The Center for Health & Nature is privileged to have leading scientists as our collaborating Faculty Fellows.
Christiaan Abildso, PhD, MPH; Associate Professor, School of Public Health, West Virginia University
Christiaan Abildso, PhD, MPH is an associate professor in the Department of Social and Behavior Sciences of the West Virginia University School of Public Health. His research interests include health promotion program evaluation and social-ecological determinants of physical activity. Dr. Abildso has multiple peer-reviewed publications about rural physical activity, health impact assessment, Morgantown area rail-trails, physical activity planning, and evaluation of state-level health promotion programming. He co-leads the Rural Workgroup of PAPREN (Physical Activity Policy Research and Evaluation Network), a national network of physical activity researchers and practitioners, and co-guest edited a 2021 special issue of IJERPH focused on rural physical activity. His current line of research is focused on the physical, social, cultural, and economic determinants of physical activity and time spent outside among rural US residents, and what works in rural physical activity promotion.
Aruni Bhatnagar, PhD, FAHA; Professor, University of Louisville
Aruni Bhatnagar, PhD, is a professor and distinguished university scholar in the Institute of Molecular Cardiology, a professor of medicine, and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Louisville since 1998. Bhatnagar is a distinguished university scholar and a fellow of the American Heart Association. His research interests include cardiovascular effects of environmental pollutants, atherosclerosis, injury from loss of blood to the heart muscle, cardiovascular complications of diabetes, and sepsis. Bhatnagar’s work has led to the creation of the new field of environmental cardiology. His research is supported by several grants from the National Institutes of Health, including two program-projects.
Gregory Bratman, PhD; Assistant Professor of Nature, Health and Recreations, University of Washington
Gregory Bratman’s work takes place at the nexus of psychology, public health, and ecology, and is focused on investigating the ways in which the environment is associated with human well-being. He takes both empirical and theoretical approaches to understand how nature experience impacts human mental well-being, specifically cognitive function, mood, and emotion regulation, with an emphasis on people living in urban environments. He is also working to inform the ways that the mental health effects of nature can be incorporated into ecosystem service studies, and in efforts to address health inequities. Gregory is a Harvard JPB Environmental Health Fellow and the Doug Walker Endowed Professor.
Matthew Browning, PhD; Founding Director, Virtual Reality & Nature Lab; Associate Professor, Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management, Clemson University
Matthew Browning is the Founding Director of the Virtual Reality & Nature Lab and Associate Professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management at Clemson University. His research examines the effects of physical and simulated environments on human health. His Lab’s mission is to strengthen the frequency and richness of human-nature interactions. Dr. Browning is also a scientific advisor for naturequant.com and ranks among the five most productive/cited scholars on parks, recreation, and health based on recent PubMed metrics.
Miguel Cainzos-Achirica, MD, MPH, PhD; Associate Director of Preventive Cardiology Research and Education, Department of Cardiology, Houston Methodist
Miguel Cainzos-Achirica, MD MPH PhD, is a cardiologist and cardiovascular epidemiologist trained in Barcelona (Spain) and Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD). He is the Associate Director of Preventive Cardiology Research and Education in the Division of Cardiovascular Prevention at the Department of Cardiology, Houston Methodist. His research interests include cardiovascular risk assessment using cardiac imaging tools, prevention of cardiovascular disease with a focus on low-income groups and immigrants from low and middle-income countries, and cardiovascular epidemiology using large healthcare databases. Both his training in the US and research have been funded by competitive European and US grants from public and private organizations.
Ohbet Cheon, PhD, MPA; Assistant Professor, David D. Reh School of Business. Clarkson University
Dr. Ohbet Cheon is an assistant professor at the David D. Reh School of Business, Clarkson University. Dr. Cheon mainly focuses on the Health Care Management MBA program. Her research agenda primarily focuses on quality management, health disparities, and cost-effective policy interventions in healthcare services. She has worked with multidisciplinary teams in wide-ranging areas from opioid stewardship to workplace wellness programs. Her papers have been featured in journals such as American Journal of Medical Quality, Population Health Management, American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, Public Management Review, American Review of Public Administration, and International Public Management Journal.
