Building an Exercise Toolbox for Your Patients or Clients with Obesity: Workshop #3- Meet the Speakers Posted on January 18, 2019 by Student IHL Dr. Ann Yelmokas McDermott is a system scientist and program design specialist experienced in translating program objectives into evidence-based, practical applications that enable organizations to achieve their unique goals and build capacity. Her positions over the past 20+ years have been with translational, team-based health research and education projects that integrated community-participatory approaches and have included medical education as an important component of the network. Currently, Dr. McDermott is Director of Program Evaluation for the University of Texas at El Paso Institute for Healthy Living, an Associate Scientist Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist. Dr. McDermott’s training includes a BS in Education from Boston University, an MS in Athletic Training from Northeastern University, a PhD in Nutrition Science and Exercise Physiology from Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Obesity Science and Genetics from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. Exercise has played a continuous and major role throughout Dr. McDermott’s life. Personally, as a lifelong athlete, Dr. McDermott has trained and competed as a collegiate and masters swimmer on the national and international level, and engaged in, coached and taught many activities at the university level, including swim team, strength and conditioning, functional fitness, cross-training, yoga, hiking, aerobics and dance. In the medical and health realms, as an exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist Dr. McDermott has designed, tested and translated Exercise is Medicine and nutrition strategies for the treatment of HIV wasting and lipodystrophy, body weight, body composition, bone health, mental health, and chronic conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome in diverse populations. As founding Director of Cal Poly STRIDE, Dr. McDermott initiated a university-wide translational research center focused on the promotion of healthy weight, evidence-based program design and community-campus partnerships. As the Assistant Director of the Johns Hopkins systems science Global Obesity Prevention Center during its initiation, Dr. McDermott successfully integrated team-based approaches across diverse stakeholders and multiple disciplines to build ownership, integrate best practices, and foster a synergy that creates excitement and play to group’s strengths, while offsetting weaknesses. Dr. Celia Pechak is an Associate Professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program at The University of Texas at El Paso. She transitioned to academia 9 years ago after 24 years of clinical practice as a physical therapist, primarily in acute care settings. Dr. Pechak teaches numerous courses in the DPT Program. She has integrated Motivational Interviewing (MI)-related content across many of them and considers MI to be an essential tool for health professionals to possess. Dr. Pechak received a BS degree in Physical Therapy at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, an MPH in Public Health at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, Hawaii, and a PhD in Physical Therapy at Texas Woman’s University in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Leah Whigham is the founding executive director of the Paso del Norte Institute for Healthy Living (IHL) and associate professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso. Her research has increased our understanding of metabolism as it relates to obesity, the influence of nutrients and immune function on body composition, and the impact of the environment on nutrition and physical activity. At the IHL, she oversees a mission to increase healthy eating and active living by providing a bridge between science and application that empowers individuals, families, organizations, and communities to build a culture of health. This includes multiple community projects that apply evidence-based approaches that target individuals, organizations, and institutions. The IHL also engages in coalition building, policy analysis, advocacy, program development, technical assistance, and capacity building. In addition, Dr. Whigham oversees a research and development program that aligns with the priorities of the IHL and provides training opportunities for graduate students, including investigation of the impact of air quality and transportation on physical activity and nutrition, development of a non-invasive tool for assessing energy balance using naturally-occurring stable isotopes of carbon, and investigation of culinary efficacy on weight management. Dr. Whigham also serves on the Executive Committee of The Obesity Society, the leading professional society dedicated to better understanding, preventing, and treating obesity. Dr. Whigham has a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Iowa State University and a PhD in nutritional sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.