Augusta University is honored to attract a cohort of outstanding individuals to the Applied Health Sciences PhD program. We are committed to provide an environment of academic excellence to help these high-achievers to fulfill their potential in becoming accomplished scholars. These are the next generation of intellects who will make significant contributions to the advancement of discovery, dissemination, and application of new knowledge in the health sciences.

Angela Allen

Doctorate Status: Student

Concentration: Health Outcomes
Advisor: Dr. Yoon-Ho Seol


Angela is Data Scientist at the 
Quality Management Department | AU


This is what I've always wanted to do!


Benjamin Ansa, MD, MSCR

Doctorate Status: Student

Concentration: Health Outcomes
Advisor: Dr. Steven Coughlin


Dr Ansa is Senior Research Associate at the

Institute of Public & Preventive Health | AU


My background is in Medicine and Public Health research. I currently work at the AU IPPH, as a Senior Research Associate. I changed jobs from Morehouse School of Medicine three years ago to move to AU because of the job opportunity I was offered at IPPH. One of my goals is to be an expert in Health Outcomes Research among Chronic Disease patients, and my desire to learn more advanced methods of achieving this goal is in line with the PhD program in AHS.


Amy Gates, RD, CSP, LD

Doctorate Status: Student

Concentration: Health Outcomes
Advisor: Dr. Gianluca De Leo


Amy is Neonatal Dietitian at the

Neonatal  Intensive Care Unit | AU


I am an Instructor at the AU School of Medicine and a Lecturer at the School of Nursing and Department of Nutrition. I am a Clinical Preceptor for the Augusta (Georgia) Area Dietetic Internship and serve as Preceptor and Co-Director of the Augusta University Neonatal Nutrition Fellowship. I am employed as a Neonatal Dietitian at the AU's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I am a Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition. I have served on the AU Nutrition Committee as well as the Perinatal Centers Surveillance Clinics Committee in Macon, Georgia. I am certified in Childhood, Adolescent, and Adult Weight Management by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.


Since 1999 I have worked in the level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. I am the director of the AU Human Milk Lab. My research interests include the safety of powdered infant formula, human milk and the preterm infant, and feeding strategies for neonates with oral-motor dysfunction. I have presented at the annual meetings of the American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) and the American Dietetic Association (ADA) as well as other international, local, state, and regional meetings. I also frequently speak to school-aged children on nutrition topics.


I am a member of the ADA, ASPEN, and other professional organizations. I authored the Augusta University Neonatal Nutrition Handbook, which is revised yearly, and am the co-author of a book chapter titled Trace Elements, Enteral and Parenteral in Nutrition for the Premature Infant.


I earned my bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Food Science from Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama, and did my internship in Clinical Dietetics with the Augusta (Georgia) Area Dietetic Internship.


Jason Hughes, PHD, MS, OTR/L, CWCE

Graduated Fall 2018

Concentration: Rehabilitation
Advisor: Dr. Leigh Lehman


Dr. Jason Hughes is Assistant Professor and director of the Occupational Therapy program at Lincoln Memorial University. He was Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at AU during his PhD training.



I was Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Augusta University (AU).  I taught content related to kinesiology and adult intervention.  Before coming to AU I worked as an occupational therapist for the Department of Defense.  I earned my Masters from Milligan College, located in Johnson City, TN.


My dissertation research focused on identifying the best predictors for high functional recovery based on variables such as, age, gender, comorbidities, duration of symptoms, and surgical history. The project used the Rasch Analysis to identify item-level characteristics of the Elbow, Wrist and Hand Computer Adaptive Test to create key forms that will better guide clinicians in goal setting and treatment planning. My hopes is that the results of this project will be applicable in the clinic setting, allowing clinicians to provide more effective treatment to their clients.


In my spare time, I enjoy participating in Ironman triathlons and mountain biking. I am thankful for the love and support of my wife and three children, as well as, the faculty and mentors of AU.


Stephanie Johnson, MHS, OTR/L

Doctorate Status: Student

Concentration: Rehabilitation
Advisor: Dr. Leigh Lehman


Stephanie is Assistant Professor at the

Department of Occupational Therapy | AU


I am an Assistant Professor and Academic Fieldwork Coordinator for the Department of Occupational Therapy at AU. I enjoy teaching, specifically adult neurodegenerative disorders. My specialties include neurological and movement disorders. I practice in the ALS Clinic and Interdisciplinary Clinic for Movement Disorders. My research interests include ALS and quality of life. I earned a Master of Health Science in Occupational Therapy from the Medical College of Georgia in 2008 and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Shorter College in 2005.


