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Our Team

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Meet Our Team


Marianna Wetherill, PhD, MPH, RDN/LD, DipACLM

Dr. Wetherill is the George Kaiser Family Foundation Chair in Population Healthcare and Associate Professor of Health Promotion Sciences at the Hudson College of Public Health and Family and Community Medicine at the OU-TU School of Community Medicine. Dr. Wetherill has additional adjunct appointments in the OUHSC Department of Nutritional Sciences and OU School of Social Work due to the interdisciplinary nature of her research. She is a native Oklahoman who previously worked in the community setting as an administrator, developer, and evaluator for nutrition-related programs for patients living with chronic disease. Her research focuses on building healthy food access for people and communities affected by health disparities. Through her research, she has worked with various types of community partners, including food banks, social service organizations, medical clinics, and tribal communities, to identify feasible and sustainable strategies for improving the nutritional status of underserved populations.

Dr. Wetherill is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian who is board certified in lifestyle medicine by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. She has also completed training on Nutrition-Focused Physical Exams from the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. With a decade of dietetics practice experience including HIV/AIDS, cardiometabolic disease, and plant-based diets, Dr. Wetherill’s nutrition philosophy incorporates a functional medicine approach to personal healing, with a passion for improving health outcomes among low-income populations and other vulnerable groups. She is a member of the Institute for Functional Medicine, Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine practice group, the American Society for Nutrition, and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. 


Chef Valarie P. Carter, MPH, CPH, CHE

An Oklahoma native, Chef Carter earned her MPH at the OU Hudson College of Public Health in Tulsa as well as an A.A. in Culinary Arts from the Art Institute of Atlanta. She also completed the Plant Based Nutrition certificate program from Cornell University and is currently pursuing certification as a Lifestyle Medicine Professional. Chef Carter is the head chef for the Culinary Medicine program at the OU-TU School of Community Medicine, where she co-facilitates culinary medicine classes for medical, physician assistant, and interprofessional student learners. She is regularly featured on the Channel 2 Culinary Medicine segment, sponsored by Shape Your Future.

Formerly, Chef Carter worked as a culinary instructor and consultant for Cooking for Kids, an organization tasked with improving the child nutrition programs in public schools across the state.  She is former editor of Edible Tulsa magazine and former columnist and contributor for the Tulsa World and several local magazines. Chef Carter has broad experience working as a personal chef as well as in fine dining in hotels and country clubs. Her skills extend to streamlining food and beverage operations, consulting, food media, and catering. She worked as a special events coordinator in Oklahoma City, planning and organizing events for Bricktown Entertainment and was a culinary arts faculty instructor at OSUIT for 5 years. 

Chef Carter served as a member and then Vice President of the Tulsa Farmers’ Market, an organization that supports the local economy by connecting vendors with Oklahoma consumers and supports healthy food access for low-income Tulsa communities. She is a member of Women Chefs and Restauranteurs, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and is a Certified Hospitality Educator through the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute.


Lori J. Whelan, MD, DipABLM

Dr. Whelan is an Associate Professor, the George Kaiser Family Foundation Chair in Emergency Medicine #2 and the Vice Chair of Education for the Department of Emergency Medicine at the OU-TU School of Community Medicine. She is a practicing emergency physician at Hillcrest Hospital in Tulsa and is a native Oklahoman. She has a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Oklahoma and received her medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. 

After completing residency in emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, Dr. Whelan completed additional training in physician-performed ultrasound, and has spent the past 10 years teaching this vital skill to medical residents and practicing physicians through continuing medical education courses.

Dr. Whelan’s teaching includes physician-performed ultrasound and lifestyle medicine for medical students. Dr. Whelan has authored over 30 textbook chapters, publications and local and national presentations. She has received 11 teaching awards, including the prestigious Dewayne Andrews Award for Excellence in Teaching from the OU Academy of Teaching Scholars. 

Over the course of her career as an emergency medicine physician, Dr. Whelan has grown to recognize the vital need for nutrition as a central component of medical care. For the past 8 years, Dr. Whelan has developed a personal passion for plant-based nutrition and is an advocate for using food as medicine to prevent and manage chronic disease. She is board certified in lifestyle medicine from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and is committed to incorporating nutrition education into treatment plans for her own patients, as well as developing evidence-based nutrition curriculum for medical and physician assistant students.


Courtney Littlefield, MS, BS, Project Coordinator 

Courtney Littlefield earned her Master’s in Food Science at The Ohio State University and a Bachelor’s in Culinary Nutrition from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Courtney is the project coordinator for the Culinary Medicine program at the OU-TU School of Community Medicine. Here she co-facilitates culinary medicine cooking classes for medical and physician assistant students. She also coordinates the student-led garden on the Tulsa campus, The Growing Health Garden.

Previously Courtney has conducted nutrition metabolomics research utilizing NMR evaluating the implementation of a fermented food diet along with probiotics, post antibiotic administration. She assisted in teaching Brown medical students for the Food and Health Program and then at Ohio State for their Alcohol and Society course. She has also worked in large scale and fine dining food establishments as an assistant sous chef in at the Wexner Medical Center and as a line cook at the Piqua Country Club. Courtney also worked as a nutrition advocate for patients with autoimmune diseases at Victress Health and Wellness to help navigate these patients through an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle.


Natalie Frech, Graduate Research Assistant

Natalie Frech is a graduate research assistant for the OU Culinary Medicine Program’s Food First Pharmacy, which is designed to provide free fresh fruits and vegetables, shelf-stable foods, and cooking tools for patients as part of their medical treatment plans. In 2018, Natalie graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Health Services Administration. She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health in Health Promotion Sciences at the University of Oklahoma in Tulsa. Her research interests are health equity, food security, social determinants of health, social-emotional health, and trauma-informed care.


