Dr. Ore Adedoyin

Dr. Ore Adedoyin

Dr. Oreoluwa Adedoyin received her BPharm in Pharmacy in 2005 from the University of Ibadan (Nigeria). She was then awarded an MS in Kinesiology and Health Promotion in 2008 and a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2014, both from the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Adedoyin joined the MERIT Program in 2016, working with Drs. Anupam Agarwal and Jim George for her research training. Together with Drs. Agarwal and George, Dr. Adedoyin examined immune responses in polycystic kidney disease. For her teaching experience, Dr. Adedoyin worked with Dr. Diane Tucker, MERIT Teaching Mentor and Professor of Psychology at UAB, during which she taught an introductory biology and directed an Undergraduate Research Workshop Series.

Dr. Adedoyin completed her MERIT Program training in 2017 and currently serves as Senior Medical Researcher / Editor for Shoreland, Inc.

Dr. Robert M. Akscyn

Dr. Robert M. Akscyn

Dr. Akscyn received his BS in Biochemistry from Saint Vincent College in 2010 and his PhD in Cell, Molecular and Developmental Biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2015. Dr. Akscyn joined the MERIT Program in 2016 and performed his postdoctoral research under the mentorship of Dr. J. Michael Wyss, Professor of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology, and Director of the UAB Center for Community Outreach and Development. Dr. Akscyn’s research focused on education assessment, curriculum design and implementation, and fostering Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education in underrepresented, minority populations.

For his teaching experience, Dr. Akscyn worked with Dr. Tracey Wilson, Professor and Chair of Natural Sciences at Lawson State Community College. During this time, he offered courses in biochemistry, introduction to research and scientific research ethics. 

Dr. Akscyn completed his MERIT Program training 2020.

Dr. Hope Amm

Dr. Hope Amm

Dr. Hope Amm received her BS in Biological Sciences from St. Mary's College in 2002 and her Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology from UAB in 2010 and joined the MERIT later that year.  As a MERIT Scholar At-Large, Dr. Amm performed her research training in the laboratory of Dr. Mary MacDougall, Professor of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery. Her research focused on molecular mechanisms of tooth development.

Dr. Amm's MERIT Teaching Mentor was Dr. Mary Jane Krotzer, Dean of Arts and Sciences and Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs at Stillman College. At Stillman College, Dr. Amm provided guest lectures and tutored undergraduates in several biology courses; she also developed and conducted a new, advanced course in cancer biology.

Dr. Amm completed her MERIT Program training in 2013; currently, she is an Assistant Professor at UAB in the department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery.

Dr. Sarah Beno

Dr. Sarah Beno

Dr. Sarah Beno received a BS in Biology and a BA in Chemistry from Meredith College in 2013. She was awarded a PhD in Food Nutrition Science from Cornell University in 2017 and joined the MERIT Program later that same year. Dr. Beno performed her postdoctoral research under the mentorship of Dr. Carlos Orihuela, Professor of Microbiology elucidating mechanisms of S. pneumonia gene expression in invasive pneumococcal disease. 

Dr. Beno worked with Dr. Christine Sestero, MERIT Program Alumnus and Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Montevallo. Under Dr. Sestero’s guidance, Dr. Beno has provided guest lectures in biology at Montevallo and assisted with Montevallo’s Spring 2019 Science Fair. In addition, she co-directed the UAB Undergraduate Research Workshop Series.

Dr. Beno completed her MERIT Program training in 2020 and currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Biology at Birmingham Southern College.

Dr. Pamlea Brady

Dr. Pamlea Brady

Dr. Pamlea Brady received her BS in Chemistry from Winston-Salem State University in 2008, and her PhD in Analytical Chemistry in 2015 from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge; she joined the MERIT Program later that year. Dr. Brady performed her research training with Dr. Margaret Johnson, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, studying the structure and dynamics of guanine quadruplex binding proteins.

Dr. Brady taught General Chemistry as her 3rd year course at Stillman College in 2018 under the direction of her MERIT Teaching Mentor, Dr. Mary Jane Krotzer, Dean of Arts and Sciences and Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs at Stillman College.

Dr. Brady completed her MERIT Program training in 2019 and currently serves as Chair and Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Talladega College.

