Meet Your Faculty and Staff
A Welcome Message from the Department Chair of Nutrition
On behalf of the faculty and staff of West Chester University’s Nutrition Department we are glad you chose our program and are excited to welcome! What makes our faculty and staff unique is that we are practitioners with many years of industry experience and training, which allows us to bring the most, well-rounded educational experience to our students as possible. Our faculty comes from backgrounds in dietetics, fitness, food science, and foodservice management, which helps create a well-rounded learning opportunity. Our department believes all students have the right to learn in a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and safe environment. We encourage students to live their truth and be comfortable sharing and participating inside and outside the classroom.
Meet Your Faculty and Staff
Dr. Christine Karpinski, PhD, RD, CSSD, LDN
- Chair of Nutrition, Professor
- Office: SECC 260
Dr. Karpinski is an exercise physiologist and registered dietitian and is Professor and Chair of the department of Nutrition at West Chester University. She is a board-certified specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD). Chris earned her BS at West Chester University in exercise science and played field hockey and lacrosse. She earned her master’s degree from Immaculata University and her PhD from Rutgers University with her doctoral research project involving the athletes at WCU. In addition to her teaching and Chair responsibilities, Dr. Karpinski has developed a comprehensive Sports Nutrition program as part of WCU Student Athlete Success (SAS) program at WCU. Under the supervision of Dr. Karpinski, a combination of undergraduate students, graduate students, and dietetic interns provide nutrition education and fueling for the WCU athletes and conducts research in this area.
The WCU Sports Nutrition Education and Fueling Program promotes a food first, evidence-based
approach that helps guide student-athletes towards making healthier food choices that
will properly fuel them for their specific sport. The Fueling Program involves distributing
healthy snacks to the athletes either at practice or for games and “Go Bags” for healthy
snacking on the bus for away games – or for athletes who are running from practice
straight to class for the evening. The Nutrition Education Program includes: Q &
A sessions, team talks, individualize counseling, cafeteria tours, grocery store tours,
restaurant/ convenience store lists, cooking demos, kitchen makeovers, diet analysis,
calculation energy/macronutrient needs, dietary supplement reviews, and Bod Pod testing/interpretation.
She served as the Chair of the Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition dietetic practice group (SCAN), a 5,000-member dietetic practice group in 2020-2021. She is a member of ACSM, PINES, and CPSDA. Dr. Karpinski is the editor-in-chief for “Sports Nutrition: A Handbook for Professionals”, 6th edition, which was published in September 2017. She is nationally renowned for publishing and presenting on the topic of providing collegiate sports nutrition services for small budget programs and the critical need to hire sports and human performance dietitians. She is collaborating with other sports RDs on an emerging area of research - food insecurity in collegiate athletes, which may help support efforts to find funding for nutrition services to collegiate athletes.
Secretary Department of Nutrition
Office: SECC 258
Dr. Patricia G. Davidson, DCN, RDN, CDE, LDN, FAND
- Office: SECC 244
Dr. Patricia Davidson brings more than 30 years of experience as a clinician, researcher, and educator to WCU. She is a registered dietitian/nutritionist, a certified diabetes care and education specialist, and holds degrees from Rutgers University (DCN, Doctor of Clinical Nutrition and clinical residency in vascular medicine at Overlook Medical Center), Virginia Tech (MS, Nutrition and Food Science), and Southern Illinois University (BS, Nutrition and Food). Dr. Davidson’s research skills were honed by seven years of biomedical laboratory research in Israel at the Rebecca Sieff Medical Center, utilizing western blot studies and developing protocols for static cytometry in the diagnosis of cancers. Her research interests include the prevention, management, applications of technology, and medical nutrition therapy (MNT) in chronic disease, including diabetes, obesity, and cystic fibrosis. Dr. Davidson has authored or co-authored numerous manuscripts pertaining to diabetes treatment strategies, management, problem-solving, implementation of nutrition guidelines, and prevention (Dr. Davidson's Bibliography).
