Dr. Kimberly Garza is an assistant professor in the Health Outcomes Research and Policy Department of the Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy. Her research interests include application of behavioral economic theory to study preventive health behaviors, including medication adherence, diet, and physical activity.
Dr. Deanne Allegro is an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Auburn University at Montgomery. Her research interests include nutritional contributions to health disparities, nutrition and environmentalism, as well as yoga and health.
Dr. Tannista Bannerjee is an assistant professor in Auburn University’s Department of Economics. She is interested in health economics, including obesity.
Dr. Sue Duran, is a clinical pharmacist for the College of Veterinary Medicine, researches new products for treating diseases in food animals and works with veterinarians to study proper dosages and withdrawal times to ensure meat and milk safety.
Dr. Drew Fruge is an assistant professor and director of the Didactic Program of Dietetics in the College of Human Sciences. As a registered dietitian, he has delivered diet and lifestyle interventions in cancer patients and survivors and is investigating the impact of diet on the gut microbiome, systemic inflammation and carcinogenesis.
Dr. Linda Gibson-Young is an associate professor with Auburn University School of Nursing. Her research interests include home interventions for families of children with chronic conditions and school-based health education for school-aged children. Recently, her team of interdisciplinary providers implemented a project called TigerCHAT (Community Health, Awareness, and Training) with the Alexander City Schools.
Dr. Wendy Gray is currently an assistant professor in psychology. Her research is primarily focused on interventions to promote adherence to medical treatment among youth with chronic illness, particularly adolescents. She has a strong interest in improving self-management among adolescents and young adults with chronic conditions during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood.
Dr. Jan Kavookjian is an associate professor in the Harrison School of Pharmacy. Her research interests involve behavior sciences applied to health behavior changes like medication taking, being active and healthy eating, particularly in the context of diabetes and cardiovascular disease management and obesity.
Dr. Ann Lambert is an assistant clinical professor in the Auburn University School of Nursing and maintains practice as a pediatric nurse practitioner. Her research interests include childhood obesity prevention and prenatal factors that influence childhood obesity.
Dr. Yingru Li is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Central Florida. She is a former assistant professor of geography at Auburn University. Her research interests include social environmental disparities and childhood obesity in the Black Belt region; China’s heavy metal contamination and public health; and GIS and statistical modeling.
Dr. Danielle Wadsworth is an assistant professor in the Auburn University Department of Kinesiology and director of the Physical Activity Promotion Laboratory. Her research focuses on developing, implementing, and assessing interventions to encourage physical activity and exercise.
Dr. Chih-Hsuan Wang is an assistant professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Technology. Her research interests are motivation and academic performance in online learning settings and using technology to teach statistics and research methods, and she has worked on project design with other Working Group members.
Dr. Michelle S. Williams is an assistant professor in the School of Nursing at Auburn University. She is a health disparities researcher who develops and disseminates culturally-relevant health behavior interventions for cancer prevention and control that will lead to a reduction in cancer disparities.
Alabama Obesity Task Force(334) 705-3265
Kathe Briggs is director of health promotion and disease management at East Alabama Medical Center’s Diabete and Nutrition Center. She is also chair of the Alabama Obesity Task Force.
Why we belong to the Obesity Working Group
The Auburn University Food Systems Institute (AUFSI) was created to promote interdisciplinary research, and a good way to do this is through working groups. The Obesity Working Group is a good example. Faculty members from kinesiology, nursing, pharmacy care systems, veterinary medicine, nutrition, geography, and education first met with East Alabama Medical Center’s Kathe Briggs, a member of Alabama’s Obesity Task Force, to write a proposal for NIH funding. They soon realized there was a need to learn more about the roots of obesity in Alabama, one of the most obese states in the country. The group decided to pursue funding opportunities but realized this could provide seed data for other funding opportunities. They committed to meet regularly, with the understanding that not every member would be involved in every proposal. As they have met, members have shared their research and have found many possibilities for collaboration, with an emphasis on mentoring young faculty. AUFSI’s role is to not only introduce faculty to each other, but to research funding opportunities, provide help with grant writing and administration, and develop integrated interdisciplinary solutions to research challenges.