to the National Institute of Justice and the President’s Commission on Organized Crime, chaired the subcommittee on criminal justice for the D.C. Circuit Court’s Task Force on Gender, and serves as a member of the Rules Committee of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and on the Board of Directors of the National Institute of Military Justice. She is a member of the ACLU Litigation Screening Committee.

Uriyoán Colón-Ramos

Dr. Uriyoán Colón-Ramos is a public health nutrition investigator with expertise working in Latin America and the Caribbean, and with minority populations in the United States.  She is trilingual (Spanish, French and English) and has worked extensively in the field of nutrition in global health through collaborations with the Instituto Costarricense de Investigación y Enseñanza en Nutrición y Salud, the PanAmerican Health Organization, the University of Puerto Rico, the University of Costa Rica, the Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública de Mexico, and the World Food Programme, among others.   Her work has contributed to the knowledge of existing dietary disparities among Hispanic subgroups by country of origin, the process of translation of science into nutrition policy in Latin America, and the social and environmental determinants of dietary behaviors among vulnerable populations in the US, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Learn more about Dr. Colón-Ramos’ current food-related work here.

William Dardick

Prior to his role at GSEHD, Dr. Dardick worked as a Branch Supervisor Psychometrician for the United States Food and Drug Admission (USFDA) and as an Adjunct Professor for the University of Maryland, College Park. He has over 15 years of experience in the field of psychometric and statistical consulting having worked for government, institutional and private organizations. He works with the Center for the Advancement of Research in Distance Education (CARDE) supporting assessment and quantitative research for online schools. Dr. Dardick remains very active in the applied world of assessment and psychometrics with a current focus on certification and certificate programs as a psychometric assessor for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and acts as adviser on outside programs (e.g., The International Food Protection Training Institute). His research interests involve the development of educational tests and psychological instruments under the Evidence Centered Design (ECD) framework using advanced assessment techniques, data mining and cognitive science as they relate to learning and education, the advancement of psychometric and statistical methods of advanced Multi-Dimensional Item Theoretic Models.

William Dietz

Dr. Dietz is the Chair of the Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. From 1997-2012 he was the Director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity in the Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the CDC. Prior to his appointment to the CDC, he was a Professor of Pediatrics at the Tuft’s University School of Medicine, and Director of Clinical Nutrition at the Floating Hospital of New England Medical Center Hospitals.  He received his BA from Wesleyan University in 1966 and his MD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970.  After the completion of his residency at Upstate Medical Center, he received a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He has been a councilor and past president of the American Society for Clinical Nutrition, and past president of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity. From 2001-2003 he served as a member of the Advisory Board to the Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism, and Diabetes of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. In 1995 he received the John Stalker award from the American School Food Service Association for his efforts to improve the school lunch. Dr. Dietz served on the 1995 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. In 1997, Dr. Dietz received the Brock Medal of Excellence in Pediatrics from the New York Academy of Medicine. In 1998, Dr. Dietz was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

In 2000, he received the William G. Anderson Award from the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, and was recognized for excellence in his work and advocacy by the Association of State and Territorial Public Health Nutrition Directors.  In 2002, he was made an honorary member of the American Dietetic Association, and received the Holroyd-Sherry award for his outstanding contributions to the field of children, adolescents and the media. In 2005 he received the George Bray Founders Award from the North American Association for the Study of Obesity. In 2006, he received the Nutrition Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics for outstanding research related to nutrition of infants and children. In 2008 he received the Oded Bar-Or award from the Obesity Society for excellence in pediatric obesity research. In 2012, Dr. Dietz received a Special Recognition Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics Provisional Section on Obesity, and the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He is the author of over 200 publications in the scientific literature, and the editor of five books, including Clinical Obesity in Adults and Children, and Nutrition: What Every Parent Needs to Know.