Dr. Patrice Capers

Dr. Patrice Capers

Dr. Patrice Capers received her BS in Biology from Spellman College in 2008 and her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from Morehouse School of Medicine in 2013; she joined the MERIT Program later that year. As a MERIT Scholar, Dr. Capers performed her postdoctoral research training with Dr. David Allison, Professor of Public Health, focusing upon epidemiological meta-analyses of the role of sleep duration on adiposity and energy balance.

Dr. Capers’ MERIT Teaching Mentor was Dr. Tabitha Hardy, MERIT Alumnus and Assistant Professor of Natural Sciences at Stillman College. For her MERIT Program teaching requirement, Dr. Capers taught an advanced course in nutrition science at Stillman College.

Dr. Capers completed her MERIT Program training in 2016 and is currently an Assistant Professor of Biology at The Citadel in Charleston, SC.

Dr. Camerron Crowder

Dr. Camerron Crowder

Dr. Crowder received a BS and BS in 2007 from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, an MS in biology in 2010 from Northern Arizona University and her PhD in 2016 in Integrative biology from Oregon State University.  Dr. Crowder joined the MERIT Program in 2016 and performed postdoctoral research training with her MERIT Research Mentor, Dr. Matthew Might, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Hugh Kaul Precision Medicine Institute at UAB. Her work with Dr. Might focused upon understanding impact of educational resources on the lay-public’s perception of precision medicine. 

Dr. Crowder completed her teaching instruction with Dr. Diane Tucker, Professor of Psychology at UAB and member of the MERIT Executive Committee. Her teaching efforts included implementation of the Molecular Genetics Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (C.U.R.E) laboratory course for the UAB Sci-Tech Honors Program.  

Dr. Crowder completed her MERIT Program training in 2020. Currently, she serves as the Assistant Director of Education, Research and Science Communication for the Hugh Kaul Precision Medicine Institute at UAB.

Dr. Centdrika Dates-Hurt

Dr. Centdrika Dates-Hurt

Dr. Centdrika Dates received her BS in Biology from Alcorn State University in 2008, her MS in Biology from Jackson State University in 2010, and her PhD in Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 2015. Dr. Dates-Hurt joined the MERIT Program in 2015 and performed her research training with Drs. Markus Bredel and Susan Nozell in the Department of Radiation Oncology.  Her work examined the mechanisms that drive glioblastoma formation and treatment. As a MERIT Scholar At-Large, Dr. Dates-Hurt participated in teaching experiences at UAB, including workshop presentations in the UAB Undergraduate Research Workshop Series.

Dr. Dates-Hurt completed her MERIT Program training in 2019 and currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Biology at Birmingham Southern College.

Dr. Norberto Gonzalez-Juarbe

Dr. Norberto Gonzalez-Juarbe

Dr. González-Juarbe received his BS in microbiology from the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo in 2011 and his PhD in immunology from University of Texas Health Sciences at San Antonio in 2016; he joined the MERIT Program that same year.  Dr. González-Juarbe performed his research training under the mentorship of Dr. Carlos Orihuela, Professor of Microbiology, examining novel cell death mechanisms induced by pathogenic bacteria. As a MERIT Scholar At-Large, Dr. González-Juarbe participated in teaching experiences at UAB, including workshop presentations to UAB undergraduates.

Dr. González-Juarbe completed his MERIT Program training in 2018.  Currently, he serves as an Assistant Professor in the Infectious Disease and Genomics Medicine Division of the J. Craig Ventner Institute in Rockville, MD.

Dr. Tabitha Hardy

Dr. Tabitha Hardy

Dr. Tabitha Hardy received her BS in Biology Education from Alcorn State University in 2000, her MS in Biology from Jackson State University in 2004, and her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from Indiana University School of Medicine in 2010. Dr. Hardy joined the MERIT Program in 2010 and performed her research training with Dr. Trygve Tollefsbol, Professor of Biology. Her research focused on dietary factors and epigenetic regulation of cancer.

Dr. Hardy's MERIT Teaching Mentor was Dr. O'Neal Wright, Assistant Professor of Natural Sciences at Stillman College. At Stillman College, she provided guest lectures and tutored undergraduates in several biology courses, including a new, laboratory in genetics. Dr. Hardy also taught classes and served as a lecturer in the UAB Department of Biology.  

