Board and Staff

CEO/Founder and Editor-in-Chief

Mitra Hooshmand, Ph.D.

Mitra Brain Shoot-337sDr. Hooshmand is a trained neuroscientist, the CEO/founder of ScientiFIT, and the creator of a yoga, cardio, and pilates fusion regimen known as Mixx Yoga. Mitra also has a 14-year history of competitive swimming.

Mitra’s inspiration for ScientiFIT is a combined result of her immense passion for both science and fitness, as well as her personal experience with cultivating healthy habits (read more about Mitra’s story here). As a graduate student searching for answers to her health questions, Mitra was frustrated with the lack of evidence-based information in both the fitness and nutrition industries. She found dissonance between the scientific community and the public, and attributed the source of this disjoint to the inability of scientists to communicate, in simple terms, their findings. At the axis of Science and Fitness, she found the ScientiFIT method.

Mitra’s message is simple and clear: when we get sick, we turn to medicine that has been shown, through evidence, to work in a set of patients; when we want to buy a house, we look at the prices of the houses within that community or investigate the length of time the house has been on the market; when we write a paper, we first research the facts; when we select a job or decid on a school, we read up on the company or university’s success stories. In short, we always look for DATA! Then why is it that when it comes to our health, including fitness and nutrition, we seem to listen to just about anyone, any story, or follow any fad? It’s time revolutionize health…It’s time to turn to science!

Scientific Advisory Board

Christie Engesser-Cesar, Ph.D.

Dr. Christie Engesser-Cesar is a neurobiologist with training in exercise science, an educator, and a mother of three with a serious passion for running.

The Athlete: Christie fell in love with running at the age of 6, but continued to be a multi-sport athlete through high school, earning Orange County Athlete of the Year honors in her senior year. She eventually earned a Track and Field scholarship to compete for the storied University of Oregon track team as a middle distance runner. The competitive desire to reach her potential and a goal of qualifying for the Olympic Trials kept her training through graduate school as well. In 2001, she placed 7th at the USA National Championships and was ranked 10th in the USA in the 800 meters by Track and Field News.  She continued to train after having two children, eventually retiring from track competitions in 2008. Christie still runs regularly and remains passionate about running and fitness. The lessons she learned as a competitive athlete continue to shape her views on life.

The Scientist: Her passion for running in specific, and exercise in general, figure prominently in her educational and professional life.  Christie completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Oregon where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with Honors in Exercise & Movement Science, Psychology and General Science and minors in Biology and Chemistry.  She earned her Doctorate from the University of California, Irvine in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior studying the ways in which exercise influences the brain and spinal cord (termed exercise-induced plasticity). She earned awards for both teaching and research while in graduate school.

The Educator: Immediately after completing her undergraduate education, she earned a Secondary Teaching Credential in Biology and Psychology and taught high school science for 2 years. After completing her doctorate, Christie joined the faculty at Chapman University in Orange, CA. In a tenure-track position in the Department of Physical Therapy, she taught graduate courses in physiology and research design.  She emphasized the interpretation and application of original peer-reviewed research as a basis for understanding the human body, especially the brain.  Christie’s primary objective in her classes was to teach her students, future physical therapists, tools to use evidence (original research) to help make decisions about patient care.

Dr. Engesser-Cesar enjoys translating peer-reviewed research into take home messages that the general public can use to inform decisions about training, fitness and healthy living. She joined the ScientiFIT board in 2012.

Michelle Wedemeyer, Ph.D.

Michelle Wedemeyer

Athletics: Michelle was first introduced to sports by her father while her mother was in residency.  She learned to swim before she could walk and started surfing before entering high school.  In high school she spent two years on the swim and volleyball teams before switching to the surf team.  After entering college at UCSD she regularly surfed her favorite spot at Blacks Beach in La Jolla, CA.  To improve her fitness for surfing big swells at Black’s she started swimming with the masters team where she was first introduced to the sport of triathlon.  Michelle raced with the UC San Diego Triathlon team until graduation then founded the UC Irvine Triathlon team with two other students after enrolling at UC Irvine for graduate school.  Thanks the guidance of UCSD coach Sergio Borges, she has been a USAT All American, competed as an age grouper at ITU Long Course World Championships, and has had multiple top overall podium finishes including two at USAT Collegiate Nationals.  She has largely been inactive in triathlon since 2008 due to  the demands of graduate school but continues to stay active by trail running, swimming, surfing, road biking, snowshoeing, and mountaineering.

Science: Michelle got her start in science at the age of 16 when she left the beaches to work in her aunt’s pediatric brain tumor laboratory at the Wexner Institute in Columbus, OH.  She subsequently entered UC San Diego where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering and a position in the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society.  Her reintroduction to the laboratory was made feasible by a Chancellor’s Research Scholarship where she studied Cardiac Biomechanics.  At this time she took a position at the Orthopedic Biomechanics Research Center (OBRC) at Children’s Hospital San Diego which was studying surgical biomechanics of the spine and extremities.  After graduation she took stayed on at the OBRC as a full-time engineer until enrolling in graduate school at UC Irvine.  At UCI she studied neuroscience, focusing on stem cell transplantation for spinal cord therapy and newer technologies to “reprogram” tissue obtained from skin biopsies into more useful cell types.  She earned her PhD in Biomedical Sciences in 2012

Medicine: Michelle enrolled in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD) at UC Irvine in the fall of 2005.  After completing her first two years of medical school she entered her PhD program.  In April of 2012 she completed her doctorate and resumed medical training with an anticipated graduation date of 2014.  After graduation she plans to combine her interest in regenerative medicine with her medical career by entering a surgical residency. Michelle joined the ScientiFIT board in 2013.

