Who We Are

April Young, PhD (University of Kentucky)


Dr. Young completed her Ph.D. at Emory University in Fall 2013, after which she began her career as a professor at the University of Kentucky. Prior to attending Emory, she received a Bachelor of Arts in biology from Transylvania University and completed her Master of Public Health degree at the University of Kentucky with concentrations in health behavior and epidemiology. Her research experiences to date have been diverse, including studies on HCV, HIV, substance abuse, sexual risk behavior, and vaccine acceptance. The settings for this research have been equally varied, including Appalachia, Atlanta, the Philippines, and Nairobi, Kenya. She has been doing research in Eastern Kentucky since 2009. For more information, visit Dr. Young’s profile here.


Hannah Cooper, ScD (Emory University)


Dr. Cooper is currently the Vice Chair for Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Co-Director of the Prevention Sciences Core for Emory University’s Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), and Director of the Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH) Program on the Social Determinants of Health and of the RSPH Certificate Program in the Sociocontextual Determinants of Health at Emory University. Her research expertise includes studying the social determinants of health, with a particular focus on the social determinants of drug use, drug users’ health, and health disparities. She applies multilevel, geospatial, and qualitative methods to explore these topics. For more information, visit Dr. Cooper’s profile here.


Mary Beth Lawson


Mary Beth, Project Coordinator for CARE2HOPE, grew up in the rural community of Elliott County and graduated from Morehead State University with a degree in social sciences. She has served the residents of Appalachia in the fields of college access and children’s mental health for nearly 20 years. Her familial experience with substance abuse and its long reaching effects on rural communities serves as the driving force behind her desire to address the opioid epidemic with a systematic yet community-based response approach. In her role as Project Coordinator, she will be overseeing the project in all twelve counties of the Gateway and KY River districts.




Cindy Jolly

Picture for UKCindy is currently a Community Researcher for the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Kentucky. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of Kentucky and Morehead State University with a University Studies Degree in Social Sciences. She completed her Masters in the Art of Teaching in Social Studies from Morehead State University in 2012 and is currently completing the counseling component of her MAT. Cindy is interested on the impact of substance abuse and addiction related to the family structure and its effect on children and adolescents.





Travis Green

Website PictureTravis Green is a community researcher who works out of the Morehead, KY office. Travis graduated with his BSW from Morehead State University in December 2015. Travis has an interest in human behavior, specifically how environmental factors effect risk behavior in vulnerable and suppressed populations. Travis has focused his professional career on working with individuals who experience substance use disorders and the effects of substance abuse on the individual, the family, and the community.



Ashley Combs

ashley pic for bioAshley Combs, Community Researcher in Hazard, KY is a lifelong resident of Hazard and has a desire to serve her community through public health. Mrs. Combs graduated from KCTCS in 2006 with an Applied Science degree in Practical Nursing along with certifications in Communications, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and Medical Unit Coordination. While attending college Ashley also received additional studies in psychology, specifically connections of substance abuse and human behavior. Ashley has worked in various clinical settings as an LPN for more than 12 years and with programs around substance abuse such as the N.E.T. Drug Rehabilitation Program. In her role as a Community Researcher, she will be working on building community coalitions in the KY River district and conducting research on substance abuse and opioid epidemiology.


Connor VanMeter

Connor VanMeter is a research assistant for the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Kentucky. He graduated from UK in May 2018 with a B.S. in Biotechology and a B.S. in Computer Science. During his undergraduate, he focused on nutrition education and community-based hunger relief efforts. He is interested in understanding community networks and their impact on individual and community long-term well-being.