Amy Beck, PhD
Dr. Amy Beck is a clinical psychologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Dr. Beck primarily provides psychological services for families involved in multidisciplinary weight management treatment. She is particularly interested in the impact of psychosocial factors in the etiology and maintenance of pediatric obesity.
Christie Befort, PhD
Dr. Christie Befort is an associate professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She is the Associate Director of Cancer Prevention & Control and Co-Leader of Cancer Control & Population Health Program at the KU Cancer Center. Dr. Befort’s research focuses on developing and implementing behavioral weight control interventions to improve cancer prevention, survivorship, and quality of life. Most of her research is targeted for residents in rural communities and for cancer survivors. Her teaching interests include behavioral medicine, counseling skills, quality improvement, survey research and behavioral clinical trial research. Her belief is that learning is greatest when students experience high expectations and genuine enthusiasm from their instructor as well as a participatory and supportive learning environment.
William (Bill) Black, PhD
Dr. Bill Black is a pediatric psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He completed his fellowship in pediatric pain psychology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, and is interested in mechanisms underlying the development and treatment of pediatric chronic pain. He is specifically interested in the role of physical activity in chronic pain interventions, adherence to physical activity recommendations, and developing programs to promote increased physical activity and exercise engagement.
Andrea Bradley-Ewing is the director of Community Engaged Research in the division of Health Services and Outcomes Research at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. Ms. Bradley-Ewing’s is primarily interested in engaging patients and members of the community in the design, development, implementation, and dissemination of health science research. Ms. Bradley Ewing has collaborated extensively with researchers, health care providers, patients and families, and community organizations to develop and test effective individual and community level strategies to promote health behavior change, particularly in underserved communities. Ms. Bradley-Ewing’s current research involves establishing partnership networks between academic health researchers, patients, and community members to improve health outcomes.
Amanda Bruce, PhD
Dr. Amanda Bruce of the University of Kansas Medical Center uses functional neuroimaging (fMRI) to conduct research on how the brain is involved in affecting and impacting childhood obesity. She is also interested in improving the ability to delay gratification and how this contributes to obesity in children.
Dave Burnett , PhD, RRT, AE-C
Dr. Burnett is an assistant professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He is the Chair of the department for Respiratory Care Education and co-director of the KU Asthma Center. Dr. Burnett’s primary research interests involve investigating treatment strategies for exercise induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) and asthma. Current research activity is steeped in collaboration among asthma stakeholders in order to achieve a better understanding on approaches for improving the burden of EIB and asthma.
Jordan A. Carlson, PhD, MA
Dr. Carlson is Director of Community-Engaged Health Research at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. His research interests include active living, school-based physical activity, neighborhood walkability, improving uptake and implementation of physical activity interventions, and physical activity measurement technology. jacarlson(at)cmh(dot)edu.
Delwyn Catley, PhD
Dr. Catley is a clinical health psychologist and professor of pediatrics at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and at the Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles & Nutrition. His research focuses on health behavior change and motivation in the areas of smoking, medication adherence, diet and exercise, patient-provider communication, health disparities and Motivational Interviewing. dcatley(at)cmh(dot)edu.
Julie A. Christianson, PhD
Dr. Christianson is an assistant professor in Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Her research program is designed to understand the mechanisms underlying centralized pain syndromes related to early life stress, and clinically-applicable therapies designed to reverse or prevent these permanent changes in pain processing.
Danielle Christifano, PhD
Danielle Christifano is a research assistant professor in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Her research focuses on the intersection of nutrition and lifestyle in maternal and child health. Specifically, she is interested in how metabolism and diet impact autonomic nervous system function of both the mother and the fetus throughout gestation. Her future research goals include the design and implementation of interventions to alleviate the burden of metabolic stress and obesity on the health and wellbeing of future generations
Mark A. Clements, MD, PhD, CPI, FAAP
Dr. Clements is the Medical Director of the Pediatric Clinical Research Unit and Director, Pediatric Endocrine/Diabetes Clinical Research at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. His research interests include these factors related to type 1 diabetes mellitus: predicting risk for chronic complications, novel behavioral and technology-based interventions, impact of glycemic variability on chronic complications and autoimmune mechanisms.