Scientific Editorial Staff

Dan Berlau, Ph.D.

Dr. Dan Berlau is an assistant professor at the Regis University School of Pharmacy.  He has 10 years experience teaching both laboratory and lecture classes in neurobiology, physiology and pathophysiology. He earned his PhD from the University of California, Irvine in 2006 in the neurobiology of learning and memory. His doctoral thesis focused on how the brain learns and remembers fear. After earning his PhD, Dr. Berlau stayed at UC Irvine as a post-doctoral fellow, studying the effects of aging on memory. He was a co-investigator for a National Institute on Aging (NIA) funded study called The 90+ Study. The study longitudinally followed over 1400 people aged 90 and older, examining them for signs of memory loss, dementia and disability.  In his work, Dr. Berlau has examined genetic factors that may play a role in protecting seniors from Alzheimer’s disease. He has also examined what factors are present in people aged 90 and older that may increase or decrease their risk of disability and dementia. Dr. Berlau has given invited scientific lectures of his work at meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Society for Neuroscience.  Additionally, he has given over 20 invited lectures to local senior centers with tips on healthy aging and how to prevent dementia and memory loss. At Regis University he currently teaches physiology, pathophysiology, and biochemistry. Dr. Berlau joined the ScientiFIT team in 2012. He can be reached at

Sam Nosrati, DPM

Dr. Nosrati is a podiatric physician in Orange County, CA.  He grew up in Calabasas, California and received his bachelor’s degree in biological anthropology from University of California, Los Angeles.  He then obtained his Doctorate from California School of Podiatric Medicine and went on to a three-year surgical residency program in South Orange County.  He is currently in private practice with special interest in sports medicine and diabetic limb salvage.  He has written multiple articles addressing specific injury and treatment protocols of the foot and ankle. Presently, he is completing a multi-center study on efficacy of corticosteroid versus platelet-rich plasma injections for treatment of acute and chronic heel pain.  Dr. Nosrati competitively wrestled for five years and amongst some of his other interests are soccer, football, basketball, and motorcycle racing. Dr. Nosrati joined the ScientiFIT team in 2012. He can be reached at

“Your Health Kit” Editorial Staff

Katelyn Cowan


Katelyn is a current Masters of Public Policy student at the University of California, Irvine. She earned her BS in Business from the University of California, Riverside graduating Cum Laude in 2011. She has worked for the University of California, Office of the President Federal Government Relations Office in Washington, D.C. (lobbying arm of the UC System) focusing on Health Care and Education Reform. Most recently, Katelyn worked in the Legislative Division of the California Department of Education under the Superintendent of Public Instruction. In this position, Katelyn worked primarily on K-12 education bills especially those focused on health and nutrition in public education. Amongst one of her recent projects was the proposed legislation to tax beverages containing high fructose corn syrup by the ounce and to reinvest the tax revenue into education funding. Katelyn also been helping the School Nutrition division adapt school lunches to the USDA’s new school lunch guidelines. Katelyn’s professional training has also made an impression on her personal life: After learning about the ingredients of school foods, Katelyn became crazed with reading all food labels and offering unsolicited food suggestions to friends, family and strangers alike.

Katelyn has always lived an active life starting with a deep passion for dance at an early age, an insatiable love for softball, and an obsession with trying to beat her older brother at everything physical. Although no longer involved in organized sports, Katelyn stays true to her passion for fitness by being an avid biker, beach bum and gym rat. Katelyn primarily contributes to our healthy recipes. She joined the ScientiFIT team in 2012.

Public Relations Director

Priya Gohil

Priya Gohil received her bachelor’s degrees in political science and public health sciences from the University of California, Irvine, in June 2012.

She has worked for various advertising companies and media outlets throughout her college career.

Prior to attending UC Irvine, Priya had the opportunity to work as a production intern at Creative Asylum, an advertising company in Los Angeles, where she gained firsthand experience and insight into the marketing and advertising industries.

In her third year of undergraduate studies she was appointed creative director for Incite Magazine, a magazine catered to long-form journalism at UC Irvine. For the magazine, Priya implemented various strategies to boost readership, encourage student participation and re-design Incite’s print issues. As a result, Incite Magazine received recognition for “Best Newsletter/Publication” in 2011, due in part to her efforts.

Priya also worked for the New University, UC Irvine’s campus newspaper, and was later appointed layout editor her senior year.

Her interest in public health sciences stemmed from her mother’s devotion to ayurvedic medicine and preventive medicine. However, a curiosity for the science behind health, disease, and new therapies led to her second major in public health sciences, a perfect blend of preventative care and science. During the course of pursuing sciences, she found herself interested in the therapeutic potential of stem cells, and was fortunate enough to work as an undergraduate researcher at UC Irvine’s Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center.

Priya aspires to attain her master’s degree in physician assistant studies and integrate the practice of preventative health care in medical practice. Priya is currently continuing her work at the Sue and Bill Gross Center as a volunteer, and works as an account manager for DSYL advertising in Fullerton. Priya joined the ScientiFIT team in December 2012. Priya can be reached at

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