Jenna Weissman Joselit

Jenna Weissman Joselit, a historian of everyday life, specializes in the history and culture of America’s Jews and in U.S. cultural history from the late 19th century on through the 1950s. Her work, both within and without the classroom, pays especially close attention to the relationship between material culture and identity. Her books include The Wonders of America: Reinventing Jewish Culture, 1880-1950, which received the National Jewish Book Award in History, and A Perfect Fit: Clothes, Character, and the Promise of America. Professor Weissman Joselit is currently at work on a book about America’s embrace of the Ten Commandments. A founding member of NYU’s Working Group on Jews, Media and Religion, she has also been a Senior Fellow at Princeton University’s Center for the Study of American Religion, a fellow at Yale University’s Center for Art and Material Culture and the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Judaic Studies. Most recently, Professor Weissman Joselit has been a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress. She directs the Master of Arts in Jewish Cultural Arts program.

Ivy Ken

Dr. Ken conducts research on school food programs.  For her, school food is a labor issue that affects the working conditions of food service workers, delivery truck drivers, and farm workers; it is a civil rights issue that influences students’ life chances; and it is a power issue because of the outsized influence of private companies in the production, distribution, and delivery of students’ meals.  Ivy spent six months in 2015 in Chile studying the school feeding program and the small groups of women whose crops make it into the school food commodity chain there.  Here at GW she teaches an Honors course called School Food Policy (HONR 2048) along with Sociology courses centered on inequality.

Carol Lang

Dr. Carol Lang is a native of Liverpool, England. She has been a registered nurse for more than 25 years and has been involved in nursing education as a clinical educator and college professor for 20 years.

Her clinical practice experience includes registered nurse, clinical preceptor and educator in emergency, shock-trauma, flight nursing, medical-surgical nursing, neurological (head and spinal cord trauma) ICU and CCU. She has also worked in community / public health, and acute/crisis intervention psychiatric – mental health nursing.

Dr. Lang has received numerous awards for teaching and is recognized for her contributions to global nursing education both in the United Kingdom and the US. She has worked extensively with international health organizations in providing health care services to populations marginalized by fiscal and physical resources. During her tenure at Homerton College, School of Health Studies, University of Cambridge, she designed and implemented a series of courses and seminars in Transcultural Nursing further raising awareness of nursing’s commitment to civic responsibility and global health issues.

Michael Long

Michael Long is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Prevention and Community Health. He is a leading researcher in the evaluation of the cost-effectiveness and political feasibility of policy solutions to reverse the obesity epidemic in the United States. Dr. Long co-teaches U.S. Food Policy and Politics and is developing a new course on the economic evaluation of health promotion interventions. He is actively engaged in the Department of Prevention and Community Health academic life through service as a guest lecturer and member of the Awards Committee. He serves as a member of the Washington, DC, Department of Health Diabesity Committee’s Hospital Sugar Drink Action Team to reduce exposure to sugary drinks in hospitals and other community settings in the district. He also serves as a Fellow on the Lancet Commission on Obesity.

Michael Mann

Michael Mann is an Assistant Professor of Geography at The George Washington University. Here he teaches classes on GIS, Python programming, and spatial modeling. His research has focused on the application of spatial data and econometric techniques to forecasting of human/natural systems interactions. This has included modeling the economic determinants of deforestation in Brazil, forecasting housing development in California and economic losses due to wildfire, and agricultural modeling in Ethiopia. He also has interests in remote sensing, high performance computing, data visualization, and web mapping. Publications include ones at PNAS, Climatic Change, Ecological Economics, and Land Use Policy. He regularly pursues funding through interdisciplinary teams from NSF and NIH. Michael received his PhD in Geography and an MA in Environmental and Policy Modeling at Boston University and completed postdoctoral research at UC Berkeley.

Allison Cara Meni

Dr. Meni joined the Milken Institute School of Public Health in Spring 2014 from the Intramural Program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where she was a post-doctoral fellow in the Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Obesity Branch of the National Institute for Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Dr. Meni enjoys teaching and mentoring undergraduate students and is passionate about her primary research interest studying the metabolic and health effects of non-nutritive (artificial) sweeteners. In addition to her research and teaching, Dr. Meni looks for opportunities to translate nutrition science into clinical and public health practice.

