Meet the Fellows


Jaime Hughes, MPH, MSW,
 is a doctoral student in the School of Social Work and Department of Health Behavior in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Her research focuses on military Veterans and the intersection of sleep disturbance, trauma, and chronic pain on functional outcomes and successful aging. Jaime's research involves the investigation of hybrid interventions combining mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy on enhancing longterm physiological and psychological resilience in individuals with chronic sleep disturbance. Prior to her doctoral training, Jaime was a research associate with the Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center of the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System where she worked on a variety of survey and intervention research studies focused on behavioral sleep programs for both older Veterans and women Veterans. Jaime received her MPH and MSW degrees from the University of Michigan in 2009 and her BA from New York University in 2003.

Kristin Jerger, M.D,
 is a physician and a licensed massage therapist in North Carolina.  She received her medical and neuroscience research training at the Medical University of South Carolina (M.D.), George Washington University Medical Center (residency in Psychiatry), Children's National Medical Center, and George Mason University's Krasnow Institute of Advanced Study in Fairfax, Virginia where her research focused on neural dynamics of pediatric epilepsy. Dr. Jerger served as Director of Health Policy for the Council of Latino Agencies in Washington, D.C. from 2004-2007, when she moved with her husband and toddler twins to Costa Rica for a year.  After her children entered kindergarten, she attended Body Therapy Institute, in Siler City, NC, and became a licensed massage therapist in 2011. Currently, she is Postdoctoral Research Fellow in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Program in Integrative Medicine within the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.  In this position, she is drawing on her medical, psychiatric, neuroscience research, and massage backgrounds to build an integrated research and clinical practice that focuses on using touch to help alleviate suffering and strengthen connections.

Aaron Piepemier, Ph.D, completed his doctoral degree in Kinesiology - Sport & Exercise Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2015. His work examined potential biological mechanisms of the physical activity-cognitive performance relationship (i.e., Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, BDNF). In addition to his academic accomplishments, he holds a 4th degree black belt and has 20 years of experience practicing and instructing martial arts. The Program on Integrative Medicine provides the necessary support for him to combine his two passions of martial arts and health science into the development of a line of research examining the effects of Tai Chi Chuan on outcomes related to the health and function of the human brain. 

Erin Walsh Ph.D, acquired her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kentucky under mentorship of Ruth Baer, Ph.D., where she received strong research and clinical training in mindfulness and mindfulness-based interventions. This training was supplemented by a two-year postdoctoral research position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the stress physiology of depression under mentorship of Heather Abercrombie, Ph.D. Erin joined the UNC T32 Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Integrative Medicine to build expertise in functional magnetic resonance imaging and neurobiology of depression under mentorship of Gabriel Dichter, Ph.D. Erin’s long-term career objective is to explore the mechanisms by which mindfulness-based interventions alter stress-related neural, immune, and endocrine processes in persons with unipolar depression, and how such changes influence depressive cognition, emotion, and behavior. Erin’s current program of research investigates how mindfulness may reduce risk for depression in individuals with early life adversity by targeting key stress-related neural and immune circuits.

Nick Wise, Ph.D, is a chiropractic physician whose research interests include studying the effects of transcranial laser therapy on musculoskeletal pain conditions and athletic performance. His current project is examining the effects of Cranial Laser Reflex Technique on hamstring strength and flexibility in active college students.