HHD 2022-23 Research Conference

  • image of mountains and sun with conference title promoting inclusive excellence through innovative and creative synergies

2022-23 HHD Conference Presenters

Keynote Speaker, Special Guests, and Conference Presenters

CSUN President Erika D. Beck, Ph.D.

csun president erika d. beckDr. Erika D. Beck began her leadership of California State University, Northridge in January 2021 and proudly serves as the fourth consecutive female president. A strong advocate for the power of higher education to improve lives, transform communities and promote 

social mobility, President Beck champions the academic success of students in the attainment of their highest educational aspirations and as future leaders prepared to excel in today’s rapidly changing economy and society. Her unwavering commitment to advancing equity, inclusion and justice are the foundation upon which she leads institutions of higher learning to facilitate human potential while advancing knowledge that serves the public good.

Immediately prior to coming to CSUN, Dr. Beck served as President of CSU Channel Islands from 2016 to 2021. She was Provost and Executive Vice President at Nevada State College from 2010 to 2016 where she previously served as the Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a tenured member of the psychology faculty. President Beck was a research associate at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, San Diego, a master’s degree from San Diego State University, and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of California, San Diego.

As President of CSU Channel Islands, Dr. Beck launched the President’s Advisory Council on Inclusive Excellence, the President’s Advisory Council on Cultural Protocols, and led a successful revision to campus recruitment and retention practices to expand equity and diversity. Under her leadership, the campus received the inaugural “Seal of Excelencia” from Excelencia in Education for leadership, practice and success in serving Latinx students.

While at Nevada State, she advocated for shared governance and founded the first faculty senate on campus, spearheaded the campus plan that improved graduation rates and closed equity gaps and led to the college being named a Minority Serving Institution, a Hispanic Serving Institution, and the most diverse campus in the Nevada System of Higher Education.

President Beck was named one of the Most Influential Leaders in Education by the Pacific Coast Business Times and Woman of the Year by the California Women’s Caucus, and has served on numerous boards and commissions. She is currently a board member of the Los Angeles Chamber, the Los Angeles County Economic Development Committee, the Big West Conference and the finance committee of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. President Beck enjoys running, yoga, and perpetual conversations with her sons about how many more minutes until “we get there.”

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Mary Beth Walker, Ph.D.

Provost Mary Beth Walker, Ph.D.Dr. Mary Beth Walker was appointed Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs effective July 1, 2019 by President Dianne F. Harrison. 

Dr. Walker brings a wealth of experience implementing high-impact practices and helping to eliminate achievement gaps. Dr. Walker has the understanding and skill set to advance CSUN student success initiatives and to collaborate with faculty, academic staff and campus leadership to prepare students to face the challenges of today and tomorrow. She is a champion of inclusive excellence, research and innovation.

Prior to her appointment at CSUN, Dr. Walker served as Interim President of Georgia Gwinnett College, which is part of the Georgia State System. Before her appointment as Interim President in January 2019, she served as Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives and Innovations at Georgia State University since 2017, where she held successive leadership and academic roles, including Dean of the School of Policy Studies and Chair of the Department of Economics. She received her Ph.D. in economics from Rice University. As an economist, her research interests center on quantitative evaluation of policy, including tax policy and some labor market issues. In recent years, she has focused her research efforts on education economics. "I am confident that her experience and record of leadership, scholarship and collaboration will greatly benefit CSUN," said President Harrison.

As Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Walker is responsible for directing nearly 3,000 faculty and staff members in the Division of Academic Affairs, the largest unit within the university. Dr. Walker will oversee eight academic colleges; the college of extended learning; university library; academic support units; and six central academic affairs administrative offices.

Provost Walker serves as a member of the CSU Academic Council, the President's Cabinet at CSUN, and the CSUN Foundation's Board of Directors. She also chairs the Provost's Council, the Academic Affairs Council, the Teacher Education Council, and the University Planning & Budget Group (UPBG). 

Keynote Speaker, Radiochemist, Vanessa Sanders, Ph.D.