John Cooke, MD, PhD; Joseph C. “Rusty” Walter and Carole Walter Looke Presidential Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Disease Research, Houston Methodist
Dr. Cooke has 30 years of experience in fundamental and translational research in endothelial biology and vascular diseases, with a record of developing therapeutic molecules to address atherosclerosis, angiogenesis, and lymphangiogenesis, including 30 patents granted or pending, licensed to companies including Lumen, CoMentis and Vermillion. More recently, his lab has focused on endothelial regeneration and stem cell biology. They have refined small molecule based methodology to derive endothelial cells (ECs) from pluripotential cells or from fibroblasts (by transdifferentiation), and have demonstrated their therapeutic benefit in a pre-clinical model.
Yingling Fan, PhD; Professor, Urban and Regional Planning Program, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
Dr. Yingling Fan is a professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Minnesota. Her research connects land use and transportation to public health and social equity. Her recent work focuses on transit corridor development, transportation happiness, and community-engaged transportation equity research. She is the Editor-in-Chief at the Journal of Transport and Land Use. She is co-founder and CEO of the Daynamica, Inc—providing new technology for measuring human behavior and emotional well-being.
Howard Frumkin, MD, DrPH; Senior Vice President and Director, Land and People Lab Trust for Public Land
Howard Frumkin, a physician and epidemiologist, is Senior Vice President at the Trust for Public Land; Professor Emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington School of Public Health; and a Hagler Fellow at Texas A&M. Previously he was head of the Our Planet, Our Health initiative at the Wellcome Trust in London (2018-19), Dean of the University of Washington School of Public Health (2010-16), Director of the National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH/ATSDR) at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2005-10), and Professor and Chair of Environmental and Occupational Health at Emory University (1990-2005). His career has focused on health aspects of climate change, the built environment, energy policy, nature contact, and sustainability.
D. Kirk Hamilton, PhD; Professor, Department of Architecture, Texas A&M University
Dr. Kirk Hamilton is a fellow and associate director of the Center for Health Systems & Design and professor of Architecture at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX, where his research area is the relationship of evidence-based design of health facilities and measurable organizational performance. He is also a Founding Principal Emeritus, WHR Architects, Houston and Dallas, TX. WHR is an internationally recognized firm that specializes in healthcare architecture. A board certified healthcare architect with 30 years of experience in hospital design, he was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows for his advocacy for excellence in architecture for health, innovations in design, for research, and his visions for the hospital of the future. His experience includes professional training in facilitation, graphic recording, conflict resolution and small group dynamics through the American Leadership Forum and a Master of Science in Organization Development at Pepperdine University.
Steven Hankey, PhD, MS; Affiliate Faculty, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic and State University
A major societal and research question is how best to build healthy, clean cities. Dr. Hankey’s research and scholarship assesses how built and natural environments impact health with a focus on (1) planning for active travel (cycling and walking) and (2) reducing exposure to air pollution. As a faculty member at a land grant institution, he is dedicated to integrating his research agenda with teaching and outreach efforts, e.g., by collaborating with jurisdictions in Virginia to design active travel count programs and developing new courses on the societal benefits of active transportation. By necessity, his work spans disciplinary boundaries (i.e., urban planning, engineering, environmental health, and public policy) and prioritizes partners in practice. In his view, this collaborative approach is necessary to maximize the impact and translation of my research.
Perry Hystad, PhD; Assistant Professor, Oregon State University
Perry Hystad is an assistant professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University. He is the program director for the environmental health program and leads the Spatial Health Lab. His research focuses on connecting people to places to determine chronic disease risk factors and prevention opportunities. He is developing new methods to assess environmental exposures for large population-based health studies using new technologies and data science approaches. He has been principal investigator and co-investigator on grants that assess green space and built environment exposures, determine associations with health outcomes, and translate information into effective policy and prevention activities.
Robert Jackson, MD, MACP; Professor of Clinical Medicine, C. Richard Stasney, M.D. Distinguished Chair in Performing Arts Medicine, Houston Methodist
Dr. Robert E. Jackson, M.D., M.A.C.P. was born in Houston, Texas. He attended the University of Texas at Austin where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with Honors and Special Honors in Botany in 1975. He received his Masters in Botany and then attended UTMB Medical School in Galveston Texas. Dr. Jackson completed his internal medicine residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas and has been in private practice at the Texas Medical Center for over 30 years. Dr. Jackson is a Clinical Professor of Medicine of the Weill Cornell Medical College’s Houston Methodist Hospital campus. Dr. Jackson is currently on the Board of Directors of the HCMS and will be President in 2024. Dr. Jackson serves as Chairman of the Continuing Medical Education Committee at Houston Methodist Hospital. In 2016, at the request of Dr. Dick Stasney, he assumed the role of Acting Chairman of the Center for Performing Arts Medicine (CPAM) at Houston Methodist Hospital.
