UTH

Program Faculty

Laura MooreLaura S. Moore, MEd, RD, LD
Director, Nourish Program
Interim Director, Dietetic Internship Program
Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living
The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) School of Public Health

Laura S. Moore is the Director of the UTHealth School of Public Health Nourish Program and a member of the Nutrition Faculty at UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston. Her passion for food began with her training at Le Cordon Bleu, and her expertise is in Nutrition and Culinary Arts with emphasis in Nutritional Science, Culinary Training, and Community Garden Education. She is trained in Weight Management for Children and Adolescents with a focus in obesity prevention.

One of Laura’s passions is enabling the next generation of dietitians to have the tools they need to be competitive in today’s workforce. Under her guidance, leadership, and dedicated planning, the UTHealth School of Public Health Nourish Program has undergone significant amplification. The additional components offer students a wide range of hands-on experiences that enable them to help people to live healthier lives. This expansion includes a Research and Demonstration Kitchen (Nourish Kitchen), Medical Nutrition Therapy Simulation Classroom and the Holistic Garden.

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Sue-DayR. Sue Day, PhD, MS
Professor of Epidemiology
Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living
The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) School of Public Health

Dr. Day’s journey to public health began in Lubbock, TX, her hometown. After graduating from pre-med, home economics and secondary education studies at Texas Tech, she worked as a home economist and nutrition educator in Midland and Odessa, TX. Originally, Dr. Day came to Houston to meet faculty at the medical school, thinking she would go into medicine. She accidentally walked into the UT School of Public Health and a recruiter convinced her to study public health instead. She has been at the school 34 years. “Obviously they won me over!” Remembering her time as a nutritionist, she decided she really wanted to understand prevention of disease through nutrition.

Currently, she focuses on overweight and obesity’s effect on cardiovascular disease among firefighters. Dr. Day explains, “I often get asked, ‘why study firefighters?’, because many people think they must all be fit, muscular and have great dietary habits.  Unfortunately, the majority (78.4%) of firefighters are overweight or obese. Given how many firefighters struggle with their weight, it is no surprise they also suffer from a high rate of diseases related to obesity. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of firefighter line of duty death, accounting for almost half of deaths. I am so excited that we have just been funded by FEMA to implement the first health and wellness intervention for a national sample of volunteer firefighters with a focus on healthy eating, fitness and hydration.  This project is a great example of the type of public health work I hoped to do when I started my career at UTSPH.  Studies like this allow me to work directly with the people benefiting from the project and are indeed one of my passions.”

Click to read CBS and CNN’s take on Dr. Day’s research.

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deanna-hoelscher-verticalDeanna M. Hoelscher, PhD, RD, LD
John P. McGovern Professor in Health Promotion
Director, Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living
The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) School of Public Health in Austin

Dr. Hoelscher has always been interested in food, nutrition, science, and math. She started studying Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M, but after touring a chemical plant and visiting with a career counselor, she decided to study Food Science and Technology. While pursuing her Masters in Nutrition at UT Austin, she became a Registered Dietitian, refining the skills researchers need (detail-oriented, resourceful, self-motivated, hard worker); and enabling her to connect, interact, and communicate with people from diverse backgrounds. She had many leadership opportunities, including taking taking the lead on the Academy’s Position Paper on Child Overweight and Obesity. After earning her PhD in Biological Sciences she worked on CATCH, leading her to a tenure-track job at UTSPH. In 2006, when UTSPH received a grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, she moved to Austin and became the Center Director.

Currently, Dr. Hoelscher is working on many projects including: interventions, epidemiologic surveys, and policy – analysis. One of those projects is the Texas Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration (Texas CORD) project. She explains, “This is a multi-component project linking many of my previous studies into one intervention program. I am really excited about the links we are building between primary care physicians and community programs for families of diverse, low-income children who are overweight and suffer from child obesity. These families need resources and assistance, and we provide them through the Texas CORD project. I especially like reading our

success stories about families who have achieved better health through our program- that’s the true impact of public health and what I do.”

If you are interested in Texas CORD, click to see a CDC overviewUTHealth School of Public Health Overview.

