Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Meet The New CEHHS Faculty Members

Child and Family Studies

Jeremy Kanter is an assistant professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies. In 2019, he received his PhD in Human Development and Family Science from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Following the completion of his PhD, he served as a postdoctoral fellow at Illinois State University, working on an interdisciplinary, federal funded grant helping youth from predominantly lower socioeconomic households promote relational and economic well-being. His research utilizes longitudinal, dyadic analyses to investigate quality, change, and stability in romantic relationships across the life-course, with a focus on identifying factors that reduce and widen disparities in relationship functioning in low-income, ethnically diverse families. Specifically, he investigates how contextual factors contribute to disparities in cognitive and behavioral components of relationships and to relationship stability within and across socioeconomic strata. In addition, Jeremy focuses on positive development and resiliency occurring in socioeconomically diverse families. Jeremy leverages this basic research to inform interventions and polices to strengthen low-income couples’ romantic relationships. Jeremy recently received federal funds to explore the effectiveness of a large-scale relationship enhancement intervention for low-income couples.

Educational Psychology and Counseling

Sharon (Sherrie) Bruner is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling.  Sherrie teaches clinical and content based courses across the three counseling programs.  She is also serving as the director of the newly established Counseling Training Clinic which provides counseling services to the university community.  In 2017, Sherrie received her PhD in Counselor Education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  That same year, she began her academic career at Syracuse University as an assistant professor in the School of Education.  Sherrie will focus her time on supervision, teaching, and clinic leadership within her role, but is also interested in better understanding how counselor educator behaviors in and outside of the classroom contribute to the persistence experiences of counseling students.  This focus allows her to engage with research in a way that feels deeply connected to her role as a teacher and supervisor and directly impacts the experiences of students in her classes and clinical spaces.  In her spare time, Sherrie enjoys hanging out with her nieces and nephews, woodworking, and taking on various projects around the home.

Leia K. Cain is an assistant professor of Evaluation, Statistics, and Methodology in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling. She teaches graduate courses in qualitative research methodologies. She earned her PhD in Educational Foundations and Inquiry and MEd in Educational Research and Measurement from the University of South Carolina, and her BA in Sociology from East Carolina University.

Leia currently serves as the Secretary/Treasurer of the American Educational Research Association’s Mixed Methods Special Interest Group and as co-chair of the Mixed Methods International Research Association’s MOOC Committee. Her research interests center on researcher identity development and its effects on decision making in the research process and LGBTQ+ experiences in higher education. She has been published in the International Journal for Multiple Research ApproachesDisability & SocietyThe Journal of College and University Student HousingResearch in the Schools, and more.

When not at work, Leia enjoys spending time with her dogs, Arthur and Astrid, and is an avid painter and reader of fiction.


Katie Price is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and a practicing Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). In her role at UT, she works with students both in the classroom and in the healthcare setting as they gain hands-on clinical skills in a unique combined undergraduate, masters, and supervised practice program that prepares students to sit for the RDN-credentialling exam. She completed her PhD at the University of Minnesota where she focused on the role of the RDN in assisting patients to maintain muscle mass in disease. She also has experience as an inpatient RDN working with patients across the lifespan and various levels of acuity. She instructed Medical Nutrition Therapy at the University of Minnesota while completing her PhD and has several years of experience precepting students in the healthcare setting. She is thrilled with her role as a clinician educator as UT works to build an exciting new program to educate future clinicians. Previously she completed her master’s degree at the University of Minnesota and her undergraduate degree at Appalachian State University.

Katie is thrilled to call Knoxville home for herself, her new son, and her husband. They love to hike the Smokey Mountains, especially in the fall, and are looking forward to Knoxville’s music and food festivals. She is so happy to join the volunteer family.

Public Health

Donna Davis

Donna Davis is an assistant professor of practice and MPH Applied Practice Experience Coordinator in the Department of Public Health. She is a public health educator who seeks to build bridges between research, policy, and practice.  She is a volunteer leader serving on the Education Board of the American Public Health Association (APHA).