Vanessa A. Sanders, Ph.D.Dr. Vanessa Sanders is a radiochemist at Brookhaven National Laboratory. In the fight against cancer, she is focused on developing personalized medicine with radioisotopes—atoms with unstable nuclei that emit energy, which can be directed to diagnose diseases, treat them, and help save lives.

Sanders grew up in Florida, intending to become a medical doctor. But when her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, she changed her plans, realizing she could help more people as a medical researcher than as a doctor who could see only one patient at a time. In 2017, she earned a Ph.D. in radiochemistry and—unknowingly at the time—became the first African American woman in the U.S. to do so.

Sanders is an Associate Scientist in the Medical Isotope Research and Production (MIRP) group at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). She attended Florida Memorial University and received her B.A. in Chemistry in 2009. In 2017 she received her Ph.D. in Radiochemistry from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, under the direction of Dr. Ken Czerwinski and Dr. Lynn Francesconi (Hunter College of the City University of New York).

Her graduate work focused on the synthesis, characterization, and biological evaluation of technetium-99m and rhenium-188 peptides for theragnostic applications. She completed her post-doctoral training in the MIRP program under the direction of Dr. Cathy S. Cutler, where she primarily focused on developing novel methods for Arsenic-72 labeling to monoclonal antibodies.

Her current research interests include the production, separation, and development of radioanalytical methodologies of relevant and potentially novel radioisotopes, specifically scandium-44, arsenic-72, actinium-225, and thorium-227. She is also interested in the synthesis and characterization of radiometal complexes for diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

Dr. Sanders also serves as the laboratory instructor for the BNL site of the ACS Nuclear Chemistry Summer School which aims to resolve the leaky pipeline of the nuclear chemistry field by introducing undergraduate students to nuclear concepts. As one of the only Black women in her field, Sanders is deeply committed to clearing the way for young Black girls and many others to pursue careers in radiochemistry and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) more broadly. Thus, she is creating opportunities to increase diversity in STEM by mentoring young people, overseeing interns, and advising early career scientists.

She speaks regularly with students in middle school, high school, and college to encourage them to pursue STEM careers. Recently Dr. Sanders became a 2020 Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) Future Leaders Academy graduate earning an opportunity to learn alongside leaders in the SNMMI. She is also a 2020 Urban League of Long Island Equity Honors recipient, a recognition for her accomplishments as the first African American Woman to receive a Ph.D. in Radiochemistry and her efforts toward creating a diverse and inclusive environment on Long Island, New York. Finally, she has been recognized as one of Long Island’s Business News 40 under 40 for 2021, as a future leader distinguishing herself in business, government, education, and the not-for-profit sector.

Updated 10/24/2022

Mechelle Best, Ph.D., Interim Dean

Mechelle BestDr. Mechelle Best is the Interim Dean of the College of Health and Human Development (CHHD) at California State University Northridge. Prior to taking up this position, she was a Professor in- and Chair of the Department of Recreation and Tourism Management, at CSUN. A Fulbright/OAS Scholar for the Eastern Caribbean, Dr. Best conducts research on various aspects of cultural heritage, natural resource use, and sustainability in tourism. Her ongoing research streams focus on the intersection between slavery heritage and tourism in the Caribbean. As a lifelong lover of the outdoors, and a supporter of parks and protected areas, she is also interested in how of people of African descent in the United States experience the outdoors. Dr. Best is co-author of Contemporary Caribbean Tourism: Concepts and Cases(2015) and has well over 25 years’ professional experience in tourism. 

In addition to her current administrative role at CSUN, Dr. Best sits on the Board of Directors for the California Travel Association, Premier America Credit Union, The University Corporation, and a few community colleges in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

Dr. Best is very proud to witness the realization of the Inaugural Research Excellence and Innovation Conference, an idea she voiced less than a year ago. She is particularly proud of the HHD Research Pillar Committee, with co-chairs Dr. Kacie Blackman and Dr. Rosalia Garcia-Torres, who accepted the challenge and went above and beyond to design and implement the conference. 