Peter James, ScD, MHS; Instructor, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Dr. Peter James trained in environmental health and epidemiology. Dr. James has focused his research on estimating the influence of geographic contextual factors, including exposure to nature, the built environment, the food environment, air pollution, light pollution, noise, and socioeconomic factors, on health behaviors and chronic disease. He has almost a decade of experience working with large prospective cohort studies, including the Nurses’ Health Studies, the Framingham Heart Study, and the Southern Community Cohort Study, where he has aided in the creation of many geographic-based variables and linked them to health data. More recently, he is developing methodologies to assess real-time, high spatio-temporal resolution objective measures of location and behavior by linking smartphone-based global positioning systems (GPS) and wearable device accelerometry data to understand how contextual factors influence health behaviors.
Natalie Johnson, PhD; Associate Professor, Department of Environmental & Occupational Health, School of Public Health, Texas A&M University
Dr. Johnson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health in the School of Public Health and Vice Chair of the Interdisciplinary Faculty of Toxicology at Texas A&M University. Her research team investigates effects of particulate matter air pollution on maternal and infant immune and respiratory dysfunction, including oxidative stress and stress-activated signaling pathways as targets for transplacental protection. Dr. Johnson obtained her Ph.D. in Toxicology, with an emphasis on exposure biomarkers and translational toxicology, from Texas A&M University. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, focusing on molecular toxicology and mechanisms of chemoprevention. Since beginning her research program in the Texas A&M School of Public, Dr. Johnson has served as the deputy director of a NIEHS-funded T32 training grant in regulatory science and environmental health and co-director of the Program for Asthma Research and Education. Dr. Johnson is the recipient of an Outstanding New Environmental Scientist award from NIEHS and Interdisciplinary Research Leader fellowship from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Bita A. Kash, PhD, MBA, FACHE; Co-Director, Center for Health & Nature
Bita Kash serves as the co-director for the Center of Health & Nature, which is a partnership between Houston Methodist, Texas A&M University and Texan by Nature. The Center conducts research in three key areas: nature in preventative medicine, the health role of nature in urban environments, and nature-based intervention for disease management. The Center’s Research Innovation Fund supports multi-institutional pilot projects that bring together leading experts to tackle key questions in the field of health and nature with evidence we can use to inform health policy and conservation strategies. Dr. Kash also served as the director of the Center of Outcomes Research at the Houston Methodist Research Institute until summer 2022. Dr. Kash’s background includes a professorship of health policy and management at Texas A&M University and co-director of a seven-university National Science Foundation (NSF) funded industry-university cooperative research center, the Center for Health Organization Transformation (CHOT). Dr. Kash conducts research to support the implementation of evidence-based transformational strategies within healthcare organizations. She is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and an active member of Academy Health, the Gerontological Society of America, and Academy of Management. Dr. Kash’s research in the areas of perioperative care coordination and the effective use of health information exchanges has resulted in several publications in top-tier health services and policy journals, featured in the NSF’s “Industry-Nominated Technology Breakthroughs of NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRC)” 2016 report, as well as Politico and other media. Finally, as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Healthcare Management (JHM), Dr. Kash lead the most recognized peer-reviewed journal in the field of healthcare management from 2014-2017.
Debra Kellstedt, DrPH, MPH; Assistant Professor, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M School of Public Health
Dr. Deb Kellstedt is an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension as well as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Texas A&M School of Public Health. She earned both her Masters and doctorate at the Texas A&M School of Public Health and completed a postdoctoral research position at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Dr. Kellstedt’s research has focused on evaluating multilevel community-based approaches aimed at improving health behaviors in a variety of settings and among different populations. Dr. Kellstedt’s current interests include exploring how community system social structure impacts population health specific to chronic disease prevention outcomes. Her programming focuses on environmental approaches to promote physical activity and initiatives to connect communities to nature.
Karla M. Kurrelmeyer, MD, FACC, FASE; Medical Director, DeBakey Cardiology Associates, Houston Methodist
Karla Kurrelmeyer is the medical director of the Houston Methodist DeBakey Cardiology Associates and an associate professor of clinical cardiology at Houston Methodist. Dr. Kurrelmeyer´s research centers on the role of inflammatory cytokines on disease progression in heart failure. Dr. Kurrelmeyer began her research activities while still a cardiology fellow at the Baylor College of Medicine where she won the Best Basic Research Award in 1998. That same year, she was also the recipient of the American Heart Association Melvin L. Marcus Young Investigator Award in Cardiovascular Science.
