Current Trainees:

Year 3

DeMario Overstreet, MS

DeMario Overstreet, MS

Mentor: Burel Goodin
Predoc; Pyschology
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

Demario Overstreet is a 3rd year, HSOER, AHRQ, (NRSA) T32 Predoc trainee.  He earned both his B.A. and M.S. degrees in Psychology from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University. During M.S. studies, he interned at Wellstone Behavioral Health Center where he provided psychoeducation and group counseling in a day-treatment group setting to adults with an array of cognitive and psychological conditions. He has also interned at Thrive (formerly AIDS Action Coalition), providing group and individual counseling to individuals living with HIV and suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. His M.S. thesis focused on the effects of poetry therapy on hopefulness, depression, and coping behaviors in college-aged African American males who were living with moderate to severe depressive symptoms.

Overstreet is currently a Ph.D. student in the Behavioral Neuroscience program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  He is a research assistant in Dr. Burel Goodin’s (Biobehavioral) Pain Lab.  Overstreet’s research interests include identifying factors beyond suspected pathoanatomy that may contribute substantially to the development and perpetuation of cLBP and investigating racial differences in various measures of endogenous pain modulation. His dissertation focuses on investigating the cognitive processing of pain, using quantitative sensory testing (QST), and identifying blood and brain-circuitry based predictors of poor chronic low back pain outcomes.  Upon the defense of his dissertation, Overstreet will begin his postdoctoral training--He has accepted an appointment with Drs. Kristen Schreiber and Robert Edwards in The Department of Anesthesiology at Harvard University!

Year 2

Alena Borgatti

Alena Borgatti

Mentor: Gareth Dutton
Predoc; Psychology
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

Alena Borgatti is a third year student in the Medical/Clinical Psychology doctoral program. Her research involves the study of social networks, stigma, and health disparities in the context of obesity and eating disorders. Mrs. Borgatti currently serves as the lead investigator on three ancillary trials, two focused on social network development within weight management programs, and another evaluating social networks and health disparities during COVID-19. Her dissertation will study the impact of racial discrimination and weight bias on college friendship networks, and how this in turn impacts mental health, physical health, and academic achievement. She has been awarded several grants to support her research, and hopes to utilize social network analysis to provide a conceptual framework for understanding the social context of weight stigma, and improving the health of those with eating disorders and obesity.

Olivia Van Gerwen, MD, MPH

Olivia Van Gerwen, MD, MPH

Mentor: Christina Muzny
Postdoc; Infectious Diseases
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

Olivia Van Gerwen is a second year T32 post-doctoral fellow. She completed her internal medicine residency and chief residency in New Orleans, LA and then returned to her hometown of Birmingham to pursue a fellowship in Infectious Diseases, which she completed in 2020. She is now a Clinical Instructor in the UAB Division of Infectious Diseases. Olivia's research focuses on STI prevention and sexual health promotion among transgender populations, particularly how to create patient-center care models which optimize both sexual and mental health outcomes. Olivia lives in Birmingham with her husband, son, two cats, and new puppy. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, cross stitching, and all things Mardi Gras.

Kathleen Weden, MS, OTR/L

Kathleen Weden, MS, OTR/L

Mentor: Elizabeth Barstow
Predoc; Rehabilitation Science
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

Kathleen M Weden, OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist and a PhD student in the Rehabilitation Science program at UAB. She received her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington, Seattle and her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy at Columbia University. Weden has worked clinically in a variety of settings including inpatient rehabilitation at UW Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, and Children’s of Alabama. She also worked in early intervention at The Bell Center for Early Intervention in Birmingham. Her primary research aims to examine the feasibility and validity of a novel measure of visual function for children with Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI) conducted through video conference. Clinical translation is an important point of analysis in her studies, including both clinical feasibility and client interface and usability. Weden is also involved in a multi-site project to validate a universal vision screening tool that would facilitate earlier and increased vision screening across disciplines.