Dr. Hardy completed her MERIT Program training in 2013; currently, she serves as an Assistant Dean in the Graduate School at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis.

Dr. Marla Hertz

Dr. Marla Hertz

Dr. Marla Hertz received her BS in Microbiology from University of Maryland (College Park) in 2006 and her Ph.D. in Microbiology from UAB 2011; she joined the MERIT Program that same year. As a MERIT Scholar, Dr. Hertz performed her research training in the laboratory of Dr. Mary-Ann Bjornsti, Professor and Chair of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Her research focused on protein-protein interactions in DNA damage and replication. 

Dr. Hertz's MERIT Teaching Mentor was Dr. Marlon Rhem, Professor of Chemistry at Oakwood University. At Oakwood, Dr. Hertz provided guest lectures and tutored undergraduates in chemistry. In addition, she developed and taught an introductory course in pharmacology and was instrumental in organizing a research workshop series for the Department of Chemistry at Oakwood.

Dr. Hertz completed her MERIT Program training in 2014. Currently, she is working as a senior staff scientist at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis.

Dr. Vicky Huang

Dr. Vicky Huang

Dr. Vicky Huang received her BS in Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2005 and her PhD in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from University of Texas at Austin in 2013; she joined the MERIT Program in 2015. Dr. Huang performed her research training with Dr. Farah Lubin, Associate Professor of Neurobiology, utilizing a zebra fish model to study the environmental influences on neuroepigenetic mechanisms during memory formation with aging.

Dr. Huang’s MERIT Teaching Mentor was Dr. Ken LaiHing, Professor and Chair of Chemistry at Oakwood University.  Under his mentorship, she taught Introductory Biochemistry and Introductory Chemistry. 

Dr. Huang completed her MERIT Program training in 2019 and currently serves as imaging specialist and analyst with an RNA detection diagnostics biotech startup in northern California.

Dr. Monica Lewis

Dr. Monica Lewis

 Dr. Lewis received her BS in Chemistry at Alabama State University in 2009 and her PhD in Cancer Biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2016; she joined the MERIT Program that same year. Dr. Lewis performed her research training in the lab of Dr. Nabiha Yusuf, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, where she investigated the roles of the innate immune system in breast cancer health disparities and in the development of skin cancer.

Under the guidance of her MERIT Teaching Mentor, Dr. Melissa Richardson, Associate Professor of Biology at Oakwood University, Dr. Lewis taught Anatomy and Physiology I and provided guest lectures in biology.

Dr. Lewis completed her MERIT Program training in 2019; currently, she serves as Instructor in the Department of Biology at the University of Montevallo.

Dr. Christine Loyd

Dr. Christine Loyd

Dr. Loyd received her BA in Microbiology from Miami University- Oxford in 2008 and her PhD in Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine from University of Cincinnati in 2014; she joined the MERIT Program in 2016. Dr. Loyd performed her research training under the mentorship of Dr. Cynthia J. Brown, Professor of Medicine and Director of the UAB Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging. Dr. Loyd’s research investigated hospital mobility in older adults and the effectiveness of a hospital walking intervention in promoting recovery of mobility status following hospitalization.

Under the guidance of her MERIT Teaching Mentor, Dr. Elaine Vanterpool, Professor and Chair of Biology at Oakwood University, Dr. Loyd taught Life Science II course and provided lectures in introductory biology.

Dr. Loyd completed her MERIT Program training in 2019. She is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Dr. Keri Barksdale Mans

Dr. Keri Barksdale Mans

Dr. Keri Barksdale Mans received her BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Mississippi State University in 2004 and her Ph.D. in Neurobiology at UAB in 2010; she joined the MERIT Program that same year. As a MERIT scholar, Dr. Mans performed her research training in the laboratory of Dr. Rosalinda Roberts, Professor of Psychiatry. She utilized both rodent and human models to research structural and metabolic deficits that occur in the schizophrenic brain.

Dr. Mans' MERIT Teaching Mentor was Dr. Marion Fintel, Professor of Natural Sciences at Stillman College. At Stillman College, Dr. Mans created and taught a course in molecular biology, served as a guest lecturer, and mentored undergraduate thesis candidates.  