Tim Miller, Ed. D

Tim earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Criminal Justice and his Master’s Degree in College Student Personnel Administration from James Madison University.  He earned his Doctorate in Executive Leadership from the Human and Organizational Learning program at the George Washington University. He has been a part of the George Washington University community since 2002 and currently serves as the Associate Dean of Students and member of the leadership team in the Division of Student Affairs.  In this role he oversees many aspects of Student Life including residence life, student organizations, greek life, leadership programs, and the University’s on-call response team.  Tim is an adjunct faculty member in the Organizational Leadership and Learning program as well as the Human Services and Social Justice program.  He previously served as an adjunct faculty member in the Milken School of Public Health for over 10 years in several courses.  Tim has presented at a range of conferences including NSEE, ACPA, NASPA, NACA, and First Year Experience National Conferences on topics including Service-Learning, Building Partnerships, Residence Hall/Space Design, Food Insecurity, Balancing Free Speech and the First Amendment, Program Creation, and Assessment.

Claire Monteleoni

Professor Claire Monteleoni’s Machine Learning Group is concerned with developing principled methods (known as algorithms) to automatically detect patterns in data. In this era of “Big Data,” the various forms of complexity inherent in real data sources increasingly pose challenges for machine learning algorithm design. The GW Machine Learning Group works on the design, analysis, and application of machine learning algorithms, motivated by problems in real data sources, including learning from data streams, learning from raw (unlabeled) data, learning from private data, and climate informatics: accelerating discovery in climate science with machine learning.

Yas Nakib

Dr. Yas Nakib has a Ph.D. in Education Policy concentrating in the Economics and Finance of Education from Florida State University. He specializes in studying school finance and reform policies. He is a principal investigator of several federal and state funded research grants primarily analyzing the funding, implementation, and resource allocation practices of school reforms. His research and publications analyzed state and governance reforms, schooling resource allocation practices, and educational productivity. He has taught education policy and economics at several universities, including the University of Delaware and UCLA. Dr. Nakib also holds a joint faculty appointment in the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration (TSPPPA). He is a Research Affiliate at the George Washington Institute of Public Policy (GWIPP), and was formerly a Research Fellow with the Consortium for Policy Research.

Melissa Napolitano

Melissa Napolitano is Associate Professor in the Department of Prevention and Community Health. She also holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Exercise Science. Trained as a clinical health psychologist, Dr. Napolitano has expertise in adapting face-to-face treatment content for dissemination via different delivery channels. Her work specifically focuses on physical activity promotion, weight loss, and prevention of weight gain (e.g., among college students, following smoking cessation). She is particularly interested in the developmental life stage of emerging adulthood and contributing to the understanding of the formation of positive eating and exercise behaviors, as well as eating disorder risk behaviors. Prior to joining GWU in 2012, Dr. Napolitano served on the faculties of Brown Medical School and Temple University where she was also a research scientist at the Center for Obesity Research and Education. Dr. Napolitano’s research, which includes a blend of face-to-face contacts and technological components, has high translation potential and is well-suited for developing multidisciplinary partnerships.

Marcy Norton

Marcy Norton teaches courses on European, Latin American, and Atlantic History, as well as thematic courses on human-animal relationships and historical methodologies. Her research focuses on the Spanish World in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with a particular emphasis on the entangled histories of Native Americans and Europeans on both sides of the Atlantic. She is the author of Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate in the Atlantic World (Cornell University Press, 2008), which won the best book award from the Association for the Study of Food and Society. Her current project is a history of human-animal relationships in the early modern Atlantic world (under contract with Harvard University Press).  She has been awarded fellowships by the Kluge Center of the Library of Congress, the Huntington Library, and the John Carter Brown Library.

Melissa Perry

Dr. Melissa Perry is a leading public health researcher whose wide-ranging epidemiologic and preventive intervention studies over the past two decades have investigated factors in occupational injury and disease and the influence of chemical and physical agents on reproduction. Dr. Perry’s research has drawn international attention to the health effects of pesticide exposure. Her work has shed light on how people are exposed to pesticides, as well as the mutagenic and hormonal effects of these exposures on farming communities, agricultural workers, and the general public. In addition to identifying risks to workers at meat-packing plants, construction sites, and agricultural operations, Dr. Perry has developed engineering and behavioral interventions to address these risks. Dr. Perry’s laboratory at the Milken Institute School of Public Health focuses on reproductive epidemiology and hormone disruptors, and her group has developed new techniques for high-volume identification of chromosomal abnormalities in sperm cells. Her research group was the first to use semi-automated imaging methods to show how pesticides can impact sperm abnormalities.