Tim McLane, ATC

Doctorate Status: Student

Concentration: Rehabilitation
Advisor: Dr. Leigh Lehman


Tim is Senior Athletic Trainor at the

Sports Medicine Center | AU


I was born in Jacksonville, FL., spent most of my life being raised there as well as a Navy brat with a brief stopover in Hawaii. However, we always were assigned back to Jax. I began college at CWRU in

Cleveland, Ohio playing baseball, but decided Cleveland was too cold and went to Gainesville and the University of Florida where I received my undergrad degree. I have an MBA from Webster University. Love music, sports, cooking and lots other things. Wait ... this is beginning to sound like a dating profile or something. Yes, humor too.


I have two great sons, one is 30 and assistant tennis Coach at USC- Upstate, the other son is 28 and a software engineer in Melbourne, Florida. 


I work at AU Health as Senior Athletic Trainer in the Sports Medicine Center and am assigned to Westminster HS as well as Columbia County Sheriff's Office SRT. When I heard about the PhD in Applied Health Sciences, it was an obvious choice for me to pursue in order to teach and do research at the collegiate level.


Hopefully, this doctoral training will enhance my abilities to conduct, critique, and produce quality research. It is challenging, enlightening, and you will get as much out of it as you put in it.


Nicole Moore, MS, RD, CNSC, LD

Doctorate Status: Student

Concentration: Health Outcomes
Advisor: Dr. Judith Anglin


Nicole is Assistant Professor at the

Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences | AU



I am Assistant Professor in the Nutrition program at Augusta University. I have been a clinical dietitian for 13 years working mostly inpatient and outpatient in academic medical facilities. I recently took a position here at AU teaching in the nutrition master's and dietetic

internship program. I am excited to start this new phase of my career in education and expand my knowledge in research. My research interest is in clinical nutrition and nutrigenomics.


I recently passed the Advanced Practice Certification Exam in Clinical Nutrition. I am one of two Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in the state of Georgia to have earned the specialization certification of Advanced Practice – RDN-AP. 


I am hoping to strengthen my research skills through this PhD program.


Lawrence Ramiscal, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC, COMT, FAAOMPT

Doctorate Status: Student

Concentration: Rehabilitation
Advisor: Dr. Raymond Chong


Dr Ramiscal is Assistant Professor at the

Department of Physical Therapy | AU


Having my undergrad from a foreign country, at first, made it difficult to advance career-wise. When I moved here in lhe
US in 1999, my Bachelor's degree from the Philippines was enough to land me employment. But as the Physical Therapy profession evolved, particularly the transition to a doctoring profession and emergence of specialties, it was inevitable to go back to school and do more training to remain competitive, marketable and challenging all at the same time. So I
started finding my own nitch as a young therapist back then. I ended up choosing the specialty of orthopedics.


In 2007, I earned my Board Certification in Orthopedics and Diplomate status through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialities. I also subspecialized in the field of manual therapy and earned 3 different certifications. I continued my fellowship training in the same subspecialty and became a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists in 2009. During this time, it was also slowly getting more and more difficult to apply for reciprocity of licenses to another state because of the minimum degree requirement as the profession shifts to a doctorate program. Due to that, I went back to school and earned my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Chatham University in Pittsburgh in 2010. Now, I have decided that I am in the point of my career to be the mentor to future physical therapists. That's why I am teaching at the Augusta University as professor of orthopedics in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the School of Allied Health Sciences.


My research interest is in orthopedic physical therapy specifically shoulder biomechanics and movement impairments leading to shoulder pathologies. My long-term interest in this topic is to produce clinical research by conducting intervention studies particularly the effects of manual therapy as a treatment for shoulder dysfunctions. As a physical therapist, I specialize in muscles, bones, and joints with a particular interest in the shoulder joint. Specifically, on how it moves in relation to the other parts of the body, what might cause it to have an impaired movement, how it is related to developing shoulder problems (e.g. impingement or rotator cuff tears etc.), and of course, how to fix it particularly using manual therapy. As a clinician and manual therapist myself, I want to help my fellow physical therapists in the clinics by providing the best treatment for their patients that is backed by the best evidence. At the end of the day, the ultimate and only question that a therapist and patient would ask is “How are we going to fix the (patient’s) problem?” and this is what I want to provide them – an evidence-based solution.


Jessica Stewart, MPH

Doctorate Status: Candidate

Concentration: Health Outcomes
Advisor: Dr. Steven Coughlin


Jessica is Research Assistant at the

Institute of Public & Preventive Health | AU


My research focus is centered around healthy lifestyle interventions that incorporate technology and classroom instructions to promote physical activity and healthy eating in adult at-risk populations. I have an undergraduate degree in International Relations and Political Science (McDaniel College) and a Master’s in Public Health (Augusta University). I am a veteran of the U.S. Army. I also also served in the U.S. Peace Corps as a rural health and sanitation volunteer in El Salvador. I am fluent in conversational Spanish. I


n my spare time, I participate in several community outreach initiatives of Augusta University concerning Hispanic populations in and around the CSRA.   


