Our Team


  Amanda E. Staiano, Ph.D., M.P.P.

   Assistant 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



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. Dr. Staiano recently served as PI for a family weight management program that enrolled 105 families over 2 years, and she currently serves as PI of two epidemiological studies of children’s body composition and physical activity: a study of 175 preschool-aged children in daycare centers (U54MD008602-P02UAB) and a 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). Due to her specific interest in using technology to improve the delivery and acceptance of weight management and physical activity counseling, she was recently PI of a randomized controlled trial testing the efficacy of a 6-month, home-based physical activity trial for children’s weight management delivered via exergames and videochat counseling (AHA 15GRNT24480070). Her team is launching a new technology-based trial that delivers a physical activity promotion app to parents of preschoolers to promote fundamental motor skill acquisition (NIH R21HD095035).

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

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Key Pediatric Team Members


Chelsea Kracht, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher

Telephone 225-763-3133


2018 | University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center | PhD | Nutritional Sciences

2015 | University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center | MS | Epidemiology

2013 | University of Central Oklahoma | MS | Exercise Science

2010 | Drake University | BA | Biochemistry, Cell, and Molecular Biology


Chelsea Kracht is a post-doctoral researcher in the Pediatric Obesity and Health Behavior Laboratory since 2018. Her interests are in social and environmental factors of children's screen time, sedentary behavior, diet, and weight-related outcomes. She is currently working with the TIGERKids and Pause & Play studies.


Chelsea Hendrick, B.S.

Project Manager

Telephone 225/763-2918 


2007 | Louisiana State University | Bachelor of Science | Kinesiology


Chelsea Hendrick is a Project Manager in the Intervention Resources Unit. In addition, Chelsea manages the operations of the Fitness Center, which includes overseeing interventions, quality improvement, students, and staffing. Working at Pennington Biomedical, she has been involved in a variety of NIH funded, AHA funded and privately funded clinical trials over the past 5 years. She has worked with many external collaborators within the Baton Rouge community to aid in participant recruitment and to oversee the maintenance of sub-awards, budgets, interventions, and assessments conducted off-campus. Chelsea earned her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from Louisiana State University and spent the first 3.5 years of her career working in Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation at Our Lady of the Lake. She currently serves as Project Manager for the TIGER Kids study and the Fit to Learn study. She previously served as the Project Manager for GameSquad, a study working with 10-12 year old kids to determine if exergaming reduces body fat and improves health factors in overweight and obese children. In addition, she was the Project Manager of the ARTIIS study, a 5 month exercise program to reduce the risk of developing diabetes in African American men; the SPRINT trial, a multicenter, randomized clinical trial to test whether reduced systolic blood pressure lower than current recommendations will reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease; and WorkACTIVE-P, a pilot study that will test the long-term impact of a behaviorally supported walk more and pedal desk intervention program in the workplace.

Erika Rodriguez-Guzman

Research Specialist

Telephone 225/763-3197



Mary Jessica St. Romain, B.A.

Project Manager

Telephone 225/763-2921


2004 | Louisiana State University | Bachelor of Arts | Communication

Mary “Jessica” St. Romain has worked at Pennington Biomedical for a total of 6 years. In 2015, she rejoined the Pennington Biomedical team as a Research Specialist II, providing management and intervention support for GameSquad. She managed the Pause & Play project and provides pre-award grant support. She currently manages the Painted Playground project and SUNRISE preschool study collaborations.


Elizabeth Joseph

Undergraduate Student Worker

Telephone 225-763-2729


2019 (Candidate) | Louisiana State University | Bachelor of Science | Psychology

Elizabeth Joseph has been an undergraduate trainee and student worker since 2017. She is enrolled in the Ogden Honors College and is completing her undergraduate thesis. Elizabeth's interests are in young children's screen-time and effects on physical activity. She plans to pursue a PhD in developmental psychology.


Beatriz Fernandes-Coelho

Undergraduate Student Worker


2021 (Candidate) | Louisiana State University | Bachelor of Science | Kinesiology

Beatriz Fernandes-Coelho is a sophomore undergraduate pre-medical student at Louisiana State University and a student worker at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Her major is Kinesiology with a concentration in human movement and science and a minor in biology. Her interests include childhood development, nutrition and diet. Her long term goal is to become a pediatrician who uses preventive medicine as part of her treatment for patients. She aims to promote health through proper nutrition and exercise.

Sai Pochana

Undergraduate Student Worker


2021 (Candidate) | Louisiana State University | Bachelor of Science | Biological Sciences

Sai Pochana joined Pennington as an undergraduate student worker in 2018. She is currently a biology major with an interest in going into medicine. She loves working with kids and is very excited about learning more and getting involved with the research. 


Amanda Weathers-Meyer, M.S.

Graduate Student Worker

2020 (Candidate) | Louisiana State University | PhD | Kinesiology

2020 (Candidate) | Louisiana State University | M.Ed. | Counseling

2016 | Louisiana State University | MS | Kinesiology

2006 | Webster University | BS | Psychology

Amanda Weathers-Meyer is a PhD candidate in Dr. E. Kip Webster's laboratory in the School of Kinesiology at LSU. She conducted fundamental motor skill assessments at childcare centers enrolled in the Pause & Play project.


Stacie L. V. Davis, MLIS

Administrative Coordinator

Telephone 225-763-2869

2003 | Louisiana State University | MLIS | Library and Information Sciences



Graduate and Undergraduate Trainees

Graduate Alumni

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 & A &M College

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

Neelima Gonugunta, MBBS

Research Trainee, 2014

Amber Jarrell, BS

Medical Student Trainee, 2016-17

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

M.D. Candidate, 2019, LSU Health Sciences Center - New Orleans

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

Arwen Marker, BA

Project Manager, 2012-15

B.A., 2012, Psychology, Emory University

Currently a PhD Candidate (2020), University of Kansas

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

Undergraduate Alumni

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

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

Hannah Haddad

Undergraduate Trainee, 2016-

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

Ogden Honors College

Amelie Kramer

Undergraduate Student Worker, 2016-

B.S. Candidate (2019), Child and Family Studies, Louisiana State University 

Paige Menier, B.S.

Undergraduate Student Worker, 2017

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

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

Currently a Clinical Research Coordinator at Ochsner Heath Center - Summa

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 

Hannah Abney, BS

Undergraduate Trainee, 2014

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

Maggie Bain

Undergraduate Trainee, 2014

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

Currently a Science Teacher at Houston ISD (2016-)

Johannah Frelier, BS

Research Assistant, 2014-2015

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

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

Currently Research Assistant at Harvard School of Public Health with Dr. Sara Bleich

Alexandra Gillio, BS

Undergraduate Trainee, 2014

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

Hayden Guidry

Undergraduate Trainee, 2017

B.S. Candidate (2020), Biology, Louisiana State University

Ellery Hayden

Research Assistant, 2015

B.S. candidate (2018), Rhodes College

Enrolled in LSUHSC Medical School for 2018-

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

Molly Mallory

Undergraduate Trainee, 2016

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

M.H.A. Candidate (2021), Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine

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


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

Courtney Wright, BS  

Undergraduate Trainee, 2014 

Robert Noyce Research Scholar, Summer 2014 

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

Currently a student teacher at Sherwood Middle Academic Magnet School (2016-)