Investigative Team and Partners


Healthy_Gardening4GAJill Litt, Ph.D. Principal Investigator, University of Colorado Boulder

I am an associate professor of environmental studies and public health at the University of Colorado Boulder in the Environmental Studies program. I received my PhD in environmental health and public policy from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and have spent most of my career working on projects related to urban environmental health and neighborhood design. I have worked in the neighborhoods of Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston and Denver on a variety of issues related to neighborhoods and health including urban brownfields cleanup and redevelopment, lead poisoning, residential demolition, environmental justice, chemical risk assessment, and most recently, housing, community gardens, and local food systems. On the CAPS project, I serve as the principal investigator of the study, overseeing all aspects of the project. I feel honored to partner with the American Cancer Society on the CAPS study and to be able to work with such a distinguished team of investigators and researchers, our community partner Denver Urban Gardens, and the broader community of Denver. My favorite vegetable is butternut squash.

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Katherine Alaimo, Ph.D., Co-Principal Investigator, Michigan State University 
I am an Associate Professor in the area of community nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University.  I have a BS, MS, and PhD in nutritional sciences from Cornell University.  My research and teaching focuses on creating environments and policies that inspire and encourage healthy eating, physical activity, sustainable food systems, and food security in schools and communities. I was drawn to partner with community gardeners through my interests in food security and regenerative agriculture. For many years, I have worked closely with Michigan community gardeners and the organizations that support them to study the impact of urban agriculture and community gardens for neighborhoods, communities, and health. I am thankful for the opportunity to expand my reach to Denver, and work with the CAPS research team, our partners at Denver Urban Gardens and national gardening organizations, and the American Cancer Society on this study. As co-PI, I provide leadership along with Dr. Litt on project activities, specifically focusing on study design and operations, dietary assessment, health and qualitative interviews, and collaboration with our Advisory Committee.  My favorite vegetables to grow and eat are basil, tomatoes, and curly kale.

Hamman, Richard 04 (2x3 in Color)Richard Hamman, MD, DrPH, Co-Investigator, Epidemiologist, Colorado School of Public Health (CU)
I am a chronic disease epidemiologist interested in prevention of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Though retired, I am working part-time on CAPS and other studies of diabetes and obesity. My role on the project is to provide input on design, methods, measurements, and analysis, given my experience on other large randomized clinical prevention trials, including the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), where I served as the national vice-chair. My favorite fruit is the homegrown tomato!

tessa crume Tessa Crume, MSPH, Ph.D., Co-Investigator, Epidemiologist, Colorado School of Public Health (CU)
I am an Assistant Professor and co-director of the MS and PhD program in the Epidemiology Department at the Colorado School of Public Health. My research focuses on the functional consequences of nutritional exposures at different periods of human development. I am currently the Principal Investigator (P.I.) on an impact study of prenatal smoking cessation for low-income women to prevent of delivery complications and adverse neonatal outcomes. As part of CAPS, I serve as an Epidemiologist to guide study design, implementation, reporting and analysis.

Glueck_photoDeborah Glueck, Ph.D, Biostatistician, Colorado School of Public Health (CU)
I am an Associate Professor of Biostatistics with a career-long interest in study design, power, and sample size analysis (SampleSizeShop.org). I serve as the study biostatistician, responsible for conceiving the overall design of the study, and for planning the analysis of the trial data. I am an enthusiastic home gardener, and highly recommend Thai Purple Podded Yard Long Beans.

carolannCarol-Ann Mullin, MSPH, Database Manager, University of Colorado Anschutz
Since 2000, I have contributed to the scientific community at the University of Colorado Cancer Center- primarily in the research areas of hereditary cancer, behavioral health survey and cancer registry research. My MSPH degree was awarded in 2009 by the University of Colorado Health Sciences Graduate School and the Colorado School of Public Health. I joined the Community Activation for Prevention Study team as a REDCap database developer. After creating the study database, I have continued my work with the CAPS team in the capacity of data management/analyst. I enjoy growing vegetables and herbs in my backyard garden at home, especially my patch of asparagus which has recently become mature and can now produce a harvestable yield.

