Our Team

Dr. Kevin M. Guskiewicz

Kevin M. Guskiewicz
PhD, ATC, FACSM, FNATA

Kevin Guskiewicz is a Kenan Distinguished Professor, Athletic Trainer, and the founding director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he has served on faculty since 1995. Over the past 22 years, his clinical research program has focused on sport-related concussion and their effect on balance and neuropsychological function in high school and collegiate athletes, the biomechanics of sport concussion, and the long-term neurological effects of concussion in retired professional football players.

Kevin has published over 150 journal articles and textbook chapters on sport concussion and has helped sports medicine clinicians to improve diagnosis and management of this complex injury. More recently, his work is aimed at identifying biomarkers for determining the potential risk factors that predict symptom onset and progression of neurodegenerative disease in athletes who have played contact sports.

Kevin earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Sports Medicine from the University of Virginia in 1995, after receiving a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology from The University of Pittsburgh in 1992 and a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from West Chester University in 1989. He has been awarded Fellowship in the American College of Sports Medicine in 2003, the National Academy of Kinesiology in 2006, and the National Athletic Trainers' Association in 2008. In 2010 he was named to the NCAA's Concussion Committee and the NFL's Head, Neck, and Spine Committee. In September 2011, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, given annually to individuals who "show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work." Kevin resides in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with his wife, Amy, and four children, Jacob, Nathan, Adam, and Tessa.

   

Dr. Jason P. Mihalik

Jason P. Mihalik
PhD, CAT(C), ATC

Jason Mihalik is an Associate Professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science. He is the Co-Director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center, and currently serves as the Director of the EXSS Cadaver Anatomy Laboratory. Jason teaches courses in Biomechanics (EXSS 385) and Undergraduate Research Methods (EXSS 273), and Graduate Statistics and Research Methods. Jason completed his undergraduate degree in Exercise Science with a specialization in Athletic Therapy at Concordia University (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) in 2001. He completed his graduate work in Sports Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA), earning his Master's Degree in December 2004. He was a recipient of a 5-year Royster Fellowship, allowing him to ultimately complete his doctoral work in Human Movement Science at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the summer of 2009.

Jason's primary research interest intersects head trauma biomechanics with clinical outcomes in civilian athletes and military warfighters. He investigates the effectiveness of innovative concussion assessment, management, and rehabilitation technologies. He is additionally interested in the interrelationships between ocular and vestibular function, as well as the utility of neuroimaging and neurophysiology, in the context of the concussion management paradigm. He has developed smartphone applications designed to assist lay rescuers in recognize concussion signs and symptoms and intervene accordingly. He is also the Chief Science Officer for Senaptec LLC, a startup company in the visual and sensory performance space. Jason also studies field management of neurotraumatic spine-related injuries.

   
Dr. Johna K. Register-Mihalik

Johna K. Register-Mihalik
PhD, LAT, ATC

Johna Register-Mihalik, PhD, LAT, ATC, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science. In addition to her role as a Gfeller Center core faculty member, she serves as a Research Scientist with the Injury Prevention Research Center here at UNC-CH. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of Alabama (2004, Athletic Training) and her master’s (2006, Athletic Training), doctoral (2010, Human Movement Science), and postdoctoral (2012, Neuroscience) training at UNC-Chapel Hill. Prior to joining the faculty in Exercise and Sport Science, she served as the Senior Research Associate in the Emergency Services Institute at WakeMed Health & Hospitals in Raleigh, NC. Dr. Register-Mihalik's research interests include the negative consequences, prevention, education and clinical management of sport and recreational TBI. Her primary work centers on improved care, education and behavior change concerning TBI among physically active children and adolescents. In the future, she hopes to expand these injury prevention methodologies to other settings and injuries. Her work has been published in a variety of journals across the sports medicine and brain injury literature. Dr. Register-Mihalik is also an active member of many professional organizations including the National Athletic Trainers' Association, NATA, and the American College of Sports Medicine, ACSM. In addition, she currently serves on the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina's Board of Directors and USA Baseball's Medical and Safety Advisory Committee.

   

Dr. Stephen W. Marshall

Stephen W. Marshall
PhD

Stephen Marshall is Director of the Injury Prevention Research Center and Professor of Epidemiology in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC, and is a core faculty member in the Gfeller Center. Stephen completed his undergraduate studies in Mathematics at the University of Canterbury (Christchurch, New Zealand) in 1987. In 1989, he completed a Post-Graduate Degree in Biometrics and Field Experimentation at Lincoln University (Canterbury, New Zealand). He completed his PhD at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC) in 1998. He serves as a statistical consultant to the Journal of Athletic Training, is an Assistant Editor for Injury Epidemiology, is a Research Associate at the Sport Performance Research Institute in Auckland, New Zealand, is a member of the Research Committee for Divers Alert Network in Durham NC, and serves on the Strategic Advisory Council for Injury and Violence Prevention Branch in the Division of Public Health, NC Dept of Health and Human Services.

