DPT Program Faculty

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Headshot: Heather Ross

Heather Ross, PT, MPT, PhD

Program Director & Department Chair

Heather Ross is the Program Director and Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy.   Dr. Ross earned a Ph.D. in Anatomy and Neurobiology from Virginia Commonwealth University.  She then worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Florida’s Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, and served on the faculty of the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Florida.  There, she was named a K12 Scholar on the NIH Rehabilitation Research Career Development Program. Dr. Ross’ research interests have been centered on stem cell biology, and combination stem cell and rehabilitation strategies to synergistically promote recovery following neural insult. Dr. Ross is author or co-author on several manuscripts, book chapters, or NCBI DNA submissions, and her work was supported through several granting agencies.  Currently, Dr. Ross practices in the Brenau Rehabilitation Practice, focusing on the neurological aspects of clients with balance, vertigo, and bariatric issues.  She is a 2019 graduate of the Education Leadership Institute Fellowship sponsored by the American Physical Therapy Association, and is the Founding Chair of the Faculty Leadership Team at Brenau University. Dr. Ross is engaged in service at the state and national level, serving on the Georgia Physical Therapy Political Action Committee Board of Trustees, and the ACAPT Reference Committee.

Headshot: Tamara Buck

Tammy Buck, PT, DPT, PCS

Director of Clinical Education
Associate Professor

Tammy Buck joined the Brenau University Doctor of Physical Therapy Program as an adjunct professor in June 2017 before coming to full time faculty in August 2017. She graduated in 1992 with her bachelors of science in physical therapy from Northeastern University and has 25 years of clinical experience in pediatric practice. She earned her doctorate from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in 2015 with an emphasis in Pediatric Sciences; she earned APTA board certification in pediatrics in 2016. She has worked in a variety of settings: outpatient clinics, community based programs, Early Intervention programs, home health programs, aquatics, school system based services, and hospital outpatient clinics. She has provided mentorship to new graduate therapists and has been a clinic instructor for many students during the years. Tammy developed and organizes a community program to promote health and wellness for individuals with disabilities and their families to prepare for a 5K race. This program incorporates her interests and passion to promote a lifetime of fitness for all people.

Headshot: Christy Brimmer

Christy Brimmer, PT, DPT

Associate Professor

Dr. Christy Brimmer joined the Brenau University Doctor of Physical Therapy faculty as an assistant professor in August of 2016.  She earned her Master of Physical Therapy degree from the Medical College of Georgia in 2001.  She later earned her Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree from Alabama State University in 2015.  She is board certified by the APTA as a Neurological Clinical Specialist.  She comes to Brenau with 15 years of clinical experience working primarily in acute trauma care and acute neurological rehabilitation.  Her area of expertise in neurorehabilitation centers on task specific training, movement analysis, use of robotics, and evidence based practice.  She is an APTA credentialed clinical instructor.  Christy has served as a clinical instructor for many students and helped develop Emory University’s clinical elective in Activities Based Therapy.  She developed the activities based task specific training program in Shepherd Center’s Acquired Brain Injury program and served as a mentor for staff.  She has presented at multiple conferences both locally and nationally focused on her experience in task specific training and use of robotics and other technological advances in rehabilitation of the neurologically impaired client.

Headshot: Karen Burgbacher

Karen Burgbacher, PT, DPT

Assistant Professor

Dr. Karen Burgbacher joined the Brenau University Doctor of Physical Therapy program as a founding clinical instructor in the Early Mobility Program partnership with Northeast Georgia Medical Center and as adjunct faculty in laboratory courses preparing students for this program in 2015. She advanced to a full time assistant professor in 2020.  She graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1997 with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy degree and from Shenandoah University in 2019 with her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Dr. Burgbacher is a board certified specialist in geriatric and neurologic physical therapy and an active member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia (PTAG).  She is an APTA credentialed clinical instructor and has mentored students in many clinical settings including outpatient, home health, acute and inpatient rehabilitation. She has received advanced training in neurodevelopmental technique (NDT) for the adult patient with hemiplegia and was certified in vestibular rehabilitation through Emory University School of medicine and the APTA in 2010. Her most recent clinical focus has been adults with vestibular, balance and neurological disorders. Her mission as a faculty member is to guide students to confidently assist and empower patients in the recovery of meaningful life activities through excellent competence and compassion.