Dimitri Tamalis, Associate Dean

dimitri tamalisDr. Dimitri Tamalis is the Associate Dean of the College of Health and Human Development. He arrived at CSUN in 2018 after serving as Chair and Professor of Health Science and Human Ecology in the College of Natural Sciences at California State University, San Bernardino. Prior to this he was faculty and director of the Nuclear Science Program with the Health and Natural Sciences Department at Florida Memorial University, the only HBCU in South Florida. There, he was instrumental in building and directing the Nuclear Science curriculum and in securing grants from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Office of Naval Research and the Department of Energy. He has published extensively in the field as well, and through his development programs and grants, helped to increase the number of women and students of color in the Health and STEM fields. He Earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Kansas State University.

Kacie Blackman, Ph. D., Health Sciences Faculty

Kacie BlackmanDr. Kacie Blackman is an Assistant Professor in the Health Equity and Research (HERE) Center, Autonomy Research Center for STEAHM (ARCS) and the Department of Health Sciences at California State University, Northridge. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Human Performance (Minor: Chemistry) from Howard University (with honors) and Ph.D. in Human Nutrition, Foods, & Exercise from Virginia Tech. Dr. Blackman completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Cancer Prevention and Control in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California.

Through community partnered participatory research approaches and health policy, she is interested in promoting perinatal health equity and menstruation equity with an emphasis in Black families. Dr. Blackman is a member of the Los Angeles County African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Prevention Initiative. 

Rosalia Garcia-Torres, Ph.D., Family and Consumer Sciences Faculty

Rosalia Garcia-TorresDr. Rosalia Garcia-Torres is an associate professor in food science in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at California State University Northridge. She holds a Ph.D. in Food Science from the University of Florida.

She is interested in promoting basic needs resources. Her research is in fermented foods, health and sustainability. She is member of the Education, Extension and Outreach division of the Institute of Food Technologists.

Conference Presenters

Below is a listing of some of the conference presenters in alphabetical order by last name. Not all presenters are listed.

Andrew Bartlett

andrew bartlettDr.  Andrew Bartlett graduated from Syracuse University in Physical Therapy and has a BS in Therapeutic Recreation and a master’s in Public Administration. He received his PhD from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Bartlett is an Associate Professor and specializes in cardiovascular and pulmonary management and his research interests are exercise programs for individuals with Parkinson’s and student clinical reasoning. Dr. Bartlett is a practicing PT and runs a Rock Steady Boxing class for individuals with Parkinson’s.

Eve Bettman

Eve BettmanEve Bettman graduated in 2015 with a B.A. in Psychology from Mount Holyoke College and Chapman University. Her thesis research on maternal infection and time spent as an intern at Chapman and UCI’s PEIDS study illuminated inequalities in the healthcare system and the lived experience of pregnant people. Eve aspires to be at the forefront of healthcare providers whose goal it is to understand and rectify these systems of oppression and provide compassionate, inclusive care. 

Karen Carig-Hu

Karen Carig-HuNursing interest: Working with pediatrics in general. Helping women find appropriate perinatal care and making a difference to shape a healthier lifestyle.

Karen Carig-Hu attended CSUN in her undergraduate and completing her Bachelors in Nursing on December 2022. She completed her MPH at University of San Francisco, CA 2016. She believes in assessing high-quality primary care is critical for everyone. Outside of nursing, she is a mother of two young girls and enjoys hiking! 

Cynthia Hartounian

cynthia hartounianAt CSUN, Cynthia Hartounian is a nursing student in the Accelerated BSN program. She currently holds the position of Legislative Director in the National Student Nursing Association. Cynthia completed her undergraduate degree in Health Administration at CSUN. Cynthia was drawn to nursing because of her desire to care, serve and help underserved populations. In her free time, Cynthia likes to bake delicious treats and spend time with her two dogs.

Kalila Houston

Kalila HoustonKalila Houston wants to earn her PhD. in Psychology and research Black Indigenous Women of Color experiences of discrimination while receiving prenatal, and birthing care. She also wants to examine how those factors impact the fetus brain, and behavior. Racism is considered a fundamental cause of adverse health in ethic communities and there is a gap in research on the interactions between mental stress and physical health outcomes. Health and well-being starts from the womb and a mother’s well being will protect and secure the infant's future success.