In his capacity as Director of the Injury Prevention Research Center, he oversees a nationally-recognized injury prevention research center that has been funded by the CDC as one of the nation's 11 centers of excellence in injury prevention research. He has expertise in injury prevention and control, epidemiological studies of sports injury, and in the statistical analysis of sports medicine data. His areas of research within sports medicine include monitoring of concussion incidence using injury surveillance systems. He is closely associated with the Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention. The Datalys Center operates the NCAA's Injury Surveillance Program. He has worked with faculty and students at the Matthew Gfeller Center for over decade in a wide range of studies addressing concussion incidence, management, and prevention.

   

Dr. Kevin A. Carneiro

Kevin A. Carneiro
DO

Kevin Carneiro is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at UNC-Chapel Hill, and the Medical Director of UNC Spine Center as well as the Brain and Body Health Program through the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes. He is the physician for all patients in the Matthew Gfeller Concussion Clinic. Kevin is a native of Canada, and received an honors undergraduate degree in Human Biology from the University of Toronto. He received his medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He then completed residency training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) and a fellowship in Sports and Spine Rehabilitation at Northwestern University Medical School / Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC). He is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation as well as Sports Medicine.

 

Dr. JD DeFreese

J.D. DeFreese
PhD

JD DeFreese is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He Completed his doctorate in kinesiology (with a specialization in Sport & Exercise Psychology) at Purdue University. He was most recently a postdoctoral research associate at UNC-Chapel Hill. His research examines the link of athlete psychological health, including outcomes of burnout and well-being, with athlete physical health and social functioning. He is the Programs and Service Director for UNC's Center for the Study of Retired Athletes and Program Manager for the UNC Brain & Body Health Program.

   

Dr. Zachary Kerr

Zachary Y. Kerr
PhD, MPH

Zachary Kerr is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of North Carolina, and serves as the Research Director for the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes. He received his doctorate in Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina. His research utilizes surveillance and survey research to develop and evaluate injury prevention strategies. Zack has collaborated with numerous injury prevention, athletic training, and sports medicine experts, resulting in the publication of over 70 research articles related to injury surveillance and traumatic sport-related injuries such as concussions and heat stroke.

   

Dr. Kristen Kucera

Kristen Kucera
PhD, MSPH, ATC, LAT

Kristen Kucera is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Director of the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research. She currently teaches the undergraduate Research Methods in Exercise and Sport Science course (EXSS 273). She joined the faculty in 2013 after serving as an assistant professor in the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Duke University Medical Center. Kristen received her undergraduate degree (BS, 1994) in Athletic Training at Linfield College (McMinnville, OR). She completed her master's (MSPH, 2002) and doctoral (PhD, 2006) degrees in the Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

An epidemiologist and certified athletic trainer, Kristen's research interests include sport and occupational injury epidemiology with an emphasis in musculoskeletal disorders, ergonomics, and return to work. Evaluation and improved surveillance for sports and work-related injuries are another area of current focus. Kristen currently has a K01 study funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) examining work-related exposures and injuries and illnesses among certified athletic trainers.

   

Postdoctoral Trainees

Dr. Catherine B. Ford

Catherine Ford
PhD

Cassie is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science. She received her PhD in Psychology and Neuroscience in 2016 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research uses neuroimaging methodologies to examine the neural correlates of attention, memory, and executive functioning. Cassie’s research interests include the development and application of statistical models, and in reconciling basic experimental measures of cognition with those used in clinical prevention and treatment of traumatic brain injury.

Predoctoral Trainees

Kody Campbell

Kody Campbell
MSc

Kody is a third year doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Program in Human Movement Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He graduated from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, in 2012, with a Bachelor's of Science Honors Specialization in Kinesiology, and played varsity football while completing his undergraduate degree. In 2014, he received his Master of Science in Biomechanics at the University of Western Ontario. Kody's research interests include sport-related concussion, head injury biomechanics in sport, and evaluating sensor technology used to record head injury biomechanics.

Michael Clark

Michael Clark
BS

Michael is a fourth year doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Program in Human Movement Science and a sixth year MD-PhD candidate in the School of Medicine. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. In 2015, Michael was awarded a National Research Service Award training fellowship from the NIH. His research interests include studying cognitive decline and neural network dysfunction associated with recurrent concussion using functional and structural neuroimaging.