Headshot: Bob Cantu

Robert Cantu, PT, EdD

Associate Professor

Dr. Robert (Bob) Cantu joined the Brenau physical therapy faculty in August of 2015.  Dr. Cantu has been practicing physical therapy since 1979, and has been involved in the physical therapy continuing education arena since 1988. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy, a Master of Medical Science Degree in Physical Therapy, a Master’s of Business Administration degree and an EdD degree concentrating on Health Care Education and Organizational Leadership. His doctoral work was heavily influenced by his experience functioning in both the clinical and business arenas of the physical therapy industry and his involvement in growing and managing a physical therapy business in Georgia.

Dr. Cantu has authored a textbook and numerous other chapters in the area of Myofascial Manipulation. His primary areas of practice and interest have been orthopedic physical therapy, manual/manipulative therapy of the spine and extremities, dry needling, and temporomandibular joint disorders. His other areas of interest include the ethical dynamics that occur at the interface of clinical practice and business. His primary goal in coming to Brenau University was to “help train physical therapists who can have satisfying and successful careers by providing excellent and compassionate care in a changing and challenging health care delivery environment.”

Headshot: Jeananne Elkins

Jeananne Elkins, PT, DPT, MPH, PhD

Associate Professor

Dr. Elkins was an Advanced Fellow in Geriatrics at the Birmingham/Atlanta VA GRECC before joining Brenau in January 2018.  She held dual appointments in the Division of General Medicine and Geriatrics and the Division of Rehabilitation Medicine as Assistant Professor.  Dr. Elkins physical therapy research interests are in evidence-based physical therapy practices and informal caregiving.  She has a special interest in caregiver frailty and caregiving stress. She recently developed a caregiver stress screening tool for geriatric caregivers.

Dr. Elkins is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, the American Public Health Association and the Gerontological Society of America. She serves on the Aging and Public Health Policy Committee of the APHA as well as the Theme Committee for the 2020 national meeting of APHA. She is a member of the Ethics Section of the APHA.

  • 1978 BSPT Texas Woman’s University
  • 2009 MPH The School of Rural Public Health/Texas A&M Health Science Center
  • 2013 PhD Texas A&M University
  • 2014 DPT Northeastern University
Awards and Honors
  • 2006 Gunnin Community Scholar
  • 2009 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Public Health/TAMU Health Science Center
  • 2009 Delta Omega Honor Society
Headshot: Stacey Hoffman

Stacey J. Hoffman, PhD

Assistant Professor

Dr. Stacey J. Hoffman joined the Brenau DPT program in January, 2017. She came with a unique background in both physical therapy and clinical psychology. Dr. Hoffman received her baccalaureate degree in physical therapy in 1987 from the Medical College of Georgia and practiced physical therapy for 6 years in a variety of settings. Dr. Hoffman later obtained her Ph.D. from the Department Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Florida. Her dissertation research integrated her two disciplines by teaching pediatric physical therapists to utilize an empirically based psychological intervention for children with behavioral challenges during physical therapy sessions.  Dr. Hoffman then joined the faculty at the University of Florida as a Clinical Assistant Professor teaching/training at the graduate level in child and pediatric psychology. She developed and coordinated the inpatient pediatric consultation and liaison service at the University of Florida Shands Health Science Center, and was the attending psychologist on the interdisciplinary team for pediatric heart and lung transplants. She left UF and established a successful psychology private practice for 11 years. She is a licensed clinical psychologist in both Georgia and Florida.