Vicki Collie-Akers, PhD, MPH
Dr. Collie-Akers is the Associate Director of Health Promotion Research at the Center for Community Health and Development at KU-Lawrence. Her research is primarily focused on applying a community-based participatory research orientation to working with communities to understand how collaborative partnerships and coalitions can improve social determinants of health and equity and reduce disparities in health outcomes.
Mark Andrew Connelly, PhD
Dr. Connelly is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and a clinical psychologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, where he is the Director of Pain Research for Comprehensive Pain Management and Co-Director of the Comprehensive Headache Clinic. Dr. Connelly’s research interests center on the assessment and management of pain in children, with a specific focus on the integration of eHealth and mHealth technologies into chronic pain assessment and treatment.
Christopher Cushing, PhD
Dr. Christopher Cushing is a faculty member in the Clinical Child Psychology Program at the University of Kansas. He is interested in sleep, diet, and physical activity. Specifically, he uses smartphones and body sensors as well as laboratory tasks to study the impact of these behaviors on children’s mood, cognition, and social functioning.
Ann Davis, PhD, MPH, ABPP
Dr. Ann Davis of the University of Kansas Medical Center is a pediatric psychologist who is passionate about the intersection between behavioral principles and eating/nutrition. The core of her work focuses on obesity in urban and rural children, and is treatment outcome focused. She is also interested in behavioral principles as they apply to young children who do not eat enough to sustain a healthy weight.
Meredith Dreyer Gillette, PhD
Dr. Meredith Dreyer Gillette is a pediatric psychologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. She works primarily in the treatment and prevention of childhood obesity, with a special emphasis on the challenges that are encountered among parents of young children and those with special needs such as Autism Spectrum Disorders or Down Syndrome.
Sarah Edwards, DO
Dr. Sarah Edwards is a pediatric gastroenterologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. Dr. Edwards specializes in treating children with feeding disorders and is the medical director of the Interdisciplinary Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Program at Children’s Mercy.
Keith Feldman, PhD
Dr. Feldman is researcher at Children’s Mercy Kansas City — his work is focused on the field of health informatics, where he explores the ways in which data mining, machine learning, and statistical techniques can aid practitioners and researchers in understanding, analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing the wealth of health and wellness data now digitally available. He is interested in answering questions and developing informatics-driven methods to enhance the effectiveness of those engaged in the healthcare system, augmenting their existing knowledge rather than replacing the individual.
Cristina Fernandez, MD, MPH
Dr. Fernandez is a clinical professor who joined Children’s Mercy recently after being a general pediatrician for more than 20 years. In the last 10 years, she was able to establish a program in obesity at Omaha Children’s Hospital. She feels that working with childhood obesity has been a challenge but completely rewarding.
Daniel Forsha, MD, MHS, FASE
As a faculty member of the Heart Center at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, Dr. Forsha focuses on clinical non-invasive imaging (Echocardiogram and cardiac MRI/CT) and imaging research. One area of research is the evaluation of dyssynchronous and discoordinated ventricular contraction patterns using strain echochardiography to determine whether certain children may benefit from cardiac resynchronization therapy. Another research interest is using strain echo and other tools to assess the reversibility of early obesity-related cardiovascular disease in populations of teenagers with intellectual delays. He is excited to work as part of the CCHLN to improve our understanding of the cardiovascular health consequences of obesity and how improving lifestyle may reverse this disease process.
Lauren Foster, OTD, OTR/L
Lauren teaches courses in KU’s entry-level and post-professional doctoral degree programs in occupational therapy. Her clinical experience includes work in a variety of settings, including early intervention, mental health, telehealth services, and physical rehabilitation. Her research and practice efforts focus on adult learning strategies, coaching, and community-based supports for adults and children with disabilities.
Heather Gibbs, PhD, RD, LD
Dr. Gibbs is a registered dietitian and Assistant Professor in the Department of Dietetics & Nutrition at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Her research focuses on nutrition literacy, which concerns an individual’s ability to use nutrition information to follow a healthy diet. Building upon the tools she has validated for measuring nutrition literacy, her current interest lies in delivering interventions to improve nutrition literacy leading to healthier diets and chronic disease prevention.