Jenn Leiferman Jenn Leiferman, MS, Ph.D., Health Survey and Process Evaluation, Epidemiologist, University of Colorado Denver
An associate professor in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health at the Colorado School of Public Health, my research interests focus on the intersection between mental health and physical health. I also teach masters and doctoral level courses in health behavior theory. My contributions to CAPS include expertise in mental health, behavioral theory and process evaluation.

Kaigang Li Kaigang Li, Ph.D., Developer and Monitor of Physical Activity Component, Colorado State University
I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University and the Director of the Laboratory for Assessment and Promotion of Physical Activity and Health (APPAH). My research area is Health Behavior and one of major research lines is physical activity. I have worked in physical activity measurement and assessment, social-ecological and dynamic determinants of physical activity engagement, and promotion of physical activity engagement for more than 10 years. Currently, I take a role in physical activity monitoring and collection and analysis of physical activity data as a Co-Investigator in the CAPS project. My favorite fruits are avocado and watermelon, my favorite vegetable is cucumber.

James R. Hébert, MSPH, ScD
Health Sciences Distinguished Professor
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina
Director, Statewide Cancer Prevention & Control Program

Tom HurleyTom Hurley, MS, Senior Research Associate, 24-hr diet recalls, University of South Carolina
My role with the CAPS study is to oversee the diet assessment component. I have a bachelor of science in Human Nutrition from the University of Massachusetts and have worked in the Department of Nutrition at the Massachusetts Nutrient Databank. I have an MS in Epidemiology from the University of Massachusetts, and I now work as a Senior Research Associate in Cancer Prevention and serve as Director of the Data Analysis and Management and Diet Assessment Research Units in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program. In addition, I am an Affiliated Scholar in the Center for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities in the Arnold School of Public Health.

2010 - Michael FormalMichael Buchenau, DUG, Executive Director, CAPS Co-Investigator
My name is Michael Buchenau and I have been the Executive Director of Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) for 23 years working with over 160 urban communities to design, build and sustain their community gardens. For over a decade, I have been working with Dr. Jill Litt and her team on multi-year studies to explore how community-led garden projects affect community health in inner-city neighborhoods. My role has been to oversee the garden selection process from the practitioner side of the research. I can’t resist a freshly picked and sliced heirloom tomato.

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Lara Fahnestock, BA, DUG, Director of Garden Support
I grew up gardening and spent the last six years teaching children about real food and where it comes from. What began as a way to involve my family in gardening became a passion for educating an entire community. As a volunteer garden leader and Master Community Gardener, I led the creation of the school and community garden at Charles Hay World School and helped change its food culture. As an avid rock climber in her youth, I became an amputee after an 80 foot fall and now volunteers at hospitals counseling patients who face limb loss. As DUG’s Director of Garden Support, I act as the point person for all of DUG’s volunteer garden leaders, offering training and support for them and their gardens, as well as facilitating the Master Community Gardener class.

Project Coordinator

Angel Linked INAngel Villalobos, B.S., Culinary Nutrition, Johnson & Wales University
As program manager for the Community Activation for Prevention Study (CAPS): A Community Gardening Research Study, a Randomized Controlled Trial funded by the American Cancer Society, I ensure things run smoothly. I have worked in health promotion with medically underserved populations for over 7 years focusing on health education for low-resource communities. My experience as a certified culinarian, nutrition educator, group facilitator, and project manager has contributed to the success of community programs throughout Colorado. My favorite fruit tends to change every couple of months, but my all-time favorite are oranges!

Research Staff

IMG_0616Alyssa Beavers, MS, RD, PhD Student Human Nutrition, Michigan State University
I am a registered dietitian and a PhD student in Human Nutrition at Michigan State University. My research examines how urban gardening and gardener support programs influence health, including diet and physical activity. My role in CAPS is to conduct interviews with participants, I look forward to hearing their stories! My favorite vegetable is winter squash.

