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Buffalo Behavioral Medicine is a leader in the field of obesity and eating behavior research. For over 30 years, Leonard Epstein, Ph.D., has led an innovative and diverse team of researchers with expertise spanning the health field, including dieticians, psychologists, epidemiologists, and physiologists. As part of the University of Buffalo’s School of Medicine, we take a multi-disciplinary approach to health. Buffalo Behavioral Medicine has made significant contributions to the body of knowledge regarding health and wellness internationally.

Primary Investigator

Leonard Epstein, PhD

SUNY Distinguished Professor and Chief, Behavioral Medicine

Dr. Epstein is a SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics, Community Health and Health Behavior and Social and Preventive Medicine, and the Chief of the Division of Behavioral Medicine. His research interests focus on health behavior change and determinants of eating, physical activity and drug self-administration. He is an internationally recognized authority in the fields of childhood overweight, physical activity, weight control and family intervention. For the past 30 years, Dr. Epstein has conducted research relevant to the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity, including mechanisms that regulate intake and energy expenditure in children. He is a fellow in numerous scientific organizations, and has been the President of the division of Health Psychology, APA, and recipient of the American Psychological Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology. He chaired the Behavioral Medicine Study Section, NIH, and served on the Advisory Board for Center for Scientific Research, NIH. Dr. Epstein has published over 300 scientific papers and three books.

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Postdoctoral Fellows / Graduate Students

Katelyn Carr, PhDKatelyn

Postdoctoral Fellow

Katelyn is a post-doctoral student in the Neuroscience program working under Dr. Leonard Epstein in the Division of Behavioral Medicine. She attended the University at Buffalo as an undergraduate and is completing her PhD studying decision making processes and working memory in relationship to choices between healthy and unhealthy foods in adults and children. Katelyn enjoys reading and distance running. She enjoys teaching and mentoring students.

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Sara O’Donnell, BA

Graduate Research Assistant

Sara worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the Buffalo Behavioral Medicine Research lab from August 2013-2015. She is currently completing her PhD in Clinical Psychology under Dr. Epstein’s supervision. Outside of lab she enjoys cooking, exercising, and exploring the city of Buffalo.

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Kelseanna Hollis-Hansen, MPHKelseanna

Graduate Research Assistant

Kelseanna received her bachelors from Southwestern University in Texas and her Master of Public Health degree from the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions. Kelseanna is currently a doctoral student with the overarching goal of making the healthy choice the most easy and accessible choice for everyone. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, running, volunteering, and exploring with her husband and daughter.

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Research Team

Stephen Spence, MA

Budget Administrator

Steve has handled budgets and administrative duties for the Buffalo Behavioral Medicine Lab since 2000. In his personal time he has written four adventure novels for young readers.

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Rocco Paluch, MA

Data Manager/Statistician

Rocco has been working with Buffalo Behavioral Medicine since 1994 after attending St. Bonaventure University. He currently helps maintain and develop current and archived databases for many BBM studies and helps with statistical analyses. He has specific interests in mixed model techniques, power analysis and application of CDC growth curves to track weight changes over time. He enjoys living in Buffalo with his wife.

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Yan Yan (Melissa) Sze, BA

Project Manager / Tech Lead

Melissa has been with the Buffalo Behavioral Medicine Lab since 2012. She facilitates a variety of research studies and coordinates the developers in creating and enhancing various types of software. She enjoys learning, traveling, and trying new things.

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Julia Jihyun Yoon, BAJulia

Office Assistant

Julia is currently studying Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at University at Buffalo. She has been working and helping the Budget Administrator Steve Spence at the lab since 2016. In her spare time, she enjoys playing the piano, reading, and crossfitting.

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Ray BurgessRay

Web Application Developer

Ray Burgess is an application developer with 19 years of experience building web sites. He lives with his Wife and Daughter in Tonawanda, NY. Ray enjoys macrobiotic food, outdoor adventures and spending time tweaking his BASH settings.

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Lidan Xu, BALidan


Hazel joined Buffalo Behavioral Medicine in Fall 2016 after her graduation in Computer Science at the University at Buffalo. She currently works as a website and Android developer. She enjoys traveling, reading and cooking.

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Meghan Cavanaugh, BS

Senior Counselor

Meghan has been with Buffalo Behavioral Medicine for 10 years. She currently helps with website development as well as participant recruitment. Meghan attended Xavier University and then moved to Bozeman, Montana to work for the Montana Conservation Corps. She spent time living in Portland, Oregon where she further discovered her love of running and the outdoors. Meghan eventually found her way back to Buffalo where she began working at UB and the Buffalo Behavioral Medicine Department. Meghan has always enjoyed the outdoors and working with children so BBM is a perfect complement to both of her passions. Meghan is enjoying life in her hometown with her husband and three children.

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Alexis O’Brien, BA

Project Coordinator/Lab Coordinator

Alexis has been with Buffalo Behavioral Medicine since 2012. She graduated from the Roberts Wesleyan College with a BA in psychology. Alexis coordinates the InstaThought Study. She loves getting to know the families involved in the study and teaching about fun ways to be healthy as a family. Outside of work, Alexis enjoys camping with her husband and little girl, reading as many books as she can, and teaching her daughter how to knit.

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Colleen Kilanowski, MS

Project Coordinator

Colleen attended undergraduate and graduate studies in Nutritional Sciences here at the University at Buffalo before continuing to work for UB at the Behavioral Medicine Lab. Over the past eighteen years she has consulted and coordinated lab, field and clinical studies involving childhood weight control research. She enjoys staying active and healthy with her family. Colleen loves to run and support a healthy community where she has grown up and raises her children.

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Kyle Bree, MSKyle

Senior Research Support Specialist

Kyle joined Buffalo Behavioral Medicine in 2016. He received a B.S. in Exercise Science from SUNY Brockport and graduated with a M.S. in Exercise Science from the University at Buffalo in 2016. An ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and former college athlete, Kyle enjoys staying active. In his spare time, Kyle enjoys hiking, camping, and any opportunity to spend time outdoors.

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Catherine Guth, MSCatherine

Senior Research Support Specialist

Catherine joined Buffalo Behavioral Medicine in 2016. She received a B.S. in Exercise Science from SUNY Fredonia in 2014 and graduated with a M.S. in Exercise Science from the University at Buffalo in May 2016. Catherine enjoys running, riding her horses and playing with her dogs and chinchilla.

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Kendra O’Connor, BSKendra

Senior Research Support Specialist

Kendra joined Buffalo Behavioral Medicine in 2016. Kendra graduated from Syracuse University where she earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Marketing Management. In her spare time she enjoys scuba diving, camping, four-wheeling, traveling, and playing the piano.

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 April Roberts, MS

Senior Research Support Specialist

April has been with Buffalo Behavioral Medicine for 6 years. She graduated from Buffalo State College with a B.S. in Health & Wellness and then continued her education at Canisius College where she earned her Master’s degree in Health & Human Performance. She currently resides in Buffalo with her husband and enjoys running, kayaking, and the many other outdoor activities that Buffalo has to offer.

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