Anna Gorczyca, PhD
Dr. Gorczyca is a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Physical Activity and Weight Management at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Her research interests include the beneficial effects of physical activity, weight loss, and decreasing sedentary time and health outcomes. More specifically, she is interested in the impact of weight loss and physical activity in the preconception phase in women and subsequent pregnancy rates, maternal outcomes and fetal outcomes, as well as working with rural populations.
Elin Grundberg, PhD
Dr. Grundberg is a research faculty member at the Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine. She holds the Roberta D. Harding & William F. Bradley, Jr. Endowed Chair in Genomic Research. Dr. Grundberg’s main area of investigation concerns obesity and metabolic complications and her team is applying next-generation sequencing approaches to understand genetic and environmental (epigenetic) factors underlying disease susceptibility.
Sarah Hampl, MD
Dr. Sarah Hampl is a member of the Section of General Pediatrics at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Dr. Hampl’s work focuses in the areas of childhood obesity treatment, obesity prevention, healthcare professional education and community and statewide advocacy.
Trent J. Herda, PhD
Dr. Herda is an assistant professor in the Dept. of Health, Sport and Exercise Sciences and the Director of the Neuromechanics Laboratory and Hawk Fitness Academy at KU-Lawrence. His primary research interests include examining the effects of acute and chronic exercise and obesity on muscle composition and motor unit behavior. Of particular interest to the Neuromechanics Laboratory is quantifying alterations in the composition of the muscle (i.e. muscle size, intramuscular fat, etc.) as a result of endurance- and resistance-training exercise interventions and, subsequently, the effects of changes in muscle composition may have on motor unit behavior and the neural costs to match force tasks. The Hawk Fitness Academy is a youth exercise program that is designed to improve muscle strength, agility and balance while teaching exercise techniques that can be used throughout adulthood.
Cara M. Hoffart, DO, MSCE
Dr. Cara Hoffart is a pediatric rheumatologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Dr. Hoffart specializes in researching and treating pediatric pain amplification syndromes in childhood populations.
Holly Hull, PhD
Dr. Hull, Associate Professor in the Dept. of Dietetics and Nutrition at KU Medical Center, is an expert in body composition assessment and analysis. Her research agenda explores how the maternal environment impacts fetal development and programs offspring disease risk. Further, she studies intervention methods to prevent excessive gestational weight gain and how pregnancy influences maternal disease risk.
Kai Ling Kong, PhD
Dr. Kong’s research focuses on the prevention of obesity during infancy, in particular, targeting the development of eating behaviors in infants and toddlers. The obesity epidemic spares no age groups, and rapid weight gain during the foremost years is of utmost importance to treat, since its prevalence and severity generally increase with age. Therefore, early preventive strategies that positively impact weight and behaviors that lead to obesity, are imperative. The premise of my work is grounded in the behavioral economics framework and necessitates valid early measures of food and non-food reinforcement. Based on this framework, an individual’s choice to obtain commodities, such as food or fun activity is influenced by the constraints on those choices, as well as the availability of alternatives surrounding him/her. Secondly, the premise of my work is also grounded by research on environmental enrichment, and principle of choice architecture. Literature in these two areas suggest that arrangement of one’s physical environment, such as increasing the availability of choices, substitutability between reinforcers and constraints on complements to eating, can be used to make healthful lifestyle choices more obvious and accessible.
Kelly Kreisler, MD, MPH
Dr. Kreisler is a general pediatrician with extensive experience in the safety net system of medical care. She is an assistant professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center, where her clinical and research focus is medically underserved children and families, particularly immigrants and refugees.
Kathryn (Kate) Kyler, MD, MSc, FAAP
Dr. Kate Kyler is a pediatric hospitalist and researcher at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at University of Missouri-Kansas City. Dr. Kyler’s research interests center on hospitalized children with obesity, including examination of gaps in hospital outcomes for children with obesity, and improvement of safety and equity of care provided to children with obesity during hospitalization.