She has been a member and chair of a variety of university and CHS committees and has played a pivotal role in the introduction of interprofessional and simulation experiences and courses. Through her active involvement in diabetes care initiatives and grants, the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) is provided cost free to WCU faculty, staff, and the community, and funds selected senior and graduate students to attend a two-day certification training as Lifestyle Coaches, a necessary step to become DPP facilitators. Dr. Davidson also provides clinical nutrition counseling and diabetes care to the underserved, broader community through Community Volunteers in Medicine. Her clinical positions have included in-patient diabetes education, private practice, and community diabetes education.
Dr. Davidson is active in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on various task forces, including the development of practice guidelines (Evidence Analysis Library), Academy DGA Collaborative and Think Tank, and co-author of the Revised 2017 standards of practice and standards of professional performance for registered dietitian nutritionists (competent, proficient, and expert) in diabetes care. She also has served/serves on the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (ADCES) practice, position paper, and research committees. Her awards include Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Outstanding Dietetic Educator Award (NDEP/AND), Honors College Outstanding Faculty Award (WCU), Carolyn Sebastianelli Distinguished Member Award (NJDA), and the Distinguished Service Award (GSADE), and is a recipient of numerous grants.
Dr. Dara Dirhan, Ed.D., MPH, RD, LDN
- Associate Professor
- Office: SECC 251
Dr. Dara Dirhan is a proud alumna of West Chester University where she earned her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics, followed by her Master’s in Public Health. She completed her dietetic internship at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, PA and earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Management with a concentration in Higher Education from Drexel University. She is a registered dietitian and previously worked in the corporate wellness arena. Dr. Dirhan’s current research agenda is focused on studying mindfulness in undergraduate nutrition students, and intuitive eating. She is proud to serve as the DPD Director for the nutrition department and welcomes students’ inquiries regarding the dietetics major.
Dr. Amir Golmohamadi, PhD, MSc, BSc
- Associate Professor
- Office: SECC 255
Dr. Amir Golmohamadi has a broad background in food science, with specific training and expertise in key research areas in food science and nutrition. He teaches NTD 408 (food science), NTD 426 (farm to table food preservation and sensory evaluation), NTD 200 (nutrition and culture) at the undergraduate level, and NTD 517 (Nutrition Research Techniques) to MSCN graduate students.
He holds a unique position as a food scientist within a department of nutrition allowing him to view food science through a different lens than on the research bench. His research area is on Medical Culinology (application of food science in medical nutrition therapy) and in his research Dr. Golmohamadi seeks to ask and answer this important question: How can the diets of children and adults with medical conditions be improved by deciphering the sensory and textural characteristics of foods. He involved several undergraduate and graduate students in his research and scholarly activities and some of the projects have resulted in journal or conference publications or presentations (see Dr. Golmohamadi’s Google Scholar profile).
Dr. Golmohamadi received his PhD degree in Food Science from the University of Idaho bi-state school of food science, master’s degree in food technology from Isfahan University of Technology, and bachelor’s degree in food science and technology from the University of Tehran, Iran. He also completed a postdoctoral research training in the laboratory of children feeding at the University of Idaho.
Dr. Jeffrey Harris, DrPH, RD, LDN
- Office: SECC 246
Dr. Harris is originally from Southern California. He earned his B.A. in Biology at the University of California at San Diego, his M.P.H. in Nutrition and Health Education, and Dr.P.H. in Preventive Care at Loma Linda University, School of Public Health. Dr. Harris is a registered dietitian nutritionist and teaches courses in research design and statistics, clinical nutrition, and nutrition metabolism. Dr. Harris has served as a research design and statistical consultant and taught medical school courses. He has written several professional publications on research design and statistics. Dr. Harris had his own nutrition practice for 13 years. Dr. Harris has been a faculty member at West Chester University since 1983.
