HHS Office of Research

School of Health and Human Sciences

Esther Leerkes
Dr. Esther Leerkes, HHS Associate Dean for Research
Email: emleerke@uncg.edu

As the HHS Associate Dean for Research, Dr. Leerkes is responsible for facilitating the School’s research enterprise and supporting the mission of the HHS Office of Research. She coordinates the work of the team of the HHS Office of Research, which includes pre-award, post-award, statistical consultation, and financial management staff. She serves as the HHS Liaison to the Office of Research and Engagement; this includes serving on the UNCG Research Advisory Committee and Conflict of Interest Committee, as well as frequent communication with the staff in the Office of Sponsored Programs, the Office of Research Compliance, and the Office of Contracts and Grants. She works closely with the HHS Research Advisory Committee to inform how to best assist faculty with their research needs.

Leerkes is currently on the Executive Board of the Child and Family Research Network (CFRN) and previously served on the board for Research and Instruction in STEM Education (RISE), two UNC Greensboro Research Networks. She is also a member of UNC Greensboro’s Community Engagement Council and the Internal Advisory Board for the NSF Spartans ADVANCE grant.

Dr. Leerkes is also the Jefferson Pilot Excellence Professor of Human Development and Family Studies. She obtained her PhD in Experimental/Developmental Psychology from the University of Vermont and began her career as an assistant professor at UNC Greensboro in 2003. Her research program centers around psychological, biological, and contextual predictors of early parenting quality and the links between parenting and infant/child outcomes including emotion regulation, mental health, and obesity. She collaborates with other faculty in Human Development and Family Studies, Nursing, Psychology, Nutrition, and Kinesiology on a number of related projects. Her research has primarily been funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. She has been the PI on R03, R21, and R01s as well as a Diversity Supplement and has served as an external collaborator on F31s. Leerkes was a standing member of the Psychosocial Development and Risk Prevention study section charged with reviewing grant proposals for NIH for several years, and frequently serves as an ad hoc reviewer for NIH and NSF. Leerkes has also served on the editorial board, as a consulting editor, and/or ad hoc reviewer for several professional journals in her field. Leerkes has previously received awards for excellence in research, teaching, and mentoring.

Lisa Walker
Lisa Walker, HHS Assistant Dean for Research Finance and Operations
Email: lbwalke2@uncg.edu

As the HHS Assistant Dean for Research Finance and Operations, Lisa is responsible for directing the administrative and fiscal functions of the HHS Office of Research; she oversees day-to-day budget and personnel activities as well as forecasts planned short and long-term use of resources within the office. Lisa assists the Associate Dean for Research with planning, project management, facilities management and other tasks. Lisa advises HHS faculty regarding fiscal management policies and procedures in the execution of grant funded research and programs. Additionally, she serves as a liaison with central campus administrative offices and non-campus offices and organizations and serves as a representative of the Office of Research at meetings both internal and external to the School of HHS.

Lisa is an active member of the Society of Research Administrators International (SRAI) and of the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA). She is a Past President of the SRAI North Carolina Chapter and has served as the Secretary of the SRAI Southern Section; additionally, she serves as an editorial board member for the Journal of Research Administration.

Lisa currently serves on the Greensboro Mayor’s Committee for Persons with Disabilities and on the HHS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Lisa is a co-advisor for the UNC Greensboro Zeta Phi Chapter of the Delta Alpha Pi International Honor Society which recognizes high-achieving college and university students with disabilities.

Verna Leslie
Verna Leslie, Pre-Award Research Administrator
Email: vrleslie@uncg.edu
Verna Leslie is a Pre-Award Research Administrator and helps researchers prepare proposals for external funding through assistance with budget development, internal routing, and assembling applications for the following departments and programs: Communication Sciences and Disorders, Community and Therapeutic Recreation, Peace and Conflict Studies, Genetic Counseling Program, Human Development and Family Studies, Kinesiology, Nutrition, Public Health Education, and Social Work. Additionally, Verna works with the various Centers in the School of HHS.

April Taylor, Post Award Research Administrator
Email: artaylo2@uncg.edu
April Taylor is the Post Award Research Administrator within the HHS Office of Research. April’s role is to provide advice and critical guidance regarding fiscal management policies and procedures for the following departments and programs:  Communication Sciences and Disorders, Community and Therapeutic Recreation, Peace and Conflict Studies, Genetic Counseling Program, Human Development and Family Studies, Kinesiology, Nutrition, Public Health Education, and Social Work. April also works with the various School of HHS Centers.

Jeff Labban
Jeff Labban, AP Associate Professor
Email: jdlabban@uncg.edu

Jeff Labban has a doctorate in Kinesiology, with a doctoral minor in Educational Research Methodology. Jeff’s primary role in the Office of Research is to provide statistical support for both new and ongoing research projects generated by faculty and students within HHS. This typically includes analytical support for projects already underway or methodological consultation and power analysis for prospective projects. He also provides support for proposals for external funding, including consultation for methodological design and plan of analysis. His research interests include the relationship between exercise and cognitive function, specifically long-term memory. Common support roles include, but are not limited to:

  • Statistical analysis of data and manuscript prep
  • Power analysis for prospective studies
  • Methodological design consultation
  • Plan of analysis consultation and/or writing for funding proposals

Sharon Morrison, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Public Health Education,
HHS Office of Research Faculty Fellow for Community Engaged Research (CER)
Email: sdmorri2@uncg.edu
Dr. Morrison is a community-engaged researcher, advocate, and local community member with interests in how we engage and respect our diverse origins and ways of life. Dr. Morrison is the 2022-2023 HHS Office of Research Faculty Fellow for Community Engaged Research and lends her expertise to the HHS RAC as a community-engaged research scholar, advocate, and ally. She is also a Research Fellow with the Center for New North Carolinians at UNCG.

Jeff Milroy, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Public Health Education,
HHS Faculty Fellow for Innovation
Email: jjmilroy@uncg.edu
Dr. Milroy will oversee the HHS Impact Through Innovation HUB and will work to identify needs among HHS faculty and students. This position was created in collaboration with Innovate UNCG (formerly Launch UNCG) to strategically and purposefully connect important Innovate UNCG resources and support directly to HHS faculty. Dr. Milroy has been an innovator for over 10 years. Dr. Milroy has served as a PI or Co-I on multiple NIH Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) grants and has received funding to translate evidence-based research into viable community health education programs. As the current Director of the Center for Athlete Well-Being at UNCG, much of Dr. Milroy’s previous work has focused on athlete well-being including mental health and concussion care seeking, sexual violence prevention, and alcohol and other drug prevention. Dr. Milroy has also led the development of web-based and face-to-face programming for collegiate coaches which was recently translated into a communication training for college and university faculty and staff.