Helena Laroche MD, FAAP
Dr. Laroche is a combined Internal Medicine/Pediatric Physician who focuses on weight management, the Scientific Medical Director of the Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles & Nutrition and associate professor at University of Missouri-Kansas City. Her research focuses on community and family approaches to obesity prevention. She works in partnership with community-based organizations to design interventions for families. These interventions support healthy behaviors while also addressing the social needs and circumstances that influence those behaviors. She is also working with other weight management physicians on research to improve weight management treatment for children.
Matthew B. Lindquist, DO
Dr. Lindquist is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine
Colin McCoin, PhD
Dr. McCoin is a postdoctoral fellow at The University of Kansas Medical Center in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology. His research interests center around investigating the impact of obesity on mitochondrial quality and function and how various treatment modalities, including standard pharmacological therapeutics, impact these outcomes. He is particularly interested in the sex-dependence of mitochondrial energetics and mitophagy.
Abbey Masonbrink, MD
Dr. Masonbrink is a Pediatric Hospitalist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). Her research focus is to improve access to health services for high-risk adolescents, especially regarding substance use among hospitalized adolescents.
Lisa Mische-Lawson, PhD, CTRS
Dr. Mische-Lawson is an Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy Education at the University of Kansas Medical Center and the director of KU Sensory Enhanced Aquatics, a swimming and water safety program for children with autism spectrum disorder. She is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and her research focuses on promoting health of vulnerable populations through leisure and physical activity. Dr. Mische Lawson is a President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition I Can Do It, You Can Do It Advocate, bringing national resources for promoting healthy eating and physical activity to Kansans with disabilities.
E. Matthew Morris, PhD
Dr. Morris of KU Medical Center investigates the role of liver energy metabolism in the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. His work centers around how the function or dysfunction of the primary energy producing cellular bodies, mitochondria, can impact liver function and ultimately systemic health. The current focus is how liver mitochondrial function can, through neural pathways to the brain, influence high fat diet-induced weight gain via changes in food intake and storage of dietary fat. Ultimately, the goal of his research is to describe mechanisms and therapeutic options to reduce or prevent metabolic disease in adult and adolescent populations.
Eve-Lynn Nelson, PhD
Dr. Nelson‘s research interest is using outreach strategies, including technologies, to deliver best practices in children’s healthy lifestyles to rural and underserved communities. A professor of Behavioral Pediatrics at KU Medical Center, she is currently focusing on Project Extension of Community Outcomes (ECHO), a technology-supported education approach to build the capacity of rural primary care to assess/treat common conditions using evidence-based strategies. She is also interested in home-based telehealth interventions.
Lauren Ptomey, PhD, RD, LD
Dr. Ptomey is a Research Assistant Professor in the department of Internal Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Her long-term research goals are to determine the best strategies to promote physical activity, healthy eating and weight management in typically developing and special needs children and adolescents.
Kimberly Randell, MD, MSc
Dr. Randell is an attending physician in pediatric emergency medicine at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Her areas of interest are adverse childhood experiences, intimate partner violence, adolescent relationship abuse, and resilience.
Brenda Salley, PhD
Dr. Salley is a clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Kansas Medical Center and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Dr. Salley is the Director of the Baby Lab at the University of Kansas Medical Center, which focuses on understanding developmental pathways towards adaptive and healthy outcomes. She is particularly interested in how the social world can impact learning in the areas of early cognitive and communication development.
Valentina Shakhnovich, MD
Dr. Shakhnovich is a Pediatric Gastroenterologist and Clinical Pharmacologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics; University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine. She went into Gastroenterology because of inflammatory bowel disease. She has a passion for taking care of children; a drive for understanding why some children respond to medications better than others; and always strives to get the treatment right at the right time for every single child. “Dr. Tina” (as her patients call her) believes that utilizing clinical pharmacology knowledge and integrating research into every day practice is helping to drive GI therapeutics forward. Her research program focuses on drug dose selection for children with obesity, an understudied patient population, with few dosing recommendations available for some of the most commonly prescribed drugs in pediatrics. Currently, she is investigating the impact of liver fat on drug metabolism in the liver.
