New faculty join College

Dr. Martha Crowther joined the College of Community Health Sciences as a professor in the Department of Community Medicine and Population Health and the Institute for Rural Health Research.

Prior to joining the College, Crowther held faculty positions in the Department of Psychology in The University of Alabama’s College of Arts and Sciences, where she also directed the Clinical Psychology Program. She holds appointments as a Faculty Scholar at the UA Center for Mental Health and Aging and as a Scientist at the Center for Healthy Aging in the Department of Medicine/Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Crowther earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of California at Berkley, a Master’s in Public Health degree from Yale University and a PhD from Duke University. She completed a clinical internship and was a postdoctoral fellow at the US Veteran’s Administration Palo Alto Health Care System.

Her research interests include aging and racial diversity in urban and rural populations with a focus on eliminating mental and physical health disparities in older adults. Her work at the College will focus on the teaching of and research in Population Health.

Crowther has presented and published extensively, and is the recipient of numerous honors, including the National Role Model Award from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Dr. Abbey Gregg joined the College of Community Health Sciences as an assistant professor in the Department of Community Medicine and Population Health and the Institute for Rural Health Research.

Previously, she was a program coordinator for Navigating the Road to Health for Nebraska Families Collaborative in Omaha, and manager of public health services for Three Rivers Public Health Department in Fremont, Nebraska.

Gregg earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Science from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, a Master’s in Public Health degree in Community Health Education from the University of Nebraska, and a PhD in Health Services Research, Administration, and Policy from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

She has published in peer-reviewed journals and has received grant funding for research focusing on improvement initiative and activities in local health departments.

Dr. Mercedes Morales-Aleman selected for national Future Research Leaders Conference

Dr. Mercedes Morales-Aleman, assistant professor in the Department of Community Medicine and Population Health and the Institute for Rural Health Research at the College of Community Health Sciences, was one of 30 faculty nationwide selected for the National Institutes of Health’s Future Research Leaders Conference.

It is an honor to be selected,” said Morales-Aleman. “Few early career scientists have the opportunity to showcase their research and receive feedback from NIH leadership and investigators.”

The conference is an opportunity for talented biomedical and behavioral scientists early in their careers for career-development. During the conference, selected scientists will showcase their research and gain insights from NIH leadership and investigators about developing independent scientific careers.

Dr. James Leeper Celebrates 40 Years with CCHS

The College of Community Health Sciences congratulates Dr. James Leeper for 40 years of service. Leeper joined the College in 1977 and is a professor in the Department of Community Medicine and Population Health. He additionally serves as Rural Programs Director of Education and Evaluation. Beyond his extensive research support of the College, Leeper has impacted the academic careers of countless students through both teaching in the classroom and guidance along the path to medical school. A recipient of The University of Alabama Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award, Leeper exemplifies the core values and standards of both the University and the College. We offer him our sincere thanks for his dedication to the fulfillment of our mission through his leadership in medical education and scholarly achievements.

Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer is new Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs

Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer is now Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs for the College. Her responsibilities as assistant dean will include providing support and cross communication to the academic programs offered within the College, supporting faculty, and leading an initiative to create an Academic Oversight Committee and Process to centralize oversight of the undergraduate and graduate education offered in the college.

“This [new] work has the potential to have broad, lasting impact on health and well-being, which has always been a central motivating factor for me professionally,” said Boxmeyer, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine.

Boxmeyer, who is also a practicing clinical psychologist, hopes her contributions will grow CCHS to offer an innovative and supportive learning environment for all learners.

“I consider it a tremendous privilege to be part of this work and to contribute to the training the next generation of health care providers.”

College welcomes Bentley as assistant professor

Dr. Brett Bentley

Dr. Brett Bentley joined the College as an assistant professor of Sports Medicine in the Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine.

The Tampa, Fla., native completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he played baseball all four years and was a four-time member of the Academic All-SEC Team.

Bentley worked for a year at an inner-city ministry in Atlanta, Desire Street Ministries, before returning to the University of Florida for medical school. After medical school, he completed a family medicine residency at the University of South Carolina. In June, he completed a sports medicine fellowship at the College.

College faculty selected as fellow for Academic Leadership Development Program

Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer

Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the College, was selected as a fellow for the 2017-2018 SEC Academic Leadership Development Program.

The fellowship program is an opportunity for faculty to prepare for advanced academic leadership roles within the SEC and beyond. The program brings together faculty fellows from each SEC campus to provide higher-education specific leadership and management training.

“I feel fortunate to have been selected for this program, which will allow me to interface with academic leaders from across the SEC and to learn the ins and outs of effective leadership in higher education,” said Boxmeyer.

The 2017-2018 program will take place at two different SEC campuses in the fall and spring, and will consist of three-day workshops focused on developing academic management skills. Through this program, Boxmeyer will also participate in The University of Alabama’s 2017-2018 class of Leadership University. She said she looks forward to bringing back new knowledge and skills to the College.

UMC Travel Health Services open in Faculty-Staff Clinic

A new addition to University Medical Center, Travel Health Services provides care for UA faculty, staff and their families as they prepare for international travel. Health care providers in the UMC Faculty-Staff Clinic provide individuals a comprehensive, preparatory experience that includes a consultation, advice for planning, travel-related vaccinations and medications needed in advance of departure.


“Nowhere is an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure more important than when traveling abroad.”

—Dr. Tom Weida, UMC Chief Medical Officer


Advice on a wide range of topics is offered, from the more obvious vaccination requirements of individual countries, to conditions of food and water safety, and the activities you have planned—with each considered down to the exact region of the country slated for visit.

As UMC furthers its mission of promoting the health of individuals and communities in Alabama, it is the hope that travel health services will be expanded beyond the UA campus in the near future.

[FIND OUT MORE] about how to book appointments and associated costs, and to access required patient forms.

Looney joins College as director of nursing

Wyndy Looney joined the College as director of Nursing for University Medical Center, which the College operates. Her responsibilities include serving as chief nursing officer, improving workflow, standardizing processes and procedures and implementing quality improvement activities.

Before joining the College, Looney was manager of Nursing Operations and Analytics at DCH Health System in Tuscaloosa, where she was responsible for day-to-day operations of the health system’s Patient Care Services division.

She has practice nursing in Alabama for 27 years.

Looney earned a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of North Alabama, graduating with academic honors. She is certified in Nursing Professional Development through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Her nursing experience in various clinical and community settings includes pediatrics, newborn care, labor and delivery, perioperative care, school health, nursing education and nursing operations. She has also held positions in nursing management and administration.

While at DCH Health System, which operates DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Looney received the “Great Catch” Award for identifying and reducing a safety risk for hospitalized patients. She currently serves on The University of Alabama’s College of Nursing Partnership Advisory Council and the Bridger Lectureship.

In 2014, Looney was appointed by Alabama’s state health officer to serve a two-year term on a regional Perinatal Advisory Committee. In a previous administrative role, Looney successfully piloted a regional chronic care coordination program for Alabama Medicaid recipients. As part of the pilot, she developed and implemented a Newborn Transition Program, partnering with local hospitals and pediatricians to ensure that newborns received appropriate follow-up care after being discharged from the hospital.

Graduating medical students celebrated at College convocation

Twenty-nine graduating medical students were honored at Senior Convocation, hosted by the College of Community Health Sciences May 19 at the Tuscaloosa River Market. Now physicians, the students are beginning their residency training in programs across 17 states.

The University of Alabama School of Medicine students completed their third and fourth years of clinical education at the College, which also functions as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for the School of Medicine. All students spend their first two years of medical school at the School of Medicine’s main campus in Birmingham, and then receive their clinical education at either the Birmingham campus or one of the regional campuses – Tuscaloosa, Huntsville and Montgomery.

The Tuscaloosa Regional Campus students also received awards at the Convocation from faculty, clinical staff and their peers. Scholarships were also presented.

On Saturday, May 20, the students joined their 158 classmates for commencement in Birmingham.


Awards given at Convocation:

Department and College Awards:
Robert F. Gloor Award in Community Medicine
Dr. Jessica Powell
Awarded for excellent performance in Community and Rural Medicine

William Owings Award in Family Medicine
Dr. Jessica Powell
Awarded for excellence in Family Medicine

Recognition of Rural Medical Scholars

Drs. Daniel Stanley, Scott Thomas, Jessica Powell, Amanda Turner Shaw and Caitlin Tidwell
Family/Rural Medicine Preceptor’s Award
Dr. Larry Skelton
Awarded annually to a community preceptor in Family Medicine/Community and Rural Medicine who exemplifies excellent teaching and role modeling for students.

William Winternitz Award in Internal Medicine
Dr. Steve Allon
Awarded for outstanding achievement in Internal Medicine during the third and fourth years. This student possesses an exceptional wealth of knowledge, is able to integrate the pathology of disease with the physiology of clinical skills, and practices with empathy, compassion and a desire to improve the patients with whom he or she comes in contact.

Neurology Award
Dr. Scott Thomas
Awarded for outstanding academic and clinical performance during the Neurology Clerkship.

Pediatrics Recognition Award
Dr. Maria Gulas
Awarded for outstanding interest, ability and the reflection of pleasure in helping parents and their children reach their full personal, social and educational potential.

Peter Bryce Award in Psychiatry
Dr. Caitlin Tidwell
Awarded for excellence exhibited by a medical student both academically and clinically during his/her Psychiatry Clerkship. This award is presented in honor of Dr. Peter Bryce, who was appointed the first superintendent of Bryce Hospital in Tuscaloosa. He and his wife, Ellen Clarkson Bryce, were cornerstones for Tuscaloosa society and tenacious advocates for people who experience mental illness.

Finney/Akers Memorial Award in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Dr. Chelsea Turgeon
Awarded to a student achieving outstanding academic and clinical success in Obstetrics and Gynecology. This award is presented in honor of former medical students James H. Akers and Teresa K. Finney.

William R. Shamblin, MD, Surgery Award
Dr. Julia Stiegler
Awarded to a student with the highest scholastic achievement during his or her third-year Surgery Clerkship. Dr. William R. Shamblin, a Tuscaloosa native and former Chair of the Department of Surgery, spent years educating medical students and Family Medicine residents. This award continues in his honor.

Interprofessional Excellence Award
Dr. Scott Thomas
This award recognizes the medical student who has best demonstrated excellence in communication skills, respect for staff and patients, and a commitment to working as an effective member of the health care team.

Larry Mayes Research Society Scholars
Drs. Chelsea Turgeon and Andrew Watson

Official Fellow Members:
Drs. Danielle Fincher, Caroline Watson, Reaves Crabtree, Julia Stiegler and Roshmi Bhattacharya

Student Research Award
Dr. Jessica Powell
Recognition of the pursuit of one or more research projects leading to a presentation or publication during the clinical years of medical training.

Scholastic Achievement Award
Dr. Caroline Kennemer
Awarded for superior performance in the clinical curriculum.

William R. Willard Award
Dr. Danielle Fincher

Established by the Bank of Moundville, this award is presented for outstanding contributions to the goals and mission of the College of Community Health Sciences as voted by the College faculty.


Faculty, Resident and Student Awards as determined by the graduating class
Faculty Recognition Award
Dr. Joseph Wallace
Awarded for outstanding contributions to undergraduate medical education during students’ junior year.

Community Preceptor Heroes Award
Drs. Bradley Bilton, Julia Boothe, Scott Boyken, Scott Davidson, Charles Gross, William Lenahan, Quinton Mathews and JD Shugrue
Awarded to community preceptors for outstanding contributions to undergraduate medical education.

Patrick McCue Award
Dr. A. Robert Sheppard
Awarded for outstanding contributions to undergraduate medical education during students’ senior year.

Resident Recognition Award
Dr. Blake DeWitt
Awarded for outstanding contributions to medical education.

James H. Akers Memorial Award
Dr. Nathan Sherrer
Awarded to a graduating senior for dedication to the art and science of medicine.


College Scholarships
Dr. Benjamin Collins Maxwell Endowed Scholarship
Dr. Ben Lee
Dr. Benjamin Collins Maxwell was a pioneer in Family Medicine practice who trained many Tuscaloosa medical students and family medicine residents in his practice in Atmore, Alabama. He was renowned for the degree of interest, patience and compassion he had for his patients. This scholarship was endowed by Dr. David and Mrs. Regina Maxwell to honor the legacy of Dr. Maxwell and of all primary care physicians, and to support the Rural Medical Scholars Program and academic excellence within the College of Community Health Sciences. Priority is given to graduating medical students who plan to practice rural primary care in Alabama, with a special consideration for students from Escambia County and the Rural Medical Scholars Program.

Reese Phifer, Jr., Memorial Foundation Scholarship in CCHS
Dr. Jessica Powell
The Reese Phifer Jr. Memorial Foundation Endowed Scholarship is awarded annually to promote the education of medical students at the College of Community Health Sciences/University of Alabama School of Medicine-Tuscaloosa Regional Campus. The Foundation was established by Mr. and Mrs. Reese Phifer in 1967 in memory of their son J. Reese Phifer, Jr., a student at The University of Alabama who died in 1964. The Foundation established the scholarship fund in 2014. Priority is given to current fourth-year medical students who intend to complete their residency at The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency, which the college operates, and who have an interest in spending part of their residency training in Fayette, Alabama.

Robert E. Pieroni, MD, and Family Endowed Scholarship
Dr. Danielle Fincher
The Robert E. Pieroni, MD, and Family Endowed Scholarship was established by Dr. and Mrs. Robert Pieroni to support medical students intending to enter primary care.

Leeper, Paxon join College

Dr. Connie Leeper joined the College of Community Health Sciences as an assistant professor in the Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine.

Leeper graduated cum laude from Duke University with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. She earned her medical degree and a Master’s of Public Health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

She completed a family medicine residency at the Ventura Family Medicine Residency in Ventura, California, where she served as a chief resident. Leeper also completed an obstetric fellowship at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, California.

Dr. Raheem Paxton joined the College of Community Health Sciences as an associate professor in the Department of Community Medicine and Population Health and as an investigator for the College’s Institute for Rural Health Research.

Previously, Paxton was an assistant professor in the School of Public Health at The University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, Texas, with a joint appointment at the university’s Center for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Research in the Institute of Aging.

Paxton graduated cum laude from Morehouse College in Atlanta with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. He earned a master’s degree in Kinesiology from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, and a PhD in Public Health/Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina.

His post-graduate training includes a research fellowship in Intervention Development/Dissemination Research at the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii in Honolulu, Hawaii, and a research fellowship in Health Disparities in Cancer Survivorship at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.