Our Team

  

Amanda E. Staiano, Ph.D., M.P.P.

  Associate Professor, Population & Public Health Sciences
  Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, LSU
  Director, Pediatric Obesity & Health Behavior Laboratory

  Dr. Staiano's CV

  

   Pennington Biomedical Research Center  

   6400 Perkins Road  |  Baton Rouge, LA 70808 USA

   Telephone 225/763-2729  | Fax 225/763-2887

   Amanda.Staiano@pbrc.edu

 

 

Profile and Video

2007 | Louisiana State University | Bachelor of Science | Psychology

2009 | Georgetown University | McCourt School of Public Policy | Master of Public Policy

2010 | Georgetown University | Doctor of Philosophy | Developmental Psychology

2017 | Tulane University | Master of Science | Clinical Research

Dr. Amanda Staiano is a faculty member and Director of the Pediatric Obesity & Health Behavior Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. She earned her PhD in developmental psychology and master of public policy at Georgetown University, followed by a master of science in clinical research at Tulane University. Her primary interest is developing and testing family-based healthy lifestyle interventions that utilize innovative technology to decrease pediatric obesity and its comorbidities. Her research has involved over 1500 children and adolescents, including randomized controlled trials and prospective cohorts, to examine the influence of physical activity and sedentary behavior on body composition and cardiometabolic risk factors.

Due to Dr. Staiano's specific interest in using technology to promote physical activity and healthy behaviors, she was recently PI of the GameSquad study, a randomized controlled trial that tested the efficacy of a 6-month physical activity program for children’s weight management delivered via exergaming, wireless activity monitoring, and telehealth counseling, funded by the American Heart Association (AHA 15GRNT24480070). Her other current trials utilize technology for behavior change, including developing and testing a mobile app for parents of preschoolers to increase children’s physical activity and improve self-regulation skills (NIH R21HD095035) and the use of telehealth counseling in a primary care-based pragmatic trial of children with obesity (PCORI PCS-2017C2-7542 and CDC U18DP006425 Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration/ CORD 3.0).

Her previous studies include two large epidemiological studies of children’s physical activity: an NIMHD-funded study of 175 preschool-aged children in daycare centers (U54MD008602-P02UAB) and a USDA-funded study of 342 adolescents 10 to 16 years of age, including 41% ethnic minority and 50% with overweight or obesity (USDA 3092-51000-056-04A). Dr. Staiano's research studies employ a variety of innovative behavioral tools including exergaming, mobile apps, and telehealth counseling, coupled with study designs that utilize dietary recall, remote data collection and intervention delivery, physical activity assessment via accelerometry and heart rate monitors, observational behavioral analysis of activity, the development and implementation of age-specific exercise protocols, and other behavioral and psychological assessments.

Drawing from her public policy training, Dr. Staiano participates in scientific advocacy at the national, state, and local level.

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Natalie Malek

Lab Manager

Telephone 225/763-2899

Natalie.Malek@pbrc.edu

Natalie is the Lab Manager and manages multiple clinical trials, including the design and implementation of operations, utilization of data entry systems, and financial tracking. Natalie supervises clinical team members to ensure participant safety and compliance with GCP and research study protocols. She also serves as the central hub for trial communications within the team and the study sponsor, investigators, and collaborators.

 

Lindsay Hall, MA

Data Manager

Telephone 225/763-3111

Lindsay.Hall@pbrc.edu

Lindsay earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Lock Haven University in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania and a Master of Arts in Theoretical Psychology from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She has 15 years of clinic research experience including, but not limited to, Research Coordinator, Behavioral Interventionist, Health Writer, Psychometrician, and Database Manager. Her clinical research experience has been predominantly with technology-directed health and wellness interventions. These interventions often included direct contact with vulnerable populations including children, pregnant women and older adults.

 

Phillip Nauta, MBA

Program Manager

Telephone 225/763-2921

Phillip.Nauta@pbrc.edu

Phillip Nauta began his education at LSU and earned a Bachelor of Kinesiology in 2017. In 2020, he attended LSUS and received his Master of Business Administration.

After joining PBRC as a student worker during his time at LSU, he gained a full-time position as a Research Specialist. He then moved into an Exercise Specialist role and was responsible for the exercise intervention components of the trials at PBRC. His current role is Program Manager in the Interventional Resources Department at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. His research experience has involved assessment of motor skills in children, exergaming with both traditional and autism spectrum disorder  populations, adult pharmaceutical interventions, Department of Defense exercise trials, nutrition based app studies, and other multi-center RCTs. He works with the POHB Lab as the Project Manager on the SUNRISE, GamerFit ASD, and GamerFit R21 studies. On a personal note, Phillip is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys spending time with his friends, family, and two dogs hunting, fishing, boating, and cheering on the LSU Tigers!