Robin P. Shook, PhD
Dr. Shook is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Children’s Mercy and the Director of Weighing In. His research interests include both public health and clinical approaches to understanding obesity. His clinical studies focus on energy balance, which is the interaction between an individual’s diet, their physical activity level, and their body weight. This is an important area of research as there can be many physiological changes when someone tries to lose weight through dieting or exercise that may result in less than expected weight loss. From these studies, his team tries to develop strategies to prevent or reduce obesity on a population level using public health approaches.
Voytek Slowik, MD
Dr. Voytek Slowik is a pediatrics transplant hepatologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. Dr. Slowik specializes in the care of pediatric patients with liver and intestinal diseases in the Liver Care Center as well as member of the Liver Transplant Program at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. He has an additional focus in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease with a multidisciplinary clinic to manage complex cases and on-going research projects.
Jane Sosland, PhD
Dr. Sosland is a clinical associate professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center and a member of the multidisciplinary team for the Healthy Hawks clinic, which serves children and adolescents with obesity. Her clinical interests include evaluation and treatment of anxiety disorders, ADHD, depression children and adolescents.
Vincent Staggs, PhD, PStat®
Dr. Staggs is a research faculty member in the Dept. of Biostatistics & Epidemiology, Health Services and Outcomes Research at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. Areas of interest/expertise: Statistical/machine learning, linear and generalized mixed models, bootstrapping, predictive modeling, R. SAS, mental/behavioral health, genomics, health services, bioethics.
Debra Sullivan, PhD
Dr. Sullivan is Department Chair of Dietetics and Nutrition at the University of Kansas Medical Center and the Midwest Dairy Council Professor in Clinical Nutrition. Her research focuses on prevention and treatment of obesity and its co-morbid conditions. She also maintains a nutrition assessment laboratory in order to conduct measurement of dietary intake and body composition.
Shelly Summar, MSEd, RD, LD
Shelly is the manager of the Weighing In program at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, building community collaboration to prevent childhood obesity. Her work includes leading the Healthy Lifestyles Initiative (HLI) which engages partners in healthcare, government, and community working to create environments that support health.
Brooke Sweeney, MD, FAAP
Dr. Sweeney is a combined Internal Medicine/Pediatric Physician and the Medical Director of Weight Management services at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. Nationally, she is on the Governance Board of POWER (Pediatric Obesity Weight Evaluation Registry) and the Associate Director of POWER Recruitment. Dr. Sweeney is active in the Weight Management Expert Exchange of the Children’s Hospital Association/American Academy of Pediatrics Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight. Her clinical expertise is in prevention and treatment of chronic disease, weight management, and clinical care for children with obesity. Her research interests include improving the effectiveness of weight management clinics, transitional care, and using a national registry to improve pediatric weight management.
John P. Thyfault, PhD, FACSM, FTOS
Dr. Thyfault – professor at The University of Kansas Medical Center, examines the effect of chronic physical inactivity, sedentary behavior, and low aerobic fitness on the development of chronic disease conditions including obesity, insulin resistance, fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In contrast, daily physical activity and maintenance of aerobic fitness throughout the lifespan are associated with protection against chronic disease(s). The mechanism(s) underlying the development of these diseases and the role that activity and fitness status play in altering susceptibility remain largely unknown and are the focus of our research. We utilize integrative (multi-tissue and whole body), translational (cells, rodents, humans) approaches to perform studies in these areas with a focus on clinical or human relevance.
Dustin Wallace, PhD
Dr. Wallace is a pediatric psychologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Dr. Wallace specializes in pain management, pediatric pain rehabilitation and acceptance based treatment.
David White, PhD, ACSM-CEP
Dr. White is an exercise physiologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. His focus is clinical exercise testing and prescription in children with congenital and/or electrophysiological heart defects, neurocardiogenic syncope, dyslipidemia, and abnormal cardiopulmonary responses to exercise. Advanced methodology includes oxygen consumption, EKG, oxygen saturation, exercise blood pressure, pulmonary function testing, and tilt table testing. Additional responsibilities include exercise and behavioral counseling for youth and families of children with dyslipidemia and/or obesity in the Ward Heart Center Preventive Cardiology Clinic.
