Directors & Staff

Dr. Rebecca S. Allen,PhD, ABPP

Executive Director

College of Arts & Sciences

Department of Psychology

Research interests: 1) clinical training issues 2) interventions to reduce the stress of individuals, family, and professional caregivers within the context of advanced chronic/terminal illness and 3) cultural dynamics of healthcare and financial decision making  

Dr. Amy Ellis,PhD, MPH, RDN, LD

Associate Director

College of Human Environmental Sciences

Department of Nutrition & Hospitality Management

Our lab provides robust assessments of energy expenditure and body composition including indirect calorimetry, air displacement plethysmography (BOD POD), and segmental bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA). Measures of vascular function include brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD), pulse wave velocity, pulse wave analysis, and 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. Dr. Ellis’ research interests include nutritional influences on the development and progression of neurodegenerative diseases as well as nutrition and aging.

Brian Cox, MA

ARIA Program Manager 

Brian has worked for the University of Alabama and the Alabama Research Institute on Aging since 2009. First as a project manager until he was promoted to program manager in 2016.  During his time with ARIA he has managed a variety of aging research projects, funded at over $12 million, focused on a wide range of topics including arthritis, family care giving, memory disorders, lupus, COVID-19 vaccination efforts, pain, and sleep disorders.  Brian received his BS in Psychology from the University of Mary Washington in 2006 and his Masters in Higher Education Administration from the University of Alabama in 2023.

Executive Committee Members

Dr. Sheila Black, PhD

College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Psychology

Research interests: Dr. Black has interests in cognitive aging, racial disparities in cognitive aging, and contributions of African Americans to the field of psychology

Dr. Kimberlee Caldwell, PhD

College of Science and Engineering, Department of Biological Sciences

Research interests: The Caldwell Laboratory, shared by co-investigators, Drs. Kim and Guy Caldwell, is focused on studying malfunction in basic cellular mechanisms associated with diseases of the nervous system. Our laboratory utilizes the microscopic nematode roundworm, C. elegans, as a model system for discovering gene function, as well as therapeutic target development for these disorders.

Dr. Kristi Crowe-White, PhD, RD

College of Human Environmental Studies, Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management

Research interests:  Dr. Crowe-White’s research focuses on understanding the therapeutic influence of bioactive food compounds and functional foods on clinical outcomes of cardiometabolic disease, hypertension, and aging.  Further, her lab examines the role of these bioactives as well as dietary patterns on gut microbial composition and gut-derived metabolites involved in chronic disease prevention and treatment.

Dr. Todd J. Freeborn, PhD

College of Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Research interests: His research focuses on the measurement and application of tissue electrical properties for health monitoring.  This research spans from the design of wearable electronics for data collection, to modeling impedance data with equivalent circuits, to evaluating differences between groups through daily living or exercise interventions.

Dr. Anne Halli-Tierney, MD 

College of Community Health Sciences, Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine  

Research interests: Her research interests are in interprofessional education methods, end-of-life care and access to care for rural older adults. 

Dr. Marcia J. Hay-McCutcheon, PhD

College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Communicative Disorders

Research interests: Dr. Hay-McCutcheon’s research focuses on improving access and affordability of hearing healthcare in underserved Alabama communities. This NIH-funded work identifies needs of adults with hearing loss so that effective community-based intervention strategies can be implemented to mitigate the negative effects of hearing loss. The Hear Here Alabama mobile audiology clinic is a vital component of this work.

Dr. Hee Yun Lee, PhD

School of Social Work, Endowed Academic Chair in Social Work (Health) and Professor

Research interests: Dr. Lee’s interests include health disparities, technology-driven intervention (AI, VR/AR, Sensor, and App), mental health and substance use, dissemination and implementation science, immigration and health care, rural health

Dr. Mercy Mumba, PhD, RN, CMSRN, FAAN

Capstone College of Nursing

Research interests: Dr. Mumba’s research interests include mental health, substance use disorders, social determinants of health and health disparities, rural health

JoAnn Oliver

Dr. JoAnn S. Oliver, PhD, RN, CNE, FAAN

Capstone College of Nursing 

Research interests: Dr. Oliver’s research interests include social determinants of health and health disparities, rural health, oncology, community-based participatory research 

Dr. Pamela Payne-Foster, MD, MPH

School of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine/Population Health

Research interests: Dr. Payne-Foster has research interests in health disparities, including HIV/AIDS, obesity and diabetes; bioethics and medical ethics; and diversity and cultural competency issues in health care.

Dr. Edward Sazonov, PhD

College of Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering 

Research interests: His research interests span wireless, ambient and wearable devices, and methods of biomedical signal processing and pattern recognition. Devices developed in his laboratory include a wearable sensor for objective detection and characterization of food intake; a highly accurate physical activity and gait monitor integrated into a shoe insole; a wearable sensor system for monitoring of cigarette smoking; and others.

Avani Shah

Dr. Avani Shah, PhD

School of Social Work  

Research interests: Dr. Shah’s interests include aging and healthcare, cognitive behavioral therapy, diagnosing mental disorders, mental health 

Dr. Lynn Snow, PhD 

College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Psychology  

Research interests: Her research agenda broadly focuses on nursing home quality of care and dementia care, specifically implementation of organizational change in nursing homes to achieve higher quality person-centered care and higher functioning nursing home teams.  Her research has been continuously federally funded since 2000.  She has published over 110 peer-reviewed scientific articles.