Rachel Wells, RN, PhD

Rachel Wells, RN, PhD

Mentor: Marie Bakitas
Postdoc; Nursing
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

 Rachel Wells is second year T32 post-doctoral fellow. She completed her PhD in Nursing at the UAB School of Nursing where she was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholar. Prior to completing her PhD, Rachel received a BS in Microbiology, English, and Latin/Greek from the University of Alabama. After a brief stint with microbiology research, she transitioned into nursing and pursued an accelerated Masters of Nursing in the Clinical Nurse Leader track at UAB. Rachel has an extensive clinical background in critical care and adult cardiovascular health. Her areas of research include early palliative care models for advanced heart failure patients, disparities in cardiovascular outcomes, with an emerging interest in optimization trial designs. In addition to her research, Rachel sits on several local and national professional organization boards including the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association, the American Association of Heart Failure Nurses, and the Society of Behavioral Medicine. Rachel lives in Birmingham with her husband, son, and a very bossy cat. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, reading, and crossword puzzles.

Year 1

Peter Abraham, MD

Peter Abraham, MD

Mentor: Jan Jansen
Postdoc; Surgery
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

Peter Abraham is a general surgery resident at UAB, interested in trauma and cardiothoracic surgery outcomes research. His current work focuses on the implementation of a hospital-based violence intervention program for patients that experience firearm assault injuries.

Juliet Blakeslee-Carter, MD

Juliet Blakeslee-Carter, MD

Mentor: Emily Spangler
Postdoc; Surgery
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

Juliet Blakeslee-Carter MD is a member of the integrated vascular surgery program at UAB. She is completing a two year research fellowship in clinical and translational science through the UAB T32 program. Her research focuses on device development and long-term management. With the help of the T32 program, she is pursuing an MSPH through the UAB School of Public Health.

Connie Shao, MD

Connie Shao, MD

Mentor: Dan Chu
Postdoc; Surgery
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

Connie Shao MD is a general surgery resident at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) where she is also obtaining an MSPH. Originally from Michigan, she completed her undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis where she majored in Biomedical Engineering before attending the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. Her research focuses on reducing disparities among colorectal patients in the Deep South by improving health engagement and thus clinical outcomes. She is funded by an internal HSOER T32 grant and the American College of Surgeons. She is also in the American College of Surgeons MacLean Ethics Fellowship where she hopes to learn the skills and background to become an academic surgeon using an ethics-informed lens to improve value-based care.

Rachel Skains, MD

Rachel Skains, MD

Mentor: Erik Hess
Postdoc; Emergency Medicine
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

Dr. Skains is currently Clinical Instructor and Research Fellow in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). After completing a B.S. in Neuroscience, Summa Cum Laude, from Washington and Lee University (2010), Dr. Skains worked as a clinical research coordinator at Carolinas Neuromuscular/MDA-ALS Center then subsequently completed a M.D. from Wake Forest School of Medicine (2016) and Emergency Medicine residency from UAB (2019). She is in a Clinical Research Fellowship - Emergency Medicine conjointly with a MSPH - Clinical and Translational Science Epidemiology at UAB (2019-2021). She was recently awarded the AHRQ NRSA T32 Postdoctoral Scholar Fellowship in the UAB Health Services, Outcomes, and Effectiveness Research (HSOER) Training Program (2020-2022). Dr. Skains' career goal is to become an independent clinician-scientist focused on improving healthcare efficiency and mitigating disparities in the acute care of older adults through patient-centered outcomes research, establishing geriatric emergency care guidelines/protocols through quality improvement initiatives, and translating aging research evidence to practice of Geriatric Emergency Medicine. Using an interdisciplinary approach, she aims to examine the association of opioid exposure and delirium in older adults admitted from the emergency department (ED) by identifying predictors of delirium in older adults from the ED stay through to hospitalization. Study findings will have direct implications on identifying older patients at risk for delirium in the ED that will guide development of patient-centered interventions to improve the early recognition and management of delirium. Longer-term, she is interested in exploring patient-centered aging research in the emergency care setting.

Tiffany Tucker

Tiffany Tucker

Mentor: Smita Bhatia
Predoc; Psychology
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

Tiffany is a doctoral student in the Medical/Clinical Psychology program. She is originally from Houston, Tx and attended Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA, graduating with a B.S. in Psychology. Before graduate school, Tiffany gained experience working in a variety of research labs assessing the neural correlates of pediatric brain tumor, autism, and substance abuse. She joined Dr. Donna Murdaugh’s Lab and began graduate school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2019. Her research interest includes the neural mechanisms and neurocognitive correlates of executive function in pediatric patients across a variety of neurological conditions. Most recently, her work has focused on sleep quality measured by nighttime oxygenation and the neural and neurocognitive associations in pediatric sickle cells populations.


Past Trainees: 

Coming Soon!