Dr. Hoffman’s research interests are in the area of integrating evidence based practices in psychology into physical therapy to address behavioral challenges in pediatric patients. An additional research interest is in the area of psychologically informed physical therapy and outcomes in chronic and acute pain patients.

Headshot: James (Jim) Lewis

James E. Lewis, PT, DPT, ATC


Dr. James (Jim) Lewis graduated in 1988 from the University of Georgia majoring in exercise and sports science and obtaining his certification and license as an athletic trainer. His successful accomplishments at this undergraduate level allowed the opportunity to pursue his PT degree from Georgia State University graduating in 1990. Dr. Lewis holds his license in the state of Georgia and has been practicing PT for 21 years in the out-patient setting. He is a member of the APTA and the education section with service currently as a federal affairs liaison. His experience includes a focus on orthopaedics and joint related injury of the spine and extremities. He has 8 years of experience in management including overseeing the startup and operations of two clinics. He returned to school and completed his DPT from Boston University in January of 2007 and began his teaching career in January 2010 as a part time instructor at GSU transitioning to a full time faculty position in May of 2010. He has since taught in gross and functional anatomy including lab with a focus on joint anatomy, osteokinematics and arthrokinematic. Dr. Lewis’ past experience in the clinic and continuing education in relation to the evaluation and treatment of joint pathologies has prepared his ability to teach in this area and serves to enhance the students learning experience to apply the knowledge concepts of anatomy in preparation for their future work in PT.

Headshot: Daniel Maddox

Daniel Maddox, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT

Associate Professor

Dr. Daniel Maddox is an assistant professor at Brenau University with clinical expertise in orthopaedic manual therapy and a particular interest in management of patients with musculoskeletal spine impairments.  Dr. Maddox holds a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the Medical College of Georgia, and he currently maintains dual licensure as a physical therapist and an athletic trainer – having previously earned a BSK in Sports Medicine from Georgia Southern University. Dr. Maddox is board certified as an orthopaedic clinical specialist (OCS) and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT). In addition to his orthopaedic and manual therapy background, he is also certified as a Therapeutic Pain Specialist (TPS) – having gone through the inaugural post-doctoral TPS program under world-renowned pain expert and physical therapist Dr. Adriaan Louw with the International Spine and Pain Institute. Dr. Maddox is an active member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT), the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), and the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia (PTAG). He has served in the capacity of legislative committee member, delegate, chief delegate, and board member for PTAG.  In addition to his role at Brenau, Dr. Maddox remains heavily engaged in post-professional physical therapist education as well. He currently serves as director of an orthopaedic manual physical therapy fellowship program and as faculty for two separate orthopaedic residency programs.  He also teaches post-professional weekend continuing education classes nationally on spinal manipulation, dry needling, and general musculoskeletal assessment and manual intervention. Dr. Maddox has presented multiple times at the state and national levels at PTAG, APTA, and AAOMPT conferences. His primary goal as an educator is to equip clinicians to most effectively integrate foundational principles, hands-on skills, and current best evidence into a sound clinical reasoning process that relies heavily on each patient’s unique values and collaborative input. 

Fredy Solis

Fredy Mora Solis, PT, PhD

Associate Professor

Dr. Solis, has a bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy from the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN). Dr. Solis was awarded a Fulbright scholarship in 2009 to study a Master’s Degree in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology at the University of Florida and in 2016 he completed his PhD in Rehabilitation Science also at the University of Florida. Dr. Solis’s research interest is focused on understanding the interactions and relationships among physical activity, pain-related psychosocial factors and pain processing both in healthy people and people with acute musculoskeletal pain. Dr. Solis has presented his research at national and international conferences such as the World Congress on Pain and Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI). Upon graduation from his PhD, he joined the Brenau University Physical Therapy Program with the goal of helping students acquire the necessary set of skills that will allow them become successful Doctors of Physical Therapy. 

