I am the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, and a Professor of Psychology and Wellbeing at the Open University which I joined in 2019.
Before joining the OU I was Pro Vice Chancellor of Community and Civic Engagement and Dean of the College of Applied Health and Communities at the University of East London. I was also Professor and Head of the Department of Psychological Science at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Prior to 2010 I was Professor and Chair of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles.
In 2014 I received the International Women’s Day Honouree award for contributions to women’s health in a global community.
I received my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Stanford University, and my Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Psychology from Harvard University.
My research focuses on eating disorders, binge eating, obesity, and chronic dieting in women and men of ethnic minority populations. Whilst in the US I received funding from the National Institutes of Health to study barriers to treatment seeking for eating problems and to develop self-help programs to address binge eating disorders in Latina and African American women.
I have published widely on these topics in outlets, including the International Journal of Eating Disorders, International Journal of Obesity, Obesity Research, and European Eating Disorders Review.
I serve on the editorial board of the International Journal of Eating Disorders and as Associate Editor for Behavioural Medicine, and I am a Fellow of the American Psychological Society and of the Eating Disorder Research Society. I also sit on the Governance and Finance Review Group for the Council of Deans of Health.
I am also on the Future Nurse Advisory Board and on the editorial board of the Eating Behaviours journal.
My teaching interests are in clinical psychology, health psychology, personality psychology, child psychopathology, and research methods.
The Role of Disordered Eating in Type 2 Diabetes: A Pilot Study (2021)
Vela, Alyssa M.; Palmer, Brooke; Gil-Rivas, Virginia and Cachelin, Fary
American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine ((Early Access))