Dr. Michael Holik, EdD
- Associate Professor
- Office: SECC 250
Dr. Michael Holik earned his Associate degree in Hospitality Restaurant Management from Ozarks Technical Community College, followed by his Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Restaurant Administration from Missouri State University. From there Dr. Holik moved on to complete his MS degree in Technology Education from the University of Central Missouri, and his Ed.D in Education Instructional Leadership from Lindenwood University. Dr. Holik’ has been teaching in higher education since 2005 and became a proud member of WCU faculty in 2017. In addition to Dr. Holik’s teaching experience, he has 21-years in management and leadership, auditing, and corporate training in the foodservice and hospitality industry. Dr. Holik’s research agenda focuses on teaching and learning pedagogy, diversity, and foodservice.
Kimberly-Elizabeth Johnson, PhD, RDN
- Associate Professor
- Office: SECC 240
Dr. Kimberly-Elizabeth Johnson earned a BS in Nutrition Science from Cornell University, an MS in Child and Family Studies and PhD in Social Sciences with emphasis on food and nutrition policy through Syracuse University. She has clinical and food management experience in healthcare, is a Registered Dietitian, and has 20 years of university teaching experience. The focus of Dr. Johnson’s research includes social theory of food and nutrition, sustainable food systems, social determinants of health, food security, and public engagement in science and policy of food, health and citizenship. Dr. Johnson currently teaches graduate and undergraduate courses focusing on socio-cultural aspects of nutrition and sustainable food systems. Her work has been funded by a WCU Innovation in Diversity and Inclusion grant, an Allen Foundation grant, and she has published work in the journal of Public Health Nutrition and other academic sources. Dr. Johnson received an Inspiration Award for Public Engagement for service learning in the community, is the Coordinator of the Sustainable Food Systems Management track in the Nutrition Department, and a co-facilitator of the College of Health Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Faculty Learning Community.
Dr. Janet Lacey, DrPH, RD, LDN
- Office: SECC 249
Dr. Lacey graduated from Simmons College in Boston, where she later served on the faculty. She was an early student of and later administrator for Michio and Aveline Kushi, pioneers in the macrobiotic and natural foods movements. Since then she has been interested in dietary approaches to primary disease prevention as well as micronutrient adequacy of plant-based diets. She is a registered dietitian and holds Master's degrees in Food Science and Nutrition (UMASS Amherst) and Counseling and School Psychology (UMASS Boston). She earned her doctorate at UNC-Chapel Hill, School of Public Health, conducting research at Kobe University on dietary and lifestyle correlates of bone health among Japanese women. She has been at WCU since 2000 and has continued her research on targeted vitamins and minerals (Zinc Nutrition in Plant-Based Diets). She currently teaches courses in micronutrients, perspectives on obesity, human nutrition, and food-mind-spirit. She is the author of Fields of Nourishment: Plant-Based Recipes with their Nutrient Profiles. She continues to be inspired by the idealism and dedication of her students.
Dr. Alessandra Sarcona, EdD, RDN, CSSD
- Associate Professor
- Office: SECC 248
Dr. Sandy Sarcona is an associate professor and the coordinator for the Lifestyle Nutrition concentration in the Department of Nutrition. Prior to coming to West Chester University, she was a Dietetic Internship Director at Long Island University (LIU), Post. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics (Food and Nutrition) from East Carolina University, Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition from New York University and a Doctorate in Education from LIU, Post. Dr. Sarcona is a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics and has previous work experience in clinical dietetics, wellness and sports nutrition. Dr. Sarcona’s research focuses on nutrition and lifestyle behaviors of various population groups and outcomes of teaching strategies in the classroom. She is the founder and faculty advisor for the Lifestyle Nutrition special interest group, working with students to conduct nutrition workshops on WCU campus. Dr. Sarcona is a registered dietitian and teaches courses in nutrition assessment and nutrition capstone in the graduate program, and professional skills in dietetics, nutrition and disease prevention, lifestyle nutrition practicum, and medical nutrition therapy in the undergraduate curriculum
Dr. Jeanie Subach EdD, MA, RD, CSSD, LDN
- Associate Professor, Student Dietetic Association Advisor
- Office: SECC 242
Jeanie Subach is a Registered Dietitian, Board Certified Sports Specialist Dietitian, and faculty member in the Department of Nutrition at West Chester University. In this position, she is the advisor to the Student Dietetic Association and program director for The Ram Chefs, a culinary program for young adults with developmental disabilities. She earned a B.S in Home Economics and a master’s in nutrition education from Immaculata University. Jeanie completed her doctoral studies in Educational Leadership and Management at Capella University. Her dissertation on the impact of nutrition intervention on young adults with cognitive and/or physical disabilities was completed with the Adapted Physical Activity program at the university.
