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 also serves as Affiliate Faculty at the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center in the TBI focus area. 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 in the Gfeller Center, she serves as Core Faculty with the Injury Prevention Research Center here at UNC-CH. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of Alabama in Athletic Training and her master’s (Athletic Training), doctoral (Human Movement Science), and postdoctoral (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 novel behavioral and clinical interventions to improve the prevention and care for concussion across the lifespan. She has been the recipient of several research grants to pursue this line of work. 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 NATA’s Convention Program and Pronouncements Committees.

   

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. J.D. is a native of Indiana and completed his undergraduate degree at Indiana University and doctorate in kinesiology (with a specialization in sport & exercise psychology) at Purdue University. He also completed a postdoctoral research experience at UNC-Chapel Hill before joining the faculty in 2016. He serves in research, clinical administrative, and teaching roles at UNC-Chapel Hill. His research examines the associations among current and former athlete psychological functioning (e.g., burnout, depression, well-being) with athlete social functioning (e.g., social support, negative social experiences) and physical functioning. J.D. is the Programs and Services Director for UNC's Center for the Study of Retired Athletes and Program Manager for the UNCs Brain & Body Health and Milestone Wellness Programs, comprehensive assessments provided to former NFL players completed in collaboration with the NFLPA Players’ Association Trust services department, and UNC hospitals. J.D. also teaches classes in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science on sport and exercise psychology and research-related skills.

   

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 focuses on the development and evaluation of injury prevention strategies in sport settings across the lifespan. Zack has collaborated with numerous injury prevention, athletic training, and sports medicine experts, resulting in the publication of over 100 research articles related to injury surveillance and traumatic sport-related injuries such as concussions and exertional heat stroke. Zack is currently funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop and pilot a new intervention utilizing a Popular Opinion Leader model to prevent concussions in middle school sports; and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Research and Education Foundation (NATA REF) to evaluate current high school football preseason acclimatization guidelines.

   

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.

   

Research Fellows

Dr. Avinash Chandran

Avinash Chandran
PhD

Avinash is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science. He received his PhD in Epidemiology from The George Washington University in May 2018. Avinash’s research interests are in sports injury epidemiology, and particularly related to multifactorial modeling of injury outcomes. He is interested in reconciling potential interactions between sex and head impact biomechanics, as they relate to concussion outcomes. He is also interested in understanding the role of repetitive sub-concussive trauma in determining neurocognitive function over time. .

Jamie DeCicco

Jamie DeCicco
BA 2019

Jamie is a senior undergraduate student from Fayetteville, GA and is one of two Jenner Carey Bryan Undergraduate Research Fellows in the Gfeller Center. Jamie is a pre-med Psychology & Neuroscience major with minors in Biology and Chemistry, and plans to go to medical school a year after graduation, where she hopes to specialize in pediatric medicine. Jamie is also an NCAA athlete on the UNC Gymnastics team. Her main research interests are pediatric concussion, physiological changes post-concussion including cerebrovascular responses and blood biomarkers, and active treatment/recovery following concussion. Primarily, Jamie works with PhD student Tricia Combs using neuroimaging TCD to evaluate physiological symptoms post-concussion

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. Cassie’s research interests include reconciling basic experimental measures of cognition with those used in clinical prevention and treatment of traumatic brain injury. She is also interested in applying novel statistical methods and models, as well as neurophysiological and behavioral measures (such as EEG and fMRI) to better understand both concussion risk factors, and the neurocognitive consequences following injury.

Dr. Weston Northam

Weston Northam
MD

Wes is a Neurosurgery Resident (PGY-5) at UNC Hospitals. He graduated from the College of William and Mary with an undergraduate degree in Neuroscience (2010). He then completed medical school at Eastern Virginia Medical School (2014). Wes is studying how to optimize the clinical evaluation and management of concussion across the spectrum of primary and specialist care.


Kou Yang

Kou Yang
BA 2019

Kou is a native of Albemarle, NC, and is one of two Jenner Carey Bryan Undergraduate Research Fellows in the Gfeller Center. He is a senior Exercise Sports Science major with a specialization in Athletic Training. Kou has worked with UNC varsity sports teams including baseball, women’s rowing, and track and field. In addition, he has also worked with North Carolina Football Club Youth and the men’s professional team, NCFC in Cary, NC. Kou has assisted with research projects in the Gfeller center since his sophomore year at UNC and will be completing an honors thesis project during the 2018-2019 academic year. Kou is interested in visual impairment following concussion and aspires to someday work with Major League Soccer as an Athletic Trainer.

Predoctoral Trainees

Andrew Alexander

Andrew Alexander
BS, MD 2019

Andrew is a research assistant in the Matthew Gfeller Sports-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center. He graduated from Johnson C. Smith University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in biology and chemistry minor. While completing his degree, he played quarterback for the football team and threw the javelin for the track team. Andrew is now a fourth-year medical student at UNC Chapel Hill with plans to specialize in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and then subsequently sub-specialize in sports medicine.

Nikki Barczak

Nikki Barczak
MSc

Nikki is a doctoral student in the Matthew Gfeller Center. She graduated from UNC-CH in 2015 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Exercise and Sport Science with a minor in Anthropology. Nikki 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’s research interests include the psychophysiology of head impacts. Her main topics of interest include psychological and physiological resilience, cerebrovascular responses, military populations, and well-being.

Kody Campbell

Kody Campbell
MSc

Kody is a fifth 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 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.

Tricia Combs

Patricia Combs
MEd, ATC

Tricia is a third 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 cerebrovascular function and pediatric concussion.


