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Our Purpose

Research in the Energy Balance and Nutrition Laboratory (EBNL) focuses on the energy mechanisms that contribute to desirable or less desirable weight gain, growth, and nutritional status in infants, children, and adolescents who are healthy, and in those with chronic disease. Since weight status in young childhood affects development and is predictive of adult weight status, the goal of our laboratory is help all individuals reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Current Research Studies

Our current study deals with Dietary Approaches for Cardiovascular Health. Click to learn more about this study.

Interested in participating in a Energy Balance and Nutrition Lab study?

Lab Directors

Jillian Trabulsi, PhD, RD

Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Program


Dr. Trabulsi started her career as a clinical dietitian at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). After practicing for six years, she went on to earn her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences at The University of Wisconsin – Madison, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship in Pediatric Nutrition and Growth at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her research interests center upon diet, nutritional status, growth, and energy balance in infants and children who are healthy and in those with chronic disease. She is specifically interested the components of the energy balance equation that contribute to desirable or less desirable growth patterns. Her research has been funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health as well as private foundations and her work is published in peer-reviewed journals.

Shannon Robson, PhD, MPH, RD

Assistant Professor


Dr. Robson is an alumnus of the nutrition program at the University of Delaware. She earned her MPH in community health education and PhD in Nutrition Science at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, and completed a National Institutes of Health post-doctoral fellowship in Child Behavior and Nutrition in the Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Her research interests are focused in pediatric weight management and child eating behaviors that impact energy balance.

Carrie P. Earthman, PhD, RD

Professor and Director of Research for the Nutrition Clinic at STAR Health


Dr. Earthman recently joined the faculty at the University of Delaware, after spending much of her academic career at the University of Minnesota. She has been a Registered Dietitian since 1991, when she began her career as an acute care dietitian working in GI disorders, heart and pulmonary failure, HIV/AIDS, cancer, and nutrition support. She went on to earn her MS and PhD in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois and the University of Arizona, respectively.

Graduate & Undergraduate Research Assistants


Jessica Eosso is currently a doctoral student in the Human Nutrition program. She graduated with a B.S. in Dietetics and Nutrition Sciences from the University of Delaware in 2016 and became a Registered Dietitian after completing her dietetic internship in 2017. Her research interests include diet, nutritional status, and growth in infants and children in relation to later health outcomes. She is specifically interested in the role of mothers in forming infant dietary patterns as well as the infant gut microbiome.



Kaelyn is a Master’s student in the Human Nutrition program and she graduated with a B.S. in Applied Nutrition from the University of Delaware in 2017. Her research interests include diet quality and dietary energy density in relation to weight management and chronic disease. Her future plans include pursuing a doctoral degree in the nutrition field.




Amanda Kopetsky, MS, RDN, LDN graduated from Penn State University with a BS in Nutrition Science. She attended Cedar Crest College for her dietetic internship, spent three years working in SNAP-education at The Food Trust, and worked clinically in acute care. After working for three years, she attended the University of Delaware for her Master of Science degree as a full-time research assistant. Upon graduating with her MS, Amanda spent time in long-term care as well as home, corporate and virtual counseling. Currently, Amanda is back at the University of Delaware as a research assistant completing her Ph.D. in Nutrition. Her interest is in public health and community nutrition with her research focused on the food acquisition pathway and diet quality.



Adriana Verdezoto Alvarado is a doctorate student from Ecuador. She graduated with a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry at Randolph College and an M.S. in Nutritional Sciences at Arizona State University. She will be a doctorate student in the Human Nutrition program. Her research interests include dietary patterns and energy balance among diabetic and obese populations.




Lynn Ferro is a doctorate student working in the Energy Balance and Nutrition Laboratory. Lynn’s research interests are mainly centered around infant nutrition as well as understanding more about the gut microbiome, both of which she will be investigating further at UD through her research. Prior to coming to the University of Delaware, Lynn received her B.S. in Nutritional Sciences with a concentration in Biomedical and Molecular Nutrition from Michigan State University. At MSU, Lynn worked in a nutrition research lab on campus analyzing different strains of Bifidobacterium in mothers and their infant’s stool samples in order to understand the connection between a mother and an infant through the gut microbiome.




Michelle Delahanty is currently a Research Associate in the Energy Balance and Nutrition Lab. She earned her Master of Public Health in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, with a certificate in Evaluation, from the University of Pittsburgh in 2019. Her research interests include food security, maternal and child diet/health, and chronic disease management and prevention.