Lance Price

Dr. Price is pioneering the use of genomic epidemiology to understand how the misuse of antibiotics in food animals affects public health. By analyzing the genomes of bacteria found in humans, food, livestock, and environments near food-animal production sites, Dr. Price and his colleagues have traced new strains of antibiotic-resistant pathogens to industrial livestock operations. Dr. Price communicates with policymakers, journalists, and the public about public health issues, including how the routine use of antibiotics in food-animal production contributes to the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections in humans (e.g., Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA). His research has been covered in media outlets around the world, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, U.S. News & World Report, ABC News, PBS Frontline, NPR, Scientific American, Men’s Journal, and Fitness Magazine, among others.

Joyce Pulcini

Dr. Joyce Pulcini recently joined George Washington University School of Nursing as a Professor and the Director of Community and Global Initiatives. Prior to coming to George Washington University, Dr. Pulcini was an Associate Professor, Coordinator of the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program at the Boston College Connell School of Nursing. With a career of over 30 years as a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP), educator and author, Dr. Pulcini directed three nurse practitioner programs and has consistently been a leader in health care and nursing policy at local, state and national levels. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, a Fellow of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, a Distinguished Practitioner in Nursing, National Academies of Practice and a former Primary Care Policy Fellow. She is a senior associate editor for Policy, Politics and Nursing Practice, and is a reviewer for several leading nursing journals.  She served as the Executive Director of the Massachusetts School Nurse Research Network (MASNRN), a nursing PBRN, and has been a member of the oversight board of MASNRN since 2005.


Dr. Pulcini has authored 40 peer reviewed articles, 11 chapters, 8 policy papers with four of these as first author, two editions of a well known textbook on pediatric primary care and have participated in 152 scholarly presentations about topics ranging from health care financing and policy issues for nurse practitioners to postpartum depression, childhood asthma and allergy and improvements in nurse practitioner education. She was an investigator in twelve funded research grants and three grants for educational programs and was Principal Investigator on ten of these projects. She was a Co Investigator for the CARE intervention for depressed mothers and their infants, a NIH funded RO1 from 2003 to 2008. She is an expert on the evolving nursing roles of the nurse practitioners nationally and internationally and specifically focused on nurse practitioner education, reimbursement and political advocacy and on removal of barriers to the practice of nurse practitioners. She led a team conducting survey research on education, practice and regulation of advanced practice nurses of APNs internationally; and nurse practitioner practice characteristics, salary, benefits and prescriptive practices (six surveys) which were published in peer reviewed journals.

David Rain

David Rain (Geography) is the Director of the Environmental Studies program at GW. His research is on the health and environmental consequences of urbanization in the developing world. A foodie from an early age, he teaches two courses on food (GEOG 2133 People, Land & Food) and is a member of the team that teaches SUST 2003 (The Sustainable Plate). David has helped steer the genesis and development of the Food Institute from the faculty side.


Sean Roberts

Sean R. Roberts is Director of the International Development Studies Master’s program at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. He has extensive experience working for USAID on democracy and governance development projects in the former Soviet Union, especially in Central Asia, and he still frequently contributes to USAID analytical work in the region. Additionally, he is an anthropologist who has conducted substantial fieldwork in the Uyghur communities of Central Asia and China, and he frequently comments on the current situation of the Uyghurs in the People’s Republic of China for media outlets, including CNN, the BBC, Foreign Policy, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. He is involved in several research projects currently, including an assessment of everyday corruption in Ukraine for USAID, research on the use of ICTs to promote state accountability in the developing world, and the impact of state-led development in China on the Uyghur minority. He is also working on a book about the Uyghurs of Kazakhstan.

Kim Robien

After practicing as a clinical dietitian for more than 10 years she decided to pursue a doctoral degree in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Washington. Her work at UW allowed her to explore the field of public health from many perspectives – nutrition, epidemiology, environmental health, and health services. Since leaving UW and joining GW, she has become increasingly devoted to the field of public health nutrition.

