Our Members

beckAmy Beck, PhD
Dr. Amy Beck is a clinical psychologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Dr. Beck primarily provides psychological services for families involved in multidisciplinary weight management treatment. She is particularly interested in the impact of psychosocial factors in the etiology and maintenance of pediatric obesity.

Christie Befort, PhD  Dr. Christie Befort is an associate professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She is the Associate Director of Cancer Prevention & Control and Co-Leader of Cancer Control & Population Health Program at the KU Cancer Center. Dr. Befort’s research focuses on developing and implementing behavioral weight control interventions to improve cancer prevention, survivorship, and quality of life. Most of her research is targeted for residents in rural communities and for cancer survivors. Her teaching interests include behavioral medicine, counseling skills, quality improvement, survey research and behavioral clinical trial research. Her belief is that learning is greatest when students experience high expectations and genuine enthusiasm from their instructor as well as a participatory and supportive learning environment.

William (Bill) Black, PhD  Dr. Bill Black is a pediatric psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He completed his fellowship in pediatric pain psychology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, and is interested in mechanisms underlying the development and treatment of pediatric chronic pain. He is specifically interested in the role of physical activity in chronic pain interventions, adherence to physical activity recommendations, and developing programs to promote increased physical activity and exercise engagement.

andrea-bradley-ewingAndrea Bradley-Ewing
Andrea Bradley-Ewing is the director of Community Engaged Research in the division of Health Services and Outcomes Research at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. Ms. Bradley-Ewing’s is primarily interested in engaging patients and members of the community in the design, development, implementation, and dissemination of health science research. Ms. Bradley Ewing has collaborated extensively with researchers, health care providers, patients and families, and community organizations to develop and test effective individual and community level strategies to promote health behavior change, particularly in underserved communities. Ms. Bradley-Ewing’s current research involves establishing partnership networks between academic health researchers, patients, and community members to improve health outcomes.

Amanda Bruce, PhD
Dr. Amanda Bruce of the University of Kansas Medical Center uses functional neuroimaging (fMRI) to conduct research on how the brain is involved in affecting and impacting childhood obesity. She is also interested in improving the ability to delay gratification and how this contributes to obesity in children.


Dave Burnett, PhD, RRT, AE-C
Dr. Burnett is an assistant professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He is the Chair of the department for Respiratory Care Education and co-director of the KU Asthma Center. Dr. Burnett’s primary research interests involve investigating treatment strategies for exercise induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) and asthma. Current research activity is steeped in collaboration among asthma stakeholders in order to achieve a better understanding on approaches for improving the burden of EIB and asthma.

Jordan A. Carlson, PhD, MA
Dr. Carlson is Director of Community-Engaged Health Research at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. His research interests include active living, school-based physical activity, neighborhood walkability, improving uptake and implementation of physical activity interventions, and physical activity measurement technology. jacarlson(at)cmh(dot)edu.

Delwyn Catley, PhD
Dr. Catley is a clinical health psychologist and professor of pediatrics at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and at the Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles & Nutrition. His research focuses on health behavior change and motivation in the areas of smoking, medication adherence, diet and exercise, patient-provider communication, health disparities and Motivational Interviewing. dcatley(at)cmh(dot)edu.

christiansonJulie A. Christianson, PhD
Dr. Christianson is an assistant professor in Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Her research program is designed to understand the mechanisms underlying centralized pain syndromes related to early life stress, and clinically-applicable therapies designed to reverse or prevent these permanent changes in pain processing.

clementsMark A. Clements, MD, PhD, CPI, FAAP
Dr. Clements is the Medical Director of the Pediatric Clinical Research Unit and Director, Pediatric Endocrine/Diabetes Clinical Research at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. His research interests include these factors related to type 1 diabetes mellitus: predicting risk for chronic complications, novel behavioral and technology-based interventions, impact of glycemic variability on chronic complications and autoimmune mechanisms.