Emma Blancher is a currently a junior at the University of Delaware. She is majoring in Health Behavior Science with a minor in Disability Studies. Her future plans to include attending a post-graduate program for accelerated nursing, and plans on working with a nutrition focus. She is interested in how therapeutic diets can improve chronic medical conditions. Emma is hoping to use the information she’s learned in her undergraduate years in her career.

Talia is a sophomore health behavior science major with a minor in coaching science and writing. She is interested in working with adolescents in nutritional health and physical activity. During the school year, she runs cross-country and track while managing the running club’s social media accounts. Talia also write for the university’s independently run student newspaper, The Review. She intends to graduate in 2022 and pursue a Master’s in Public Health.

Elizabeth Weimer is currently an undergraduate Nutrition and Dietetics major in the Honors Program at the University of Delaware. She is also a member of the UD Women’s Soccer team. She plans to pursue a Dietetic Internship to become a Registered Dietitian after graduating in 2021.

In the News

Dr. Trabulsi in UDaily
Getting a Healthy Start

Dr. Robson in Delaware Public Media
UD research shows a link between parent and child diet quality


Current publications

Rosbon SM, Vadiveloo M, Green S, Couch SC, Sallis JF, Glanz K, Saelens BE. Examining the consumer restaurant environment and dietary intake in children. Prev Med Rep. 2020;20:101274. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2020.101274


Rex SM, Russel K, Reiter-Purtill J, Zeller MH, Courcoulas A, West-Smith L, Robson SM. A cross-sectional examination of the home food envionrment of mothers who have undergone metabolic and bariatric surgery: a pilot study. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2020;16(12):2016-2021. doi: 10.1016/j.soard.2020.07.021


Trabulsi JC, Smethers AD, Eosso JR, Papas MA, Stallings VA, Mennella JA. Impact of early rapid weight gain on odds for overweight at one year differs between breastfed and formula-fed infants. Pediatr Obes. 2020;15(10):e12688. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12688. 


Mennella JA, Reiter A, Brewer B, Pohlig RT, Stallings VA, Trabulsi JC. Early weight gain forecasts accelerated eruption of deciduous teeth and later overweight status during the first year. J Pediatr. 2020;225:174-181. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2020.06.019


Jarrold K, Helfer B, Eskander M, Crawley H, Trabulsi J, Caulfield L, et al. Guidance for the Conduct and Reporting of Clinical Trials of Breast Milk Substitutes [published online ahead of print, 2020 May 11]. JAMA Pediatr. 2020;e200578. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.0578


Rex SM, Trabulsi J, Baker S, Bodt B, Robson SM. Food Purchasing Behaviors of WIC Participants: What Non-WIC Eligible Foods Items Are Being Purchased. Am J Health Promot. 2020;34(3):307-310. Doi:10.1177/0890117119892765 


Robson SM, McCullough MB, Rex S, Munafò MR, Taylor G. Family Meal Frequency, Diet, and Family Functioning: A Systematic Review With Meta-analyses. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2020;52(5):553-564. Doi:10.1016/j.jneb.2020.12.012 


Vest MT, Newell E, Shapero M, McGraw P, Jurkovitz C, Lennon SL, Trabulsi J. et al. Energy balance in obese, mechanically ventilated intensive care unit patients. Nutrition. 2019;66:48-53. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2019.02.021 


Robson SM, DeLuccia R, Baker S, Bodt B, Trabulsi J. Qualitative Research on the Real-Time Decision Making of WIC Participants While Food Shopping: Use of Think-Aloud Methodology. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2019;120(1):111-119. Doi:10.1016/j.jand.2019.05.009 


Zeller MH, Robson SM, Reiter-Purtill J, et al. Halo or horn? A qualitative study of mothers’ experiences with feeding children during the first year following bariatric surgery. Appetite. 2019;142:104366. Doi:10.1016/j.appet.2019.104366 


Stark LJ, Filigno SS, Kichler JC, et al. Maintenance Following a Randomized Trial of a Clinic and Home-based Behavioral Intervention of Obesity in Preschoolers. J Pediatr. 2019;213:128-136.e3. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2019.05.004 