Headshot: Mary Thigpen

Mary Thigpen, PT, PhD

Associate Professor

Dr. Mary Thigpen joined the Brenau physical therapy  faculty as an Associate Professor  in August of 2013.   Dr. Thigpen has been practicing as a physical therapist since 1979, and became a board certified clinical specialist in neurology in 1994.  She returned to graduate school in 1996, and received her doctoral degree from the University of Florida in motor behavior in 2000.  She comes to Brenau with the following mission:  “My professional mission is to construct a meaningful career dedicated to the patient, the student, and the science of movement.  Through the combined roles of clinical practitioner, physical therapy teacher, and clinical researcher I am committed to an integrated approach that will serve the individual, and society.  My primary research interest is to investigate mobility constraints and potential intervention strategies in individuals with movement limitations.  My overall career goal is to inspire my students to be dedicated to improving the quality of life of those they treat through evidence-based practice,  applied scientific inquiry, and community outreach.”

Ashley McCall

Ashley E. McCall, MPT, PhD

Assistant Professor

Dr. Ashley McCall joined the Brenau University Doctor of Physical Therapy faculty as an assistant professor in July of 2021.  She earned her Master of Physical Therapy degree from East Carolina University in 2000 where she initially developed her interest in tissue repair research.  This prompted her to continue her education and pursue her passion for wound healing research at Virginia Commonwealth University, earning her Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 2005.  While working as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Immunology at Moffitt Cancer Center, she decided to enter the clinic full-time.  Over the past 20 years, Dr. McCall gained experience in various clinical environments including acute care, wound healing, and outpatient.  Over the past 10 years, she served as Therapy Director for a top-rated home health agency.  During that time, she developed a passion for geriatric rehabilitation and continued her education with particular emphasis on the treatment of movement disorders and chronic pain management.  Dr. McCall’s desire and passion for teaching, however, has never waned, and she comes to Brenau University with the goal of instilling a drive for excellence and life-long skill development within her students.


Tiffany Wilson

Tiffany Wilson

Director of Operations, Admissions Advisor

Carly Esford

Carly Esford

Office Manager

Affiliate Faculty

Headshot: John Vachtsevanos

Dr. John G. Vachtsevanos

Clinical Associate Professor, Brenau University
Specialty Orthopaedics of Gainesville, Georgia
Specialty: Orthopedic Surgery

Course Affiliations:
  • PT911 Functional Anatomy/Kinesiology II
  • PT919 Pathophysiology
  • PT978 Advanced Clinical Skills & Reasoning
Headshot: Jennifer B. Hunt

Dr. Jennifer B. Hunt

Clinical Assistant Professor, Brenau University
Founder, Provenance Rehabilitation
Specialization:  Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

Course Affiliations:
  • PT911 Functional Anatomy/Kinesiology II
  • PT919 Pathophysiology
  • PT972 Motor Control/Therex II
Avery Hammonds

Avery Hammonds, LCPO

Licensed Prosthetist/Orthotist
Clinic Manager, Hanger Clinic

Course Affiliations:
  • PT979 Prosthetics & Orthotics

Adjunct Faculty

John Higgins, PT

Course Affiliations:
  • Clinical Education I, II, III
Beth Mayfield

Beth Mayfield, PT

Course Affiliations:
  • Clinical Education I, II, III
Marla Perez

Marla Perez, PT, DPT

Course Affiliations:
  • Clinical Education I, II, III
Clare Stinespring

Clare Stinespring, PT

Course Affiliations:
  • Clinical Education I, II, III

Donald Neunaber, PT, MBA

Course Affiliations:
  • PT952 Administration and Management

Contact Information:

The Department of Physical Therapy is located at:
the Brenau Downtown Center
301 Main St. SW
Gainesville, Georgia, 30501.

Department of Physical Therapy
Brenau University
Ivester College of Health Sciences

Contact Tiffany Wilson for more information:
Office: +1-678-971-1832
Fax:  678-971-1834