the team


Kyle S. Burger MPH, RD, PhD


Google Scholar, Faculty Page, CV

I joined the Department of Nutrition at UNC-CH in the fall of 2013. My primary area of research focuses on ingestive behavior. Specifically, how the food environment, neural, hormonal and psychological mechanisms interact to impact food intake and weight regulation.  In my time at UNC-CH I’ve instructed courses on research methodology and general nutrition and metabolism.


Grace E. Shearrer PhD

Assistant Professor

Google Scholar

I joined UNC-CH and the NIBL team as a post doc in 2016 after completing my doctoral degree at the University of Texas in Nutritional Science. My research examines the homeostatic and hedonic motivations of eating behavior. Specifically, how hedonic signals influence homeostatic mechanisms both neurologically and hormonally. My previous work, under Dr. Jaimie Davis, focused on the effect of sugar-sweetened beverages on satiety signaling in Hispanic youth.

Afroditi Papantoni

Doctoral Student

I joined UNC-CH and the NIBL team as a PhD student in Fall 2019. I previously worked in Dr. Susan Carnell’s lab in the department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, conducting research on the neural and behavioral correlates of obesity, familial obesity risk and eating disorders. Prior to that, while completing my BS in Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins, I worked with Dr. Flavia Barbano, investigating the distinct neural networks underlying reward-seeking and consummatory behaviors in mice. Currently, I’m interested in the neural correlates of taste and pleasantness evaluation and their influence on food-based decision making.


Brian P. Brown

Research Specialist

In fall of 2017 I came to UNC-CH to join NIBL. I previously worked at Virginia Tech in Dr. Warren Bickel’s lab researching behavior related to eating and substance use. I studied alcohol use, caffeine use, and other health related issues at UNC Wilmington where I received my MA.

Sommer Barnes

Research Assistant

I joined NIBL in Spring 2019 as part of the SPROUTS team at the Center for Health Behavior and Disease Prevention. I have previously worked at UNC as an HIV counselor with the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, and as part of research services staff at the Carolina Population Center. I completed my MPH in Maternal and Child Health at Boston University with a focus on social determinants of health.

Sarah Margaret Christy

Research Assistant

I joined the NIBL team as a research assistant on the SPROUTS study in the spring of 2019. In 2017, I graduated from UNC-CH with a B.A. in Human Development and Family Studies and minors in Biology and Medical Anthropology. I am interested in child development and determinants of health within maternal and child populations. I am excited to be in a position that allows me to directly engage with children and families, while expanding my research experience and exposure to the field of nutrition.

Salma Sabir-Calloway

Research Assistant

I joined the NIBL lab as a research assistant as part of the SPROUTS team in the fall of 2019, after graduating with a BA in psychology from North Carolina State University. My interests include children’s neurological development and how environmental factors influence early brain development. I’m looking forward to growing my research experience while working with children and families.


Nichollette Acosta

Data Analyst

I joined the NIBL team shortly after completing my B.S. in Computer Science with a focus in computing systems, and a minor in Bioinformatics. I am interested in logic, finding patterns in data and finding insights in natural science. I chose computer science because I naturally enjoy approaching situations creatively and modularly, and I have an intrinsic fascination with life and its patterns, leading me into bioinformatics. Throughout my undergraduate years I chose classes in machine learning, data mining, natural language processing, artificial intelligence and statistical computing. Coming into NIBL I was welcomed into a new world of neuroinformatics, where I want to continue engineering pipelines, and help the team discover new things with data analytics.

Undergraduate Lab Members

Cheyanne Bierly

Elena Wilson

Kaki McNeel

Avery Spangler

Lab Alumni

  • Lia Bauert
  • Peter Dinh
  • Abigail Fisher
  • Maria Ganama
  • Katie M. Gandee
  • Kathrin M. Hennigan
  • Lily Jones
  • Pranish Kantak
  • Ryesa Mansoor
  • Megan Neff
  • Jennifer R. Sadler PhD
  • Benjamin Smart
  • Andrew Thompson, Jr.
  • Shelley Warner

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