Chanam Lee, PhD, MLA; Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, Coordinator, PhD Program in Urban and Regional Sciences, Director, Design Research for Active Living, Texas A&M University
Chanam Lee is a Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, Coordinator of the PhD Program in Urban and Regional Sciences, and founding director of Design Research for Active Living (DrAL), at Texas A&M University (TAMU). Dr. Lee’s research focuses on linking the built environment with public health outcomes. Her expertise is in ‘active living research,’ a transdisciplinary area of research that deals with environmental and policy approaches toward promoting physical activity. Dr. Lee’s contributions to this relatively new area of scholarship is significant in: (a) developing methodological and theoretical foundations, (b) bringing attention to high-risk populations, and (c) translating research into tools/guides to facilitate evidence-based policy/design interventions. Dr. Lee has led 25 externally funded projects as the PI or Co-PI at TAMU, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, National Institute of Health, etc., totaling almost $15 million. Two of her on-going NIH R01 projects, titled Active Living Austin and Active El Paso, exemplify her current and continued focus on advancing environment-health research by establishing causality and addressing disparity. Dr. Lee (co)authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications in leading journals/books in health and design/planning disciplines, and is among the most cited scholars in her field. The significance of her scholarship has been recognized by awards from the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, the American Public Health Association, and American Society of Landscape Architects. Her work has also impacted professional practices in urban planning and landscape architecture, by informing new policy development and by providing evidence-based guides for multiple built and under-construction design projects in the US, Japan, and Nigeria. These projects range from hospital healing garden designs to large-scale health-oriented community planning projects.
Zhipeng Lu, PhD, LEED AP BD+C; Associate Director, Center for Health Systems & Design, Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, Texas A&M University
Dr. Zhipeng Lu is an assistant professor in the Department of Architecture, and the associate director of the Center for Health Systems & Design at Texas A&M University. Dr. Lu’s research examines the influence of physical environment on people’s health and behaviors. His research projects, funded by agencies such as NIH, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Institutes of Architect, investigate design for older people, healthcare environment, healthy community and healthy city, design to promote active living, and building information modeling. Dr. Lu teaches graduate and undergraduate courses that emphasize design for health.
Ping Ma, PhD; Assistant Professor, School of Public Health, Texas A&M University
Dr. Ma is an Assistant Professor at School of Public Health, Texas A&M University. Dr. Ma’s research focuses on examining social and environmental determinants on vulnerable populations’ mental health and health risky behaviors, and developing innovative tailored public health intervention programs. Specifically, Dr. Ma is building her new research agenda in the nature-based intervention program to reduce social isolation, emotion disturbances and mental disorders among older Asian Americans living in the Texas during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Dr. Ma’s research work has been funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NIH-NIA, CPRIT and other state and local funding resources.
Jay Maddock, PhD, FAAHB; Co-Director, Center for Health & Nature, Professor, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Texas A&M University
Dr. Jay Maddock is a Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and co-director of the Center for Health and Nature. Previously he served as Dean of the School of Public Health at Texas A&M University and as Director and Chair of the University of Hawaii Public Health Program. His research has been featured in several national and international media outlets including The Today Show, Le Monde, the BBC, Eating Well, Prevention and Good Housekeeping and he has authored over 125 scientific articles and has served as principal investigator on over $18 million in extramural funding. He is internationally recognized for his research in health behavior and social ecological approaches to increasing physical activity. Dr. Maddock received his undergraduate degree in psychology and sociology, magna cum laude, from Syracuse University and his Master’s and Doctorate degrees in experimental psychology from the University of Rhode Island.
Anne Martin, PhD; Research Fellow, MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow
Dr. Anne Martin is a physiotherapist and nutritional scientist by background and completed her PhD in Nutrition and Exercise Sciences at the Institute for Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences at the University of Edinburgh in 2014. Dr. Anne Martin is now working as a Research Fellow at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Institute for Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow. She is involved in developing and evaluating complex interventions for health improvement of children and young people with a focus on obesity prevention and mental health promotion. Together with Dr. Paul McCrorie, she is co-leading a program of research around the evaluation of the impact of outdoor and nature-based play and learning on the health and wellbeing of children, families and communities.