Nick Hollman, Graduate Research Assistant

Nick Hollman was a graduate research assistant for the OU Culinary medicine program and currently works as a graduate research assistant for the NOURISH-OK research study and is a biostatistician for the Office for Research Development and Scholarly Activity (ORDSA). He has a Bachelor's in Nutritional Sciences from Oklahoma State University and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health in Biostatistics from the Hudson College of Public Health. His research interests include nutrition in relation to chronic disease, food insecurity, and social determinants of health.


Samantha Murphy, Graduate Research Assistant

Samantha is a graduate research assistant for the OU Culinary Medicine Program. She has a Bachelor’s in Chemistry and Mathematics from the University at Albany (SUNY) and is currently pursuing her Master in Public Health in Biostatistics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Her research interests include chronic disease, social/structural determinants of health, and survival analysis.  


Elizabeth Wells, Graduate Research Assistant

Elizabeth is a fourth-year medical student at the OU-Tulsa School of Community Medicine. She was a graduate research assistant with the Culinary Medicine team in 2020-2021 as she pursued her Master in Public Health in epidemiology from the Hudson College of Public Health. She has a Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Oklahoma. Her research interests are food insecurity, social determinants of health, and chronic disease, which she hopes to continue into her residency. In her free time, she enjoys running, cooking, and spending time with family. 


Joshua Gentges, DO, MPH

Joshua Gentges is the research director for the Oklahoma University Department of Emergency Medicine. He has a Master in Public Health degree at the University of Oklahoma. His research interests include medical education, Emergency Department efficiency and quality, and improving the health of vulnerable populations. Dr. Gentges is a food enthusiast and practitioner who says the most fun he’s had in a long time has been helping Chef Carter cook. His focus within the Culinary Medicine team is in developing and researching the team’s social media presence.


Sarah Beth Bell, Statistician

Sarah Beth Bell is a psychologist who serves as a biostatistician and consultant in the culinary medicine research group.  Her areas of expertise include healthy relationships, emotional and physical pain, and social inequality. Before graduate school, she spent five years working as a clinical social worker. The personal stories from the hundreds of food insecure clients she worked with propelled her toward social justice research.  Her research primarily focuses on social determinants of health. 

Alumni


Lacey Caywood, MPH, Graduate Research Assistant

Lacey was a graduate research assistant for the OU Culinary Medicine Program and currently works as a research coordinator for the NOURISH-OK research study at the University of Oklahoma. She has a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Oklahoma and Bachelor’s in Health Sciences from the University of Missouri. Her research interests include food security, nutrition, and social determinants of health.


Reagan Collins, Schweitzer Fellow, 2020-2021

Reagan is an occupational therapy student in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences at the College of Allied Health at OU-Tulsa. Reagan is working to develop an original culinary medicine curriculum for individuals with physical challenges to reduce nutrition disparities in this population. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Human Relations degree from the University of Oklahoma in Norman.  In her spare time, she enjoys rock climbing, rowing, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.


Hartley Bowman, Schweitzer Fellow, 2020-2021

Hartley is a physical therapy student in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences at the College of Allied Health at OU-Tulsa. Hartley is working to develop an original culinary medicine curriculum for individuals with physical challenges to reduce nutrition disparities in this population. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology degree from Oklahoma Christian University.  In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, being active, reading, playing games, and spending time with friends and family.


Molly Martin, MPH

Molly Martin is a fourth-year medical student at the OU-TU School of Community Medicine in Tulsa. She joined the Culinary Medicine team as a graduate research assistant in 2019-2020 while she pursued her Master of Public Health degree. During this time she worked on the Produce Drop Study, which is evaluating the influence of home-delivered fruits and vegetables and healthy cooking classes on the health of low-income individuals with chronic disease. Molly grew up in rural Oklahoma and hopes to return to this setting after her medical training to work as a family physician. She is excited to develop a modified culinary and lifestyle medicine program for her community and to address food insecurity in her home town based on what she has learned from this program. 


John Carradini, MD, MPH

John Carradini, MD, MPH, is a first-year internal medicine medical resident at the OU-TU School of Community Medicine. A life-long Tulsan (except for a short stint as a Razorback in Fayetteville, AR while completing his Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering), he loves that he has been able to learn his passion in the state that shaped him. He is pleased to stay at his home school, OU-Tulsa, for training in Internal Medicine. He plans to pursue academic medicine after completing his training. In his free time, he attempts to correct his slice, bakes bread, and enjoys learning about new breweries with his wife, Caylan, and his two dogs, Dolly and Winn-Dixie. 


Victoria Thomas, MD, MPH

Victoria Thomas was a graduate research assistant working towards the completion of a MPH through the Hudson College of Public Health at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa campus. She received a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Oklahoma State University in 2015 and completed her MD from the OU-TU School of Community Medicine in 2020. Victoria's research experience with OU-Culinary Medicine included developing, implementing, and evaluating a healthy nutrition and cooking skills curriculum for medical residents as part of Healthy Lifestyles, Healthy Communities Phase II. Her practicum focused on nutrition education curricula for pediatric medical residents and school aged children that focused on increased fruit and vegetable consumption. Currently, she is a resident in anatomic and clinical pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA and a clinical fellow at Harvard Medical School.


Gracen Davis, MD, MPH

Currently, Gracen uses her culinary medicine background to help educate her patients and families during well-child visits and hospital encounters. She has given a lecture to fellow residents on developmentally appropriate nutrition guidance and delivered grand rounds on culturally-tailored interventions for healthy weight. She will graduate residency in June 2020. After residency, she plans to work as a pediatric hospitalist and continue teaching lifestyle medicine to families and fellow clinicians.