 

 

Angelle Graham Ullmer, RDN

Master Health Coach

Telephone 504/533-4485

Angelle.Graham@pbrc.edu

Angelle Graham is the Master Health Coach for the Louisiana clinics participating in the PCORI Pediatric Obesity Project called TEAM UP. She is certified in Family Based Behavioral Treatment for the treatment of child obesity. After graduating Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics, Angelle began working in the outpatient clinic at Pennington Biomedical as a study coordinator. She went back to school to become a Registered Dietitian and completed a Master in Science Health and Human Performance at McNeese. She returned to PBRC as a health coach for the PROPEL Study in New Orleans and currently works with the TEAM UP study.

 

Ricky Brock, RN

Telephone 225/763-2592

Ricky.Brock@pbrc.edu

Ricky is a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology, following with an RN Diploma from the Baton Rouge General School of Nursing.  He trained in Emergency Medicine and Intensive Care working at a large, local medical center, and then as a travel nurse in hospitals across the U.S. for a couple of years.  From his start at Pennington Biomedical as a Nurse Coordinator, he has moved into several diverse roles helping set up and manage the Inpatient Metabolic Unit at Pennington and managing the Clinical Trials Outpatient Unit for over 8 years.  Also, during this time he managed several larger, multi-center trials helping to establish a Coordinating Center at Pennington Biomedical along with a network of physicians and clinical sites across Louisiana, and helped create a private company to expand the Coordinating Center capabilities for Pennington.  After working as a Senior Research Associate with a group of research consultants based in New Orleans for a few years, he returned to Pennington Biomedical in 2011 as Director of Medical Services, working as the Project Director for Heads Up, a large, multicenter behavioral and bariatric surgery program for state employees.  He is managing the Data Coordinating Center and clinical operations for the TEAM UP study.   

 

 

Lauren Himel, MS, CHES

TEAM UP Research Specialist II

Telephone 225/763-3179 

Lauren.Himel@pbrc.edu

2018 | Southeastern Louisiana University | Bachelor of Science | Kinesiology and Health Education and Promotion

2021 | Southeastern Louisiana University| Master of Health and Kinesiology

 

Lauren Himel is a research specialist I for the PCORI-funded Pediatric Obesity Project called TEAM UP. She received a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Health Education and Promotion from Southeastern Louisiana University. She worked as a health coach for a year before going back to school to receive her Master of Science in Health and Kinesiology with a concentration in Health Studies. During graduate school, Lauren worked with professors who research related to health promotion and education for various population groups. She also did an internship with the health center on campus to provide health education to the student body on campus. Lauren is currently a Certified Health Education Specialist and Chair-Elect on the New Professional Council with the Southern Tier of the National Academy of Health and Physical Literacy. As a research specialist for the TEAM UP study, Lauren will assist with recruitment and retention efforts of the study.

 

Sydney Vidrine, MPH

TEAM UP Research Specialist I

Telephone 225/763-2891 

Sydney.Vidrine@pbrc.edu

2019 | Louisiana State University | Bachelor of Science | Nutrition and Food Science

2021 | Louisiana State University Shreveport Health | Master of Public Health

 

Sydney Vidrine is a research specialist I for the PCORI-funded Pediatric Obesity Project called TEAM UP. She is pursuing her Master's degree in Public Health at Louisiana State University Shreveport Health. Sydney completed her practicum with the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) on a PCORI funded project called Research Ready. Her interests lie in chronic disease prevention and treatment. As Research Specialist I in the Pediatric Obesity and Health Behavior Lab, she will serve as the primary data assessor in the greater New Orleans area for the TEAM UP study.

 


 

Students

 

Andrew Sellers

Undergraduate Student Worker, 2022- present

Andrew.Sellers@pbrc.edu

 

2025 | Louisiana State Univeristy | Bachelor of Science

Andrew Sellers joined the Pediatric Obesity Health and Behavior Lab as a research intern in 2022. He is currently pursuing Bachelors of Science in Psychology at Louisiana State University. Andrew assists on the TEAM UP research study and other projects in the laboratory and plans to pursue a PhD clinical psychology program after college.

