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The Team

The ENHI team is made up of a diverse group of professionals. Your individual program team will be customized for your needs.

Institute Leadership

  William E. Amonette, Ph.D. - Executive Director

William AmonetteWilliam (Bill) Amonette, Ph.D., is the executive director of the Exercise and Nutritional Health Institute (ENHI). In this role he serves as the chief science officer for the institute, leading the vision and the strategic direction for research, programming, and educational outreach. Amonette is also a tenured associate professor and director of the Exercise and Health Sciences graduate program. His research combines physiology and metabolism, biomechanics, and motor control to study the effect of novel exercise and nutritional interventions on health and rehabilitative outcomes in people with chronic disease and long-term injuries.

Prior to his work at UH-Clear Lake, he served at Wyle Life Sciences (NASA-JSC) as an exercise physiologist as well as an astronaut strength conditioning specialist and rehabilitation specialist. He was also a strength and conditioning coach for the Houston Rockets and Chinese National Basketball Team at the Olympic Training Center in Beijing, China. Amonette earned a Ph.D. at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in rehabilitation sciences, with a research emphasis in clinical exercise physiology and endocrinology. Amonette is a senior editor for the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, an ad hoc peer reviewer for many biomedical science journals, and the co-director of the Low Carb Houston Conference.

  Nadir Ali, M.D. - Senior Scientist

Nadir AliDr. Nadir Ali is a senior scientist and member of the core leadership team in the ENHI. He also holds an academic appointment as a research professor in the Department of Clinical, Health and Applied Sciences. Dr. Ali's primary research interests include the effect of low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets on cardiovascular and metabolic health. An interventional cardiologist with over 25 years of experience, he also serves as the chairman of the Department of Cardiology for a major hospital system in Bay Area Houston, and as a director for the Low Carb Houston Conference.

Before working as a cardiologist, he served as an assistant professor of medicine for eight years at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where he also received his medical training. He has championed the low-carb lifestyle in the local Clear Lake area since 2013. Dr. Ali organizes a monthly nutritional seminar in the Searcy Auditorium of the Clear Lake Hospital that receives more than 100 visitors every month from the local community. He is a leader in the nutrition community whose research and passion have inspired many to profound health changes.

  Anne Anders, Ph.D. - Economic Research Director

Anne AndersAnne Anders, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of economics in the College of Business and the economic research director and scientist in the ENHI. In this role, Anders works to establish the research infrastructure across all projects to tie personal health benefits to health care expenditure savings. Moreover, longitudinally, she is interested in quantifying the effect of preventive versus reactive care on personal health, wellness, quality of life, and productivity with the intention of affecting health care policy.

A former professional and collegiate soccer player, Anders' research also investigates how youth sport participation affects later life outcomes. She holds a B.S. in sports management and marketing from Seton Hall University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from Clemson University. Although her degrees are in business, you will often find her in the laboratory collecting physiologic and biomechanical data or on the floor assisting with strength training and conditioning.

  John Cottingham, M.D. - Senior Scientist

John CottinghamDr. John Cottingham, a senior scientist and member of the core leadership team in the ENHI, holds an academic appointment as a research professor in the Department of Clinical, Health and Applied Sciences at UHCL. A primary care physician who is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine, Dr. Cottingham is an active member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and the American Academy of Family Medicine. His research interest involves the interaction between high intensity exercise, nutrition, and metabolic and musculoskeletal health.

A graduate of Clear Creek High School, Dr. Cottingham earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch and completed his residency in family practice at the Baylor College of Medicine. Outside of his clinical responsibilities, he enjoys strength training, conditioning, surfing and sprinting. Dr. Cottingham's passion for preventive care and wellness leads him to approach medicine in a more natural way. He says, "After all, humans are a species of athletes. When we eat and exercise as we are designed to do, we live happier and healthier lives."

  Kirk English, Ph.D. - Experimental Research Director

Kirk EnglishKirk English, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of exercise and health sciences in the Department of Clinical, Health and Applied Sciences at UHCL. He is also the experimental research director for the Exercise and Nutritional Health Institute (ENHI). English's research focuses on exercise and nutrition as preventatives to losses in muscle mass and function due to aging, illness and spaceflight.

