Health Promotion & Exercise Sciences

HPX Faculty

Emily Stevens, PhD; Department Chair: Professor, Coordinator of Allied Health Option in BS Public Health

Dr. Emily Stevens joined the HPX faculty in 2009. She is an active member of the WCSU campus community. Much of her teaching is focused on the core Health Promotion Studies courses; she has also taught wellness management and community health option courses, as well as the Fitness for Life general education courses. As the Faculty Athletics Representative (2015-2019), she founded the Colonial Ambassador program on campus, pairing faculty and staff from across campus to athletics teams in an effort to help bridge the gap between athletics and academics. She has also served on committees aimed at improving student retention across campus. Dr. Stevens was a co-author on the Health Promotion Studies program accreditation self-study report for the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

Dr. Stevens completed her Bachelor of Arts in Individually Designed Major, Exercise Science, at Denison University (2001). She completed her Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in Health Promotion and Exercise Science, with a concentration in Physical Activity Behavior, at The Ohio State University (2006). Her master’s thesis examined the association between youth sport experiences and physical activity adherence into adulthood. For her dissertation, Dr. Stevens developed and evaluated a theory-based physical activity intervention for high school students living in the Appalachian region of Ohio. Her research interests are in physical activity promotion, including an examination of determinants of physical activity, the development and evaluation of theory-based interventions designed to promote physical activity, and measurement of physical activity behavior.
White Hall 107A, Midtown Campus
(203) 837-8638 (fax)



Krista Heybruck, MPH: Department Co-Chair, Assistant Professor, Coordinator of Community Health Option in BS Public Health

Ms. Krista Heybruck is an Assistant Professor in the HPX Department, joining the faculty in fall 2016. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Education from the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh (1991) and a Master of Public Health degree in Health Promotion and Education from the University of South Carolina (1994). Professor Heybruck brings over 25 years of experience in community-based health promotion and education, human and social services, and public education.

She has worked on the national, state, and local levels with diverse audiences in many different settings including universities, urban and rural public schools, health departments, state agencies, federal health agencies, alternative education sites, community-based programs, and prison facilities. Before her appointment at WCSU, Professor Heybruck served as the Director of Research for the largest community action agency in Connecticut where she researched the health and human service needs of residents living in 40 Connecticut towns.

Her current research interests include environmental, community, organizational, and behavioral interventions related to STI prevention and mental health among middle and low-income adolescents and adults; effective strategies for community capacity building; and feminist historiography in the context of public health as a discipline.
White Hall 107F, Midtown Campus
(203) 837-3965
(203) 837-8638 (fax)




Dr. Jeff Schlicht: Professor, Coordinator of Fitness & Wellness Option in BS Public Health

Dr. Jeff Schlicht has been a member of the HPX faculty since 2000. He is the coordinator of the Fitness and Wellness Option in the Health Promotion Studies BS program and directs several other campus and community programs including:

· The American College of Sports Medicine’s Exercise is Medicine® on Campus program in articulation with Health Service, the Counseling Center, and Recreation

· The Institute for Holistic Health Studies’ Exercise Counseling program

· Practical Strength Training™, a community exercise program for older adults and people with disabilities, in partnership with Ability Beyond and United Cerebral Palsy    Associations of New York

Dr. Schlicht completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the University of California, San Diego (1988), a Masters of Arts in Physical Education at San Diego State University (1994), and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Sport, Leisure, and Exercise Science at the University of Connecticut (1999). His doctoral dissertation examined the effect of strength training exercise on functional fitness in older adults. He continues to do community research with older adults and has expanded his interests to working with adults with disabilities.
White Hall 112B, Midtown Campus
(203) 837-8687
(203) 837-8638 (fax)





Melissa Dalton, MPH, RD, CD-N; Instructor, Special Appointment; Food As Medicine Club Coordinator

Melissa Dalton joined the HPX Department in 2001. She is a Registered Dietitian with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is certified as a Dietitian-Nutritionist in the state of Connecticut. She earned her undergraduate degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Connecticut (1992) and completed her Dietetic Internship at the Danbury Hospital (1993). She holds a Master of Public Health degree in Behavioral Science and Health Promotion from New York Medical College (2001). Her graduate research examined the long-term maintenance of positive change following a worksite behavior modification program.