Donna is a self-proclaimed bibliophile and a coffee shop mentor.  She volunteers as a Best Buddy and is an advocate for Special Olympics.  She also calls herself an Oscar nomination critic.

Thankam Sunil is the new department head for the Department of Public Health  Thankam completed his undergraduate and graduate work in India before completing his MPH at the University of North Texas Health Science Center and his Phd in Sociology at the University of North Texas where he was the founding director of the Institute for Health Disparities Research and Program Director for the public health program. While with the University of North Texas, Thankam also developed a new undergraduate degree program in public health which grew to over 900 majors in 6 years.

Thankam has received over $7 millions of grant funding over the last ten years, both federal and non-federal where he either served as PI or Co-PI on these grants.  He has an academic background including training in Statistics, Population Studies, Sociology and Public Health.

Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management

Hongping Zhang is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management. In this role, Hongping will primarily teach courses in tourism including Introduction to the Business of Hospitality and Travel, Financial Management, and Consumer Behaviors. In 2020, she received her Ph.D. in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism from the University of Florida. At UF, she taught Hospitality Management, Research Methods. Also, she co-led study abroad programs to Australia and Fiji themed on sustainability and tourism for three summers from 2017 to 2019. She received her M.S. in tourism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2014.

Zhang’s research focuses on youth and emerging adult development through educational tourism. She is also interested in tourism and memory, sustainable tourism, and intercultural competence. She has published research articles in Leisure Sciences and Journal of Sport & Tourism. She has presented at international and national conferences including The Academy of Leisure Sciences (TALS) Annual Conference, the World Leisure Congress, and the World Research Summit for Tourism and Hospitality.

Social Work and Education, Health, and Human Sciences

Lisa Zottarelli is a clinical associate professor with a joint appointment between the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences and the College of Social Work. In CEHHS, she will be providing support in grant writing and strategic planning. She is joining UTK from San Antonio College where she served as SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison and in other administrative roles. Prior to that, she was a tenured Associate Professor of Sociology at Texas Woman’s University and a Fulbright-Nehru Research Scholar at the Center for Development Studies in Kerala, India. She earned a PhD in Sociology from the University of North Texas and a Master in Public Health from The George Washington University. Lisa is an experienced mixed-methods researcher and has taught a variety of research methods courses. Her research focuses on social vulnerability, especially as it relates to disasters and development. She is looking forward to working with faculty in support of their research and strategic planning goals.

Theory and Practice in Teacher Education

Rebecca Layton is a clinical assistant professor of mathematics education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She teaches mathematics education courses and supervises field placements. Rebecca also supports the Office of School-Based Experiences in which she assists with virtual learning and managing supervision assignments. She also serves as the Media Specialist for the East Tennessee STEM Hub and Center for Enhancing Education in Mathematics and Sciences (CEEMS). 

She is interested in helping mathematics classrooms develop positive dispositions and growth mindsets towards mathematics where students believe in themselves and think they can learn and do mathematics at high levels. She is also interested in high quality and student-centered implementations of educational technology in physical and virtual learning settings.

Rebecca has wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can remember. Her career in education began in 2010 as a middle school mathematics teacher in Knox County, Tennessee. She attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and a Master of Science in Education with a concentration in middle grades and mathematics education. During her time teaching, Rebecca earned an Educational Specialist degree in educational administration and supervision from Lincoln Memorial University and served as a technology assistant coach. After six years of teaching middle grades mathematics, Rebecca returned to the University of Tennessee and earned a Doctor of Philosophy in education with a concentration in mathematics education and educational technology.

Megan PottsMegan Wylie Potts (she/her) is a lecturer in the ASL Education, Deaf Education, and Educational Interpreting Program in the Department of Theory & Practice in Teacher Education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Megan earned her MS degree in ASL Interpreting Pedagogy from the University of North Florida in 2017. She has been teaching ASL for two years at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is a member of the American Sign Language Teachers Association.

A professional ASL interpreter in the Knoxville area since 2007, Megan is nationally certified by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). Additionally, she serves as the current President of the Tennessee state chapter of RID. Megan also is an interpreter mentor and evaluator for both emerging and practicing ASL interpreters in Tennessee.