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Huffines Institute Staff

Institute Director: Dr. J. Timothy Lightfoot


PhD FACSM RCEP CES, Omar Smith Endowed Chair in Kinesiology, Dept. of Health & Kinesiology, Texas A&M University.

Dr. J. Timothy Lightfoot is currently the Omar Smith Endowed Professor of Kinesiology and the Director of the Sydney and JL Huffines Institute for Sports Medicine and Human Performance at Texas A&M University.   Dr. Lightfoot received his Bachelors and Masters degrees from University of Louisiana Monroe and his doctorate from the University of Tennessee.  He completed a research consultantship with the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at Kennedy Space Center in the Biomedical Laboratory and then a three-year National Institute of Health postdoctoral research fellowship in the Division of Physiology at Johns Hopkins University.  He was an Assistant and Associate Professor at Florida Atlantic University for 6 years (two years as Department Chair), and a Professor at the University of North Carolina Charlotte for 14 years, 9 years of which he was Chair of the department.  Dr. Lightfoot has published over 70 scientific, peer-reviewed articles on the genetics of daily physical activity and exercise endurance, as well as the physiological response to high-G exposure and hemorrhage and thus far has had over $2 million in external funding from the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense to conduct research on the genetics of physical activity.   His lab also has a unique interest in the physiological responses of athletes in a variety of non-traditional venues such as auto racing and in musicians.  He is the lead editor on an upcoming reference handbook on Exercise and Sports Genetics from Routledge Publishing, and author of “Living and Prospering in Academia” which will be available to the public on May 1, 2018 from Presyncopal Publishing.  His research has been featured in numerous general media outlets including the Los Angeles Times,, National Public Radio, the Rush Limbaugh show, CNN, the NBC Today Show, MSNBC, Revista Epoca (a Brazilian weekly magazine), and on Australian National Radio. 


Director of the Texas A&M Coaching Academy: Dr. John Thornton


PhD, Executive Professor, Health and Kinesiology Department

As the inaugural Director of the Texas A&M Coaching Academy, Dr. Thornton brings a wealth of experience as an athlete, coach, and athletic administrator to the position.  After playing high school and junior college basketball in San Antonio, Thornton came to Aggieland to play for Coach Shelby Metcalf. Thornton was the 1973-1974 Southwest Conference Newcomer of the Year after being the second-leading scorer and rebounder on the Aggie squad. In 1974-75, Thornton was the team captain and helped lead the Aggies to the 1975 SWC Championship title.                        

Taking full advantage of the opportunities presented to him by Texas A&M, Thornton graduated cum laude from Texas A&M in 1975. Thornton was named the Department of Education's Distinguished Honor Award winner. Thornton spent two years as a graduate assistant basketball coach on Metcalf's staff and earned his master's degree in educational administration from Texas A&M. He would become the basketball head coach at Athens High School, spend a brief time at UT-San Antonio before taking the athletics director and head basketball coaching job at Hill Junior College in Hillsboro. In 1981, Metcalf would call and ask Thornton to serve as an assistant basketball coach. From 1981 until the 1990, Thornton would serve as Metcalf's assistant helping the Aggies to one NCAA appearance (1987) and four NIT appearances. During the middle of the 1990 season, Thornton was asked to serve as interim head basketball coach and finished with a 5-7 mark as the Aggies' head coach.

Lead Institute Administrative Assistant: Ms. Danielle Sanders

Ms. Sanders is a Senior Community Health and Nutritional Science double major. She started out by volunteering in the Institute helping with  podcasts, and now is the Lead Administrative Assistant. Danielle is interested in pursuing a career in the health field incorporating both of her degrees and the basics of exercise science as it relates to the body. 

Institute Executive Producer: Mr. Kenneth McIntyre


Kenneth is a Junior Industrial and Systems Engineering major from Fort Worth, Texas.  He volunteered his Freshman year to become involved with the Institute, and now works as the Executive Producer over all the Institute's media content. His continued desire to learn about the world of sports and sports medicine has led to his continued involvement with the media production of the Institute. 

Communications Specialist: Mr. Dell Billings


Mr. Billings, '95 (Agricultural Journalism), is the Communication Specialist for the Dept. of Health and Kinesiology at Texas A&M, but his services are displayed throughout the Huffines Institute's website.  Mr. Billings has a long history in local media, having worked at KBTX for 10 years and KWTX for two years before joining Texas A&M's HLKN Department.

Mr. Carlos Guevara

  Carlos is currently a junior in Sports Management and a member of the Coaching Academy cohort.  Carlos has been with the Huffines Institute since 2015 and produces the TexAgs Huffines Human Performance Minute.

 Mr. Jorge Granados, MS


Jorge is currently a third-year doctoral student in Exercise Physiology. He received his Bachelors degree in Sports & Exercise Science and Masters degree in Exercise Physiology from West Texas A&M University in Canyon, TX.

Mr. Ayland Letsinger, BS

  Ayland is a second-year doctoral student in Exercise Physiology with interest in genomics.He completed his Bachelor's in Kinesiology with a concentration in motor behavior and a minor in psychology at Texas A&M in the Spring of 2015. His enthusiasm to learn about the latest information about health and human development led him to work for the Huffines Institute as the Lead Podcast and Huffines Human Performance Minute Producer as an undergraduate, and to transition into the doctoral program.

Ms. Alexis Applequist


Ms. Alexis Applequist is a junior in Biomedical Sciences.  She is an undergraduate Athletic Training in Athletics and has worked in the Huffines Institute since 2015.  Alexis is a content producer and has worked on the podcasts and on the TexAgs Huffines Human Performance Minutes.


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