Meet new faculty member Tricia Leahey

Tricia Leahey
Tricia Leahey

Tricia Leahey is an associate professor in the Department of Allied Health Sciences. Her research focuses on developing and evaluating cost-effective behavioral interventions for the treatment of obesity in real-world settings and on testing novel approaches for weight loss maintenance. Currently, she is the principal investigator or co-investigator on several large NIH-funded trials examining the effects of social networks and financial incentives on weight loss or weight loss maintenance in reduced intensity in-person programs or Internet-based dissemination initiatives. She is also collaborating with a small Internet company to develop a wide-reaching, evidence-based commercial weight loss program that involves social gaming and financial incentives. Tricia is a standing member of NIH’s Psychosocial Risk and Disease Prevention Study Section, is a member of several editorial boards and has received awards for both research and teaching. Here is what she said in an interview.

Where did you get your degrees?

I got my BA in psychology from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton. Kent State has a top-ranked clinical psychology program, so that is where I went for my PhD in clinical health psychology. After obtaining my PhD, I did a postdoc at Brown University. My graduate research focused on developing behavioral interventions to improve obesity treatment outcomes and was a good “match” for the research at Brown. During that time, I was awarded a F32 postdoctoral fellowship from the NIH and stayed on for the postdoc at Brown. My research there focused on developing a low intensity lifestyle intervention for obesity treatment that involved e-health coaches.

What did you do before you came to UConn?

Before I came to UConn, I was an assistant professor at Brown University. Following my postdoc, I was offered a faculty position and was a faculty member for four years.

What will your work here at UConn focus on?

My focus here at UConn is obesity research and teaching. One of the greatest challenges in obesity treatment is maintenance of lost weight. Thus, my current work focuses on developing efficacious interventions to promote weight loss maintenance. I plan to involve students in my research, help students develop their own obesity-related research ideas and teach courses focused on lifestyle interventions for obesity treatment.

Name one aspect of your work that you really like.

I like developing and evaluating the efficacy of obesity treatment interventions so that they can be translated into real world settings and have a true public health impact.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

I love to run, hike and travel. I grew up in Syracuse, New York, so I’m a big ‘Cuse basketball fan. In fact, my family couldn’t believe it when I took the position at UConn! I also love the theatre and am looking forward to enjoying UConn’s Repertory!

By Francesca Crivello