Sharon Kang

sharon kangSharon Kang is a nursing student in CSUN’s accelerated nursing program. Sharon decided to pursue nursing with a special interest in critical care after spending time in disaster recovery with the American Red Cross, volunteering at Kaiser Permanente, and witnessing family members be treated as patients in the hospital. Sharon received her B.S. in Health Care Administration from CSULB prior to her studies at CSUN.

Rodica Kohn

rodica kohnRodica Reif Kohn, M.Arch (UCLA), MFA (UCLA), B.A. (Central School of Art and Design, London England), CID, LEED GA.: Professor Kohn has a background in art, photography, video, graphic design, product design, digital design, interior design, and architecture. “ I believe that exposing students to a broad range of techniques is critical to their ability to navigate between various fields of expression and succeed in today’s competitive environment.”

Douglas McLaughlin

douglas mclaughlinDr. Douglas W. McLaughlin is Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of Kinesiology at California State University, Northridge. His research interests focus on the nature of games and competition, the central role of games in the good life, and ethical considerations related to competition and the Olympic Movement.  

Katherine McNamara

katherine mcnamaraDr. Katherine McNamara is an Assistant Professor in EOH.  She received her doctorate in Environmental Health Sciences from UCLA and has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Policy from UC Davis.  Her research interests include both psychosocial work factors and traditional exposure assessment, with a focus on climate change stressors.  Her work in the private and public sectors has encompassed hazardous waste management, industrial hygiene, emergency preparedness and sustainability.

Zarmine Naccashian

zarmine naccashianDr. Zarmine Naccashian earned her Bachelors of Science degree in Nursing in 1983 from American University in Beirut. In 1993 she graduated from University of California, Los Angeles with Masters in Nursing as Primary Ambulatory Care Family and Geriatric Nurse Practitioner.  She has completed her PhD in Nursing from Azusa Pacific University.  Her dissertation topic “The Impact of Diabetes Self-Management Education Classes on Glucose Levels in Ethnic Armenians” has been published in The Diabetes Educator journal

Jennifer Newman

jennifer newmanDr. Jennifer Newman holds a Doctorate in Public Administration from the University of La Verne, an M.S. in Environmental and Occupational Health from CSUN, and is a Registered Environmental Health Specialist.  She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Sciences and teaches in the Health Administration Program.  Dr. Newman’s research focuses on the interprofessional collaborations needed to provide a coordinated response to protect population health. 


Beth Phillips

beth phillipsDr. Beth Phillips is a professor and department chair in Physical Therapy.  Dr. Phillips’ teaching expertise is in human anatomy and wellness & prevention with an emphasis on global environmental health as well as individual health from a holistic perspective.

Monique Plummer

monique plummerMonique Plummer is a nursing student in the CSUN accelerated nursing program. She received her B.A. in Sociology from UCSB prior to her studies at CSUN. Monique was drawn to nursing after working alongside nurses as a crisis intervention counselor who provided support to patients during sexual assault forensic exams. As a future nurse, Monique will combine her passion for caring for others with evidence-based practice to contribute to holistic patient care.

Cynthia Robles

cynthia roblesCynthia Robles is a first-generation graduate student at CSUN’s Master of Public Health Program with a concentration in Applied Epidemiology. Her public health experience includes working with under-resourced populations in the healthcare sector. Currently, Cynthia is part of the SEA US, HEAR US (SUHU) team where she is thankful for having an amazing and incredibly supportive team. In the future, Cynthia hopes to continue her work in the public health field as an epidemiologist.

Katrina Silos

katrina silosKatrina Silos is a senior psychology major at CSU Northridge. She is currently a research volunteer in Dr. Kwan’s SEA US, HEAR US study at CSUN as well as a research intern in the radiation oncology department at Cedars Sinai. Lastly, she volunteers at the San Fernando Child and Family Center to provide mental health services for disadvantaged communities. She hopes to obtain a Ph.D. in clinical psychology focused on child and adolescent treatment.