Paul McCrorie, PhD; Research Fellow, MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow
Dr. Paul McCrorie has a background in health behaviour change and completed his PhD in 2012 at Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland exploring the device measured physical activity levels and behaviours of Scottish children. Dr. Paul McCrorie is a Research Fellow at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Institute for Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow. Paul’s work primarily explores the built, natural, and social environmental determinants of health and wellbeing in children and young people, including physical activity levels and behaviours. Alongside Dr. Anne Martin, Paul is co-leading a program of research around the evaluation of the impact of outdoor and nature-based play and learning on the health and wellbeing of children, families, and communities.”
Ann McNamara, PhD; Associate Professor, Department of Visualization, Texas A&M University
Ann McNamara is an Associate Professor in the Department of Visualization at Texas A&M University. Her expertise in computer graphics and human visual perception with a particular focus on mobile applications in Augmented and Virtual Reality. Her research focuses on novel approaches for optimizing an individual’s experience when creating, viewing, and interacting with virtual and augmented spaces. She is working with Renee Stubbins and Ashley Verzwyvelt at Houston Methodist on a pilot program funded by the Center of Health and Nature, to bring nature to oncology patients through Virtual Reality. She is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award titled “Advancing Interaction Paradigms in Mobile Augmented Reality using Eye Tracking,” where she investigates how mobile eye tracking, can be used to determine what objects in a visual scene a person is interested in, and thus might like to have annotated in their augmented reality view. In 2019, she was named one of 21 Presidential Impact Fellows at Texas A&M University.
Khurram Nasir, MD, MPH; Jerold B. Katz Investigator, Academic Institute, Chief, Division of Cardiovascular Prevention and Wellness, Department of Cardiology, Co-Director, Center for Outcomes Research, Houston Methodist
Dr. Nasir received his MD from Pakistan, followed by a MPH at John Hopkins University. Dr. Nasir completed his internal medicine residency at Boston Medical Center and cardiology fellowship at Yale University. He also received postdoctoral research training at the division of cardiology at Johns Hopkins Hospital and was recipient of NIH T-32 fellowship in cardiac imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital. He recently earned a Master’s degree in Health Economics and Policy Management from London School of Economics & Political Science. Dr. Nasir serves as Associate Editor for Circulation: Quality of Care and Outcomes, editorial board member for Circulation as well on the board of directors for American Society of Preventive Cardiology (ASPC). He was honored with the Johns Hopkins Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2013, which acknowledges alumni who have typified Johns Hopkins tradition of excellence and brought credit to the University by their personal accomplishments, professional achievements, or humanitarian service Dr. Nasir has over 500 peer-reviewed articles which are published in top journals such as Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, Archives of Internal Medicine, Circulation, Journal of American College of Cardiology and European Heart Journal. Dr. Nasir has lectured extensively throughout the world on coronary arthrosclerosis, cardiac imaging and prevention.
Galen Newman, PhD, ASLA, APA; Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, Texas A&M University
Dr. Galen D. Newman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A&M University. He serves as Interim Department Head, Director of the Center for Housing and Urban Development, and the Youngblood Endowed Professor of Residential Land Development. Dr. Newman’s research interests include urban regeneration, land use science, spatial analytics, community resilience, and design performance, with a primary focus on the integration of urban regeneration and urban flood resilience. His work has been published in many high-quality peer-reviewed outlets (over 70 peer reviewed articles) and has been funded through numerous internal and external funding sources including the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the National Institute of Environmental Health totaling over 30 million dollars. He has won many awards for his research including the Excellence in Research and Creative Scholarship Award from the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture and the Best Paper Award from the Journal of the American Planning Association. He has also led many efforts to provide service learning opportunities which have also won national and state awards including five American Society of Landscape Architects National Awards (ASLA), 20+ ASLA, Texas Chapter Awards, 2 American Planning Association, Texas Chapter Awards and being designated as a Service Learning Faculty Fellow and Student Success Faculty Fellow at TAMU and nationally as one of Design Intelligence’s Most Admired Educators.
