Current Fellows

Dana Bakula, PhD
Dr. Bakula is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Children’s Mercy Kansas City in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Sciences. Her research interests center around the relationship between parent and child wellbeing among children with feeding disorders and other complex medical conditions. She is particularly interested in interventions that promote parent mental health as a mechanism to improve parent and child wellbeing. She is conducting research on the benefits of brief parent mental health interventions in pediatric settings.

 Rebecca ForightRebbeca Foright, PhD
Dr. 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.

Bethany Forseth, PhD
Dr. Forseth 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.



Brian Helsel, PhD
Dr. Helsel is a postdoctoral research fellow with the Division of Physical Activity and Weight Management at the University of Kansas Medical Center. His research is focused on improving the validity and reliability of physical activity ambulatory assessments in individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This includes the monitoring of movement (e.g., via accelerometry), physiological function, contextual information, and the use of ecological momentary assessments to capture real-time data to inform and adapt interventions. Dr. Helsel is interested in using these assessments to uncover the time-varying within-person physical activity determinants that may lead to discoveries related to the antecedents leading to or consequences following physical activity episodes and their subsequent effect on physical and cognitive health.

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.

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.

Amy Smith PhD, CCLS, MT-BC is currently a Post Doc Research Scholar for the Baby Health Behavior Lab at the Children’s Mercy Research Institute in Kansas City Missouri. She earned her PhD in music therapy at the University of Kansas in 2019. Dr. Smith has 12 years of clinical experience in pediatric medicine working in the Houston Medical center and Melbourne Australia. Dr. Smith has publications in music therapy and nursing journals. Her current research centers around language development preterm infants with a focus on music interventions to enhance early auditory experiences of infants in the NICU. This translational research aims to apply evidence-based strategies early during hospitalization to improve long-term outcomes. Dr. Smith is also a vocalist interested in vocal health, and the clinical use of voice in music interventions. Dr. Smith has been awarded the Arthur Flagler Fultz Research Award (AMTA), and two Faculty Research Awards (Sam Houston State University).

Kameron Suire, PhD, MS, ACSM-EP
Kameron is a postdoctoral researcher with the Division of Physical Activity and Weight Management in the Department of Internal Medicine at KUMC. His research focuses on increasing physical activity adherence to address the obesity epidemic. He has experience in using motivational interviewing for behavior change in weight-related behaviors. He also has utilized the latest exergame technology to investigate physiological and psychological responses.