Tricia Combs

Patricia Combs
MEd, ATC

Tricia is a first year doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Program in Human Movement Science. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Exercise and Sport Science with an emphasis in Athletic Training. After graduation, she worked as a certified athletic trainer at Tuscarora High School in Frederick, MD. She completed her Master of Education in Kinesiology from the University of Virginia in 2015. She was a research coordinator in the Matthew Gfeller Center in 2016. Her research interests include the effect of sport-related concussion on mood state and personality.

Melissa Kay

Melissa Kay
MS, ATC

Melissa is a first year doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Program in Human Movement Science. She graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training in 2013. In May 2015, she received her Master of Science in Athletic Training from A.T. Still University. While completing both degrees, her primary athletic training responsibilities were caring for the Football and Men’s Basketball teams. Her research interests include the perceptions and attitudes of individuals regarding concussions and behavior, the interdisciplinary clinical team, and sport safety.


Julianna Prim

Julianna Prim
MS

Julianna is a second year doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Program in Human Movement Science. She graduated summa cum laude from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2013. She received her Master of Science in Zoology with a neuroendocrine focus from North Carolina State University in 2015. Her research interests include neuroimaging, the physiology of mTBIs, and rehabilitation in both military and athletic populations. She is also completing the graduate certificate in biomedical imaging while at Chapel Hill.

Liz Teel

Elizabeth Teel
MS

Liz is a fourth year doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Program of Human Movement Science. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a Bachelor's of Arts in Exercise and Sport Science with Highest Honors 2011. In 2013, she received her Master of Science in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Sport Psychology at Pennsylvania State University, in State College, PA. Liz's research interests include rehabilitation protocols for concussed individuals and using electroencephalograms to understand the neuroelectric deficits behind concussions.

Tina Vander Vegt

Christina Vander Vegt
MS, ATC

Tina is a first year doctoral student in the interdisciplinary Program of Human Movement Science. She graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver with a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training in May 2013. In August 2015, she received her Master of Science in Athletic Training from Texas State University. Upon completion of her Master's degree, she gained additional experience in a Post-Professional Residency in Athletic Training, with a Specialization in Orthopedic Rehabilitation at Ben Hogan Sports Medicine. Tina’s research interests include treatment and active rehabilitation of concussion and the cumulative effects of concussive and subconcussive head impacts on sensory systems.

Eleanna Varangis

Eleanna Varangis
MA

Eleanna is a fourth year Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience graduate student. She graduated from Barnard College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Economics in 2010. In May 2015 she received her Master of Arts degree in Psychology, with a focus in Cognitive Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research interests include neurocognitive long-term outcomes of sport-related concussion, as well as the long-term effects of concussion on memory.

Research Staff

Nikki Barczak

Nikki Barczak
MSc

Nikki is a research associate in the Matthew Gfeller Center. She graduated from UNC-CH in 2015 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Exercise and Sport Science, and competed on the varsity swim team before medically retiring due to injury. She completed her Master of Science in the Psychology of Sport in 2016 from the University of Stirling, Scotland. Nikki is currently helping on a variety of projects ranging from researching predictors of athlete burnout to concussion testing. Her research interests include the use of positive psychology in sport, physiological and neuroimaging markers, psychological resilience, and mindfulness.

Erin Grand

Erin Grand
MSc

Erin is a research coordinator in the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center. She graduated from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, in 2011 with a Bachelor's of Arts Honors Specialization in Kinesiology, and played varsity soccer while completing her undergraduate degree. She completed her Master of Science in Kinesiology from Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada, in 2013. Erin currently works with the UNC women's soccer team in match analytics and coaches youth soccer teams in the triangle area. Her research interests include sport-related concussion and how they may be applied to coaching best-practices and athlete safety.

Corey Rodrigo

Corey Rodrigo
BA, ATC

Corey Rodrigo is in his third year as a Research Coordinator and is currently working as the site coordinator on the NCAA and Department of Defense’s jointly funded Concussion Assessment, Research, and Education Consortium. He graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Exercise and Sports Science, with an emphasis in Athletic Training. His research interests include sport-related concussion, computerized neurocognitive testing, and head impact biomechanics.

Parker Traugot

Parker Traugot
BA

Parker is a research coordinator in the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Center. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Exercise and Sport Science and Biology. Parker is in his first year as a coordinator after previously working as an undergraduate research assistant at the Gfeller Center. His research interests include sport-related concussion and neurocognitive rehabilitation.