Hannah Buchenau, BA, Sociology, Tulane UniversityHannah B.
I am a Denver native and a recent graduate of Tulane University, where I studied psychology and sociology. I am a study assistant for CAPS and help with data collection and participant health visits. Additionally, I am a research coordinator for a Denver Neurological Research study on the different aspects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. My favorite fruit is papaya and my favorite vegetable is broccoli.

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Abby Bohannan, BA, MPH/MURP Candidate, University of Colorado Anschutz
I am a graduate student pursuing my Masters in Public Health and Urban Planning at the University of Colorado. My area of research has focused on the built environment, behavior change, and food security. I am involved in the CAPS project as a Student Assistant, and have been helping with evaluating the process in the study, as well as the data collection. My favorite vegetables are asparagus and fresh garden tomatoes straight from the vine. Yum!

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Eva Coringato, Student, University of Colorado Boulder
I am an undergraduate student in Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder and a research assistant on the Community Activation for Prevention Study. As a part of CAPS, I am involved in data collection, entry, and analysis. My academic interests include food systems, urban development, and environmental ethics. My favorite fruit and all-around favorite food is pineapple, with Colorado peaches as a close second!

POSNER_108.JPGErin Decker, BA, Communication and Conflict Resolution, University of Colorado Denver
My research encompasses topics of psychology, attachment theory, and trauma, and focuses on alternative ways of healing the adverse effects that result from psychological wounds. On the research team, I support the project in data collection, community engagement, and web development. I love speaking Spanish and growing and eating sugar snap peas.

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Pallas Quist, BA, Human Relations and Languages, University of Redlands
I am an active community leader in SE Denver and bring expertise to the CAPS project from a Garden Leader and Master Community Gardener’s perspective. My background is in publishing, writing, teaching and community organizing. On the research team, I enjoy working closely with study participants, other Garden Leaders and the staff at Denver Urban Gardens. I grow much of my own family’s food, and I love golden beets.

Advisory Team

Betsy JohnsonBetsy Johnson
From Springfield, MA, I have over 40 years of community organizing experience related to urban growing, recycling and composting, air quality, occupational health, and neighborhood development issues, including accommodation for pedestrians and bicyclists. I am a former teacher and worked for the American Community Gardening Association, Chefs Collaborative, American Lung Association, Mass Audubon, and “green” engineering companies. I am partial to butternut squash and provide a national perspective for CAPS.

 

William “Bill” Maynard
As the American Community Gardening Association past president, I now am the City of Sacramento Community Garden Program Coordinator. To the CAPS project I bring community garden knowledge and act as a representative of the ACGA. My favorite vegetable is the green bean!

Sarah Muntz

Sarah Muntz, MS, Colorado State University
In real life, I am a marketing and communications professional in the healthcare industry. I’ve been a community gardener for about eight years and currently serve as part of the leadership team for my garden.  My role in the project is as a representative on the study advisory board.  Choosing a favorite fruit or vegetable is like choosing a favorite child, but I would say that asparagus and black raspberries are right up there.

Linda

Laura Stevens, BA, Colorado State University
Hi! My name is Laura Stevens and I am a Colorado native. I am a passionate community gardener who earned my Master Community Gardener certification through Denver Urban Gardens. I helped open a couple of community gardens and enjoy teaching about organic gardening. I love eating any vegetable I grow (eat local, eat clean!) but snow peas right off the vine are one of my favorites.

 Melanie-Morrison pictureMelanie Morrison
I am a Registered Dietitian and am part of the CAPS Advisory board. I work for the Tri-County Health Department WIC program (Women, Infants and Children). I have been a community garden leader for Beeler Street Community Garden in Aurora for 4 years. I completed Denver Urban Garden’s Master Community Garden training in 2016, and my favorite vegetable is beets!

Partners

American Cancer Society Our funder, ACS, has helped shape the CAPS study to support the investigation of gardening as an intervention for risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
University of Colorado Denver Anschutz
University of Colorado Boulder
Michigan State University
Colorado State University CSU contributes assessment and formulation of the physical activity component of the study.
University of South Carolina University of South Carolina’s school of Public Health is supporting CAPS by overseeing the dietary data collection component.

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