The HHPI team is an interdisciplinary group of scientists and health practitioners, passionately committed to improving the health of the Bay Area Houston community and advancing human performance.
The Health and Human Performance Team
William (Bill) Amonette, Ph.D., is the executive director of the Health and Human Performance Institute (HHPI). 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.
Dr. Nadir Ali is a senior scientist and member of the core leadership team in the HHPI. 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. is an assistant professor of economics in the College of Business and a research scientist in the HHPI. 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.
Danny Arnold is a consultant in the HHPI 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 is a biomedical engineer in the HHPI 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.
Tomas Chapman is an Exercise Physiologist in the HHPI. He earned his B.S. in Exercise Science at Kennesaw State University (Atlanta, GA) in 2018. He is currently a 2nd year graduate student in the Master's of Exercise and Health Sciences program at The University of Houston-Clear Lake. While at UH - Clear Lake he has been a leader in the laboratory, managing and developing several sophisticated research projects, co-authoring four peer-reviewed conference proceedings and is currently working on three manuscripts. His future goals are to pursue a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology and conduct research in the broad areas of applied muscle metabolism and exercise. Tomas’s family currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia where his father, mother, and sister all live. His family means a great deal to him and he attributes his desire to go further in the discipline of exercise science to them. Without them, he would not be where he is at today.
Meg Choate is an Exercise Physiologist in the HHPI. She earned her B.S. in Fitness and Human Performance at the University of Houston - Clear Lake and is currently working towards a graduate degree in Exercise and Health Sciences with a concentration in Public Health. As noted by all the faculty, she was a a consistent presence in the laboratory, one of the programs most dependable workers, and was trusted with some of the most important roles in research projects. Her effort and professionalism resulted in two peer-reviewed conference proceedings as an undergraduate student. Her career goal is to conduct and publishing research to improve the lives of people across the world. Away from school Meg dedicates her time to finding ways to improve her day to day life in eco-friendly way that promote sustainability and decreases carbon emissions.
Dr. John Cottingham, a senior scientist and member of the core leadership team in the HHPI, 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."
John DeWitt, Ph.D., is the senior biomechanist in the HHPI, 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.
Nicholas Kelling is a research psychologist and human factors engineer in the HHPI 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.
Randall Sharp is an Exercise Physiologist in the HHPI. He earned a B.S. in Fitness and Human Performance and is currently in his second year of the Exercise and Health Science graduate program. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, a diligent and calm worker, and a father of two beautiful kids. After finishing the graduate program, he is interested in continuing to work with special populations in a clinical setting as an exercise physiologist.
Olympia Watts is an Exercise Physiologist in the HHPI. She will graduate in the Fall of 2020 with a B.S. in Exercise Science from the University of Houston-Clear Lake where she will continue to work in the institute and earn her master's degree. As a student, she was identified by several faculty members for her comprehension of sophisticated physiology and ability to ask and answer in depth questions. Upon joining the institute staff, she made an immediate impact with her leadership and positive attitude. She developed and launched weekly virtual exercise classes, creating an innovative solution to ensure members of the HHPI were continuing towards their health goals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her personal goals are to continue learning how to help individuals, through evidence-based practices, to live a better and healthier life. She is passionate about learning, exercise, jiu jitsu, and food.