|Institution||College of Medicine|
|Address||500 University Drive Hershey PA 17033|
Assistant Professor of Medicine and Public Health Sciences
MPH, Health Promotion and Behavioral Science, San Diego State University, 2008
PhD, Clinical Health Psychology, Virginia Tech, 2003
BA, Psychology, McGill University, 1996
Liza Rovniak, PhD, MPH is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Public Health Sciences at Penn State College of Medicine. She obtained her PhD in Clinical Health Psychology from Virginia Tech, and her MPH in Health Promotion and Behavioral Science from San Diego State University. She completed postdoctoral training at the Center for Behavioral Epidemiology and Community Health, within San Diego State University’s Graduate School of Public Health. Dr. Rovniak’s research investigates how to engineer built physical and social environments to sustain physical activity and other health behaviors. Using an ecological framework, Dr. Rovniak conducts intervention and epidemiological research across diverse populations and settings (e.g., workplaces, physicians' offices, neighborhoods) to learn how to establish environments and policies that facilitate long-term behavior change. She has been Principal Investigator of six grants funded by the NIH and state-level funding, and some of her ongoing/recent research projects are summarized below.
Compact Pedaling Devices in the Workplace (NIH R21, Role: Principal Investigator):
We are investigating the feasibility of accomplishing simultaneous caloric expenditure and productive office work using a compact pedaling device designed to be pedaled at a standard desk. Strategies for increasing energy expenditure without requiring extra time investment are greatly needed, as most US adults report time-related costs of physical activity as a key barrier to participation, and spend over half of their waking hours in sedentary behavior. The primary specific aims of this research are to: (1) assess the feasibility of completing simulated office work activities in a lab-based setting while pedaling at different intensity levels among sedentary adults varying on age, gender, and body mass index (Study 1, n = 112); and (2) assess the feasibility of completing sedentary desk work in a field-based (office) setting while pedaling at a self-selected intensity level, as well as social and built environment influences on pedaling quantity (Study 2, n = 50). The proposed research builds upon established ecological models demonstrating the importance of proximal environmental influences on physical activity and sedentary behavior. The combination of lab- and field-based research will contribute to the internal and external validity of study findings, and help guide recommendations for integrating pedaling devices in sedentary office settings.
Engineering Online and In-Person Social Networks for Physical Activity (NIH K99/R00, Dean’s Feasibility Grant, Role: Principal Investigator):
Our interdisciplinary research team developed the Social Networks for Activity Promotion (SNAP) model to advance research on modifiable social influences on physical activity. Based on this model, we conducted a randomized controlled trial to explore how best to engineer social networks to sustain physical activity. Sedentary adults (n = 308) were randomly assigned to three groups: WalkLink+: prompted and provided feedback on online and in-person social-network interactions to expand networks for physical activity, plus provided evidence-based online walking program and weekly walking tips; WalkLink: evidence-based online walking program and weekly tips only; Minimal Treatment Control: weekly tips only. The effects of these treatment conditions were assessed at baseline, post-program, and 6-month follow-up. The primary outcome was accelerometer-measured physical activity. Secondary outcomes included objectively-measured aerobic fitness, body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure, and neighborhood walkability; and self-reported measures of the physical environment, social network environment, and social network interactions. Results will contribute to greater understanding of how to conceptualize and implement social networks to support long-term physical activity (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/13/753).
In a related randomized controlled trial, we delivered intervention procedures similar to those described above to sedentary adults via cell phones, and also included a nutrition intervention. Results will contribute to better understanding of the effects of mobile prompts on activating physical activity and dietary change.
Other Interdisciplinary Research Projects:
1. Effects of a mobile app on promoting walking and cycling to work (Role: Co-Investigator, PI Melissa Bopp, PhD, Penn State Sustainability Institute).
2. Effects of Bluetooth-enabled pedometers and mobile-phone feedback on increasing physical activity (Role: Co-Investigator, PI Kristin Heron, PhD, Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute).
3. Contributions of Penn State Hershey Farmer’s Market to the Patient Centered Medical Home (Role: Co-Investigator, PI Daniel George, PhD).
Teaching and Mentoring:
Teaching: I teach PHS 505 (Public Health Program Planning and Evaluation) in Penn State’s Department of Public Health Sciences. This course teaches students how to design, implement, and evaluate public health programs to change diverse health behaviors.
Research mentoring: If you are a student or postdoctoral fellow interested in working with me on research projects, please send me an email with a copy of your CV.
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