Vicki Collie-Akers, PhD, MPH
Dr. Collie-Akers is the Associate Director of Health Promotion Research at the Center for Community Health and Development at KU-Lawrence. Her research is primarily focused on applying a community-based participatory research orientation to working with communities to understand how collaborative partnerships and coalitions can improve social determinants of health and equity and reduce disparities in health outcomes.

connellyMark Andrew Connelly, PhD
Dr. Connelly is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and a clinical psychologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, where he is the Director of Pain Research for Comprehensive Pain Management and Co-Director of the Comprehensive Headache Clinic. Dr. Connelly’s research interests center on the assessment and management of pain in children, with a specific focus on the integration of eHealth and mHealth technologies into chronic pain assessment and treatment.

cushingChristopher Cushing, PhD
Dr. Christopher Cushing is a faculty member in the Clinical Child Psychology Program at the University of Kansas. He is interested in sleep, diet, and physical activity. Specifically, he uses smartphones and body sensors as well as laboratory tasks to study the impact of these behaviors on children’s mood, cognition, and social functioning.

Ann Davis, PhD, MPH, ABPP
Dr. Ann Davis of the University of Kansas Medical Center is a pediatric psychologist who is passionate about the intersection between behavioral principles and eating/nutrition. The core of her work focuses on obesity in urban and rural children, and is treatment outcome focused. She is also interested in behavioral principles as they apply to young children who do not eat enough to sustain a healthy weight.

dreyerMeredith Dreyer Gillette, PhD
Dr. Meredith Dreyer Gillette is a pediatric psychologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. She works primarily in the treatment and prevention of childhood obesity, with a special emphasis on the challenges that are encountered among parents of young children and those with special needs such as Autism Spectrum Disorders or Down Syndrome.

Sarah Edwards, DO
Dr. Sarah Edwards is a pediatric gastroenterologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri – Kansas City.  Dr. Edwards specializes in treating children with feeding disorders and is the medical director of the Interdisciplinary Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Program at Children’s Mercy.

Kevin J. Finn, PhD, FACSM
Dr. Finn  is Department Chair and Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Kinesiology at the University of Central Missouri. He is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and a member of the North American Society for Pediatric Exercise Medicine. His research interests have been in assessment of physical activity in preschool-aged children and physical activity promotion using center-based intervention. More recently his work has been in fitness assessment of school-aged children.

Daniel Forsha, MD, MHS, FASE
As a faculty member of the Heart Center at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, Dr. Forsha focuses on clinical non-invasive imaging (Echocardiogram and cardiac MRI/CT) and imaging research. One area of research is the evaluation of dyssynchronous and discoordinated ventricular contraction patterns using strain echochardiography to determine whether certain children may benefit from cardiac resynchronization therapy. Another research interest is using strain echo and other tools to assess the reversibility of early obesity-related cardiovascular disease in populations of teenagers with intellectual delays. He is excited to work as part of the CCHLN to improve our understanding of the cardiovascular health consequences of obesity and how improving lifestyle may reverse this disease process.

Heather Gibbs, PhD, RD, LD
Dr. Gibbs is a registered dietitian and Assistant Professor in the Department of Dietetics & Nutrition at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Her research focuses on nutrition literacy, which concerns an individual’s ability to use nutrition information to follow a healthy diet. Building upon the tools she has validated for measuring nutrition literacy, her current interest lies in delivering interventions to improve nutrition literacy leading to healthier diets and chronic disease prevention.

Anna Gorczyca, PhD
Dr. Gorczyca is a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Physical Activity and Weight Management at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Her research interests include the beneficial effects of physical activity, weight loss, and decreasing sedentary time and health outcomes. More specifically, she is interested in the impact of weight loss and physical activity in the preconception phase in women and subsequent pregnancy rates, maternal outcomes and fetal outcomes, as well as working with rural populations.

Elin Grundberg, PhD
Dr. Grundberg is a research faculty member at the Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine. She holds the Roberta D. Harding & William F. Bradley, Jr. Endowed Chair in Genomic Research. Dr. Grundberg’s main area of investigation concerns obesity and metabolic complications and her team is applying next-generation sequencing approaches to understand genetic and environmental (epigenetic) factors underlying disease susceptibility.

Shamplarah Hampl, MD
Dr. Sarah Hampl is a member of the Section of General Pediatrics at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Dr. Hampl’s work focuses in the areas of childhood obesity treatment, obesity prevention, healthcare professional education and community and statewide advocacy.