Yun Yan, MD, FAAP
Dr. Yan is a Pediatric Endocrinologist and the Director of Endocrine Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Program at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the UMKC School of Medicine. Dr. Yan is a member of Pediatric Endocrine Society Special Interest Group of Obesity and she actively participates in the education and research activities nationally. Dr. Yan’s research interests include identifying risk factors and biomarkers that can be used for early diagnosis and intervention of insulin resistance syndrome, type 2 diabetes and comorbidities.
Erin E. Young, PhD
Dr. Young is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center in the Department of Anesthesiology. Her work primarily focuses on identifying the genetic variations and patterns of gene expression that contribute to chronic pain risk across a number of pain types. Her team uses a variety of methodologies to address questions in the lab, including behavioral modeling in animals, analysis of whole tissue and single cell gene expression, RNASeq, SNP genotyping in human subjects, human subjects pain phenotyping and whole genome methods. A critical component of the research program is translation into human subjects, so they often utilize clinical research collaborations to validate and explore genes identified in the animal and molecular lab studies. Her team works not only from the “bench-to-bedside” but also “bedside-to-bench” where they begin with clinically relevant candidate genes and use lab-based methods for determining the mechanisms underlying these genetic effects.
Carli Zegers, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC
Dr. Zegers is a faculty member at the University of Kansas School of Nursing, and a nurse practitioner in the Emergency Department at Truman Medical Center. Her research focuses on health literacy and communication strategies with an emphasis on diverse populations. Recently, she focused on developing a pipeline program for high school students from underrepresented and underserved backgrounds into healthcare professions. Combining her work, she is interested in developing pipeline programs with an emphasis on student health literacy.
E (Alice) Zhang, Ph.D. BCBA-D, LBA
Dr. Zhang recently joined the Department of Occupational Therapy Education as an Assistant Professor. She previously was a postdoc fellow affiliated with the KS LEND, the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training (KCART), and the Telehealth ROCKS project. Dr. Zhang’s research interests focus on increasing evidence-based service access for families of children with autism spectrum disorder and other related disorders via technology. She provides clinical services including parent training and behavioral consultation through both in-person and telehealth clinics. Dr. Zhang is also passionate about advocating for health care access and disability rights.
Dana Bakula, PhD
Dana Bakula, PhD is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Children’s Mercy Kansas City in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Sciences. Her research interests center around mental health among parents of children with complex medical conditions, and the intersection between parent mental health and child physical and mental health outcomes. She is particularly interested in interventions to promote positive parent and child outcomes through addressing parent mental health symptoms
Carolyn Bates, PhD
Carolyn Bates is a 2nd year Postdoctoral Fellow at Children’s Mercy Kansas City in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Health. Her research examines contextual influences on child health, with an emphasis on the role of the family in pediatric populations. On fellowship, Carolyn’s research and clinical work are focused on improving psychological wellbeing among children with cancer and their families. Building on this work, she is interested in developing interventions that improve health outcomes for youth with chronic illnesses by optimizing family functioning.
Rebbeca Foright, PhD
Rebbeca Foright, PhD is a Postdoctoral Fellow at The University of Kansas Medical Center in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology. Her research interests include exercise, body weight regulation, sex differences, and stress. Current projects are focused on the mechanisms responsible for the increased risk of developing obesity following early life stress and a role for exercise in mitigating that risk.
Paul Hibbing, PhD
Dr. Hibbing is a postdoctoral fellow in the Center. His research blends exercise physiology and data science to improve how physical activity and sedentary behavior are measured. He is also interested in using novel assessment methods to promote deeper understanding of how physical activity and sedentary behavior impact health.
Bethany Forseth, PhD is a Postdoctoral Fellow for the Center. Her research focuses on the promotion and health benefits of physical activity and working to prevent and/or manage chronic diseases through increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviors. She also has an interest in physical activity measurement.
Frank T. Materia, PhD, MHS
Dr. Materia is a postdoctoral scholar in the Division of Health Services and Outcomes Research at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. His research focuses on understanding best-practices for implementing mobile health (i.e., mHealth) technologies to improve the reach and efficacy of behavioral medicine interventions. He utilizes theoretical approaches from implementation and behavioral sciences to study how mHealth systems can be most effectively designed to support patient acceptability, engagement, adherence, and sustained use of technology.
