Traci Mann

Professor and author at the university of minnesota

Traci grew up in Highland Park, Illinois, and went to college at the University of Virginia, which she loved so much that she decided to stay in college forever. She thought she would become a mathematician or engineer, but she abandoned those plans after taking her first psychology course (Intro to Cognition), and went on to attain her Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University in 1995. A week later she married Steve Engel, and they moved to Los Angeles. Traci did a two-year postdoc in UCLA’s NIMH HIV Prevention Training Program, then was a professor at UCLA for nine years, during which time she had a son, got tenure, and had another son. The whole family moved to Minneapolis in 2007 so that Traci and Steve could join the Psychology Department at the University of Minnesota and the aforementioned sons could grow up to wear sweatshirts on days that are ten-below zero.

Traci does not run a diet clinic or test diets, and she has never taken a penny from commercial diet companies or food companies, sat on their boards of directors, or endorsed one of their products. Because of this, her livelihood, research funding, and reputation are not dependent on her reporting that diets work (or don’t) or that obesity is (or isn’t) unhealthy. This sets her apart from most diet and obesity researchers and allows her to speak the truth about these topics, which she does with abandon.

1. Favorite snack food: Marshmallow peeps
2. Favorite font: Montserrat Medium
3. Hobbies: Watching any kind of comedy – whether it’s a sitcom or movie, or live improv, sketch, or stand-up
4. Work highlight: When the lab came out to Cambridge for the Social-Health International Training Exchange (SHITE) during her Sabbatical in the U.K.
5. You will never catch me: Singing out loud
For more information about Traci's book, Secrets from the Eating Lab, click here.

Graduate Students

Erin Standen

I'm a third-year graduate student studying eating behavior and weight stigma. Specifically, I'm interested in ways that people make decisions about food, as well as ways that experiencing weight-based discrimination influences people's health and health behavior. A few of my current projects are related to calorie deprivation and attention, social norms about expressing weight bias, and the psychological and behavioral consequences of calorie-tracking apps.

1. Favorite snack food: Crispy Snap Peas
2. Favorite font: Futura
3. Hobbies: Spin Classes, Dancing, Cooking
4. Work highlight: Securing a collaboration with wonderful UofM computer science researchers, who helped me build a calorie-tracking app to use in my research!
  5. You will never catch me: Turning down free food!

Celina Furman

Celina's interest in health behavior stems from her experience as a competitive jump roper; a context in which she worked to promote physical activity as a way to combat childhood obesity by teaching weekly jump rope classes, staffing annual fitness events, and performing at local school and community assemblies. Prior to coming to Minnesota, she also worked as the lab manager of the Food and Addiction Science & Treatment Lab at the University of Michigan, where she coordinated a longitudinal fMRI study on food marketing vulnerability and increased risk for weight gain in adolescents. Being able to assist individuals in reaching their health-goals while simultaneously conducting research in a health-related area inspired Celina to increase her scientific understanding of processes related to the long-term pursuit of health goals. In particular, Celina's research is centered on identifying cognitive and behavioral strategies that enhance motivation and self-control of dieting and exercise behavior.

1. Favorite snack food: snacking is my favorite thing to do, so this is is a hard one...cheese & crackers maybe?
2. Favorite font: Moonflower! Love the custom fonts from dafont.
3. Hobby: Jumping over a rope.
4. Work highlight: getting accepted to Minnesota was a dream, truly.
5. You will never catch me: watching a scary movie

Sarah Volz

I am a second year graduate student interested in studying what drives engagement in health behaviors, with a particular focus on healthy eating. I received a BS in Neuroscience from the College of William & Mary, working with Dr. Catherine Forestell and Dr. Cheryl Dickter. I also received a MA in Psychology from Wake Forest University, working with Dr. EJ Masicampo.

1. Favorite snack food: Anything with dark chocolate
2. Favorite font: Garamond
3. Hobby: puzzles, learning to garden, cooking, planning trips to places I want to visit
4. Work highlight: Working with undergraduates to help them develop an appreciation for research, closely followed by that time the University of Minnesota closed in January 2019 because it was so cold after everyone had spent months telling me how tough people in the midwest were and how the University NEVER closed for the weather.
5. You will never catch me: Eating avocado toast