Trent J. Herda, PhD
Dr. Herda is an assistant professor in the Dept. of Health, Sport and Exercise Sciences and the Director of the Neuromechanics Laboratory and Hawk Fitness Academy at KU-Lawrence. His primary research interests include examining the effects of acute and chronic exercise and obesity on muscle composition and motor unit behavior. Of particular interest to the Neuromechanics Laboratory is quantifying alterations in the composition of the muscle (i.e. muscle size, intramuscular fat, etc.) as a result of endurance- and resistance-training exercise interventions and, subsequently, the effects of changes in muscle composition may have on motor unit behavior and the neural costs to match force tasks. The Hawk Fitness Academy is a youth exercise program that is designed to improve muscle strength, agility and balance while teaching exercise techniques that can be used throughout adulthood.

chesterChristina Hester, PhD, MPH
Dr. Hester  is the Research Director of the National Research Network at the American Academy of Family Physicians in the Kansas City area.  Her research interests include infectious disease, beneficial intestinal flora, and behavioral factors that influence health.


hoffartCara M. Hoffart, DO, MSCE
Dr. Cara Hoffart is a pediatric rheumatologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Dr. Hoffart specializes in researching and treating pediatric pain amplification syndromes in childhood populations.

Holly Hull, PhD
Dr. Hull, Associate Professor in the Dept. of Dietetics and Nutrition at KU Medical Center, is an expert in body composition assessment and analysis. Her research agenda explores how the maternal environment impacts fetal development and programs offspring disease risk. Further, she studies intervention methods to prevent excessive gestational weight gain and how pregnancy influences maternal disease risk.

Kelly Kreisler, MD, MPH
Dr. Kreisler is a general pediatrician with extensive experience in the safety net system of medical care. She is an assistant professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center, where her clinical and research focus is medically underserved children and families, particularly immigrants and refugees.


Abbey Masonbrink, MD
Dr. Masonbrink is a Pediatric Hospitalist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). Her research focus is to improve access to health services for high-risk adolescents, especially regarding substance use among hospitalized adolescents.



Lisa Mische-Lawson, PhD, CTRS
Dr. Mische-Lawson is an Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy Education at the University of Kansas Medical Center and the director of KU Sensory Enhanced Aquatics, a swimming and water safety program for children with autism spectrum disorder. She is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and her research focuses on promoting health of vulnerable populations through leisure and physical activity. Dr. Mische Lawson is a President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition I Can Do It, You Can Do It Advocate, bringing national resources for promoting healthy eating and physical activity to Kansans with disabilities.

Ee-matthew-morris-phd. Matthew Morris, PhD
Dr. Morris of KU Medical Center investigates the role of liver energy metabolism in the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. His work centers around how the function or dysfunction of the primary energy producing cellular bodies, mitochondria, can impact liver function and ultimately systemic health. The current focus is how liver mitochondrial function can, through neural pathways to the brain, influence high fat diet-induced weight gain via changes in food intake and storage of dietary fat. Ultimately, the goal of his research is to describe mechanisms and therapeutic options to reduce or prevent metabolic disease in adult and adolescent populations.

eve-lynn-nelson-phdEve-Lynn Nelson, PhD
Dr. Nelson‘s research interest is using outreach strategies, including technologies, to deliver best practices in children’s healthy lifestyles to rural and underserved communities. A professor of Behavioral Pediatrics at KU Medical Center, she is currently focusing on Project Extension of Community Outcomes (ECHO), a technology-supported education approach to build the capacity of rural primary care to assess/treat common conditions using evidence-based strategies. She is  also interested in home-based telehealth interventions.

