Cores and Programs

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Community Engaged Research Core

group photo.jpgThe obesity epidemic in Mississippi cannot be addressed without research and intervention at the community level. In recognition of the importance of community engaged research and intervention, the Community Engaged Research (CEnR) Core has been created. All three MCCTR institutions have strengths in community-engaged research, as do our consortium partners, the LACaTS Center and the Mayo Clinic CCaTS. Drs. Carol Connell and Jennifer Robinson lead the CEnR Core and implement the CEnR Institute and the multi-institutional CEnR Working Group.

Community Engaged Research Institute

The MCCTR proudly offers an annual two-week residential Community Engaged Research (CEnR) Institute that trains selected junior faculty members from all major Mississippi universities in the principles and practice of CEnR, and offers opportunities for them to compete for funding for obesity-related pilot research projects. Thus in addition to training junior investigators from partner institutions in independent obesity-focused CEnR, the CEnR Institute helps to identify promising CEnR investigators for support through the MCCTR Pilot Projects Program.

The first CEnR Summer Institute was held in the Summer of 2017 on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. The second CEnR Summer Instiute was held in the Summer of 2018 on the campus of Tougaloo College. For more information regarding the CEnR, visit the training opportunities page or contact

Photo: Dr. Kathy Yadrick (front right), former core director, and Dr. Jennifer Robinson (front left), current co-director, are shown with the 2017 CEnR Institute participants.

Community Engaged Research Working Group

A multi-institutional CEnR Working Group will hold monthly teleconferences to present ongoing and completed CEnR research, discuss available resources and research options, and seek opportunities for multi-institutional obesity research projects and funding. To become involved with the CEnR Working Group, contact                              

Core leadership

Connell 2

Carol Connell, PhD, RD, Co-Director of the Community Engaged Research Institute and Working Group, Principal Investigator for USM site

Dr. Connell is Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education in the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Southern Mississippi.


Bianca Garner, PhD, Principal Investigator for Tougaloo site

Dr. Garner is the Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Tougaloo College.


Jennifer Robinson, PhD, Co-Director of the Community Engaged Research Institute and Working Group

Dr. Robinson is Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship in the School of Nursing at UMMC.

Core faculty

  • Carol Connell, PhD
    Professor, Department of Nutrition and Food Systems
    University of Southern Mississippi
  • Bianca Garner, PhD
    Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs 
    Tougaloo College
  • Jennifer Robinson, PhD, RN
    Professor, School of Nursing
    Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship, School of Nursing