Previously, he conducted this work at the University of Texas Medical Branch, where he completed his Ph.D. in rehabilitation sciences with a concentration in nutrition and metabolism. He also conducted work at NASA Johnson Space Center, where he studied and developed exercise countermeasures to the deleterious effects of long-duration spaceflight. Along with Amonette, English has pioneered and advocated the evidence-based practice approach for the field of exercise science. He also trains endurance athletes and is a regular reviewer for numerous biomedical, exercise science and spaceflight-related scientific journals.

  Isabelle Kusters, Ph.D., MPH - Population Health Research Director

Isabelle KustersIsabelle Kusters, Ph.D., MPH, is an assistant professor of public health in the Department of Clinical, Health and Applied Sciences at UHCL. She is also the population health research director for the ENHI at UHCL, and holds a joint appointment at Baylor College of Medicine as a Health Policy Scholar in the Center for Medical Ethics & Health Policy. Kusters' current research focuses on health insurance coverage and access to care for immigrant and other underserved populations. She is also interested in the ways that translation and interpretation services affect access to, and quality of, care for patients with limited English proficiency.

Kusters' teaching and research interests include the social determinants of health and health disparities, cultural competency in healthcare, health policy, and comparative international healthcare systems. She completed her postdoctoral research fellowship at the Department of Veterans Affairs' Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety and at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. She earned her graduate degrees at the University of Texas School of Public Health and an undergraduate diploma from the University of Texas at Austin.

  Julianna M. Dean, Ph.D., M.S. - Data Science Research Director

Julia DeanJulianna M. Dean, Ph.D., M.S. is an assistant professor in the department of Clinical, Health, and Applied Sciences. She earned her Ph.D. in rehabilitation sciences from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Texas Medical Branch. During her time there, her research included exercise rehabilitation after severe burn injury in children, visual analytics of big data, and geographic variation in post-acute care. Her doctoral dissertation examined the influence of structural social capital (e.g., community resources) on the odds of successful discharge after post-acute care rehabilitation for joint replacement and hip fracture among Medicare beneficiaries.

Dr. Dean is also an alumna of UHCL. After having lived and worked in St. Petersburg, Russia for many years, she pursued and earned an M.S. in exercise and health sciences from UHCL. Her experiences in Russia continue to shape her attitudes toward the interaction between health, culture, economics, and policy.

Dr. Dean’s research interests include the implementation, promotion, and sustainability of community-based exercise programs, and in particular the motivating factors that sustain long-term participation in exercise. She is also interested in the influence of social capital on health, geographic variation in rehabilitation and health services, health policy, and education in R coding. Alongside research, she is now working adamantly on perfecting her backspin in ping-pong.

Core Scientist and Practitioners

  Jenny Amonette, PT, DPT, NCS - Rehabilitation Scientist

Jenny AmonetteJenny Amonette is a rehabilitation consultant in the ENHI, where she collaborates on research projects related to exercise in people with chronic disease and disability. She also advises the institute staff as needed for exercise prescription and testing techniques. Currently a physical therapist for a leading hospital system in the Bay Area Houston, she works in both inpatient and outpatient settings and serves as a clinical instructor for physical therapy students. 

Amonette previously directed a privately-owned physical therapy clinic and worked as a physical therapist at The Institute for Rehabilitation Research (TIRR) with neurologic patients (outpatient). She earned a B.A. in dance from Texas Women's University and Master of Physical Therapy from the University of Texas Medical Brach. A licensed physical therapist with a specialty certification in neurologic rehabilitation, she earned a doctorate in physical therapy from Texas Tech University.

  Danny Arnold - Human Performance Consultant

Danny Arnold is a consultant in the Exercise and Nutritional Health Institute where he collaborates and lends his expertise in the development and implementation of sport science and testing protocols. For over 18 years he has been recognized as an industry leader in human performance offering the highest level of integrated and innovative sports training and sports medicine for anyone regardless of age, sport or skill level.  With a proven track record, he is the Founder and Director at Plex and has designed programs that have helped thousands of individuals, from Super Bowl Champions, Olympic Gold Medalists, to developmental athletes learning to play their first sport improve their performance and overall wellbeing. 