Dr. Mans completed her MERIT Program training in 2013. Currently, she serves as Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Sciences at Georgia Southern University Armstrong Campus.

Dr. Robert Mans

Dr. Robert Mans

Dr. Robert Mans received his BS in Neurobiological Sciences from the University of Florida in 2005 and his Ph.D. in Neurobiology from UAB in 2011; he joined the MERIT Program that same year. He performed his research training in the laboratory of Dr. Lori McMahon, Professor of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology. His research focused on mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease.

Dr. Mans worked with Dr. Glenn Phillips, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Oakwood University, as his MERIT Teaching Mentor. At Oakwood, Dr. Mans provided guest lectures, tutored undergraduates, and taught an introductory course in biochemistry.  

Dr. Mans completed his MERIT Program training in 2014. Currently, he serves as Associate Professor of Biology at Georgia Southern University Armstrong Campus.

Dr. Michael Nelson

Dr. Michael Nelson

Dr. Michael Nelson received his BS in Biology from Cedarville University in 2005 and his PhD in Microbiology from UAB in 2012; he joined the MERIT Program that same year. He performed his research training with Dr. John Shacka, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Dr. Nelson’s research focused on delineating the role of the lysosomal enzyme alpha galactosidase in regulating the clearance of alpha synuclein.

Dr. Nelson worked with Dr. Onesimus Otieno, Assistant Professor of Biology at Oakwood University, as his MERIT Teaching Mentor. At Oakwood, Dr. Nelson provided guest lectures, facilitated a journal club series, and taught a course in molecular biology techniques.

Dr. Nelson completed his MERIT Program training in 2015; he currently serves as an imaging specialist for Nikon Industries.

Dr. Latoya Paul

Dr. Latoya Paul

Dr. Latoya Paul received her BS in Biological Sciences from Southern University and A&M College in 2003 and her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Louisiana State University in 2010; she joined the MERIT Program in 2011. Dr. Paul performed her research training in the laboratory of Dr. Steve Watts, Professor of Biology, delineating the impact of environmental stressors on embryonic development. 

Dr. Paul worked with Dr. Marlon Rhem, Professor of Chemistry at Oakwood University, as her MERIT Teaching Mentor. For her training, Dr. Paul developed and taught an introductory neurobiology course at Stillman College.

Dr. Paul completed her MERIT Program training in 2014; currently, she is an instructor of Biology at LSU.

Dr. Jessica Perez

Dr. Jessica Perez

 Dr. Jessica Perez received her BS in Biology from Universidad de Puerto Rico- Recinto Universitario de Mayaguez in 2001 and her Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics from UAB in 2010; she joined the MERIT Program that same year. As a MERIT Scholar At-Large, she performed her research training with Dr. Rosa Serra, Professor of Cell Biology. Dr. Perez’s research focused on TGFβ signaling in chondrocytes.  

Dr. Perez performed her teaching experience in the Department of Natural Sciences at Stillman College with Dr. O’Neal Wright as her MERIT Teaching Mentor. Under his mentorship, she taught Introductory Biology. 

Dr. Perez completed her MERIT Program training in 2013; currently, she is a freelance medical writer.

Dr. Heather Ray

Dr. Heather Ray

Dr. Heather Ray received her BS in Biology from Oregon State University in 2006, followed by an MS in Biology from University of Texas at San Antonio in 2009 and her PhD in Cell, Stem Cell and Developmental Biology from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in 2016. Dr. Ray joined the MERIT Program in 2016 and completed her research training in the lab of Dr. Chenbei Chang, Professor of Cell, Development and Integrative Biology. Dr. Ray's research focused on the mechanisms of cell differentiation and migration using the frog Xenopus laevis as a model system, with an interest in how studies of early embryonic development can inform on adult disease mechanisms, such as cancer.

Dr. Ray completed her teaching experience with Dr. Mary Smith, Instructor of Natural Sciences at Lawson State Community College. For her training, Dr. Ray developed an Introductory Research course in partnership with UAB Honors College.

Dr. Ray completed her MERIT Program training in 2020. Currently, she serves as an Assistant Professor of Biology at Idaho State University.

