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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. Lightfoot received his Bachelors and Masters degrees from Northeast Louisiana University and his doctorate from the University of Tennessee. He then completed a research consultantship with 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, and a Professor at the University of North Carolina Charlotte for 14 years, 11 years of which he was Chair of the department. Dr. Lightfoot has published over 50 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 is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health to conduct research on the genetics of physical activity. His lab also has an unique interest in the physiological responses of motorsports athletes to the race environment. His research has been featured in numerous general media outlets including the Los Angeles Times, Time.com, National Public Radio, the Rush Limbaugh show, CNN, the NBC Today Show, MSNBC, Charlotte Talks radio show, 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 Interim Institute Administrative Assistant: Ms. Sheril Marek

 

Ms. Marek (class of '12) is a second year graduate student in Applied Exercise Physiology.  As an undergraduate, Ms. Marek began by volunteering at the Huffines Institute and worked extensively behind the scenes producing both the podcasts and the text-articles that appear on the Huffines website.  Ms. Marek is the Executive Producer and Lead Sound Engineer for all of our podcasts.  Recently, Ms. Marek has stepped in as the Lead Interim Administrative Assistant for the Institute.  She plans on attending Physical Therapy School in the Fall 2014 and working on her Doctorate in Physical Therapy.

 

Interim Institute Administrative Assistant: Ms. Kelli Selman

 
Ms. Selman is a third year Exercise Science major at Texas A&M University and started by volunteering in the Institute as an audio engineer on our podcasts.  She served as the Floor Director for the live 100th podcast and develops all the background materials on all of our podcast guests.  She's recently joined our staff and works as an Interim Institute Administrative Assistant.

 

 

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.

 

Ms. Emily Schmitt, MS

 

Emily is a fourth year doctoral student studying Exercise Physiology at Texas A&M University and specializing in the genetic regulation of physical activity. Before coming to Texas, Emily worked as an exercise physiologist in the Strides to Strength Program at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, NC. This program was designed to help cancer patients manage fatigue levels and overcome physical and emotional limitations following a cancer diagnosis. Emily has also spent a number of years working with older adults in the clinical setting to help them better manage chronic conditions through individualized exercise programs. Emily received her Bachelors degree in Exercise/Sport Science from Elon University and her Masters degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology from the University of North Carolina Charlotte.
 

 

Ms. Michelle Dawes, BS

   Michelle is currently a fourth year doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Genetics program.  Ms. Dawes has a B.S. in Animal Science from Michigan State University and is an avid triathlete.

Ms. Heather Vellers, BS RCEP

  Heather is currently a second year doctoral student in Exercise Physiology at Texas A&M University.  She has a Bachelors degree in Exercise Science and a Masters degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology from the University of North Carolina Charlotte. Heather is also a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist.
 

Mr. Blaise Collins, MS


 
Blaise Collins is a second-year doctoral student from Odessa, Tx.  He received both his undergraduate and Master's education in Exercise Physiology from University of Texas of the Permian Basin and is certified through the American College of Sports Medicine as a Health and Fitness Specialist.  Prior to moving to College Station, he served as lead exercise physiologist for a Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation unit in Odessa.
 

 

Mr. Clayton Cruthirds, B.S.

  Clayton is a first year Masters student in the Exercise Physiology program.  Clayton came to us from Univ. of Missouri where he worked with Dr. Frank Booth.

Mr. Conor Irwin


Conor is a Senior in Kinesiology and is volunteering in the Biology of Physical Activity Lab.  In his spare time, he is also volunteering in the Huffines Institute. Conor's future goal is go to Medical School and become a surgeon.

 

Mr. Ayland Letsinger

  Ayland is a junior Kinesiology major with hope to become a Sports Physical Therapist. His enthusiasm to learn about the latest information about health and human development led him to become a volunteer for the Huffines Institute as a podcast producer.
 

Ms. Danielle Sanders

  Danielle is a second year Community Health and Nutritional Sciences double major. She recently joined the staff as a volunteer.  In her free time, she also volunteers at the Exercise and Sports Nutrition Laboratory. 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. 

 

Mr. Kenneth McIntyre

  Kenneth is an Aggie Fish, with a major in Kinesiology.  He is volunteering to learn more about Kinesiology and serves as an Associate Producer on the Podcasts.