Skip to Main Content

Meet the Nutrition & Dietetics Faculty and Staff

Lauri Wright Headshot

Lauri Wright, PhD, RDN, LD/N

Assistant Professor, Chair and DCN Co-Director | Ph: (904) 620-1436 | Office: 39/3051


Dr. Wright worked as a clinical dietitian at the Tampa VA Hospital for more than 15 years, specializing in infectious disease. She began and directed the dietetic internship at Bay Pines VA Hospital. After completing her doctorate degree, Dr. Wright directed the master's/dietetic internship program at the University of North Florida. While at UNF, her work with HIV moved to the community and food insecurity. Dr. Wright then joined the faculty of the College of Public Health at University of South Florida as an assistant professor where her research focused on food insecurity and its health impact, HIV nutrition and global nutrition. Dr. Wright is the founding director of the Center for Nutrition and Food Security where she directs two food recovery-meal programs; One for PLWHA (Food Fighters) and the other for homebound seniors (Meals on Wings). Dr. Wright is an Academy Media Spokesperson, Delegate to the Academy House, and a past-president of the Florida Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


Education: Dr. Lauri Wright received her bachelor’s degree in dietetics from The Ohio State University. She completed the coordinated master’s degree/dietetic internship at Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland VA Hospital and her PhD from USF


Research Interests: Food insecurity, HIV disease, program outcomes research, international nutrition.

Catherine Christie Headshot

Catherine Christie, PhD, RDN, LDN, FAND

Professor, Associate Dean | Ph: (904) 620-1202 | Office: 39/3035


Dr. Catherine Christie is Associate Dean and Professor in the Brooks College of Health at the University of North Florida. She earned her Masters and Ph.D. in nutrition from Florida State University and is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian, Fellow of the Preventative Cardiovascular Nurses Association, and Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Dr. Christie is also co-author of four books including The Latino Food Lover’s Glossary, Fat is Not Your Fate, Eat to Stay Young and I’d Kill for a Cookie and serves as Editor of the Manual of Medical Nutrition Therapy which is published by the Florida Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and updated each year. Prior to coming to UNF, she owned and operated Nutrition Associates, Inc., a nutrition consulting practice.


Dr. Christie is the recipient of several awards including Florida’s Distinguished Dietitian, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Outstanding Dietetic Educator Award, and the Excellence in Practice Award for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. She currently serves on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Board of Directors as Treasurer Elect, Chairs the Ethics Committee and represents the Academy BOD on the Consumer Protection and Licensure Committee. She was recently elected by the UNF faculty as the university’s Distinguished Professor for 2017-2018.


Research Interests: Overweight and obesity prevention and treatment, nutrition in chronic disease prevention and treatment, and interprofessional collaboration in education and healthcare.

Andrea Altice Headshot

Andrea Altice, MS, RDN, LD/N

Instructor | Ph: (904) 620-5044 | Office: 39/3013A


Research Interests: Nutrition Education.

Andrea Arikawa Headshot

Andrea Arikawa, PhD, MPH, RD, LD/N, FAND

Associate Professor, DCN Co-Director | Ph: (904) 479-8995 | Office: 39/3046 (inside 3042)


Dr. Arikawa has a bachelors degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil and a Masters degree in Public Health from the same university. She received her doctoral degree in Nutrition with a minor in Biostatistics from the University of Minnesota where she worked as a postdoctoral fellow and research associate for eight years. Dr. Arikawa joined UNF in 2014 and her primary research interests include the role bioactive components in foods and the gut microflora play on prevention and treatment of chronic disease as well as dietary and lifestyle behavior modification to improve biomarkers associated with inflammation, obesity, and cancer risk.


Research Interests: Basic science and laboratory work, clinical trials and translation of research findings to a community setting and public health. The primary area of interest is nutrition and lifestyle modification as it relates to inflammation, oxidative stress, and chronic disease, especially obesity and cancer, and the relationship between the gut microflora and dietary factors.

Melissa Baron Headshot 2

Melissa Baron, MS, RDN, LDN

Instructor | Ph: (904) 323-1259 | Office: 39/3059A

Kristen Hicks-Roof Headshot

Kristen K. Hicks-Roof PhD, RDN, LDN, CLC, FAND

Assistant Professor | Ph: (904) 620-5449 | Office: 39/3060


Kristen Hicks-Roof is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of North Florida. Her research interest is focused on developing and analyzing the impact of online nutrition education courses for healthcare professionals. Dr. Hicks-Roof is passionate about improving communication between practitioner and patient by providing easily accessible online educational offerings. She has developed partnerships with Texas Medical Association and Florida Medical Association to disseminate educational offerings. Dr. Hicks-Roof also focuses on mentoring within dietetics as part of her research initiative. She has implemented an RD mentorship program for UNF students, with hopes to expand this across the state of Florida. She has published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at scientific conferences nationwide.


Research Interests: Nutrition Education for the Interdisciplinary Team, Mentoring in Dietetics and Sensory Evaluation of Sorghum-Based Dishes

Alireza Jahan-Mihan Headshot

Alireza Jahan-mihan, PhD, RDN

Associate Professor | Ph: (904) 620-5359 | Office: 39/3057


My ultimate research goal is to unveil the role of functional foods and their dietary bioactive components in health and diseases. Understanding the mechanisms by which bioactive food components influence the risk of development of characteristics of metabolic syndrome including diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, hypertension and obesity and also factors affecting appetite and food intake regulatory system is my particular interest. The specific focus of my research program is on physiological and nutritional functions of dietary proteins and peptides. Both animal and clinical approaches are applied to reveal underlying mechanisms of functional foods and also to examine the applicability of research outcomes. It helps to transfer knowledge and findings from lab bench to the community level and facilitate collaboration between academia, community and food industry.