Maryalice Nocera

Maryalice Nocera
RN, MSN

Maryalice serves as the Senior Project Manager for the BeMod study. Maryalice is a registered nurse with over thirty-five years’ experience, including child psychiatry, general pediatrics, and pediatric critical care. She completed her undergraduate degree in Nursing from Duquesne University and received her Pediatric Nurse Practitioner certification and Master’s Degree in Nursing from the University of Michigan. She has been directly involved in injury prevention research for 16 years. She is responsible for the day to day operation of the study including recruitment of schools, management of data collection and oversight of intervention fidelity.

Paula Gildner

Paula Gildner
MPH

Paula currently serves as the Project Manager for the Concussion, Disclosure Behaviors, Attitudes, Norms and Knowledge in Civilian and Military Emerging Adults (BANK) and Active Rehab Studies. Both of these studies work in conjunction with the Injury Prevention Research Center. Paula completed her undergraduate degree in Latin American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her Master’s in Public Health, Health Behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Paula is responsible for the implementation of these studies and the overall day to day operations.

Leah Cox Thomas

Leah (Cox) Thomas
MS, CRC, LRT/CTRS

Leah serves as the Assistant Program Coordinator for the BBHP and serves as a Research Associate for both the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes and the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research. Both of these work in conjunction with the Matthew Gfeller Center. Leah completed her undergraduate degree in Therapeutic Recreation from the University of North Carolina- Wilmington and her Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling and Psychology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She is responsible for assisting with various research studies as well as with day-to-day operations.

Ayana King

Ayana King

Ayana King is a native of Woodbridge, NJ and a returning sophomore. She has declared Exercise and Sport Science as her major and hopes to specialize in Athletic Training by applying to the Athletic Training program this Fall. Ayana also hopes to pursue her interests in Biology and Spanish by declaring both as minors. She returns this year as a Research Assistant and also works with the Tar Heel Football team. Ayana looks forward to continuing her work with the Matthew Gfeller Center team again this year.


Courtney Perkins

Courtney Perkins

Courtney Perkins is a native of Marion, SC. She is currently a junior Exercise and Sport Science major with a Specialization in Athletic Training. Courtney has worked with UNC varsity sports teams including football and softball, as well as some local high schools. She aspires to someday work within the National Football League as an athletic trainer. Courtney looks forward to obtaining more knowledge and experience from this position.

Lisa Marie Rosario

Lisa Marie Rosario

Lisa Marie Rosario is a native of Tampa Bay, FL, and is an incoming first-year student. She is declaring Exercise and Sport Science as her major with a specialization in Athletic Training. Lisa will pursue her passion for Sports Medicine here at the University of North Carolina and will apply to the Athletic Training program next Fall. She is pursuing a higher education after many years of professional experience and comes from a military background where she supported her husband’s military career. Lisa is eager to learn and gain experience within this field.

Gfeller Center Alumni

Dr. Robert C. Lynall

Robert C. Lynall
PhD, ATC

Rob Lynall completed his doctoral studies (advisor: J. Mihalik) in 2016. Rob is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Georgia.

Melissa A. Fraser

Melissa A. Fraser
MS, ATC

Missy Fraser has completed her doctoral coursework (advisor: K. Guskiewicz) and is scheduled to defend her dissertation in September 2016. Missy is now an Assistant Professor of Athletic Training in the Department of Health and Human Performance at Texas State University.

Dr. Erin B. Wasserman

Erin B. Wasserman
PhD

Erin Wasserman completed a 1-year postdoctoral research fellowship (advisor: J. Mihalik) in 2016. Erin is now the Director of the NCAA Injury Prevention Program at the Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention.

Michelle Kramer

Michelle Kramer
BA

Michelle completed her Undergraduate Honors Thesis (advisor: J. Mihalik) as a double major (Exercise and Sport Science; Psychology and Neuroscience). Michelle is now pursuing a graduate degree in Psychology at George Washington University.


Ashley C. (Littleton) Santo

Ashley C. Santo
PhD, ATC

Ashley (Littleton) Santo completed her doctoral studies (advisor: K. Guskiewicz) in 2015. Ashley is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Towson University.

Julianne D. Schmidt

Julianne D. Schmidt
PhD, ATC

Julianne (Toler) Schmidt completed her doctoral studies (advisor: K. Guskiewicz) in 2013. Julianne is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Georgia.

Johna Register-Mihalik

Johna K. Register-Mihalik
PhD, ATC

Johna Register-Mihalik completed her doctoral studies (advisor: K. Guskiewicz) in 2010 and postdoctoral research fellowship in 2011. Johna is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and core faculty member of the Matthew Gfeller Center.