Who We Are

Nick Zaller

Nickolas Zaller, PhD

Nickolas Zaller, Founder and Director, is a Professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health. His research focus is on the overlap between behavioral health disorders, including addiction and mental illness, infectious diseases and incarceration both in the United States and internationally. Dr. Zaller earned his bachelor’s degree in microbiology and East Asian Studies from Kansas University in 1999. After graduation, he lived in China for a year as a Fulbright Scholar before completing a doctorate in public health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2005.

Nakita Lovelady

Nakita Lovelady, PhD, MPH

Nakita Lovelady, PhD, MPH is a postdoctoral fellow supported by the UAMS NIDA T32 Addiction Research Training Program. Her primary research interests are centered around investigating health disparities and violence prevention, particularly developing and implementing multi-level public health interventions to improve mental and behavioral health outcomes and reduce gun violence among vulnerable racial-minority populations such as young African American men and their families. This includes exploring linkage interventions that leverage peer support, enhance healthy coping, and improve access to structural/systemic support to confront persistent post-traumatic stress among African American men in both institutional settings (i.e. hospitals, jails, and prisons) and non-traditional community settings (i.e. barbershops). Her research hopes to inform real-world meaningful change among communities with the greatest need.

Meg Gorvine

Meg Gorvine, PhD, CHES, E-RYT

Meg Gorvine, PhD, CHES, E-RYT most recently completed a predoctoral fellowship with UAMS’ NIDA T32 training program in Translational Addiction Science, and now serves as a postdoctoral researcher for S-PAC. Her research centers on stress, integrative health, recovery science, and resilience particularly among the underserved, including women re-entering the community from incarceration. Dr. Gorvine is currently exploring research in the areas of stress and resilience training in correctional settings in Arkansas.

George Pro

George Pro, PhD

Dr. George Pro is a health services researcher in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education. Broadly, his interests include behavioral health, health disparities, applied quantitative methods, and treatment for substance use disorders including medication assistance for opioid use disorders. He received his PhD in Community and Behavioral Health from the University of Iowa College of Public Health, and completed his postdoctoral training with the Center for Health Equity Research at Northern Arizona University. He is currently involved in research projects addressing relationships between prison-based COVID-19 outbreaks and community spread, and developing innovative ways to strengthen health data systems to improve healthcare use among recently incarcerated individuals.

Brooke Montgomery

Brooke Montgomery, PhD, MPH

Dr. Brooke Montgomery is a behavioral researcher in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education. Her research interests include sexual health promotion and the use of qualitative and qualitative research methodologies to investigate the role of social, cultural, and psychological factors on sexual risk and drug using behaviors. She received her PhD and MPH from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health. She is currently researching the role of criminal justice system involvement on homeless mothers.

Mofan Gu

Mofan Gu, MPH

Mofan Gu is a PhD candidate in Epidemiology and a data analyst at UAMS. Mofan’s research focuses on the prediction of adverse health outcomes using social and behavioral factors. His current project examines the key predictors for revoked probations in Arkansas. Mofan has methodological expertise in quantitative research. His primary interest includes criminal justice and infectious diseases.

Heather Horton

Heather Horton

Heather Horton is a research coordinator for multiple S-PAC projects that focus on incarceration, PrEP access, and healing from violence. Before coming to UAMS, Heather worked as a health coordinator for people living with HIV in New Orleans and as an advocate for survivors of violence in Northwest Arkansas. She holds a BA and MA in Sociology.

Ruby Welsh

Ruby Welch is a motivational speaker, criminal and restorative justice advocate, and Founder of F.E.L.O.N (Formerly Incarcerated Empowered Leaders Overcoming Negative Stigmas).

After experiencing first-hand the harmful effects of serving seven years in the Arkansas Department of Correction, Ruby vowed to educate her community about the disparities of incarceration and its lasting effects on individuals.

Ruby currently is employed with UAMS as a Community Health Coordinator. She weekly educates detainees at the Pulaski County Detention Center on various health risks and concerns.

She received the Champions Award from C.A.R.E (Central Arkansas Re-entry Coalition) in 2016 for her dedication to community advocacy, currently serves as Arkansas Ambassador Dignity for Incarcerated Women Campaign and Empathy Partner with #CUT50, a representative for the National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, a member of the C.A.R.E Coalition, Project South, Arkansas Community Health Workers Association, Arkansas Community Institute for Housing, the Poor People’s Campaign, Black Lives Matter, 2018 Speaker for Decarcerate Conference, 2019 Panelist for Legal Action Network at Columbia University New York(Dismantling Systemic Inequity in Criminal Justice and Health), 2019 Recognition Award from Future For Felons of Jonesboro for Overcoming The Odds, Panelist for Americans For Prosperity 2018 and 2019, 2019 Panelist for National Association of Social Workers. As an Ambassador for #Cut50 Ruby was instrumental in the passing and signing into law #Dignity Arkansas for incarcerated women. Ruby views her work as an extension of her Christian Faith.