The TOPRS Team

Barbara Fiese, Ph.D., is Professor and Director of the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is trained as a clinical and developmental psychologist with advanced training in pediatric psychology and family therapy. Dr. Fiese has over 20 years’ experience directing federally funded projects including three currently funded interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary projects focusing on children’s health. She developed the prototype for the TOPRS curriculum and has demonstrated efficacy in implementing undergraduate transdisciplinary education. Email Barbara at

Dorothy Teegarden, Ph.D., is Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs at Purdue University. Her research activities are diverse, from cell and molecular, animal and human models, as well as education which includes a focus in obesity. She leads an originally NIH-funded Cancer Prevention Internship Program for undergraduate and graduate students. This program provides support and curricular activities with a goal of cross-training students to effectively address complex research questions and prepare students who can develop and work in interdisciplinary teams to optimally further research. She has developed and taught an obesity-focused course that introduced problems and issues in prevention of obesity from the perspective of many disciplines, including industry, policy, public health genetics, nutrition, and cellular and molecular biology. Email Dorothy at

Amber Hammons, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the Department of Child, Family, and Consumer Sciences at California State University, Fresno. Her research interests involve the study of family interactions and health and she is particularly interested in family and community factors that contribute to obesity and she takes a whole family approach in addressing these topics. Dr. Hammons is a co-principal investigator on a large-scale health promotion program for Latino families that aims to improve health through increased physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption, and family togetherness. Email Amber at

Brenda Davis Koester, MA, is Assistant Director of the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has extensive experience in supporting transdisciplinary research and education and assisted in the development of the prototype for the TOPRS curriculum. Her research and policy work focuses on influences on children’s health and translating research to policy and practice. Email Brenda at

Jen Themanson, MS, is the Coordinator for the STRONG Kids Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ms. She has extensive experience supporting transdisciplinary childhood obesity research and has supported undergraduate transdisciplinary problem-based education for over ten years. Email Jen at