Momentum Center | Driving Discovery to End Childhood Obesity

Leading our Progress

parents and children playing tug-of-war on summer dayMomentum’s leadership team helps to determine research focus, evaluate progress, and identify opportunities and partnerships. As active Center members, they are closely engaged with ongoing research and initiatives to prevent and end childhood obesity. Browse our stakeholders’ bios to learn more about their role in Momentum’s success.


Leadership Team

Karen E. Peterson, ScD More
Director; Chair, Nutritional Sciences at U-M School of Public Health
Specialty: Child growth, Obesity, and Metabolic Homeostasis

Dr. Karen Peterson is Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the U-M School of Public Health, as well as Research Professor for the Center for Human Growth and Development, both at the University of Michigan. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. Her research focuses on the influence of biosocial and environmental influences on child growth and maturation during sensitive developmental periods, as well as the design and evaluation of population-based interventions addressing dietary and physical activity behaviors related to obesity and chronic disease in diverse populations, including children and youth. She is Contact PI for the U-M Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Protection Center on the theme: “Lifecourse exposures and diet: Epigenetics, maturation, and metabolic syndrome,” and serves as Associate Director of the Michigan Nutrition and Obesity Research Center (MNORC). She earned her ScD in Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Robin Lee, MPH, RD More
Acting Executive Director, Momentum Center
Specialty: Obesity prevention through policies and built environment; program management

Robin Lee has experience in health promotion and children’s health research. She previously managed the UM Children’s Environmental Health Center and assisted investigators with their research and grant applications. She also was the study dietitian for various research studies with the Michigan Clinical Research Unit. She earned her undergraduate degree in Public Health at the University of Washington and Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Michigan.

Jeffrey Horowitz, PhD More
Professor, U-M School of Kinesiology
Specialty: Regulation of fuel mobilization; Oxidation

Dr. Jeff Horowitz is a Professor in the University of Michigan’s School of Kinesiology, where he directs the Substrate Metabolism Laboratory. His laboratory studies the regulation of fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism in humans, with particular interest in how exercise and diet affect lipid metabolism and insulin resistance in obesity. Dr. Horowitz’s laboratory focuses on identifying adaptions (at the cellular, tissue, and whole-body level) in response to exercise and/or dietary intervention that may impact important clinical outcomes, which could lead to improved methods to treat chronic diseases. Dr. Horowitz earned a BSE in Biomedical Engineering from The University of Iowa (1989), as well as an MA (1992) and a PhD (1996) in Exercise Physiology (both from The University of Texas at Austin).

Joyce Lee, MD More
Professor of Pediatrics
Specialty: Obesity; Diabetes; Social Media; Mobile Health

Joyce Lee is a physician, researcher, and design thinker. She is one of the few individuals in the country with formal training in Pediatric Endocrinology and Health Services Research, and she holds a Master in Public Health from the Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of Michigan. Dr. Lee is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School, with a joint appointment in the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She conducts clinical and health services research in the areas of pediatric obesity and diabetes, and co-directs an emerging technologies program that uses mobile technology and data visualization to help children and families self-manage chronic diseases. She can be found on twitter (@joyclee) and at her website,

Alison Miller, PhD More
Associate Professor, U-M School of Public Health
Specialty: Child Development; Stress; Self-Regulation; Obesity

Alison Miller is a developmental psychologist who studies risk and resilience in children and families. She is an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education (HBHE) at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and was previously in the Department of Psychiatry (Division of Child and Family Psychiatry) at Brown Medical School. Dr. Miller is affiliated with Michigan’s Center for Human Growth and Development. She received a BA in Psychology at Wesleyan University (1992), and earned two degrees at the University of Michigan, including an MA (1997) and a PhD (2000) in Developmental Psychology.

Edward Norton, PhD More
Professor of Health Management and Policy, Professor of Economics
Specialty: Health Economics

Edward C. Norton joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in 2008 as a professor in both the SPH Department of Health Management and Policy and in the Department of Economics. He is the Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholars in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan, as well as a Research Affiliate of the Population Studies Center. In addition to his affiliations with the University of Michigan, Dr. Norton is a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research in the Health Economics Program. Before coming to Michigan, he taught at UNC at Chapel Hill and Harvard Medical School. His research interests in health economics include long-term care, aging, and econometrics. He earned an AB in Economics at Princeton University (1986) and a PhD in Economics at MIT (1990).

Kenneth Resnicow, PhD More
Professor, U-M School of Public Health
Specialty: Health promotion programs for special populations; Understanding the relationship between ethnicity and health behaviors

Ken Resnicow is the Irwin M. Rosenstock Collegiate Professor of Public Health in the Health Behavior and Health Education department of the University of Michigan School of Public Health. He is internationally recognized for his design and evaluation of health promotion interventions and motivational interviewing, and is a leading expert in conceptualizing and designing culturally sensitive, community-based interventions for health promotion. Dr. Resnicow earned a BA in Psychology and Philosophy from Yeshiva College (1980) and a PhD in Health Psychology from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (1985).

Darleen Sandoval, PhD More
Associate Professor, Surgery; Associate Professor, Nutritional Sciences
Specialty: Gut-brain axis; Metabolic adaptation to bariatric surgery

Dr. Darleen Sandoval is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. She received her Ph.D. in Exercise Science at Arizona State University and received a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Vanderbilt University in the Division of Endocrinology. Dr. Sandoval’s research focuses on the role of the gut-brain axis in metabolism. She explores the role of a gastrointestinal peptide, GLP-1, in the regulation of energy and glucose homeostasis. Dr. Sandoval additionally focuses on the adaptations of the gut-brain axis with bariatric surgery and how this can contribute to weight loss and glucose and lipid homeostasis. In her research, she uses a combination of molecular and physiological techniques with the goal of generating better therapeutic options for type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Peter Song, PhD More
Professor, U-M School of Public Health
Specialty: Design and Analysis of Longitudinal Data

Peter Song is a Professor of Biostatistics at the Department of Biostatistics in the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. His research interests include bioinformatics, longitudinal data analysis, missing data problems in clinical trials, statistical genetics, and time series analysis. He is interested in methodological developments related to modeling, statistical inference, and applications in biomedical sciences. In particular, Dr. Song’s research projects are strongly motivated from real-world data analysis. He earned a BS in Statistics from Jilin University (1985) and a PhD in Statistics from the University of British Columbia (1996).

Susan Woolford, MD, MPH More
Assistant Professor, U-M Medical School
Specialty: Physician-Family Communication Using Mobile Technologies

Susan Woolford, MD, MPH, is the Medical Director of the Pediatric Comprehensive Weight Management Center and a Clinical Assistant Professor with the Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) unit in the Division of General Pediatrics at the University of Michigan. Her research interests focus on the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity, with an emphasis on physician-patient communication related to behavior change. Dr. Woolford earned her medical degree at Michigan State University (1994), where she also completed her residency and chief residency.