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McWhorter.Headshot

Wesley McWhorter, DrPH, MS, RDN, LD, CSCS
Assistant Professor, Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences
Director of Nutrition Education, McGovern Medical School
The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) School of Public Health

Wesley McWhorter, DrPH, MS, RDN, LD, CSCS is an Assistant Professor in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences.  Dr. McWhorter is appointed as a faculty member at McGovern Medical School, serves as a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and is an advisory council member for the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative. A professional chef, Dr. McWhorter focuses on interprofessional nutrition education through hands-on culinary medicine courses. He also is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with experience in fitness and corporate wellness. His research interests include closing the divide between culinary literacy and nutrition education and policy. Dr. McWhorter graduated from Kansas State University, earned a master’s degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch, and a doctorate in Health Promotion and Behavioral Science from UTHealth SPH.

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Headshot2Shreela V. Sharma, PhD, RD, LD
Professor of Epidemiology
Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living
The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) School of Public Health

Dr. Shreela Sharma is Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Texas, School of Public Health in Houston, TX. Dr. Sharma is a behavioral epidemiologist with specific interest in food insecurity, nutritional epidemiology and diet-related chronic diseases in vulnerable, underserved populations and has a robust, federally-funded research program in this area. Dr. Sharma has led several different studies to develop and evaluate the CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) program, including CATCH Early Childhood proven to improve obesity prevention among at-risk preschool age children, and the NIH-funded CATCH Healthy Smiles for oral health promotion to prevent dental caries among elementary age children.

More recently, Dr. Sharma is engaged in several COVID-19 related projects including a Texas state-wide COVID-19 Symptom Tracking initiative, conducting rapid analysis of COVID-19 data for the Texas Medical Center, and the local health departments, developing resources such as www.texaspandemic.org, an interactive COVID-19 dashboard providing real-time assessment of the spread of COVID-19 in Texas, assessing the impact of COVID-19 and the related financial crisis on employment, food security, and other social needs among vulnerable populations in Texas, and providing recommendations for public health decision-making. As part of these efforts, Dr. Sharma is co-investigator for the NIH-funded RADx project to increased uptake of COVID-19 testing in high-risk Texas communities.

Dr. Sharma is committed to serving the community; she is co-founder and principal investigator in the evaluation of Brighter Bites, a nationwide non-profit dedicated to providing fresh produce and nutrition education to low-income children and their families. She serves on the Board of Directors for the University of Houston Friends of Women’s and Gender Studies Program. On behalf of UTHealth, Dr. Sharma co-leads the Greater Houston Coalition on Social Determinants of Health, a Harris-county wide effort focused on mitigating food insecurity and other social determinants of health among its residents. She has a PhD in Epidemiology with a minor in biostatistics, and is a registered dietitian in the state of Texas.

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Dolores Woods, MA, RDN, LD
Nutritionist Supervisor, Nourish Program
The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) School of Public Health

Dolores Woods is the Director of Culinary Nutrition for the Nourish Program at the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health (SPH). After completing her undergraduate education at UC Riverside, Ms. Woods moved to New York City to attend culinary school and received a Grand Diplôme in Culinary Arts from the French Culinary Institute. She has worked in the restaurant industry and taught cooking classes for several years. Her interest in food, cooking and  sustainability led her to complete a Master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University. Later, she attended the Coordinated Dietetics Program at California State University, Los Angeles to become a registered dietitian. Dolores has worked in the field culinary arts, nutrition education and university food service. She is bilingual in both English and Spanish. Dolores is enthusiastic about teaching others about nutrition and working toward healthy lifestyles.

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Diana Guevara Vertical Headshot

Community Health Education Specialist, Nourish Program
The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) School of Public Health

Diana's interest for nutrition bloomed upon learning the power that food and nutrition can have in preventing disease. Her passion for helping others adapt healthier lifestyle in an easy and delicious way has led her to become the Nourish Program’s Community Health Education Specialist.

One of our own, Diana is a graduate of the Dietetic Internship Program. After completing her undergraduate degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from The University of Texas at Austin, she continued on to complete her Masters in Public Health and dietetic internship at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health.

As a registered dietitian, Diana started her career in corporate wellness in Lake Buena Vista, FL. She later returned to serve her Houston community as an outpatient clinical dietitian where she took part in the first Food Prescription program to be established in the state of Texas. Diana has worked primarily with patients with Type 2 Diabetes and has experience in individual counseling, nutrition education, cooking demonstrations, and classes. Diana is bilingual in both English and Spanish.

 

 

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