Jennifer D. Roberts, DrPH, MPH; Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology, Director, Public Health Outcomes and Effects of the Built Environment Laboratory, Co-Director, NatureRx, University of Maryland College Park
Jennifer D. Roberts is an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology, School of Public Health at the University of Maryland College Park (UMD). Dr. Roberts is also the Founder and Director of the Public Health Outcomes and Effects of the Built Environment (PHOEBE) Laboratory as well as the Co-Founder and Co-Director of NatureRx@UMD, an initiative that emphasizes the green space benefits interspersed throughout and around the UMD campus and acknowledges the ancestral lands of the Piscataway People as well as the historical slave trade legacies of the UMD campus land. Her scholarship focuses on the impact of built, social, and natural environments, including the institutional and structural inequities of these environments, on the public health outcomes of marginalized communities. More specifically, much of her research has explored the dynamic relationship between environmental, social, and cultural determinants of physical activity and using empirical evidence of this relationship to infer complex health outcome patterns and disparities among adults and children. Dr. Roberts’ has received research and professional development grants from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as well as intramural grants from UMD. She is also a Harvard University JPB Environmental Health Fellow as well as a UMD University Honors Faculty Fellow.
Taehyun Roh, PhD; Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Texas A&M University
Dr. Taehyun Roh is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Texas A&M University. He has a broad background in environmental health, with specific training and expertise in toxicology and epidemiology. His earlier research topics include mechanistic toxicological studies across in vitro/in vivo experiments, and exposure and risk assessment of environmental contaminants. He participated in international rural health research projects on arsenic exposure from drinking water in Chile and Bangladesh. Currently, he conducts environmental epidemiology research on the chronic health effects of drinking water contaminants and other environmental health issues including indoor air quality. He has initiated community-engaged research projects assessing the burden of arsenic exposure and developing interventions for cancer prevention in South Texas. With a clinical background as a pharmacist, he contributes to the intervention studies to improve the quality of life in patients.
Garett Sansom, DrPH; Assistant Professor, School of Public Health, Texas A&M University
Dr. Garett Sansom is the Health and Environment Lead for the Institute for Sustainable Communities and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health. His professional interests revolve around the human health implications of the environment, urban planning, and the impacts of natural and anthropogenic hazards. This research exemplifies the belief that investigators should be afforded the opportunity to achieve dual goals that extend scientific knowledge and build local capacity to enacting positive change within the communities they analyze. In addition to publishing widely in academic journals, his work also includes working papers, nature conservation pieces and he is a primary author on the Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan where he wrote the seventh chapter entitled The Value of Parks and Recreation in Physical, Mental and Social Well-Being.
Lindsay Sansom, PhD; Research Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental & Occupational Health, School of Public Health, Texas A&M University
Dr. Lindsay Sansom is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health and a Project Coordinator for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Dr. Sansom’s research interests include transboundary water sharing, socio-ecological systems modelling, the role of trust in conflict and cooperation for water security, the association between health and greenspace access, and promoting community engagement strategies. She has created citizen science teams and provided curriculum development for environmental assessment on health-conscious projects. Dr. Sansom has publications in a wide range of peer-reviewed journals, has provided oral presentations at state, national, and international conferences, and serves on numerous committees and boards. She is currently leading the efforts to update the Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan, a stateside grant required for maintaining eligibility for Land and Water Conservation Funds. Dr. Sansom regularly collaborates with numerous academic-government interdisciplinary teams.
Selina M. Stasi, DrPH; Instructional Assistant Professor, Department of Health Promotion and Community Health Sciences, Texas A&M University
Selina M Stasi, DrPH is an instructional assistant professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Community Health Sciences. In this role, she is responsible for teaching courses to undergraduate students offered through Public Health Studies. She has over 8 years of experience advocating for or with community-based organizations within Los Angeles, CA, Miami, FL, Honolulu, HI, Pasadena, TX, and currently the Bryan/College Station area, TX. In addition to her work within academia and community outreach, she is a personal trainer, health, fitness, and CrossFit coach.
Renee Stubbins, PhD; Senior Oncology Dietitian, Houston Methodist
Renee Stubbins grew up in Houston, Texas and received her bachelor’s in science and her doctorate in Nutrition Biochemistry and Cancer Metabolism from the University of Texas at Austin. Renee is a senior oncology dietitian for Houston Methodist Cancer Center and an assistant member of the Houston Methodist Research Institute. As a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Oncology Nutrition Practice group, Renee currently serves as the chair elect and future chair. Renee’s research interests include utilizing medical nutrition therapy throughout the cancer care process and using nature to address patient barriers (pain and anxiety) to improve patient’s quality of life.