Jeanie was the sports nutritionist for the Philadelphia 76ers for 31 years before retiring in 2020 to devote her time to the Ram Chef program. She also held the role of team nutritionist for the Philadelphia Eagles under coach Andy Reid from 1999-2013 and for the Philadelphia Flyers from 1989 to 1997. Jeanie acts as the nutrition preceptor for the Sports Medicine Fellows in the Crozer Keystone Sport Medicine fellowship program. She is on the editorial review board for the publication The Physician and Sports Medicine.
Jeanie was the creator and facilitator of numerous nutrition-based programs at Penn Wood and Glen Acres Elementary schools in the West Chester Area School District. She is a frequent presenter on nutrition at areas schools and universities. Jeanie has acted as spokesperson for numerous food companies, including Campbell Soup, Green Giant, General Mills and the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Council. In addition, she was a spokesperson for the NFL Fuelup to Play 60 program – a program designed to educate school-age children on proper nutrition. Jeanie has a passion for food, cooking, gardening and entertaining, and is said to be happiest when in the kitchen!
Dr. Joanne Sullivan (Christaldi), PhD, RD
- Associate Professor
- Office: SECC 256
Dr. Joanne Sullivan (Christaldi) earned her BS degree in Foods and Nutrition from the College of St. Elizabeth, dietetic internship and an MS in Human Nutrition from the University of Delaware, and PhD in Health Promotion and Behavior from the University of Georgia. She is a registered and licensed dietitian and previously worked for over seven years as a clinical dietitian. Dr. Sullivan currently teaches courses in clinical nutrition assessment and medical nutrition therapy. Dr. Sullivan earned a certificate in qualitative research methods and has completed research related to adult obesity prevention, food insecurity, benefits of medical nutrition therapy, and nutrition education and cooking skill development in persons with disabilities. Dr. Sullivan’s awards include 2017 WCU Academic Advising Appreciation Award, 2015 Campbell’s Healthy Heart Award, and 2011 Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year from the Pennsylvania Dietetic Association.
Dr. Sandra Walz, PhD, RD, LDN
- Associate Professor and Nutrition Minor Advisor
- Office: SECC 253
Sandra Walz, a Minnesota native, is an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition. Dr. Walz holds degrees from North Dakota State University (BS degrees, Home Economics/nutrition, Corporate/Community Fitness; MS degree, Nutrition) and Kansas State University (PhD, Hospitality Management). She is a Registered Dietitian, Ayurveda Life-Style Consultant, and Reiki Master Teacher with experience in problem- and adventure-based learning; foodservice management; human, community, and sports nutrition; adult and childhood obesity; and integrative health.
Jena Wood, MS, RDN, LDN
- Dietetic Internship Director
- Office: SECC 241
Jena graduated with her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics and Minor in Communication Studies in 2013 at West Chester University, followed by her MS in Community Nutrition in 2018. Jena completed her dietetic internship in 2014 at Sodexo. Jena has worked as a retail dietitian at ShopRite since 2014. Jena has worked as an adjunct professor at WCU and Immaculata University and worked in corporate wellness. Jena is an active PhillyAND board member, guest speaker, and is currently working on her doctorate.