Arnold’s pursuit of excellence and innovative approach to training has received much acclaim from local and national media. He doesn’t settle for tradition - he challenges it. Arnold believes that you don’t just do things because we’ve always done it that way.  One of his biggest contributions to athletic development is the belief that you do not always need to lift heavy weights to improve strength and power at your position. To Arnold, range of motion, reaction, balance, and exercise velocity play a larger role in functional power development. John McClain, Associated Press and Head of Sports Division at the Houston Chronicle said of Arnold, “I’ve never seen someone improve athletes in their craft, as much as I’ve seen Danny Arnold do.  He’s the best in the business.”

  Jason Bentley, M.S. - Biomedical Engineer

Jason BentleyJason Bentley is a biomedical engineer in the ENHI with an academic appointment as a lecturer in the Fitness and Human Performance program. An avid cyclist with multiple state championship time trials awards, he worked previously as an engineer and scientist in the Exercise Physiology Laboratory for Wyle Life Sciences (NASA-JSC).

Bentley received an M.S. in physiology from the Medical College of Wisconsin and a B.S. in biomedical engineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Texas Medical Branch in the Rehabilitation Sciences program, where he studies exercise and physical activity behaviors in cancer survivors.

  Denise Cazes, M.A. - Nutritionist

Denise CazesDenise Cazes is a nutritionist in the ENHI. A senior lecturer and director in the Fitness and Human Performance undergraduate program, she has been teaching health education courses at the college level since 2000. Her goals are to help students and clients feel better, look better, and perform better.

Cazes provides education and support in the areas of nutrition, exercise, health risk reduction and stress management, enabling individuals to make lifestyle changes necessary to achieve better health. The principles and behavior change she teaches in her classes can result in weight loss, lower blood pressure levels, a reduction in insulin resistance, and improved energy levels. She has a B.S. in psychology and a M.A. in fitness and human performance from UH-Clear Lake.

  John DeWitt, Ph.D. - Senior Biomechanist

John DeWitt, Ph.D., is a research biomechanist in the ENHI, where he leads projects, mentors students, and uses unique modeling applications to solve complex problems related to human movement. He also serves as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Clinical Health and Applied Sciences at UH-Clear Lake, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in biomechanics. A senior biomechanist for KBRWyle at NASA Johnson Space Center, DeWitt works in the Human Health and Performance Directorate specializing in the planning for health and technology needs to support human exploration space flight, with a specialization in exercise.

He has conducted numerous biomechanical research studies at NASA, including original research on the International Space Station. DeWitt previously worked as a coach and sports scientist for collegiate, youth and professional soccer teams including the Houston Dynamo Academy, Houston Dash, Trinidad & Tobago Senior Women's National Team, and Afghanistan Senior Women's National Team. He has ongoing collaborations with collegiate and professional sports teams in the area of sports science, data analytics, and performance assessment & improvement. DeWitt earned a Ph.D. at the University of Texas Medical Branch, a M.S. at Arizona State University in biomechanics, and a B.S. in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Toledo.

  Nick Kelling, Ph.D. - Human Factors Engineer

Nicholas Kelling is a research psychologist in the ENHI and an assistant professor in the Applied Cognitive Psychology Program at the UH-Clear Lake. Kelling's focus is the teaching and application of human factors and applied cognitive psychology. Specifically, his research interests include identifying individual differences in object motion perception especially in motion prediction and investigating the use of technology in environments where education and entertainment goals coexist. Kelling is currently working with institute scientist to develop virtual reality applications to enhance the exercise experience and improve health outcomes. In his research, he has collaborated with college athletics, computing companies, amusement parks, and zoos. Kelling previously served on the faculty at Marshall University, University of South Florida – Polytechnic, and the University of South Florida.

Exercise Physiologists



  • Exercise and Nutritional Health Institute

    Phone: 281-283-3381
    Email: enhi@uhcl.edu

    UHCL Recreation and Wellness Center
    2700 Bay Area Blvd
    Houston, TX 77058

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