Alice Ammerman’s research activities include design and testing of innovative clinical and community-based nutrition and physical activity intervention approaches for chronic disease risk reduction in primarily low income and minority populations. Her recent research interests focus on school nutrition policy associated with childhood obesity, sustainable agriculture as it relates to improved nutrition, and social entrepreneurship as a sustainable approach to addressing public health concerns. She is also interested in methods of research translation and dissemination and is currently the principal investigator of the Center of Excellence for Training and Research Translation, charged with identification, translation, and dissemination of evidence-based interventions for obesity and cardiovascular disease control and prevention.
Dr. Ammerman received her doctoral degree in nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has been Director of the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention since 2004. In 2000, she received the Greenberg Award for excellence in public health research, service, and practice. The American Public Health Association awarded her with the Excellence in Dietary Guidance Award in 2006.
Dr. Ammerman has strong research and practice collaborations across the state addressing childhood obesity and was appointed by the Lieutenant Governor to serve on the Childhood Obesity Study Committee, charged with recommending legislative action around childhood obesity. She also serves on the Governor’s Task Force for Healthy Carolinians. Dr. Ammerman is the author of more than 75 scientific articles and book chapters.
Molly De Marco
Molly De Marco, PhD MPH is a Research Scientist and Assistant Director for Evaluation at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and a Research Assistant Professor with the Department of Nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. She conducts research on determinants of health disparities and food insecurity and focuses on community-based research that engages low-income and historically marginalized populations.
Dr. De Marco works with HPDP’s Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) Unit and as key staff on the Community Academic Resources for Engaged Scholarship (CARES) Program of the North Carolina Translational Research and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute, home of UNC’s Clinical and Translational Science (CTSA) Award. With TraCS CARES, she facilitates linkages between community members and academics with similar research interests. She is also co-investigator and lead evaluator for the current Administrative Supplement to UNC’s Clinical and Translational Science (CTSA) Award that is developing and piloting the CBPR charrettes and the Community Review Boards in partnership with Vanderbilt University.
For the past four years, she has directed a program, funded through SNAP-Ed, to assist SNAP recipients to make healthy food choices, extend Summer Meals to more SNAP-eligible families in rural communities, and engage SNAP recipients in community gardens to build access to healthy food. Dr. De Marco also conducts studies to examine how to activate local food buying among grocery store customers and how to encourage healthy eating among WIC and SNAP recipients, and elementary school children. She co-developed and teaches each Spring term Nutrition 245, Sustainable, Local Food Systems – Intersection of Local Foods and Public Health, a service learning course.
Daniella Uslan is the project manager of HPDP’s SNAP-Ed program and evaluation assistant with the UNC-NC State Regional Center for Excellence in Nutrition and Obesity Prevention (RENCE-South), as well as teaching assistant for the undergraduate course Nutrition 245: Sustainable, Local Food Systems- Intersection of local foods and public health. Daniella received her Master’s in Public Health from Emory University in 2011. Upon graduation Daniella was accepted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Prevention Service fellowship (PHPS). Daniella’s 3 year CDC PHPS fellowship included a 2 year field placement with HPDP and the North Carolina Division of Public Health, Community and Clinical Connections for Prevention and Health Branch. Upon completing her fellowship, Daniella joined the Center full time continuing her work to connect North Carolinians with healthy, affordable, and environmentally sound food.
Brett’s work on sustainable food systems and food justice at is built on six years experience in managing small-scale, locally-oriented produce farms. Immediately prior to joining the HPDP team, he managed an aggregation and distribution operation, building markets for local produce in limited-resource organizations serving vulnerable populations. Brett holds a dual master’s degree in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development from American University and the University for Peace in Costa Rica, and a BS in Civil Engineering.
Research Assistant Professor Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
NOURISH Co-Program Director
Spring Dawson-McClure is child clinical psychologist and prevention scientist. Her research focuses on the development, evaluation and implementation of preventive interventions for children living in poverty. Dr. Dawson-McClure is particularly interested in health promotion for ethnic minority children living in disadvantaged, urban neighborhoods, and her recent work focuses on culturally-informed approaches to engaging and supporting parents and teachers. Dr. Dawson-McClure is currently transitioning to the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and is collaborating with Drs. Ammerman and DeMarco to implement health promotion strategies that increase the accessibility of healthy foods in underserved communities and equip parents, teachers and other important adults with evidence-based strategies to promote children’s health.
Dr. Dawson-McClure received her B.S. in Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Arizona State University. She completed a pre-doctoral fellowship at the NIMH-funded Prevention Research Center at Arizona State University, the Clinical Psychology Internship Program at Bellevue Hospital Center, and a post-doctoral fellowship at the New York University Child Study Center.
Owner of Bill Kearney & Company Consulting, LLC – serves as associate minister and health ministry coordinator at Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church and the United Shiloh Baptist Church Association in Warren Co, NC. Rev. Kearney is a partner in several UNC-CH community-engaged research partnerships and advises and consults with organizations and partnerships across the state and nation.
Dwayne primarily evaluates the SNAP-Ed program at UNC Chapel Hill’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease. An immigrant from Jamaica, Dwayne is passionate about issues of social justice, equity, fairness and education. He received his formal graduate school training in research and program evaluation from the University of Rochester, and has brought a wealth of technical and methodological competences to our team.
Outside of work, Dwayne enjoys spending quality time with his wife— their weekly date-nights, cooking, running, going to the gym, taking weekend trips, discussing their research (and politics), watching various types of motion pictures on Netflix, HBO GO and television- among many other things. He also enjoys connecting with his family (especially his Mother who he credits much of his success to) and close friends.
Dwayne is excited to continue building his knowledge and awareness of food disparity, nutrition and health, especially as he tries (with his team) to improve the lives of populations that have traditionally been disenfranchised.
Jessica Soldavini, MPH, RD, LDN is a PhD student in the Department of Nutrition at UNC-Chapel Hill. Prior to coming to UNC, Jessica worked for a local health department on projects related to nutrition education and obesity prevention. Her research interests include federal nutrition programs, nutrition policy, and community-based nutrition interventions designed to help to reduce health disparities in underserved communities. At the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Jessica works primarily with SNAP-Ed and No Kid Hungry North Carolina.
Leah Chapman is a PhD student at UNC – Chapel Hill in the Department of Nutrition at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Her research interests include the nutritional causes of obesity and the evaluation of obesity prevention interventions, particularly interventions that incorporate insights from the field of Behavioral Economics. At the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Leah works primarily with SNAP-Ed on healthy retail interventions in North Carolina corner stores.