New Research Staff in Health, Behavior & Society

July 14, 2019


The Department of Health, Behavior & Society recently welcomed a new team of research staff. Shannon Markel, Jalen Brooks, and Kassandra Ortiz recently joined the University of Kentucky College of Public Health as data collectors for the Go NAPSACC study, led at UK by Dr. Tina Studts and Julie Jacobs (PI: Dr. Dianne Ward at the University of North Carolina). Go NAPSACC aims to increase adoption of healthy eating and physical activity practices in child care centers, and this study involves intense and rigorous observational data collection protocols. Shannon, Jalen, and Kassandra spend most of their time in the field, assessing children’s eating behaviors and physical activity, as well as child care center practices and characteristics. 


(Left to right: Shannon Markel, Jalen Brooks, and Kassandra Ortiz)


About the team:


Shannon Markel graduated from Saint Mary's College with a dual major in Political Science and Sociology. She brings nearly ten years of experience in early childhood education to her role on this project, which has been an exciting transition from her prior work as a preschool teacher.


Jalen Brooks is a 2019 graduate of the University of Kentucky, where he earned his BPH from the College of Public Health. His interests in children’s nutrition and physical activity made him decide to stay in Lexington to join the Go NAPSACC team instead of returning home to Atlanta. His future plans are to attend medical school so that he can combine public health and medicine to positively influence community health.


Kassandra Ortiz is a Lexington native and a 2018 graduate of the University of Kentucky, where she earned a BS in human nutrition. Her academic background made her a great fit for the Go NAPSACC project, and her love of travel has now been extended to visiting child care centers across the state.