Courtney Suess, PhD; Assistant Professor, Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences, Texas A&M University
Dr. Courtney Suess, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences at Texas A & M University and the Tourism and Coastal Community Development Program at the Galveston campus. Dr. Suess’ research is at the intersection of experience design, tourism and hospitality management, community development, and built environments including their effects on human health and behavioral outcomes. Dr. Suess’ work involves collaborations with the College of Architecture’s Center for Health Systems Design and School of Public Health at Texas A&M University, and Agrilife Extension. She is also an Academic Scholar at Cornell University’s Institute for Healthy Futures. She has published over 35 journal articles and serves on the editorial board of the two leading tourism journals, Tourism Management and Journal of Travel Research. Notably, her research has recommended policy related to medical tourism, hotel and healthcare design, and traveler health. Dr. Suess has led grants as a principal investigator from the USDA, Building Hope Nevada, and Outside Las Vegas Foundation, recommending over $200 million in investment for nature tourism and recreation activities on public lands surrounding the Las Vegas metro area. She has been a co-investigator on a multi-year CDC Wellness Environments grant with faculty from Agrilife Extension.
Amber Vermeesch, PhD, MSN, FNP-C, RN, CNE, FACSM, FNAP, ANEF; Department Chair, Family & Community Nursing; Associate Professor, UNC Greensboro School of Nursing
Amber L. Vermeesch, PhD, MSN, FNP-C, RN, CNE, FACSM, FNAP, ANEF’s research is aimed at improving wellness, both physical and emotional, and general health especially for vulnerable populations. Her investigations have concentrated on physical activity as a means of wellness promotion among vulnerable populations, integrative health, nature-based interventions stress reduction, cultural sensibility, and humility, and health promotion among nursing students, faculty, and staff. She has expertise in the use of quantitative, qualitative, multi-methods, and participatory photography and other visual methodologies. Her work has been funded by private foundations, international organizations, and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. She serves on the Healthy Living for Pandemic Event Protection (HL – PIVOT) Network, Chicago, IL, USA, National Physical Activity Plan – Healthcare Sector: Project on Advancing Key Actions for Enhancing PA Surveillance, American College of Sports Medicine, and as a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners Nomination Council.
Ashley Verzwyvelt, RN, OCN; Registered Nurse, Houston Methodist
Ashley Verzwyvelt is an oncology certified registered nurse with experience in both hematologic and oncologic conditions. Six of the last nine years working in the Outpatient Center of Houston Methodist were also spent as chairman of the People and Service committee, spearheading initiatives to maximize patient safety and streamline processes. She has juggled simultaneous roles as preceptor, charge nurse, and infusion nurse. In the last year, she created and piloted the clinical liaison position which has positively impacted the care of the oncology patients transitioning between the outpatient and inpatient settings by increasing treatment compliance, enhancing provider communication, increasing patient satisfaction, and minimizing length of stay and hospital readmission rates. As an educator, she teaches chemotherapy classes to patients/ families, provide medication inservices, and administers yearly chemotherapy administration competencies.
Susan Xu, PhD; Senior Biostatistician, Houston Methodist
Dr. Susan Xu is a senior biostatistician in the Center for Outcomes Research and Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center at Houston Methodist Research Institute. Her research specialties include clinical data analysis, survival data analysis, longitudinal data analysis, multivariate analysis, experimental design, and nonparametric statistical analysis. Her services provide broad analytical support, including consulting and advising researchers on study design, sample size and power calculations, statistical analysis plan, data analysis, and writing statistical section. She regularly collaborates with investigators and researchers in the preparation of data for scientific presentations and the writing and revision of research manuscripts and proposals.
Huey-Wen Yien, MD, PhD, EMBA; Chief Executive Officer, YongLin Healthcare Foundation, Taipei, Taiwan
Dr. Huey-Wen Yien received his PhD in Medicine from National Yang Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan and his EMBA from National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan. He conducted post-doctoral research at Presbyterian Medical Center in Columbia, New York and was a visiting scholar at New England Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. His specialties include critical care medicine and anesthesiology. Dr. Yien was the chief of the surgical ICU at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital, as well as, the deputy superintendent at Zhong Xing Branch of Taipei City Hospital. Currently, he is the CEO in YongLin Healthcare Foundation and the vice president at the Taiwan Society of Critical Care Medicine. He, as the project leader of National Taiwan University Cancer Center for more than ten years, is well experienced in hospital design.