Susana Patton, PhD, CDE, ABPP
Dr. Patton is a pediatric psychologist. Her research focuses on the promotion of health and the prevention of disease-related complications through diet, a healthy lifestyle, and improved adherence to medical treatment for children living with chronic illness. The core of her work centers on children with type 1 diabetes mellitus and she is conducting both treatment outcome and descriptive studies. Dr. Patton is also interested in child eating behaviors as they relate to child nutrition and overweight and she has an interest in research related to the treatment of common childhood digestive problems, including constipation.

lptomey0Lauren Ptomey, PhD, RD, LD
Dr. Ptomey is a Research Assistant Professor in the department of Internal Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Her long-term research goals are to determine the best strategies to promote physical activity, healthy eating and weight management in typically developing and special needs children and adolescents.


randellKimberly Randell, MD, MSc
Dr. Randell is an attending physician in pediatric emergency medicine at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Her areas of interest are adverse childhood experiences, intimate partner violence, adolescent relationship abuse, and resilience.

salley-1Brenda Salley, PhD
Dr. Salley is a clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Kansas Medical Center and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Dr. Salley is the Director of the Baby Lab at the University of Kansas Medical Center, which focuses on understanding developmental pathways towards adaptive and healthy outcomes. She is particularly interested in how the social world can impact learning in the areas of early cognitive and communication development.

shookRobin P. Shook, PhD
Dr. Shook is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Children’s Mercy and the Director of Weighing In. His research interests include both public health and clinical approaches to understanding obesity. His clinical studies focus on energy balance, which is the interaction between an individual’s diet, their physical activity level, and their body weight. This is an important area of research as there can be many physiological changes when someone tries to lose weight through dieting or exercise that may result in less than expected weight loss. From these studies, his team tries to develop strategies to prevent or reduce obesity on a population level using public health approaches.

sosland-jane-100x150Jane Sosland, PhD
Dr. Sosland is a clinical associate professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center and a member of the multidisciplinary team for the Healthy Hawks clinic, which serves children and adolescents with obesity. Her clinical interests include evaluation and treatment of anxiety disorders, ADHD, depression children and adolescents.


Vincent Staggs, PhD, PStat®
Dr. Staggs is a research faculty member in the Dept. of Biostatistics & Epidemiology, Health Services and Outcomes Research at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. Areas of interest/expertise: Statistical/machine learning, linear and generalized mixed models, bootstrapping, predictive modeling, R. SAS, mental/behavioral health, genomics, health services, bioethics.

 sullivan_debraDebra Sullivan, PhD
Dr. Sullivan is Department Chair of Dietetics and Nutrition at the University of Kansas Medical Center and the Midwest Dairy Council Professor in Clinical Nutrition. Her research focuses on prevention and treatment of obesity and its co-morbid conditions. She also maintains a nutrition assessment laboratory in order to conduct measurement of dietary intake and body composition.

Shelly Summar, MSEd, RD, LD
Shelly is the manager of the Weighing In program at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, building community collaboration to prevent childhood obesity. Her work includes leading the Healthy Lifestyles Initiative (HLI) which engages partners in healthcare, government, and community working to create environments that support health.


sweeneyBrooke Sweeney, MD, FAAP
Dr. Sweeney is a combined Internal Medicine/Pediatric Physician and the Medical Director of Weight Management services at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. Nationally, she is on the Governance Board of POWER (Pediatric Obesity Weight Evaluation Registry) and the Associate Director of POWER Recruitment. Dr. Sweeney is active in the Weight Management Expert Exchange of the Children’s Hospital Association/American Academy of Pediatrics Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight. Her clinical expertise is in prevention and treatment of chronic disease, weight management, and clinical care for children with obesity. Her research interests include improving the effectiveness of weight management clinics, transitional care, and using a national registry to improve pediatric weight management.

jthfyault1John P. Thyfault, PhD, FACSM, FTOS
Dr. Thyfault of KU Medical Center examines the effect of chronic physical inactivity, sedentary behavior, and low aerobic fitness on the development of chronic disease conditions including obesity, insulin resistance, fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In contrast, daily physical activity and maintenance of aerobic fitness throughout the lifespan are associated with protection against chronic disease(s). The mechanism(s) underlying the development of these diseases and the role that activity and fitness status play in altering susceptibility remain largely unknown and are the focus of our research. We utilize integrative (multi-tissue and whole body), translational (cells, rodents, humans) approaches to perform studies in these areas with a focus on clinical or human relevance.

Joel Waddell, DO
Dr. Waddell is completing a dual fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Pediatric Clinical Pharmacology at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. His research is focused on the effects of obesity on antibiotic pharmacokinetics and health outcomes in children with invasive infections.

wallaceDustin Wallace, PhD
Dr. Wallace is a pediatric psychologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Dr. Wallace specializes in pain management, pediatric pain rehabilitation and acceptance based treatment.