Mennella JA, Papas MA, Reiter AR, Stallings VA, Trabulsi JC. Early rapid weight gain among formula-fed infants: Impact of formula type and maternal feeding styles. Pediatr Obes. 2019;14(6):e12503. doi:10.1111/ijpo.12503 


Robson SM, Ziegler ML, McCullough MB, et al. Changes in diet quality and home food environment in preschool children following weight management. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2019;16(1):16. Published 2019 Feb 4. Doi:10.1186/s12966-019-0777-6 


Mennella JA, Inamdar L, Pressman N, Schall JI, Papas MA, Schoeller, D, Stallings VA, 

Trabulsi J. Type of infant formula increases early weight gain and impacts energy balance: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2018;108(5):1015-1025. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqy188 


Towner EK, Robson SM, Stark LJ. Secondary Impact of a Behavioral Intervention on Dietary Quality in Preschoolers with Obesity. Child Health Care. 2018;48(1):75-89. Doi:10.1080/02739615.2018.1463532 


Stark LJ, Spear Filigno S, Bolling C, et al. Clinic and Home-Based Behavioral Intervention for Obesity in Preschoolers: A Randomized Trial. J Pediatr. 2018;192:115-121.e1. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2017.09.063 


Robson SM, Lozano AJ, Papas M, Patterson F. Food Insecurity and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Adolescents. Prev Chronic Dis. 2017;14:E110. Published 2017 Nov 9. Doi:10.5888/pcd14.170222


Stark LJ, Filigno SS, Bolling C, et al. Learning about activity and understanding nutrition for child health (LAUNCH): Rationale, design, and implementation of a randomized clinical trial of a family-based pediatric weight management program for preschoolers. Contemporary Clinical Trials. 2017;52:10-19. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2016.10.007


McCullough MB, Janicke D, Odar Stough C, et al. Barriers to recruitment in pediatric obesity trials: Comparing opt-in and opt-out recruitment approaches. Journal of Pediatric Psychology.2016:jsw054. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsw054


Perkett M, Robson SM, Kripalu V, et al. Characterizing cardiovascular health and evaluating a low-intensity intervention to promote smoking cessation in a food-assistance population. Journal of Community Health. 2016. doi: 10.1007/s10900-016-0295-2


Robson SM, Bolling C, McCullough MB, Stough CO, Stark LJ. A preschool obesity treatment clinical trial: Reasons primary care providers declined referrals. The Journal of pediatrics. 2016;177:266.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.06.027


McCullough MB, Robson SM, Stark LJ. A review of the structural characteristics of family meals with children in the united states. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.). 2016;7(4):627-640. doi: 10.3945/an.115.010439


Robson SM, Couch SC, Peugh JL, et al. Parent diet quality and energy intake are related to child diet quality and energy intake. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2016;116(6):984-990. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2016.02.011


Papas MA, Trabulsi JC, Axe M, Rimmer JH. Predictors of obesity in a US sample of high school adolescents with and without disabilities.Journal of School Health. 2016;86(11):803-812. doi: 10.1111/josh.12436


Papas M, Trabulsi J, Dahl A, Dominick G. Food insecurity increases the odds of obesity among young hispanic children.J Immigrant Minority Health. 2016;18(5):1046-1052. doi: 10.1007/s10903-015-0275-0


Ehrenthal DB, Wu P, Trabulsi J. Differences in the protective effect of exclusive breastfeeding on child overweight and obesity by mother’s race.Maternal and child health journal. 2016;20(9):1971. doi: 10.1007/s10995-016-2015-z


Mennella J, Trabulsi J, Papas M. Effects of cow milk versus extensive protein hydrolysate formulas on infant cognitive development.Amino Acids. 2016;48(3):697-705. doi: 10.1007/s00726-015-2118-7


Trabulsi J, Irving S, Papas M, et al. Total energy expenditure of infants with congenital heart disease who have undergone surgical intervention.Pediatr Cardiol. 2015;36(8):1670-1679. doi: 10.1007/s00246-015-1216-3


Riley AW, Trabulsi J, Yao M, Bevans KB, DeRusso PA. Validation of a parent report questionnaire. Clinical Pediatrics. 2015;54(12):1167-1174. doi:10.1177/0009922815574075


Fullmer S, Benson-Davies S, Earthman CP, et al. Evidence analysis library review of best practices for performing indirect calorimetry in healthy and non-critically ill individuals. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2015;115(9):1446.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2015.04.003