Faculty and Staff
Freda Patterson, PhD
Dr. Patterson is a Professor within the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition. As a public health scientist, her independent research program is focused on cardiovascular health, and in particular, the identification of factors that influence smoking cessation, physical activity, improved eating habits and sleep hygiene in at-risk populations. Her most recent work has focused on elucidating the independent role of sleep health, namely, sleep duration, timing, and regularity, on cardiovascular, metabolic, and pulmonary disease risk in high-risk and underrepresented groups. The goal of her work is to develop efficacious multiple health behavior change interventions to reduce the risk and progression of chronic diseases.
Currently, Dr. Patterson is the PI of two NIH-funded studies examining 1) the prospective relationship between sleep health and progression of cardio-pulmonary disease in low-socioeconomic populations, and 2) the effects of improving sleep health on smoking cessation and cardiovascular outcomes in patients with HIV. She is also the primary and/or mentoring PI on several internally funded ongoing projects. Additionally, Dr. Patterson has experience conducting big-data examinations on the relationship between sleep and cardiovascular health. She serves as an Associate Editor for Sleep Health, and as an ad-hoc reviewer for the NIH Center for Scientific Review and the American Heart Association.
Elissa Hoopes, PhD
Dr. Hoopes graduated with a PhD in Applied Physiology from the University of Delaware in May 2020. Her dissertation examined the relationship between sleep regularity with subclinical markers of cardiovascular disease risk in college students. As a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition, she continues to examine the influence of sleep, as well as physical activity and eating patterns, and their influence on health outcomes in high-risk groups. The goal of Dr. Hoopes’ work is to understand how daily behaviors in real-world settings may influence circadian health, and ultimately contribute to cardiometabolic and pulmonary disease risk. She is currently working with Dr. Patterson and fellow collaborators on American Heart Association, NIH, and internally-funded studies using various methods of objective monitoring to examine behavioral patterns, and to determine their role in cardiometabolic and pulmonary outcomes at varying stages of disease.
Shannon Mayberry, MS
Shannon graduated with her B.S. in Health Behavior Science from the University of Delaware in 2019, and her M.S. in Health Promotion from the University of Delaware in 2021. She currently works with Dr. Patterson as a research assistant on an NIH-funded study examining determinants of sleep health, as well as the role of sleep health on pulmonary disease progression, in high-risk groups. Other areas of research experience include smoking and physical activity behavior. Shannon has a special interest in examining the relationship between household density, social support, and sleep health within low-socioeconomic status populations, which was the focus of her Master’s research.
Lauren Covington, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, University of Delaware
Dr. Covington is an Assistant Professor at University of Delaware School of Nursing. Her program of research focuses on sleep and health outcomes in socioeconomically disadvantaged families. She is interested in identifying multi-level determinants of sleep health in hopes of ascertaining modifiable intervention targets to improve family sleep and overall health. Currently, she is the PI on internally funded studies looking at (1) multi-level determinants of objective sleep health in socioeconomically disadvantaged caregiver-child dyads and (2) the association between sleep and diet in parent-preschooler dyads. Dr. Covington is clinically trained as a Pediatric ICU nurse and maintains her practice as a registered nurse serving socioeconomically disadvantaged families in inner city Baltimore, which continually informs her research.
Namni Goel, PhD
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Rush University Medical Center
Michael A. Grandner, PhD, MTR, CBSM, FAASM
Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Arizona
Sean Healy, PhD
School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland
Xiaopeng Ji, PhD, MSN, MA, RN
School of Nursing, University of Delaware
Susan Kohl Malone, MSN PhD
Rory Meyers College of Nursing, New York University, New York
Aditi Satti, MD
Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Temple University, Philadelphia
Abigail Strang, MD
Nemours Children’s Health, Wilmington, Delaware
Paige Laxton, MS
Paige Laxton is a second year PhD student in Health Behavior Science and Promotion with a focus on adapted physical activity. Her research interests include reducing sedentary behavior in group home settings for adults with ID, developing place-based interventions, and leisure time physical activity. She is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. Prior to starting the Doctoral program, she developed and managed a structured day program for adults with brain injuries that focused on increasing overall health and wellness through recreation.
Thomas Keiser, B.S.
Thomas earned his B.S. in Exercise Science from Towson University in 2021 and is currently pursuing his M.S. in Health Promotion from the University of Delaware. Presently, he works as a research assistant for Dr. Patterson and Dr. Hoopes examining the role of chrono-behaviors on subclinical cardiovascular disease in healthy adults. His research interests involve sleep health, cardiovascular disease prevention, and physical activity. Thomas is specifically interested in investigating how the timing, regularity, and intensity of physical activity relate to cardiometabolic health.
Maria Taplin, B.S., RDN, LDN, ACE-GFI
Maria graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.S. as a Dietetics major and Health and Wellness minor in May 2017. She then continued her education through the University of Delaware’s Dietetic Internship program. After completing her internship in 2018, she became a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and worked as a clinical dietitian for two years. In 2021, Maria became a certified Group Fitness Instructor and a graduate student in the Master of Science in Health Promotion at the University of Delaware. Maria currently works for the Behavioral Health and Nutrition Department as a teaching assistant for undergraduate courses and assists Dr. Patterson with the Sleep and Circadian Health Research program. Maria has an interest in creating health programs that improve community wellness, specifically focusing on her passions of nutrition and physical activity.
Ryaan is an undergraduate student majoring in neuroscience at the University of Delaware and is expecting to graduate in 2025. Ryaan worked under the mentorship of an internist and pursued a personal research project on sleep apnea before joining our lab. He is also currently assisting other clinicians local to UDel on research projects related to sleep and cardiovascular disease. Ryaan has a number of research interests, including cardiovascular health, neuroscience, and especially sleep health. He is also interested in the investigation of the role of genetics in the development of different neurodegenerative disorders. Ryaan is currently a member of the Medical Scholars Program interest group and plans to pursue a career in medicine.