David White, PhD, ACSM-CEP
Dr. White is an exercise physiologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. His focus is clinical exercise testing and prescription in children with congenital and/or electrophysiological heart defects, neurocardiogenic syncope, dyslipidemia, and abnormal cardiopulmonary responses to exercise. Advanced methodology includes oxygen consumption, EKG, oxygen saturation, exercise blood pressure, pulmonary function testing, and tilt table testing. Additional responsibilities include exercise and behavioral counseling for youth and families of children with dyslipidemia and/or obesity in the Ward Heart Center Preventive Cardiology Clinic.

Our Scientific Advisory Board Members

Sean Adams, PhD

Director, Department of Pediatrics
Section of Developmental Nutrition
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences



Denise Wilfley, PhD                                                           

Professor of Psychiatry, Professor of Medicine, Professor of   Pediatrics, Professor of Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis


Marc-Andre Cornier, M.D.                                                     

Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, Colorado


Harold W Kohl, III, PhD                                                  

Professor of Epidemiology and Kinesiology, University of Texas Health Science Center – Houston, School of Public Health, Austin Regional Campus, and The University of Texas College of Education, Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, Austin, Texas.

Graduate Research Staff

Carolina Bejarano is a doctoral student in the Clinical Child Psychology Program at the University of Kansas. Her research interests generally focus on understanding and promoting health behavior, such as diet, sleep, and physical activity, in youth. She is interested in examining relationships among health-related behaviors and psychosocial constructs (e.g., motivation, affect, hedonic appetite), and how this information may be applied to improve children and adolescents’ physical and mental health.

Mackenze Jones is an undergraduate psychology student at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. I have plans to attend graduate school and obtain a PhD in clinical neuropsychology. I am interested in how hormones and the brain affect appetite and weight. Other interests include post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s and dementia, and multiple sclerosis. I am working with Dr. Dreyer Gillette on projects related to mealtime behaviors in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, obesity treatment outcomes research, physical activity research, and diabetes research.

Arwen Marker is a graduate student in the Clinical Child Psychology doctoral program at the University of Kansas. Arwen is primarily interested in how chronic pediatric health conditions, such as obesity and type 1 diabetes, are related to the development of depression and anxiety. Arwen is currently working on projects examining weight-related health interventions for families of young children and treatments for parents of youth with type 1 diabetes.

Bryce Miller, a student-athlete in the Health Sciences program at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, is interested in community health integration efforts aimed at obesity prevention and the promotion of healthy lifestyle modifications in children. Specifics include engaging community collaboration focused on developing healthy habits in diet and exercise for a healthy future. Current focus is the Weighing In program as well as assisting Dr. Shook with energy balance research studies.

Alexandra Monzon is a graduate student in the Clinical Child Psychology doctoral program at the University of Kansas. Her research interests generally focus on promoting healthy behavior and improving quality of life in pediatric populations through mobile health platforms. She is specifically interested in examining how health behaviors, such as sleep, impact mental health and the ability to cope with a chronic health condition in children and adolescents.

Amy Noser is a doctoral student in the Clinical Child Psychology program at the University of Kansas. Broadly, her research interests include pediatric health promotion and prevention. Specifically, she is interested in how individual differences in self-processes (e.g., motivation, self-efficacy, and self-concept) and behaviors (i.e., diet, physical activity, and sleep) impact the present and long-term health of youth. Amy is currently working on projects examining predictors of glycemic control and adherence in youth with type 1 diabetes mellitus.

Chelsea Steel is a graduate student in the Master of Public Health — Epidemiology program at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She is interested in dissemination and implementation science and chronic disease prevention. Specifically, her interest lies in implementation of evidence-based programs and their measurable effect on health. Chelsea will be working on research related to walking school bus programs and activity tracking.


Administrative Director, Department of Pediatrics
Jack Curran, MHA

Director of Professional Services, Department of Pediatrics
Royce Tenney, MBA

Administrative Assistant
Amy Donnelly

Administrative Assistant III
Joy Delgandio

Health Facility Assistant
Chandelyn Paris

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