Dr. Labyak Headshot New

Corinne Labyak, PhD, RDN, LDN

Associate Professor | Ph: (904) 620-5725 | Office: 39/3055


Dr. Labyak is an Associate Professor in the Nutrition and Dietetics Department at UNF. She received her bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Florida State University and completed the coordinated master’s degree/dietetic internship (MSDI) at University of North Florida. In 2012, she graduated from University of Florida with a Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences. She has worked on multiple research studies focusing on the impact of nutrition education on improving malnutrition across the lifespan, particularly in the elderly. Specifically, Dr. Labyak’s research interests are the impact of nutrition on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD). As part of her research, she has extensive experience leading behavioral weight management groups including teaching topics encompassing nutrition, techniques for increasing physical activity, and focusing on behavioral mechanisms i.e. self-monitoring and goal setting. She has trained and guided over 60 students as research assistants on multiple research projects. Dr. Labyak has been appointed by the Governor to serve on the state’s Alzheimer’s Disease Advisory Committee (ADAC) and is an active member of the State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) for ADRD and the Alzheimer's Association International Society to Advance Alzheimer's Research and Treatment (ISTAART).


Areas of Expertise: Alzheimer's Disease And Related Dementias (ADRD), Nutrition Education, Prevention and Treatment of Malnutrition

Jamisha Leftwich Headshot

Jamisha Leftwich, DCN, RDN, LD/N, CLC, FAND

Instructor, ISPP Coordinator | Ph: (904) 620-4288 | Office: 39/3027  


Dr. Leftwich completed her Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition from the University of North Florida. She has several years of experience in the clinical and community setting, including maternal, infant, and child health and nutrition. She is also a Certified Lactation Counselor. Jamisha is currently the ISPP Coordinator at the University of North Florida where she helps coordinate the distance interns. Her research interests include nutrition education and counseling program development, racial and ethnic disparities in breastfeeding and nutrition, chronic disease prevention, and maternal and pediatric nutrition.

Judith Rodriguez headshot(1)

Judith Rodriguez, RDN, LD/N, PhD, FAND

Chairperson and Professor Emeritus | Ph: (904) 620-1289


Dr. Rodriguez is Chairperson and Professor Emeritus at the University of North Florida and the Department of Nutrition & Dietetics in the Brooks College of Health. She has many peer reviewed and consumer publications, including the Latino Food Lover’s Glossary (Florida Dietetic Association), The Diet Selector (Running Press) and 200 Surefire Ways Eat to Well and Feel Better (Fair Winds Press). Dr. Rodriguez is a Medallion recipient of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the UNF 2013 Distinguished Professor. Her interests focus on food and culture, health disparities, and food insecurity. She has been involved in educational, service and research activities and media interviews and has experience as a community and clinical practitioner and consultant on a variety of initiatives, including a national health study of U.S. Hispanics and projects with an international focus. She has collaborated with others to provide travel abroad and community-based experiences to UNF students. She received a PhD in Anthropology from Rutgers University, an MA in Nutrition and Higher Education and BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from New York University, and completed a Dietetic Internship at Deaconess/Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, MA. She is a Past President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Jen Ross Headshot 3

Jen Ross, DCN, RD, LD/N, FAND

Assistant Professor, Nutrition Undergraduate Program Director | Ph: (904) 620-2328 | Office: 39/3043


Research Interests: Nutrition Counseling and education, intuitive eating, Health at Every Size, food insecurity, health disparities.

Claudia Sealey-Potts Headshot

Claudia Sealey-Potts, PhD, RDN, LD/N, FAND

Associate Professor, MS/DI & ISPP Director | Ph: (904) 620-1429 | Office: 39/3026


Claudia Sealey-Potts, PhD, RD is a very active, dynamic and futuristic leader, researcher and educator in the field of nutrition and dietetics. Focus areas include prevention of diet-related chronic diseases (obesity, diabetes, hypertension) in children and adolescents. Obesity and type 2 diabetes prevention and treatment in adults is also of interest. Evidence-based practice in application of medical nutrition therapy.


Research Interests: Chronic disease prevention in children and pre-school nutrition.

Jill Snyder Headshot

Jill Snyder, MS, RDN, LDN

Instructor | Ph: (904) 620-1468 | Office: 39/3056


Research Interests: Eating disorders, intuitive eating, counseling.

Zhiping Yu Headshot

Zhiping Yu, PhD, RDN, LD/N

Associate Professor, Online MS Nutrition Director | Ph: (904) 620-1442 | Office: 39/3044 (inside 3042)


Dr. Yu obtained her doctoral degree in Nutritional Science from Pennsylvania State University and her bachelor and master's degrees in Food Science in China. Her research interests are focused on discovering biological mechanisms and developing nutrition and lifestyle interventions for food intake related health problems including eating disorders, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Dr. Yu has published in peer-reviewed scientific journals as well as presented at scientific conferences. She is an active member in several scientific societies and serves in a number of committee positions. She is also actively involved in community service projects to promote healthy eating and physical activities in Jacksonville population.


Research Interests: Obesity, childhood obesity, eating disorders, chronic disease prevention.

Jackie Mariano

Nutrition Office Assistant | Ph: (904) 620-1700 | Office: 39/3042