About the Executive Committee

The Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living is led by an executive team, who brings together decades of experience and represents diverse areas of expertise in child health research. The Executive Committee meets regularly to review Center progress and goals, and provides guidance on the Center at the highest level.

Executive Committee

Deanna HoelscherDeanna Hoelscher, PhD, RDN, LD, CNS, FISBNPA

Regional Dean, UTHealth School of Public Health in Austin
Director, Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living
John P. McGovern Professor in Health Promotion
Distinguished Teaching Professor at The University of Texas System

Dr. Hoelscher’s research interests are in the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs, policies, and measurement tools related to child nutrition and physical activity. Dr. Hoelscher has been recognized by state, national, and international organizations for her expertise in child nutrition and physical activity research.

Evans_SandraAlexandra (Sandra) van den Berg, PhD, MPH

Associate Director, Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living
Professor, Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Alexandra Evans is an Associate Professor of Behavioral Sciences and Health Promotion in the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) School of Public Health in Austin. She received her Master of Public Health degree from the University of Texas School of Public Health. Subsequently, she received her PhD from the University of Texas and completed a NCI post-doctoral fellowship under the leadership of Dr. Hoelscher.

Wilkinson_Anna web.jpeg Anna Wilkinson, PhD

 Associate Professor, Epidemiology, Human Genetics & Environmental Sciences
 Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

 Dr. Wilkinson’s research focuses on the primary prevention of tobacco and alcohol use as well as   obesity prevention and the promotion of physical activity among youth and young adults. She is   interested in the relative role that individual-level factors (such as subjective and objective social   status, sensation seeking tendencies), social factors (such as norms, family / peer behavior, and the   built environment), and genetic factors may play in shaping these behaviors. In 2008, she received a   Career Development award from the National Cancer Institute to study the interactions between, and   relative influence of, non-genetic and genetic determinants of smoking initiation and physical activity. 

Nalini RanjitNalini Ranjit, PhD

Associate Professor, Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences
Coordinator of Research, Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living

Dr. Ranjit’s research interests span two broad areas: social and behavioral epidemiology, and design and evaluation of behavioral interventions. Her work in social and behavioral epidemiology includes several highly cited studies examining environmental, socioeconomic, racial /ethnic, psychosocial factors and behavioral factors associated with disparities in a variety of population health outcomes, including chronic disease biomarkers, health risk behaviors, obesity, and mortality. Her second broad area of research, the design and evaluation of behavioral interventions, is focused on detailed evaluation of effectiveness of interventions, by decomposing the effects of multi-component interventions, and identifying why some subpopulations and some behavioral outcomes appear especially susceptible to the effect of particular interventions. In both areas of research, her work is informed by an explicit focus on quantitative methodologies.

kevin_lanza  Kevin Lanza, PhD, MCRP

 Assistant Professor, Epidemiology, Human Genetics, & Environmental Sciences

 Dr. Lanza's research explore the relations between the environment, health behaviors, and health   through the lens of climate equity. His primary aims are to determine the impact of extreme heat on   physical activity, exertional heat illness, and chronic diseases of individuals living in low-income   communities and communities of color, and to develop interventions (behavioral, programmatic, and   environmental) to improve community resilience. Ultimately, his research goal is to inform policies that   eliminate race-, ethnicity-, and class-based health inequities in the face of warming from urbanization   and climate change. Dr. Lanza acknowledges that authentic partnership with community members is essential for health and climate solutions to be truly effective.

Past Executive Committee Members


Steven Kelder, PhD, MPH (2006-2023)

Beth Toby Grossman Distinguished Professor in Spirituality and Healing
Coordinator of External Affairs and founding member, Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living

Gabriel_Kelley web

Kelley Pettee Gabriel, PhD

Professor of Epidemiology,
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Perry_Cheryl-webCheryl L. Perry, PhD

Professor Emerita, Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences
UTHealth School of Public Health in Austin

Guy Parcel RecentGuy Parcel, PhD

Dean Emeritus,
UTHealth School of Public Health