FAWM Current Students

photoMegan Ferriby, M.S.,  is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Human Sciences, specializing in Couple and Family Therapy and Obesity Science.  Her research trajectory focuses on examining the influence of romantic partners and relationships on patient weight loss and behavior change throughout the bariatric surgery process. She has published several articles, including in Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Obesity Surgery and SOARD, and has presented her work at National and International conferences (American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), Obesity Week, International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity). Her past work has been awarded the AAMFT Graduate Student Research Award. She is currently funded by a dissertation fellowship for the next year to complete her dissertation entitled: “Preliminary efficacy, feasibility, and acceptability of partner attendance throughout bariatric pre- and post-surgery clinical encounters”, a longitudinal and randomized controlled trial to determine the effect of partner attendance on patient outcomes and the romantic relationship. The results of this project will provide the foundation for the development of future couples-based interventions. In addition to her research, she has work with Dr. Keeley Pratt to create a clinical placement with Ohio State’s Comprehensive Center for Adult Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery. For the past two years, she has worked primarily with patients who are seeking weight loss through lifestyle modification, medication, and bariatric surgery. She provides both behavioral (cognitive and behavioral, motivational interviewing, etc.) and couple and family therapy to patients who have trouble setting and reaching goals and have challenges with their support systems, respectively. Dr. Pratt and herself developed the behavioral health and family therapy protocol on site and referral pathways off-site, including revamping the behavioral curriculum for an outpatient adult weight management program (the Living Well Program).  Email:

Jennifer CottoM.S., is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Human Sciences, majoring in Health and Physical Activity Behavior with an interdisciplinary specialization in Obesity Sciences and Quantitative Research, Evaluation and Measurement. Her research interest include physical activity engagement, family dynamics, obesity treatment and prevention, and psychometrics. Specifically, she is interested in utilizing constructs from Family Systems Theory to investigate how family dynamics and relationships impact physical activity engagement, dietary behaviors, and ultimately the weight status of family members. In addition to her academic and research career in OSU, she has also worked with underrepresented student’s recruitment and professional development in OSU’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, diverse research projects, including an NIH funded randomized controlled trial at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and as a psychometric intern at the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. Furthermore, Jennifer has received numerous scholarships including the Faith Lanmen Gorrell, Lucile and Roland Kennedy, Joseph J. and Nina Mae Mattus, and the Fred and Frieda Theirgartner Scholarship. Email: LinkedIn:


Katie Van Fossen, M.S., is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Human Sciences, specializing in Couple and Family Therapy and Obesity Science. Katie is interested in researching the integration of family therapy and traditional health care services to better meet the needs of minority and low-access populations. She has previously been awarded the AAMFT Minority Fellowship, the Graduate Enrichment Fellowship, and the Lucile and Roland Kennedy Scholarship. Katie is currently the Behavioral Health Intern at Schoenbaum Family Center providing therapy to children and their families, as well as community members of Weinland Park.  Email:




Haley Kiser, M.A., MFT, is a first year doctoral student in Department of Human Sciences, specializing in Couple and Family Therapy and Obesity Science. Haley is interested in interventions to aid couples/families when an individual (child or adult) is trying to change their lifestyle (i.e., dieting, exercising, or weight loss surgery). She is interested in researching how communication and familial support influences patient weight-loss and health behavior success.  Haley is a Behavioral Health Intern at Comprehensive Weight Management located at Martha Morehouse where she facilitates the phase 1 behavioral classes for the Living Well Program, and provides behavioral therapy to patients seeking weight loss through lifestyle modification, medication, and bariatric surgery. Email:


Former Students


Elizabeth “Liz” Palmer, Ph.D. was a former student in the  HDFS program, Couple and Family Therapy specialization.  Liz’s clinical and research interests include adapting play and filial therapy interventions to work with at-risk children and their sibling subsystem to strengthen the sibling relationship and coping skills with adverse circumstances, such as a parent being emotionally or physically unavailable. Liz has assisted on the weight-bias and body awareness CFT and SFC projects. Email:

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