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HEALTHE Research Team


Elizabeth (Betsy) Anderson Steeves, PhD, RD

Betsy Anderson Steeves is an assistant professor in the Public Health Nutrition program and director of the HEALTHE Lab. She is a registered dietitian and holds a doctoral degree in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She completed her Master’s in Public Health Nutrition and Dietetic Internship at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is interested in community-based interventions to reduce health disparities and prevent obesity among under-served populations and in conducting research to examine how social and physical (built) environments influence food purchasing and consumption behaviors of youth and adults.

Courtney Wright

 Courtney is a graduate student in the Master of Science in Public Health Nutrition and Master of Public Health dual degree program with a minor in Epidemiology. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition from the University of Tennessee Her research involves maternal and child nutrition, particularly focusing on social support of breastfeeding.  She plans to become a Registered Dietitian and serve the maternal and child population in a public health capacity. 

grier-welch, addy

Addy Grier-Welch
Addy completed her Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and minor in Health Promotion at Michigan State University. She is currently pursuing a dual Master’s of Science in Public Health Nutrition and Master’s of Public Health followed by the dietetic internship to become a Registered Dietitian. Her research interests include the promotion of health education and equal food access to underserved populations and creating environments that are conductive to the development of healthy grocery purchasing habits.

Ruth Zegel
Ruth was born and raised in Franklin, Tennessee. She completed her Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics and Nutrition at the University of Mississippi. She is currently pursuing her Master’s of Science with a concentration in Public Health Nutrition and will then complete a Dietetic Internship to become a Registered Dietitian. Ruth’s research interests include food purchasing influences and behaviors among college students, food access in rural populations, and eliminating health disparities.

Marleah Payne
Marleah completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  She is now studying the Master of Science degree in Public Health Nutrition at UTK.  Her research interests include food access, nutrition status and the promotion of healthy food choices in the lower-income populations.  She is also interested in connecting with local farmers’ markets, gardens and community supported agriculture programs for providing healthy, fresh produce to those with health disparities and nutritional needs in the community.

Kaela McIver
Kaela graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences.  She is currently pursuing her Master of Science degree in Public Health Nutrition and plans to complete a Dietetic Internship to become a Registered Dietitian. Her research interests include environmental factors that may contribute to childhood obesity, particularly home environmental characteristics within the rural setting.

Hannah Craig
Hannah was born and raised in Johnson City, Tennessee.  She is a junior, studying to get her Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Human Sciences in Nutrition Dietetics.  After graduating she hopes to pursue her Master’s Degree in Kinesiology.


Kelly Moroney
Kelly is currently a senior pursing a degree in Nutrition with a minor in Child and Family Studies.  After graduation in May, she plans to complete a Dietetic Internship and become a Registered Dietitian.  Her research interests include pediatric obesity prevention, family stress and health promotion.

Sam Zitnyar
Sam is currently a senior studying nutrition and dietetics.  After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree, he plans to pursue a Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition and a Dietetic Internship, allowing him to become a Registered Dietitian.  Sam wants to practice clinical dietetics in a hospital setting.

Samantha Rooney
A native Michigander, Samantha Rooney is a recent addition to the Knoxville area.  Samantha received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Wellness, Health Promotion, and Injury Prevention from Oakland University.  She is completing a Master’s Degree in Communication with a focus in Health Communication from Central Michigan University.  Samantha plans to pursue a doctorate in Public Health with a focus in social and behavioral sciences in the near future.  Her research interests explore the ways in which our interpersonal communication and behavior affect decision making related to nutrition and physical activity.

Join the HEALTHE Lab!

There are many opportunities to work with the HEALTHE lab as an undergraduate or graduate student, or as a community partner. To learn more about these opportunities contact:

Elizabeth (Betsy) Anderson Steeves, PhD, RD

Assistant Professor
Department of Nutrition
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Jessie Harris Building, Room 301C
Office phone: 865-974-6254