Ashlyn Southerland

ashlyln southerlandAshlyn Southerland graduated from California State University, Northridge in May 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. Her research interests include behavioral mental health, cancer and chronic disease prevention, weight-related health, wellness initiatives, and food access. She aspires to work in spaces within community research, education, and medicine.

Suzanne Spear

suzanne spearDr. Suzanne Spear has worked in the field of public health since 1998. Trained in cultural anthropology and urban studies, she has conducted research in the areas of community development, environment and behavior, substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, and interorganizational networks. She received two NIH grants to study the SUD treatment system in Los Angeles and served as co-investigator on another NIH grant to develop a measurement tool to assess the sustainability of prevention programs.  

Jenzie Tamayo

jenzie tamayoJenzie Tamayo is a senior studying Public Health. Since transferring to CSUN, Jenzie has volunteered with various campus units as she’s passionate about educating and connecting students to resources. She’s currently a Peer Health Educator at the Klotz Student Health Center. Her interests include mental health, substance use, and women’s health. Jenzie plans to continue her career as a Health Educator at higher education institutions to support student health and wellness. 

Talya Tessler

talya tesslerAs a student research assistant, Talya Tessler has worked on CSUN studies for over 3 years. She is currently assisting with the Southeast Asian (SEA) Health Study, and the NIH-funded SEA US, HEAR US Study. Talya is a CSUN graduate student in the Masters of Social Work program and her research interests are in mental health, physical health, and nutrition. 

Paula Thomson

paula thomsonDr. Paula Thomson, PsyD, CSUN Professor, licensed Clinical Psychologist, and Co-Director of the Performance Psychophysiology Laboratory. She is the co-author of two books, Creativity and the Performing Artist: Behind the Mask and Creativity, Trauma, and Resilience and author of multiple chapters and peer-reviewed articles. She continues to work as a choreographer in dance, theatre and opera. In 2013, she was named one of the top 20 female professors in California.

Tracie Tung

tracie tungDr. Tsun-Yin (Tracie) Tung received her Ph.D. in Design and Human Environment under the College of Business from Oregon State University. Her areas of expertise include consumer behavior, merchandising management, and e-commerce. Her research focuses on consumer decision-making, retail technology adoption, consumer attitude and product attributes, marketing strategies, and sustainable consumption.

Imelda Vianzon

imelda vianzonPassionate about giving back to her community, Imelda Vianzon has spent more than half her life volunteering for local organizations, which serve marginalized populations.  Bringing this passion into her research, she has found many opportunities to serve POC communities, such as contributing to maternal health initiatives, breaking barriers to higher education for first-generation students, mentoring Latinas in STEM, and improving health outcomes among marginalized communities.

Debra Wallace

debra wallaceDr. Debra Wallace earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Western University of Health Sciences in 2012 and formerly, served as doctorate fellow for the Center for Health Engineering Research in the School of Advanced Studies at the University of Phoenix in 2015. She works as part time faculty in the School of Nursing at California State University of Northridge and as a Family Nurse Practitioner at Kaiser Permanente in Santa Clarita, California. She has more than thirty-five years of experience practicing as a board-certified nurse practitioner since graduating from UCLA in 1990. Dr. Wallace has a passion for nursing education and works part time as a nurse educator for Registered Nursing students and Nurse Practitioner students. She completed formal education in teaching during her DNP program and was a recipient of the National Faculty Student Loan program award. Dr. Wallace’s dissertation project explored the feasibility of a nurse practitioner new graduate transition-to-practice residency program utilizing Dr. Patricia Benner’s theory of novice-to-expert development to guide nurse practitioner role formation. She also serves on patient education and procedural committees, publishing nursing research and enjoys taking an active role in organizational development. She thrives on multi-tasking and takes great pride in establishing respectful and supportive relationships with colleagues, students, patients and patients' families. She enjoys her family which now includes cooking, 2 Bully puppies, being a grandma, loves attending sport games, hiking, quilting and reading biographies.