RESEARCH SUPPORT STAFF
Kelsey Dean, MS, RD, LD, CCRP is a Clinical Trials Coordinator and Dietitian at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and the University of Kansas Medical Center. She provides study coordination support for investigators at CCHLN.
Matt Kleinmann is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Kansas School of Architecture and Design. Matt is a research assistant with the Weighing In program, and is trained as an architect who uses participatory design and storytelling to improve health outcomes in the built environment. With KU Professors Shannon Criss and Nils Gore, Matt co-founded Dotte Agency, and continues to work with community-led efforts to promote healthy equity by increasing access to physical activity and food in Kansas City neighborhoods. With Weighing In, Matt is currently involved in supporting the 12345 Fit-Tastic! Initiative, the Kansas City Physical Activity Plan, and researching shared governance in community health settings.
Audrey McCalley MPH Clinical Research Coordinator
Audrey is a Clinical Research Coordinator at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She completed her Master’s in Public Health at Columbia University and is interested in the social and environmental factors of health and disease prevention.
Meggie Murray is a registered dietitian and research assistant at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Her research interests include the effects of nutrition intervention and physical activity on weight status and obesity prevention among all age groups. She is currently working on a project examining a behavioral intervention among overweight and obese children in rural areas of Kansas.
Graduate Research Staff
Carolina Bejarano is a doctoral student in the Clinical Child Psychology Program at the University of Kansas. Her research interests generally focus on understanding and promoting health behavior, such as diet, sleep, and physical activity, in youth. She is interested in examining relationships among health-related behaviors and psychosocial constructs (e.g., motivation, affect, hedonic appetite), and how this information may be applied to improve children and adolescents’ physical and mental health.
Jennifer Christofferson is in the Clinical Child Psychology Doctoral Program at the University of Kansas and will be entering her second year in the fall. She plans to become a pediatric psychologist in an academic medical center, doing both research and clinical work. Currently, she interested in pediatric health and health promotion; the psychosocial impacts that chronic illness or injury can have on children and their families; risk and resilience; and family systems.
Bryce Miller is currently pursuing his master’s degree in Health Professions Education at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) School of Medicine. Bryce was a track & field and cross-country athlete in the Health Sciences program at UMKC, where he found his passion for exercise science and public health work. He is interested in the role that diet and exercise have in weight gain, as well as how to promote healthy lifestyle modifications in children.
Alexandra Monzon is a graduate student in the Clinical Child Psychology doctoral program at the University of Kansas. Her research interests generally focus on promoting healthy behavior and improving quality of life in pediatric populations through mobile health platforms. She is specifically interested in examining how health behaviors, such as sleep, impact mental health and the ability to cope with a chronic health condition in children and adolescents. Alex is currently working on projects examining the relationship between sleep behaviors and glycemic control in youth with type 1 diabetes mellitus.
Adrian Ortega is currently in his 3rd year as doctoral student in the Clinical Child Psychology Program at The University of Kansas. Adrian is interested in researching the microtemporal situational and contextual factors that influence healthy decision making such as physical activity in youth. He aspires to become an informed health behavior scientist apply this knowledge to build personalized interventions to improve activity behaviors in youth.
Paige Posson is at the University of Kansas Medical Center getting ready to start her second & final year of her master’s degree. Paige spent the last year as a graduate student and also completing her dietetic internship. She hopes to work as a dietitian in a pediatric setting following the completion of her master’s degree.
Chelsea Steel earned a Bachelor’s of Science in biology from the University of Kansas and a Master’s degree in Public Health–Epidemiology from The University of Kansas Medical Center. She works with Dr. Carlson on projects related to activity measurement and the impact of built environment on obesity outcomes. Her primary research interests are in dissemination and implementation science and translational research.
Elizabeth Wilson is a 4th year PhD student in the University of Missouri – Kansas City Clinical Psychology program. After obtaining her PhD, Elizabeth hopes to work in a research and clinical practice, ideally at an academic medical center, focusing on improving health behaviors to prevent and manage chronic diseases in low-income, minority and underserved communities.
Administrative Support Staff
Administrative Director, Department of Pediatrics
Jack Curran, MHA
Director of Professional Services, Department of Pediatrics
Royce Tenney, MBA
Administrative Assistant III