 

 


 

Postdoctoral Fellows Alumni

 

Chelsea Kracht, PhD

Postdoc Fellow, 2018-2021 including NIDDK T32 fellowship

Currently a Postdoc Fellow with Dr. Leanne Redman, Pennington Biomedical Research Center

 

Maura Kepper, PhD

Postdoc Fellow (Dr. Staiano was Co-Mentor), 2016-2019

Currently Research Assistant Professor, Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis

 

Staff Alumni

Ken Singletary, MHS, CCRA, CCRC

TEAM UP Regulatory Research Specialist, 2018-21

 

Jill Hancock, MPH

TEAM UP Research Specialist, 2020-21

 

Megan Herold

TEAM UP Research Specialist, 2018-21

 

Megan Lee

TEAM UP Research Specialist, 2020-21

 

Arwen Marker, Ph.D.

Pediatric Psychology Intern, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus Ohio, 2020

Project Manager, 2012-15

B.A., 2012, Psychology, Emory University

PhD, Clinical Psychology, 2020, University of Kansas

Erika Rodriguez-Guzman

Clinical Research Coordinator II, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 2020

TEAM UP Research Specialist, 2018

Graduate Alumni

 

Gabrielle Gonzales, MPH, BS

Graduate Student Intern, 2020-2021

M.P.H., 2021, Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, Louisiana State University Health Sciences

B.S., 2019, Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University

PhD canidate in Community Health Sciences, Louisiana State University Health Sciences

 

Caroline Barbaree, MBA, BS

Policy Intern, 2016-17

M.B.A., 2017, Flores MBA Program, Louisiana State University

B.S., 2015, Business, E. J. Ourso College of Business, Louisiana State University

Client Associate at Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated

Lanell Craig, BS

Research Trainee, 2019
PhD Nursing candidate, Southern University

Nicole Dominique, BS, BA

Medical Student Trainee, 2018

B.S., 2017, Microbiology, Louisiana State University

B.A., 2017, English Literature, Louisiana State University

Pursuing concurrent M.D. and MPH degrees, 2021, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center- New Orleans
Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Recipient
Won 2nd place at annual LSUHSC Medical Student Research Day for Project Power

Neelima Gonugunta, MBBS

Research Trainee, 2014

Noelle Hadley, BS

Research Trainee, 2015
MPH candidate in Biostatistics, Tulane University

Amber Jarrell, BS

Medical Student Trainee, 2016-17

B.S., 2012, Biology, Southern University and A&M College

M.D., 2019, LSU Health Sciences Center - New Orleans
Won 3rd place at the annual LSUHSC Medical Student Research Day for Our Lifestyles Our Lives
Co-authored manuscript (Staiano et al., Childhood Obesity 2017;13:4)
Now pediatric resident at Our Lady of the Lake Children's Health

Erica Joseph, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC, NP-C

Research Trainee, 2018

DNP, 2015, Southern University & A&M College

Post-Masters, 2012, Southeastern Louisiana University

MSN, 2008, Southern University & A&M College

BSN, 1999, Southern University & A&M College

PhD Candidate, 2019, Southern University

Michelle Liu, BS, BA

Research Assistant, 2015

B.S., 2013, Neuroscience, Tulane University

B.A., 2013, Anthropology, Tulane University

Currently an MD candidate (2018), Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

Madeline Morrell, MPH, BS

Graduate Trainee, 2015

MPH, 2015, Epidemiology, Tulane University

Formerly a Data Management Specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Currently a Health Informatics Epidemiologist with the State of Tennessee Department of Health's Outbreak and Chronic Disease Division

Jessica Seay, BS

Graduate Trainee, 2019

MD/MPH (Candidate), 2021, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

Amanda Weathers-Meyer, MS
Graduate Trainee, 2017-19
Currently pursuing a PhD in Kinesiology and M.Ed. in Counseling, Louisiana State University

Undergraduate Alumni

Hannah Abney, BS

Undergraduate Trainee, 2014

B.S., 2017, Pre-Dental and Biology, Minor in Psychology, Louisiana State University

Maggie Bain Brill, BS

Undergraduate Trainee, 2014

B.S., 2016, Kinesiology, Louisiana State University

Currently Director of Homework Cafe in Houston, TX

James Burns Jr., BS

 Undergraduate Trainee, 2017

 B.S. Candidate (2017), Kinesiology / Fitness Studies, Louisiana State University 

Gabriella “Gabbi” Chauvin

Undergraduate Trainee, 2017

B.S. Candidate (2021), Biology, University of Louisiana, Lafayette

Alexandra DeWitt, BS

Graduate Trainee 2017

Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate (2020), University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy

