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




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 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) and PI for a family weight management program that enrolled 105 families over 2 years and incorporated pedometers and step goals.

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). She also serves as Site Principal Investigator and Director of the Data Coordinating Center for the PCORI-funded TEAM UP study, "A Pragmatic Family-Centered Approach to Childhood Obesity Treatment."

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.



Clinical Site Team Members


Natalie Malek

TEAM UP Project Manager

Telephone 225/763-2899


Natalie is a Project Manager in the Pediatric Obesity and Health Behavior Laboratory since 2018. Previously she has worked on health and wellness research for commercial insurers and management of FDA regulated clinical trials for medical device and pharmaceutical companies. Currently, she works on the PCORI Pediatric Obesity Project called TEAM UP.



Megan Lee

TEAM UP Research Specialist

Telephone 225/333-3197


Megan Lee is a Research Specialist I in the Pediatric Obesity and Health Behavior Lab since 2020. She has a B.S. and M.S. in Kinesiology from Louisiana State University (LSU) and Southeastern Louisiana University (SELU) respectively, during which she interned at PBRC in the Interventional Resources department. Megan has a strong sport performance background as she has played college soccer for LSU and represented her country in three youth FIFA World Cups from 2010 to 2014. During her time at SELU, Megan developed her research skills and completed a thesis titled, “The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Pickle Juice on Female Soccer Players in a Hot and Humid Environment.” She volunteers as a youth soccer coach and has interests in childhood obesity, motor learning and development, sport performance, and exercise physiology.


Angelle Graham Ullmer, RDN

TEAM UP Master Health Coach

Telephone 504/533-4485


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 Treatment- the leading treatment for adolescent eating disorders. 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.


Data Coordinating Center


Lindsay Hall, M.A.

TEAM UP Database Manager

Telephone 225/763-3111


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.


Ken Singletary, M.H.S., CCRA, CCRC

TEAM UP Regulatory Research Specialist

Telephone 225/763-2822


Ken earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and a Master of Health Science from Louisiana State University Health Science Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.  He has a diverse clinical research background, including experience as a Research Coordinator, Data and Regulatory Monitor, Data Manager and Clinical Research Quality Control Manager. He has 19 years of clinical research experience in numerous  therapeutic areas including Oncology, Hematology, Dermatology, Cardiovascular/Vascular Diseases, Musculoskeletal, Nutrition/Weight Loss and Solid Organ Transplant.  He served as a voting Institutional Review Board member at the University of Iowa for 7 years and holds certifications from the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) as a Certified Clinical Research Associate (CCRA) and Certified Clinical Research Coordinator (CCRC).


Ricky Brock

TEAM UP Director of Operations

Telephone 225/763-2592


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.   



Jill Hancock

TEAM UP Research Specialist II

Telephone 225/763-2891



Jill is a Research Specialist II for the PCORI-funded Pediatric Obesity Project called TEAM UP. She has a Master’s degree in Public Health from LSU-Shreveport where she focused on health literacy and patient communication, and a B.A. in Mass Communication from LSU. She has 6 years of health research experience and has previously worked as a research coordinator with LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport and New Orleans. Jill has prior experience with Pennington on an earlier PCORI-funded study, PROPEL, which focused on adult obesity.





Gabrielle Gonzalez

Graduate Student Intern, 2020-



2021 (Candidate) | Louisiana State University Health Sciences | Master of Public Health | Behavioral and Community Health Sciences


2019 | Louisiana State University | Bachelor of Science | Biological Sciences


Gabrielle Gonzalez joined Pennington as an Intern in the Pediatric Obesity and Health Behavior Laboratory in 2020. She is currently pursuing her Master of Public Health with a concentration in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences in 2019 at Louisiana State University. Her career goals are centered around Pediatric Obesity and Nutrition. She is thankful to Pennington for the opportunity to learn at a leading institution in Pediatric Obesity.



Sai Pochana

Undergraduate Student Worker, 2018-


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. 



Jordan Wilburn

Undergraduate Student Worker, 2019-


2021 (Candidate) | Louisiana State University | Bachelor of Science | Psychology | Bachelor of Arts | Sociology


Jordan Wilburn is a Student Worker in the Pediatric Obesity and Health Behavior Laboratory since 2019. She is currently working towards a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at Louisiana State University. She is interested in doing research in Clinical Psychology and is very thankful for the opportunities being given to her at Pennington.


Abigail Randolph

Undergraduate Student Trainee, 2021-



2022 (Candidate) | Louisiana State Univeristy | Bachelor of Science | Biological Sciences | Psychology


Abigail Randolph joined the Pediatric Obesity Health and Behavior Lab as an intern in 2021. She is currently pursuing Bachelors of Science in Biological Sciences and Psychology at Louisiana State University. She is interested in studying the various impacts of systemic issues in Louisiana, and she is excited to start this journey at PBRC.



Staff Alumni

Erika Rodriguez-Guzman

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

TEAM UP Research Specialist, 2018

Arwen Marker, M.A.

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

Project Manager, 2012-15

B.A., 2012, Psychology, Emory University

Currently a PhD Candidate (2020), University of Kansas

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

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

Undergraduate Trainee, 2014

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

Currently a Science Teacher at Houston ISD (2016-)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth Joseph, BS

Undergraduate Trainee, 2017-19

Ogden Honors College Graduate

Recipient of the LSU Undergraduate Distinguished Researcher Medal

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

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


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

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

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 

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-)