Christopher A. Truelove, Jr., MSCIN, RRT-NPS

Doctorate Status: Student

Concentration: Health Outcomes
Advisor: Dr. Brian Stansfield, MD


Chris is Part-Time Faculty at the

Department of Undergraduate Studies | AU


Clinical Coordinator at the

NICU | Doctor's Hospital



Over the past ten years, I have worked in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit caring for our smallest and most fragile patients as a respiratory therapist. I am extremely passionate about my career, having previously been a clinical lead in the NICU at University Hospital and currently serving as the NICU clinical coordinator at Doctor’s Hospital. I have been a Neonatal-Pediatric Specialist my entire career and have always envisioned myself as furthering our profession through research and discovery. I am a member of the American Association for Respiratory Care, the Georgia Society for Respiratory Care, and other professional organizations. I received my associates in respiratory care from Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, GA, my bachelor’s in Respiratory Therapy from the Medical College of Georgia (now Augusta University) in Augusta, GA, and my Master’s of Science in Curriculum and Instruction from Western Governor’s University in Utah, studying knowledge decay in resuscitative sciences for my capstone.


For the past 3 years, I have been a faculty member for the Respiratory Therapy department here at Augusta University, teaching Neonatal and Pediatric respiratory care and clinical practice.


My research interest revolves around studying the human aspect of educational deficiencies of resuscitative sciences, namely for the Neonatal Resuscitation Program. As an educator and clinician, I have observed many deficiencies in translating clinical knowledge into practice during live resuscitation and have set as my goal to explore the reasons behind these deficiencies and how we can improve outcomes in the neonatal population.


Marlo Vernon, PHD,MPH

Graduated Summer 2018

Concentration: Health Outcomes
Advisor: Dr. Andrew Balas


Dr. Marlo Vernon is Assistant Professor in the Health Services program at Augusta University. She was a Research Analyst in the College of Allied Health Sciences at AU during her PhD training.



My background is in obesity prevention and maternal and child health - I am continuing my work with mothers and babies. I received my MPH from the University of South Carolina, in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior in 2003, and then spent 10 years working at the Georgia Prevention Institute at AU as a research coordinator. I then moved to the Institute of Public and Preventive Health for 2 years as a public health analyst, and worked in the College of Allied Health Sciences as a Research Analyst. I am also a member of the APHA, GPHA, and the AAAS.


My dissertation research focused on the measureable and modifiable factors that promote life sciences research in an academic environment. My years of working in health research gave me a unique insight and sincere desire to see the work done at the “bench,” translated effectively to the “bed”– both clinical and community practice. I received student awards at both the GPHA and the APHA annual meetings, as well as at the 2016 GABio Innovation Summit.


One thing I have learned is that I love statistics, something you could not have convinced my younger self of. I am grateful for the support of my family, including husband and five children (two born during the program!), my mentors, and the faculty and staff of the CAHS. 


Sunitha Zechariah, MS, RD, LD, CNSC, FAND

Doctorate Status: Student

Advisor: Dr. Leigh Lehman

Sunitha is Director at the

Dietetic Internship | Morrison Healthcare
Concentration: Health Outcomes


I earned my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in nutrition, food service management, and dietetics in India. In 1996, I was awarded a scholarship by the Australian government to pursue my master's degree through research in food and nutrition at the University of Wollongong, New South Wales. 


I am registered dietitian with Morrison Healthcare (MHC) for the last 11 years, currently serving as the Director of Dietetic Internship. Previously, I worked as the Division Clinical Director overseeing the largest clinical division in MHC. Prior to that, I was the Clinical Nutrition Manager at University Hospital, Augusta, GA and Regional CNM overseeing facilities in GA and SC. Prior to moving to USA in 2004, I was a nutrition faculty at a technical university in Singapore. I received one of the five Model Science Teachers award.


I also serve as a Reviewer for Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetic (ACEND) and as the Professional Development Chair for the Georgia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (GAND). I have also served in numerous capacities in the local Augusta District Dietetic Association (ADDA).


I earned my Bachelors and Masters in Nutrition & Dietetics in India. I was awarded a full scholarship from the Australian government for a three-year research based MS Honors program which I completed at the University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia. I also completed course requirements at the University of Alabama.


I have extensive multinational experience working in countries including India, Australia and Singapore in varied food & nutrition related positions, before moving to USA in 2004.


As the new education model for registered dietitians is moving toward competency based education, my goal is to become an expert in the development and validation of competency based assessment tools to facilitate demonstration of mastery in dietitian competencies and performances. The PhD program in Applied Health Sciences would greatly benefit me in achieving this goal.  


I was awarded the 2018 Outstanding Dietitian of the Year for Georgia by the Georgia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The Outstanding Dietitian of the Year award recognizes members who have made distinguished contributions to advancing the profession and have demonstrated outstanding leadership and service in the state of Georgia.