Dr. W. K. Hallman
In 2005, Dr. William K. Hallman was appointed as director of the Food Policy Institute. He is a professor of human ecology at the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS).
A 1983 graduate of Juniata College in Pennsylvania, Dr. Hallman received his Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of South Carolina in 1989 and joined the Rutgers faculty the same year. He was given the 1990 Dissertation of the Year Award by the Society for Research and Action of the American Psychological Association for his work on perceptions of risk, attributions of responsibility and psychological distress in a poor, minority community living next to a hazardous waste disposal facility in rural South Carolina.
Since then, Dr. Hallman has studied public perceptions of risks associated with Lyme Disease, electric and magnetic fields, hazardous waste facilities and other perceived environmental hazards. He has studied public perceptions of food biotechnology for more than ten years and is currently principal investigator of a four-year $2.5 million multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary USDA grant investigating public perceptions of agricultural biotechnology.
Dr. Hallman was recently awarded a $2.0 million grant from the USDA to study public awareness, perceptions, and reactions to intentional and unintentional food contamination. An internationally known researcher, teacher, and lecturer, Dr. Hallman is the author of more than 50 articles and book chapters dealing with public perceptions of risk and has given more than 100 invited lectures to academic, business, government, and industrial groups.
Administrative & Research Staff
Dr. Cara Cuite is Principal Investigator on a grant from the National Center for Food Protection and Defense to study communication about intentional food contamination. In addition, she is currently serving as co-PI on a USDA-funded grant to study emergency preparedness and food safety in the homebound elderly. Dr. Cuite is a health psychologist who has previously worked in the areas of cancer risk communication and health policy. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Rutgers University in 2003.
Justine DiBlasio is the administrative assistant providing administrative support for the Food Policy Institute. Her background includes over 25 years of experience in office administration and business management along with co-owning and managing a building/construction company. She also served as director of operations with The Nature Conservancy in Kissimee, Florida, and later relocated to the Delmont, New Jersey field office and the state office in Chester, NJ. There, she managed diverse responsibilities in the areas of finance/budgeting, purchasing, human resources, IT/network, grants, contracts, volunteer programs, and applications for land tax exemption certifications for all NJ land acquisitions.
Lucas Marxen is a research analyst at the Food Policy Institute where he is responsible for conducting research support on the economic, land use, policy and other factors influencing the viability of agriculture in New Jersey. He also performs geographic information systems (GIS) analysis for the institute, providing spatial analysis and modeling for various research initiatives. He received his Masters in City and Regional Planning from Rutgers University in 2002 and his M.S. in Computer Science at Rutgers University in 2011.
Rita McWilliams, PhD, MPH currently is a Research Associate at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. She received her PhD in Epidemiology from Johns Hopkins in 2005. She specializes in the integration and analysis of large databases for research. Her research interests include environmental risk factors and genetic susceptibility for neuropsychological disorders, PTSD, risk perception, disturbed eating, and coping behaviors.
Angela Mersich is the departmental assistant at the Food Policy Institute. She provides administrative support and is involved in several ongoing studies. She has a B.A. in psychology from the State University of New York at Purchase, and an M.A. in clinical psychology from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Prior to working at the Food Policy Institute, she worked as a research assistant at Heidelberg University.
Dr. Mary Nucci is a Research Analyst at the Food Policy Institute. Her research focuses on media coverage of issues relating to food and science. She has an A.B. in Biological Sciences from Mount Holyoke College, an M.S. in Zoology and a Ph.D. in Media Studies, both from Rutgers University. Her doctoral research focused on the role of visual format, rhetoric and culture in science communication. Prior to her tenure at Rutgers, she worked at Enzon Inc., serving in a variety of positions from immunologist to Associate Director of Scientific Information; was Partner in New Paradigm Consulting Inc. specializing in science writing, project management, teaching, and curriculum development; and was Thematic Director of Health at Liberty Science Center.
Wendy Stellatella is the departmental administrator at the Food Policy Institute where she provides administrative support and general office management. She received a B.S. in nutritional sciences from Rutgers University and has held several positions within the food service industry. Prior to working at the Food Policy Institute, she was employed at General Electric as the assistant to the general manager of operation.
Kevin Sullivan is an institutional research analyst. His functions include: performing economic impact analysis on key industries; writing corresponding technical reports; conducting policy analysis and research for government and industry; performing economic impact analyses of SEBS/NJAES research and programs; and contributing to the competitiveness of grant proposals by conceptualizing and implementing economic analysis to projects. Previously, Kevin worked as an actuarial analyst in the insurance industry, and was also an economist with the New Jersey Pinelands Commission where he researched the economic impacts of the Commission's environmental policies and land-use regulations. Kevin has a B.S. in economics from the University of Delaware, an M.S. in agricultural economics from Rutgers University, and is currently working toward an M.S. degree in applied statistics at Rutgers University.