Health Promotion & Exercise Sciences

HPX Faculty

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

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 Health Promotion Studies

Professor Krista Heybruck joined the HPX full-time faculty in fall of 2016. She received 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 with her over 20 years of experience in community-based health promotion and education, human and social services, and public education.

She has worked on national, state, and local levels with diverse audiences in a number of different settings including universities, colleges, urban and rural public schools, health departments, state agencies, federal health agencies, alternative education and community-based programs, and prison facilities. Prior to her appointment at WCSU, Professor Heybruck served as the Director of Research to the largest community action agency in Connecticut. For nine years, she researched the health and human service needs of residents living in 40 Connecticut towns to determine needs and improve access to services.

Her current research interests include environmental, community, organizational and behavioral interventions to teen pregnancy, STD/I, and HIV/AIDS prevention among middle and low-income adolescents and adults, community capacity building, and health disparities.
White Hall 107F, Midtown Campus
(203) 837-3965
(203) 837-8638 (fax)


Ethan K. Balk, PhD, RD: Associate Professor, Coordinator of the Master’s Program in Human Nutrition 

Dr. Ethan Balk is an Associate Professor of Health Promotion and Exercise Science in the HPX department at WCSU. In addition, he is the coordinator for the master’s program in Human Nutrition.

He completed his Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science (2002) and Masters of Science in Education, with a focus in Physical Education (2008) at Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL.

Upon graduating from his master’s program, he was recruited to design and teach a new career tech program at the Career and Technology Education Center (C-TEC) in Newark, Ohio (2008-2011). The 2-year high school program entitled, Physical Therapy and Exercise Science, trained juniors and seniors in exercise prescription and rehabilitation preparing them to sit for a personal training certification post-graduation.
Dr. Balk earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Kinesiology from The Ohio State University (2015) with a concentration in Physical Activity Behavior and completed his Registered Dietetic Internship and Examination through the OSU Department of Human Nutrition.

His dissertation evaluated psychosocial factors, rooted in the Social Cognitive Theory, common to treatment-seeking bariatric surgery patients. His current research focuses on physical activity and diet behavior change in high-risk populations (particularly, severe/morbidly obese patients and bariatric patients), including examining the influence of psychosocial correlates on physical activity and diet behavior change, as well as, the development and evaluation of theory-based interventions to promote physical activity and diet behavior change adherence and maintenance at the in-patient and out-patient level.

In addition to his work at WCSU, Dr. Balk is a clinical dietitian at the Yale Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Center at Yale New Haven Hospital. He sees pre- and post-surgery bariatric patients, providing medical nutrition therapy, nutrition counseling, and is actively involved in research with the center’s patient population.

He has presented research at conferences for several national and international organizations including the American College of Sports Medicine, North American Primary Care Research Group, and The Obesity Society/American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

Dr. Balk is actively involved in on-going research and dissemination of findings through multiple publications in the Health Behavior and Nutrition fields.
White Hall 107D, Midtown campus
(203) 837-8985
(203) 837-8638 (fax)


Denise Colaianni, RN, MA: Internship Coordinator

Denise Colaianni has been a faculty member at Western Connecticut State University since September 2001. She completed her BSN in Nursing from City College of New York and her MA in Nursing Education from New York University.

During this period she has served as an adjunct professor, special appointment assistant professor and currently as internship coordinator for the BS Health Promotions program. She has served as faculty advisor to the HPX Club and the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, and received the 2001-2002 Adjunct Special Recognition Award from the School of Professional Studies and the 2007 Certificate of Appreciation from the School of Professional Studies.

Prior to her time with WCSU she was an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Fairfield University, Administrator/Clinical Supervisor of Visiting Nurse Service of Ridgefield Ct., Administrator of Roncalli Home Health Care in Bridgeport CT, Assistant Director of Education, Patient Service Manager and staff public health nurse with Visiting Nurse Service of New York and staff nurse at St. Lukes Hospital in New York.

Additionally she has served as Board member of Interfaith Aids Ministry of Danbury, Board of Incorporators of Ridgefield District Nurses, and has been a Girl Scout leader since 1997.
White Hall 107C, Midtown campus
(203) 837-8360
(203)837-8638 (fax)



Julie Perrelli, PhD: Assistant Professor

Dr. Julie Perrelli joined the Health Promotion and Exercise Science department in 2017 teaching courses in the Fitness and Wellness option including Principles of Wellness, Principles of Personal Training, Exercise Physiology, Introduction to Health and Wellness, and Fitness For Life. Dr. Perrelli is the advisor for the HPX Club and also serves as the University’s Faculty Athletics Representative.

Prior to her arrival at Western Connecticut State University, Dr. Perrelli was an Assistant Professor of Physical Education/Health Education and Head Softball Coach at Springfield College from 2009 – 2016. Dr. Perrelli taught courses at the graduate level including Independent Study Research Design, Legal Issues in Physical Education and Athletics, Advanced Coaching Methods, Athletic Administration, as well as serving as a Doctoral Qualifying Examination evaluator. She also served as Thesis and Dissertation chair and committee member for graduate student research in areas of Sport Psychology, Coaching Leadership, Physical Activity, Physical Education Pedagogy, Exercise Science, and Health Promotion Studies. Dr. Perrelli taught undergraduate courses in Wellness, Athletic Administration, Striking Games, Racquetball, Softball, and Coaching Practicum supervision.

In the dual role of Teacher/Coach, Dr. Perrelli served as the Diane L. Potter ‘57 Head Softball Coach at Springfield College guiding her teams to 7 consecutive conference tournament appearances, claiming the NEWMAC Conference Championship in 2013, as well as NEWMAC Coach of the Year in 2012. Her teams repeatedly participated in community service and campus initiatives. In 2012, her team compiled a cumulative GPA of 3.57, tied for 3rd place in the country for highest GPA in all of Division III softball programs.

Dr. Perrelli completed her M.S. in Physical Education with a concentration in Athletics Administration and her Ph.D. in Physical Education with a specialization in Teaching and Administration from Springfield College (MA). Her Master’s thesis examined Factors Involved with why Student-Athletes Withdraw from Collegiate Athletics. Her dissertation examined Satisfaction with Coaching Leadership as a Predictor of Emotional Intelligence and Self-Efficacy.
White Hall 107B, Midtown campus
(203) 837-8997
(203)837-8638 (fax)


Dr. Jeff Schlicht: Professor, Coordinator of Wellness Management Option in BS Health Promotion Studies

Dr. Jeff Schlicht has been a member of the HPX faculty since 2000. He is 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)




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
Christel Autuori
Lisa Barker
Melissa Dalton
Shannon Fales
Maureen Farrell
Allison Giguere
Alexandra Hall
Helen Hollenbeck
Lisa Morrissey
Lynda Muir
Deana Paqua
Doreen Robbins
Jennifer Turey
Lara Ward
Marissia Whitmarsh