B.S., 2016, Biology, Louisiana State University

Beatriz Fernando-Coelho

Undergraduate Trainee, 2018-19

Pursuing B.S., 2021 (Candidate), Kinesiology, Louisiana State University

Johannah Frelier, BS

Research Assistant, 2014-2015

B.S., 2014, Psychology, Louisiana State University

MPH, 2017, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Research Assistant at Harvard School of Public Health with Dr. Sara Bleich
Currently Louisiana Farm to School Manager at LSU AgCenter

Alexandra Gillio, BS

Undergraduate Trainee, 2014

B.S., 2015, Kinesiology, Louisiana State University

Caroline Goodner, BS

Undergraduate Trainee, 2016

B.S., University of Texas
Currently MD Candidate at Texas A&M

Hayden Guidry

Undergraduate Trainee, 2017

B.S., 2020, Biology, Louisiana State University
Currently second year MD/MPH student at LSUHSC New Orleans

Hannah Haddad

Undergraduate Trainee, 2016-

B.S., 2018, Pre-Medical, Nutrition and Food Sciences Minors in Health Sciences and Sociology, Louisiana State University

Ogden Honors College

Ellery Hayden

Research Assistant, 2015

B.S. candidate (2018), Rhodes College

LSUHSC Medical School student, 2018-22

Alex Henderson

Undergraduate Trainee, 2017

B.S. Candidate (2018), Microbiology, Louisiana State University

Cullen Hodges, BS

Student Worker, 2014-2015

B.S., 2017, Pre-Med, Biology, Louisiana State University

Elizabeth Joseph, BS

Undergraduate Trainee, 2017-19

Ogden Honors College Graduate

Recipient of the LSU Undergraduate Distinguished Researcher Medal
First authored manuscript (Joseph et al., Global Pediatric Health 2019)
Co-authored manuscript (Kracht, Joseph, & Staiano, Current Obesity Reports, 2020;9(1))

Presented at the Society of Behavioral Medicine conference, 2018 (Ann Beh Med 2018;25(Suppl 1):S304)

Currently pursuing a PhD in psychology at Texas Christian University

Amelie Kramer, BS

Undergraduate Student Worker, 2016-19

Currently pursuing a masters in higher education at Louisiana State University 

Molly Mallory, MHA

Undergraduate Trainee, 2016

B.S., 2017, Psychology, Minor in Kinesiology, Louisiana State University

M.H.A., 2021, Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
Currently Strategic Planning Analyst at Children's Hospital New Orleans

Annie McLemore, BS

Undergraduate Trainee, 2016

B.S., 2016, Nutrition & Food Sciences: Dietetics, Louisiana State University

Currently a radiobiologist at Baylor College of Medicine Houston

  

Paige Menier, B.S.

Undergraduate Student Worker, 2017

B.S., 2013, Business Management, Louisiana State University

B.S., 2017, Dietetics, Louisiana State University

Clinical Research Coordinator at Ochsner Heath Center - Summa
Currently Site Director at Meridian Clinical Research

Sai Pochana

Student Worker, 2018-2021

B.S., 2021, Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University

LSUHSC Medical Student, 2022-26

 

Abigail Randolph

Undergraduate Trainee, 2021-2022

B.S., 2022, Biological Science and Psychology, Louisiana State University
Currently pursuing a PhD in neuroscience at Florida State University to examine how early life adversity influences neural circuit adaptations and the physiological processes that mediate these behaviors

 

Claire Tate

Undergraduate Trainee, 2021

Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and a Bachelor of Arts in Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University and plans to attend medical school

 

Ansleigh Thibodeaux

Undergraduate Trainee, 2016

B.S. Candidate (2019), Psychology, Minors in Health Sciences and Sociology, Louisiana State University

Currently a secretary at Lisa Jordan Dale - Attorney at Law

Aimee Troxclair, BS

Undergraduate Trainee, 2015 

B.S., 2015, Kinesiology, Southeastern University

Jordan "Gracie" Wilburn

Student Worker, 2019-2021

B.S., 2021, Psychology, Sociology, Louisiana State University

Currently pursuing M.S., 2023, Northwestern State University

 

Zoe Wilhelm

Louisiana Service and Leadership (LASAL) Trainee, 2017

B.S. Candidate (2018), Pre-Medical, Nutrition and Food Sciences, Minor in Music, Louisiana State University

Ogden Honors College 
Currently Clinical Research Coordinator II at Baylor College of Medicine

Courtney Wright, BS  

Undergraduate Trainee, 2014 

Robert Noyce Research Scholar, Summer 2014 

B.S., 2016, Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University 

Student teacher at Sherwood Middle Academic Magnet School (2016-)