Her research focuses on food access, environmental nutrition and sustainable food systems, and the extent to which exposure to pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and other chemicals through food and water may contribute to risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. She is also interested in the role of nutrition in cancer prevention, treatment and survivorship. Her and her husband are dedicated “foodies” and love cooking and exploring new foods where ever they travel.

Tara Scully

Prof. Scully received her Ph.D in Developmental Biology from GW in 2012. Her research interests include Role of Serotonin and Catecholamines in Early Embryogenesis.

Prof. Scully teaches many of the large intro courses in Biology, using a variety of methods to engage students. She recently completed the Peer-Reviewed Explorations in Teaching program, during which she introduced case studies and service-learning into her intro bio course. She leads several educational efforts in the Biology, especially those related to labs.

Frank Sesno

Frank Sesno is director of the School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) at The George Washington University. He is an Emmy-award winning journalist and creator of PlanetForward.org, a user-driven web and television project that highlights innovations in sustainability. He hosts and facilitates the Planet Forward Salon Series focusing on topics such as energy policy, green jobs, and food production. He has moderated events for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Bayer CropScience, Land O’Lakes Foundation, and National Geographic, among others.

As SMPA director, Sesno leads a faculty of nearly two dozen world-class professors who research and teach journalism, political communication and the impact of digital media in international affairs. Sesno teaches classes on environmental multimedia reporting, ethics in journalism, documentary and ‘the art of the interview.’

Inspired by his mother’s experience with Hospice, Sesno hosted the Hospice Foundation of America’s Continuing Education Series for seven years.

Sesno’s diverse career spans more than three decades, including 21 years at CNN where he served as White House correspondent, anchor, and Washington Bureau Chief. He has covered a diverse range of subjects, from politics and conventions to international summits and climate change. He has interviewed five U.S. presidents and literally thousands of political, business and civic leaders — ranging from Hillary Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Microsoft founder Bill Gates and broadcast legend Walter Cronkite.

Before joining CNN in 1984, Sesno worked as a radio correspondent at the White House and in London for the Associated Press. He has won several prestigious journalistic awards, including an Emmy, several cable ACE awards, and an Overseas Press Club Award. Sesno is a member of the Board of Trustees at Middlebury College, AmeriCares, and the Council on Foreign Relations. He serves as chair of the Posse Foundation Washington Advisory Board as well. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in American History from Middlebury College.

Danmeng Shuai

Dr. Danmeng Shuai earned his B.E. and M.S. degree in Environmental Engineering at Tsinghua University, and obtained his Ph.D. degree in the same field at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He joined the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The George Washington University in the fall of 2013. His dynamic research group works on advanced materials for water-energy-health nexus. One of his current research projects is the development of visible-light-responsive photocatalysts that can use indoor light for inactivating foodborne pathogens and achieving safe food processing and packaging. Another project involves in the production and separation of biobutanol, a valuable chemical fuel, from food waste.

Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith’s work focuses on economic development, with a special focus on solutions to poverty. He also researches economic development strategies, developing country financing issues, and the economics of adaptation to climate change in low-income countries. He has also conducted extensive research on the economics of cooperatives, works councils, and codetermination.

Recently, he co-authored a paper with Ram Fishman, an economic professor at GWU and they evaluated two separate programs in two different countries, Senegal and Uganda, that focused on smallholder farmers, sustainable investments, and obstacles the farmers face. Researchers also evaluated the programs’ impact on participants’ overall household income and nutrition.



Ami Zota
Ami Zota’s research focuses on human exposures to environmental endocrine-disrupting chemicals; their consequent effects on reproduction and development; and implications of these risks for health disparities. She also engages in innovative approaches for science translation so that her work can more effectively be used to inform decision-making at the individual and collective level. Her research has been featured in the Washington Post, TIME magazine, the Atlantic Monthly, USA Today, and other publications.

Dr. Zota is currently investigating the public health implications of chemicals in our food. Her recent study in Environmental Health Perspectives found that fast food may expose people to phthalates, a class of industrial chemicals used to make food packaging materials, tubing for dairy products, and other items used in the production of fast food.