Dr. Lisa Roberts

Dr. Lisa Roberts

Dr. Lisa Roberts received a BS in Kinesiology from Kansas State University in 2012 and an MS in Human Performance from the University of Florida in 2014. She was awarded a PhD in Biobehavioral Science in 2018 also from the University of Florida; she joined the MERIT Program that same year. Dr. Roberts performed her postdoctoral research under the mentorship of Dr. Thomas Buford, Associate Professor of Medicine elucidating mechanisms of exercise and aging.

Dr. Roberts worked with Dr. Elaine Vanterpool, Professor and Chair of Biology, at Oakwood University. Under her mentorship, Dr. Roberts served as guest lecturer for the General Microbiology course at Oakwood and provided guest lectures in graduate level Exercise Physiology courses. Dr. Roberts also served as Instructor of the Popular Science elective course for the UAB Honors College. 

Dr. Roberts completed her MERIT Program training in 2020; currently, she serves as a Lecturer of Biology at Boston University.

Dr. Christine Sestero

Dr. Christine Sestero

Dr. Christine Sestero received her BS in Biology from The College of Idaho in 2000 and her PhD in Microbiology at Idaho State University in 2006. Following the receipt of her degree, Dr. Sestero began her Postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Chander Raman, Professor of Medicine at UAB, examining the role of T cell activation in the pathogenesis of autoimmune disease. In 2009, Dr. Sestero joined the MERIT Program as its first MERIT Scholar.

Her teaching mentor was Dr. Rosianna Gray, Professor and Chair of Natural Sciences at Stillman College, At Stillman College, Dr. Sestero provided guest lectures and tutored undergraduates in several biology courses; she also developed and conducted a new, advanced immunology course.

Dr. Sestero completed her MERIT Program training in 2012 and currently serves as an Associate Professor of Biology faculty at the University of Montevallo.

Dr. Vyvyca Walker

Dr. Vyvyca Walker

Dr. Walker received her BS in Biology from X in 2007 and her PhD in X from the University of Michigan in 2013; she joined the MERIT Program that same year. Dr. Walker performed her research training with Drs. Anupam Agarwal, Professor of Medicine, and James George, Professor of Surgery, examining the role of heme oxygenase in immune-mediated in post-transplant vascular disease and end-stage organ failure.

Under the mentorship of Dr. Mary Jane Krotzer, Dean of the Division of Arts and Sciences and Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs at Stillman College, Dr. Walker taught ‘General Chemistry’. 

Dr. Walker completed her MERIT Program training in 2016; currently, she is a Senior Science Communication Consultant with Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis, IN.

Dr. Sparkle Williams

Dr. Sparkle Williams

Dr. Williams her BS in Biology from Tuskegee University in 2008, and her MS in Biology in 2010 as well as her PhD in Biological Sciences in 2014 from Tennessee State University; she joined the MERIT Program that same year. Dr. Williams completed her research training with Dr. Brian Sims, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, elucidating the mechanisms that underlie fetal brain injury.

Under the mentorship of Dr. Elaine Vanterpool, Professor and Chair of Biological Sciences at Oakwood University, Dr. Williams taught introductory biology and a new course, entitled ‘Introduction to Bacteriology’. 

Dr. Williams completed her MERIT Program training in 2018. Currently, serves as an Assistant Professor and Integrated Science Division Leader in the Department of Integrated Science at Virginia Tech.

Dr. Kurt Zimmerman

Dr. Kurt Zimmerman

Dr. Zimmerman received his BS in Biochemistry / Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in 2009 and his PhD in Pathology from UAB in 2014; he joined the MERIT Program that same year. He performed his research training with Dr. Brad Yoder, Professor and Chair of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology, utilizing the C. elegans model system to define mechanisms of cilia-mediated signaling and disease.

Dr. Zimmerman worked with Dr. Corey Harrison, Assistant Professor of Natural Sciences at Stillman College, as his MERIT Teaching Mentor. As a MERIT Scholar At-Large, Dr. Zimmerman participated in teaching and mentoring experiences at Stillman College and UAB. 

Dr. Zimmerman completed his MERIT Program training in 2018. Currently, he serves as an Assistant Professor of Nephrology at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK.