CHET Primary Faculty
Darlingtina K. Esiaka, PhD
Dr. Darlingtina Esiaka, CPG, CPH, has a dual-title PhD in Social Psychology and Gerontology from the University of Kansas, a master’s in psychology from Arkansas Tech University with Distinction, Graduate certificates in Health Psychology and African Studies from the University of Kansas, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with First class honors and a Diploma in Social Works from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Her research interests revolve around two major themes. One focuses on the early detection of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) in older Black men. She examines how to detect progression and conversion to ADRD in Black men, long before the presentation of behavioral symptoms. The second focuses on the early detection of cancer in older Black men. She investigates psychosocial factors that predict fatal stage cancer diagnosis and survivorship in older Black men.
She has received over 20 awards and recognitions, including the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity – Kathleen McCluskey-Fawcett Woman Mentoring Women award, the Gerontological Society of America (GSA)'s Career Development and Junior Investigator Diversity Fellow Award. Her work has been supported by federal and private funders such as NIA, New Jersey Health Foundation, and Alzheimer’s Association. Dr. Esiaka is a Black Men's Brain Health scholar and a scientist at the Michigan Center for Contextual Factors in Alzheimer's Disease. She is a certified Public Health professional and credentialed by the National Association of Professional Gerontologists. She has published over 20 journal articles and book chapters. Dr. Esiaka is affiliated with several professional organizations, including the Society for Psychological Study of Social Issues, where she serves as a council member and chairs the internationalization committee.
Carolyn Lauckner, PhD
Dr. Lauckner is a faculty member of the Center for Health Equity Transformation (CHET) and an assistant professor in the department of behavioral science in the College of Medicine. Her research is focused on behavioral interventions that utilize modern communication technologies to encourage the adoption of healthy behaviors. Her research interests include addressing substance use among vulnerable populations and as a means of facilitating cancer prevention and control. She is currently mPI of an NIAAA-funded R01 examining a ecological momentary intervention for reducing risky alcohol use among sexual minority men and trans individuals, an NIAAA-funded K01 testing a mobile health intervention for reducing alcohol use among people living with HIV/AIDS, a co-PI on an NCI-funded R21 aiming to reduce alcohol use among rural adolescent and young adult cancer survivors, and a co-Investigator on two large grants using mobile phones to collect GPS-based electronic momentary assessment data on place-based predictors of risky behaviors.
Erica Littlejohn, PhD
Dr. Erica Littlejohn, PhD is an assistant professor in the Center for Health Equity Transformation. Her overarching goals are to reduce the burden of neurological disease experienced by marginalized populations by elucidating the pathways and neurobiological mechanisms that drive neuropathology. Through her experience as a basic science researcher and expertise in neurological disease health inequities, she aims to develop a translational research program to advance health equity research and undergird future health disparities interventions. Her current research specifically centers on investigating the role of social determinants of health (SDOH) and adverse childhood experience (ACE) exposure in mediating risk and progression of cognitive impairment and decline in older adults. As part of her pre-clinical neuro-equity research foci, she examines the impact of ACE exposure and SDOH in multiple models of cognitive impairment, including traumatic brain injury (TBI), vascular cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD). Erica was previously an AAAS Fellow within the NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Office of Global Health and Health Disparities (OGHHD) in the Division of Clinical Research. Along with renown experts, Dr. Littlejohn was a part of the team that developed the NINDS Social Determinants of Health Framework as a part of the NINDS health equity strategic planning. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas, Health Science Center at San Antonio, as a fellow on the NIH NHLBI T32 training grant in Pathobiology of Occlusive Vascular Disease (HL07446). She investigated the electrophysiological function of GABAergic vagal neurons in the brainstem and its central regulation of peripheral metabolism and cardiovascular health. Prior to her fellowship and postdoc positions, Dr. Littlejohn completed her PhD at the University of Kentucky (UK) where she investigated cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying post-traumatic neural plasticity. During her predoctoral training she served as the President of the UK Black Graduate and Professional Student Association (UKBGPSA) and led the organization of the 2016 UKBGPSA: Call to Action Town Hall event. She was the recipient of the University of Kentucky Shane Carlin & Annie Sit Inclusion Award (2016) and that of Kentucky Multicultural Opportunities, Strategies and Institutional Inclusiveness Consortium (MOSAIIC) Award (2016).
Delvon Mattingly, PhD
Dr. Mattingly is a faculty member of the Center for Health Equity Transformation (CHET) and an assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Science in the College of Medicine. He is a social and substance use epidemiologist whose research focuses on structural, psychosocial, and policy determinants of population health and health equity. He has extensive training in descriptive and analytical epidemiological methods and tobacco regulatory science, gaining most of his research experience while working with the American Heart Association Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science and the University of Michigan and Georgetown University Center for the Assessment of Tobacco Regulations. Dr. Mattingly’s research aims to address racial and ethnic health inequities in substance use and misuse, mental health, and physical health outcomes such as lung cancer. He is particularly interested in the role structural racism, and its downstream consequences such as interpersonal discrimination and police violence, plays in determining disparities in substance use and associated use disorders. The primary goal of his research program is to characterize drivers of inequities in substance use and associated health outcomes to inform public health professionals and policymakers of effective and efficient ways to promote health equity and improve population health.
Laurie McLouth, PhD
Dr. McLouth joined the faculty of the UK College of Medicine Department of Behavioral Science and Center for Health Equity Transformation in 2019. She is a clinical psychologist with expertise in cancer survivorship, multilevel interventions, palliative care, and implementation science. Dr. McLouth has received numerous national awards, including recently being one of 11 investigators across the nation named an NCI Cancer Moonshot Scholar.
Dr. McLouth’s program of research focuses on developing and testing interventions to improve quality of life and quality of cancer care for patients and their caregivers facing advanced cancer, particularly in rural and socioeconomically disadvantaged areas. She is a behavioral researcher with expertise and research interests that include: (1) conducting quantitative and qualitative research to understand the impact of new cancer treatments on patients and their families; (2) developing and evaluating supportive care and survivorship care interventions that leverage positive psychology; and (3) identifying multi-level intervention targets to improve cancer care delivery and increase access to guideline-concordant cancer care. She is currently PI of an NCI-funded R01 to test the efficacy of a brief, hope-enhancing intervention for patients with advanced lung cancer, PI of an NCATS-funded KL2 piloting a multilevel intervention to integrate palliative care into advanced lung cancer, MPI on an NCI-funded R21 piloting an mhealth intervention to reduce alcohol use among posttreatment adolescent and young adult cancer survivors, and co-Investigator on several multiyear grants in cancer survivorship and cancer care delivery.
Justin Moore, PhD, MPH
Dr. Moore serves as an associate professor within the Center for Health Equity Transformation (CHET) at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, with roles as assistant director of population science within the department of internal medicine, and assistant director of community impact at the Markey Cancer Center. Previously, he worked as an assistant professor within the Cancer Prevention Control and Population Health Program at the Georgia Cancer Center, Augusta University. Dr. Moore is an epidemiologist with vast skills in biostatistics, database design, geographic information systems (GIS), mediation analysis, Bayesian methods, and cancer prevention and control. Dr. Moore’s research explores the intersection between social identity (race and/or sexual orientation and gender identity), place, chronic physiologic stress (allostatic load), and gene interactions on cancer health outcomes. Dr. Moore’s work delineated that place matters for African American, Hispanic, and rural populations characterized by hot spots of excess mortality from breast cancer, lung cancer, early-onset colorectal cancer, sepsis, and COVID-19. Dr. Moore’s current research interests lie in understanding the effects of race and place on determinants of breast cancer including breast cancer screening, mammographic density, life-course stress (allostatic load), and DNA methylation. Dr. Moore has published over 80 peer-reviewed, 40+ of these articles feature Dr. Moore as the lead or corresponding author. Dr. Moore publishes in journals such as JAMA, Cancer Epidemiology, Critical Care, The Journal of Clinical and Translational Sciences, and many others. In 2022, Dr. Moore won the American Association for Cancer Research, Minority in Cancer Research Faculty Award in recognition of his work and service.
Elizabeth Rhodus, PhD, MS, OTR/L
Dr. Elizabeth Rhodus, an assistant professor in the department of behavioral science and Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, and primary faculty of the Center for Health Equity Transformation in the College of Medicine at the University of Kentucky, has developed a research program based on clinical experiences as an occupational therapist with patients across the lifespan, during which she recognized the influence of the environment on behaviors of those with cognitive impairment. However, a lack of robust assessment and evidence-based interventions focused on the relationship between person and environment undermines rigorous and effective clinical decision making. This gap and the substantial need in clinical care fueled her career shift to scholarship. Her research training has been framed with a strong theoretical understanding of aging with a PhD in gerontology and training in clinical trial design as a post-doctoral scholar at the University of Kentucky’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center funded by the NIH/NIA T32. Her career has additionally focused on clinical, service-oriented support, and research in areas throughout rural Appalachia including hospital-based care, home health, and skilled nursing facilities. These experiences have exemplified health disparities and inequities which plague rural, underserved populations. Dr. Rhodus’ long-term career goals are to develop patient-oriented environmental and behavioral interventions which will promote health equity and quality of life for older adults.
Shyanika W. Rose, PhD, MA
Dr. Rose is a faculty member of the Center for Health Equity Transformation (CHET) and an assistant professor in the department of behavioral science in the College of Medicine. She is also a member of the cancer prevention program of the Markey Cancer Center. Dr. Rose’s research focuses on policy approaches to reducing disparities in tobacco use, and her interests include point of sale marketing, advertising, distribution in neighborhoods, initiation of tobacco use, the amount of tobacco products used by individuals, and the challenges associated with quitting. Dr. Rose has published over 50 publications in peer-reviewed journals, and is currently the principal investigator on a National Cancer Institute grant examining the equity implications of local flavored tobacco sales restrictions. As a faculty member of CHET, she plans to continue her equity-focused tobacco research while also applying her skills in public policy and evaluation to other equity issues, particularly marketing strategies in the food, alcohol, and cannabis industries that negatively impact the health of marginalized groups.