Melissa Kay

Melissa Kay
MS, LAT, ATC

Melissa is a fourth year doctoral candidate 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 Football and Men’s Basketball teams. Her research interests include general and concussion-specific sport safety and sport culture, the interdisciplinary clinical team, and using mixed-methodological research approaches.

Aliza Nedimyer

Aliza Nedimyer
MA, LAT, ATC

Aliza is a doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Program of Human Movement Science. She graduated from Ithaca College in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Athletic Training. In May of 2017, she received her Master of Arts in Exercise and Sport Science with a concentration in Athletic Training from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Following completion of her Master’s degree, Aliza worked as a Project Coordinator and Research Assistant in the Matthew Gfeller Sport Related Traumatic Brain Injury Center and the Injury Prevention Research Center at UNC Chapel Hill. Her research interests include injury prevention and education surrounding sport related concussion.

Tina Vander Vegt

Christina Vander Vegt
MS, ATC

Tina is a third year doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Program in Human Movement Science. She graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in May 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training. She completed her Master of Science in Athletic Training in August 2015 at Texas State University and went on to gain additional experience in a Post-Professional Residency in Athletic Training at Ben Hogan Sports Medicine in Ft. Worth, TX. Tina is interested in visual impairment following concussion and pupillary response changes as a physiological indicator of cognitive workload following sport-related concussion.

Research Staff

Adrian Boltz

Adrian Boltz
BS

Adrian is a research coordinator in the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Center. He graduated from Appalachian State University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science and a minor in Chemistry. In 2018 he received his Master of Science in Health with a concentration in Exercise Science and Chronic Disease from the University of North Florida. His research interest includes sport related concussion symptomology in relation with return to play time.

Joshua Boone

Joshua Boone
BA 2020

Josh is an undergraduate research assistant in the Matthew Gfeller Research Center. He is a Junior at UNC-Chapel Hill majoring in Exercise and Sport Science. His long-term research interests include studying head impact biomechanics by testing the accuracy of commercially developed sensors against gold-standard references and also identifying links between head impact data and concussion prevalence and severity in high school and college level football players.

Myles Brown

Myles Brown
BA 2019

Myles is an undergraduate senior majoring in Exercise and Sports Science at the University of North Carolina. A native of Wake Forest, North Carolina, Myles serves as a research assistant in the Gfeller Center, where he assists with tasks and daily operations revolving around the many on-going research initiatives. He plans to attend graduate school, with the ultimate goal of going to medical school. He looks forward to gaining valuable research experience, while learning from the Gfeller Center's experienced faculty and staff.

Alaina Ehlers

Alaina Ehlers
MS, CRC

Alaina serves as the Clinical Care Coordinator for the Brain & Body Health and Milestone Wellness Assessment Programs for the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes (CSRA). CSRA works in conjunction with the Matthew Gfeller Center. Alaina completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is responsible for assisting with clinical care coordination, assisting with various research studies, and day-to-day operations.


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.

Candice Goerger

Candice Goerger
MS

Candice currently serves as the Assistant Program Director for the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center and the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes. Candice completed her undergraduate degree in Athletic Training at Temple University and her Master’s in Sports Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. Candice has over 10 years of experience managing & coordinating faculty research portfolios and is responsible for all financial and administrative day to day operations for both Centers.

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.

Kristen Oakes

Kristen Oakes
BA 2020

Kristen Oakes is a native of Henderson, NC. She is a Junior majoring in Exercise and Sport Science with a specialization in Athletic Training, and minoring in Neuroscience. Kristen plans to pursue her Master's degree ina related field, and hopes to work as a Certified Athletic Trainer in a professional sports setting that experiences high concussion rates. She looks forward to gaining more sports-related TBI knowledge and experience in the Gfeller Center.


Bridget Sturch

Bridget Sturch
MEd, ATC, CFo

Bridget is a research coordinator in the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Center. She graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts in Athletic Training and a Bachelor of Arts in Movement and Exercise Science Emphasis: Sport Psychology in 2014. As a Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer at the University of Minnesota, she completed her Masters of Education, Applied Kinesiology Sport Management Professional Studies Track in 2016. She is also a ABC Certified Fitter – orthotics. She is responsible for the day-to-day coordination of the NCAA-DoD Grand Alliance: Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium projects.

Gfeller Center Trainee Alumni

Dr. Michael Clark

Michael D. Clark (2017)
PhD

Michael Clark completed his doctoral studies (advisor: K. Guskiewicz) in 2017. Michael has returned to the UNC School of Medicine to complete his medical training en route to completing his MD/PhD program.

Michael J. Cools

Michael J. Cools (2018)
MD

Michael Cools completed his 5th year Neurosurgery Residency Research Fellowship (mentor: J. Mihalik) in 2018. He is completing his residency at UNC-Chapel Hill and will be pursuing a pediatric neurosurgery fellowship upon completion. Michael's research focuses on implementing existing technologies into the clinical realm to follow concussion diagnosis and recovery.

Melissa A. Fraser

Melissa A. Fraser (2016)
PhD, ATC

Missy Fraser completed her doctoral studies (advisor: K. Guskiewicz) in 2016. 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. Robert C. Lynall

Robert C. Lynall (2016)
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.


Johna Register-Mihalik

Johna K. Register-Mihalik (2010)
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.

Ashley C. (Littleton) Santo

Ashley C. Santo (2015)
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 (2013)
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.

Dr. Elizabeth F. Teel

Elizabeth F. Teel (2017)
PhD

Liz Teel completed her doctoral studies (advisor: J. Mihalik) in 2017. Liz is now a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Research Institute at the McGill University Health Center in Montreal, Quebec (Canada).


Dr. Erin B. Wasserman

Erin B. Wasserman (2016)
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.