Melissa has worked in a variety of nutrition and health education roles and has extensive experience in health promotion program design and development, health behavior change, group facilitation and presenting. Melissa has also provided nutrition counseling in medical, community, and business settings. As a long-time adjunct instructor, Melissa supported the development of new courses as the HPX department expanded. In 2006, she was honored for her dedication to the School of Professional Studies (SPS) with a Distinguished Adjunct Award. In 2013, she was among the first in the department to convert a course curriculum to offer a fully online option. Melissa is the current faculty advisor for the Food as Medicine student club.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Office: White Hall 107E, Midtown Campus





Dr. Gretchen Paulson, Assistant Professor, Coordinator of Holistic Health Option in BS Public Health

Headshot of Gretchen Paulson

Dr. Gretchen Paulson joined the Health Promotion and Exercise Science department in 2023. She brings a variety of experiences as an educator and clinician in the field of athletic training as well as a vast knowledge of research and teaching experience in the determinants of physical activity.

She earned a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from Northeastern University (2010) and a Master of Science in Athletic Training from Illinois State University (2017). After working for several years as an AT in multiple settings including High School and Division I collegiate sports, Dr. Paulson decided to pursue her doctorate in Kinesiology, shifting her focus from sports medicine to the psychosocial aspects of physical activity. For her dissertation, she developed a body self-compassion intervention for young adult women and examined its impact on body image and intrinsic motivation to exercise. Her research utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods to assess how body image issues can be impact physical activity and to develop strategies for fostering a more positive body image and how this can translate into physical activity and other health behaviors.

White Hall 107D, Midtown Campus






Dr. Alicja Stannard, Assistant Professor, HPX Internship Coordinator

Head shot of Alicja StannardDr. Alicja Stannard joined HPX department in the Fall of 2023. She is an assistant professor and HPX Internship Coordinator. Dr. Stannard earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in Anthropology and Psychology from Northern Illinois University, a Master of Science in Education in Kinesiology and Physical Education with a concentration in Exercise Physiology from Northern Illinois University, and a PhD in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Physiology from Michigan State University.

Dr. Stannard brings a wide range of professional work experience in the field of Exercise Science and Public Health. She is passionate about helping students explore their career interests and working with community partners. Her teaching is focused on the HPX Internship Practicum, Exercise Physiology, and Exercise Science courses. Her research interests are centered around the endurance athletes as well as women’s health, fitness, and performance.

Dr. Stannard is a USA Track and Field Level I certified coach. She earned a certification on the Effective Teaching Practices from the Association of College and University Educators and the American Council on Education. Dr. Stannard holds the Climate Change and Health certification from the School of Public Health from Yale University.
White Hall 107C, Midtown Campus







Faculty Emeritus and Adjunct Faculty

Dr. Robyn Housemann, Faculty Emeritus

Dr. Robyn A. Housemann was Department Chair and Professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Exercise Sciences at Western Connecticut State University. She started at WCSU in August 2006 and retired on December 31, 2021.  Upon her retirement, the Center for Well-being (formerly the Institute of Holistic Health Studies) was honorarily dedicated in her name.

Dr. Housemann has taught all of the core courses for the Bachelor of Science degree in Health Promotion Studies, Cross-cultural Health and Healing, Energy Healing Therapies, Worksite Health and the Fitness for Life general education requirement. In 2007 she redesigned the curriculum for the HPS degree to a competency and service-learning focused set of core courses. In addition to teaching, Dr. Housemann has been involved in countless project and has helped the department become what it is today.

In her spare time, Robyn teaches Zumba, Zumba Toning and Aqua Zumba fitness classes. She is a Black Belt 2nd degree in Tae Kwon Do and a Usui and Karuna Reiki Master/Teacher. She also volunteers for various community events.







Jody Rajcula, Faculty Emeritus

Jody Rajcula Professor Jody Rajcula was named to Faculty Emeritus of the HPX Department in 2016 after a 30-year tenure at WCSU. She served as the department chair for 8 years and women’s basketball coach for 21 years.

She earned both her Bachelor and Master Degrees from Southern Connecticut State University and was promoted to full Professor at WCSU in 1998.





Adjunct Faculty

Donna Albano
James Ascone

Christel Autuori
Lisa Barker
Fernanda Carvalho-Ceylan
Maureen Farrell
Alexandra Hall
Helen Hollenbeck
Haley McCarthy
Lisa Morrissey
Lynda Muir
Deana Paqua
Doreen Robbins
Jennifer Turey
Lara Ward