Faculty and Staff


Dr. Sally Mountcastle is the Director of the Physical Wellness research core and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill School of Public Health where she completed her PhD in infectious disease Epidemiology (2004) and her MSPH in Epidemiology (2001).

Much of her previous research has been within military populations. Her investigations have included the spatial analyses of the social and sexual network patterns of sexually transmitted infections (STI) in a military and surrounding civilian population, the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and the risk of colorectal adenomas, the epidemiology of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors associated with shoulder instability in athletic military populations, jump landing mechanics associated with ACL injury risk in military populations, and optimal surgical treatment for shoulder instability and ACL tears.

Dr. Mountcastle previously served as Director of Orthopaedic Research for the West Point Sports Medicine Fellowship at the United States Military Academy and has also worked for the North Carolina Center for Public Health Preparedness, GlaxoSmithKline, and with the Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trials Group. She has been an active community member of the Seattle Food Allergy Consortium which brings clinical and basic science expertise together to find a cure for food allergy and has taught at the University of Texas, El Paso and Kansas University Medical Center.

In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Dr Mountcastle is currently working with the VCU School of Nursing on a food insecurity project and is serving as the Director of Physical Well-being for COBE. She has a strong interest in the role of nutrition in health and wellness, food allergy, and food insecurity.

Carrie Baines is the Wellness Coordinator in the Department of Recreational Sports at VCU. Carrie’s professional focus is on how physical activity and mindfulness impacts college students’ well being and performance. She obtained her B.A. from University of Northern Iowa and her M.S. from Arizona State University. Carrie has spent the last 18 years educating and teaching others in health education, aquatics, fitness & wellness. Her most memorable experiences were during her time as a Peace Corps health educator in Turkmenistan, growing professionally while immersing herself in the culture. Carrie’s passion for health and wellness has grown throughout her journey, and she continues to learn each day from her students and peers. Her diverse interests have led her to pursue certifications from ACE, AEA, YogaFit, Mad Dogg Athletics, and American Red Cross. Carrie has experiences teaching a variety of modalities such as Yoga, Personal Training, Aquatics, Water Fitness, TRX, and Spinning. She has taught academic 100 & 200 level courses such as cardio, yoga and stress management classes in university and community college settings. She continues to pass her love of wellness by mentoring students and educating others about the benefits of living holistically.

Nicole Patterson is the Volunteer Programs Coordinator in the University Student Commons and Activities and a Ph. D. student in adult learning in VCU’s School of Education. Her research focuses on the experiences of college students with food insecurity. She serves as the advisor to the student food pantry, RamPantry.



Molly B. Ransone is the Assistant Director of Learning Media Innovation at Virginia Commonwealth University. She leads a creative team that creates educational media that helps faculty bring their subject matters to life. She also works with faculty to design multimedia student assignments that help students express their creativity while engaging with course content and research. She recently launched a new project with her Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute team called Artfulness, “attention to the present moment by means of artistic practices and sensory experiences.”

Molly received a grant to create Artfulness as an online resource, and she used it to invite in over thirty collaborators at VCU to contribute to the curriculum that pairs mindfulness teachings with process based art activities. It is openly available to everyone at artfulness.vcu.edu. During spring semester of 2017, she is co-teaching Artfulness as a cross-disciplinary arts class at VCUarts Depot for a small cohort of students that want to explore and develop an Artfulness practice.

Marcie Walsh, MSW, is the Administrative Director of COBE and in her final year of the educational psychology PhD program in VCU’s School of Education. In her role as Administrative Director, Ms Walsh supports efforts to translate COBE faculty research into programming for students, the university community, and the broader Richmond region. Examples of current programming include the COBE Connect lunch series, the Science of Happiness and Flourishing classes, as well as the THRIVE living-learning community. Ms Walsh’s research interests focus on the factors that influence students’ academic engagement and motivation in the higher education setting. She is currently completing her dissertation study of undergraduate students’ writer identity in the transition from high school to college.


Craig Zirpolo is an award-winning photographer, videographer and journalist who joined COBE as a media specialist shortly after graduation from VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture in 2015.

Craig produces and hosts the Why Science? podcast in collaboration with National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the ALT Lab at VCU as well as blogging, promoting and documenting events, running the COBE website and social media accounts and supporting COBE in all other media-related tasks.