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Bev Baker

Chief Impact Officer, United Way

Bev Baker works directly with issues and needs facing young children, their families, and the community as a whole.  She considers herself a problem solver and works with community partners, elected officials, and concerned residents and volunteers to address some of the most challenging needs facing Champaign County. She has been a member of the United Way team since 2007.

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Brandi Barnes

Research Scientist, College of Applied Health Sciences

Brandi Barnes's primary role is to work with faculty, administration, and external stakeholders to identify, expand, and support new initiatives aimed at reducing health disparities. Dr. Barnes also serves as a program coordinator for the Community-Academic Scholars Initiative, where she mentors undergraduates during a ten-week community-based research experience. In addition, she works with the Health Sciences Data Analytics Core at IHSI to collect and analyze data for strategic planning.

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Allen Barton

Assistant Professor, Human Development & Family Studies; Extension Faculty Specialist

Allen Barton’s family-centered prevention science research uses basic and applied methods to promote the health and well-being of children, adults, and families. He investigates what makes some families strong and resilient. Barton seeks effective interventions for strengthening families and fostering positive youth development.

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Liza Berdychevsky

Associate Professor, Department of Recreation, Sport & Tourism

Liza Berdychevsky’s research revolves at the nexus of health and well-being in leisure and tourism contexts, adopting a gender-sensitive and a life course-grounded approach. In her work, she focuses on risky behaviors and vulnerable populations, exploring the impacts of risk taking on health and well-being. Specifically, Dr. Berdychevsky examines two interrelated aspects of health and risk behaviors that have gained little attention in both leisure and tourism literature.

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Chaundra Bishop

Regional Health Officer, Illinois Department of Public Health

Chaundra Bishop has been a public health professional and community leader for over nine years working in both non-profit and government organizations.  Her work has focused on creating strategies to increase visibility, participation, and the well-being of underserved communities through health education and promotion.  

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Candi Crause

Director of Teen & Adult Services, Champaign-Urbana Public Health Department

As the Director of Teen and Adult Services for CUPHD, Candi Crause leads a multi-disciplinary division of nurses and case managers that provides integrated services for clients seeking HIV Prevention and Care services, STI testing and treatment, comprehensive reproductive health services, TB testing and case management, and Hepatitis testing and vaccination. She has worked in the field of HIV prevention since 1996 and has been with CUPHD since 1999.

Brian Cunningham

Brian Cunningham

Professor & Intel Alumni Endowed Chair, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Brian Cunningham's work focuses on the application of sub-wavelength optical phenomena and fabrication methods to the development of novel devices and instrumentation for the life sciences. His research group also explores the design, prototyping, and testing of biosensor instrumentation for high sensitivity, portability, and resolution.

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Kristen DiFilippo

Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Health & Kinesiology for the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Program

Kristen DiFilippo's research explores the optimization of health through nutrition education for behavior change. Her work focuses on the evaluation and use of mobile app-based strategies to support the management and prevention of chronic diseases. Her recent work also centers on reducing food insecurity in rural communities.

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Karen Tabb Dina

Professor, School of Social Work

Karen Tabb Dina is a professor in the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign School of Social Work and faculty affiliate at Carle Foundation Hospital, the Lemann Institute for Brazilian Studies, and the Women and Gender in Global Perspectives. Her research agenda focuses identifying risk factors for morbidity and mortality among perinatal women and clinical factors to improve minority health.

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Sharon Donovan

Professor & Melissa M. Noel Endowed Chair in Nutrition and Health; Director of the Personalized Nutrition Initiative

Sharon Donovan conducts basic and translational research in pediatric nutrition. On-going work in her lab focuses on optimizing intestinal and cognitive development of neonates, development of the gut microbiome and prevention of childhood obesity.

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Barbara Fiese

Former Director, Family Resiliency Center

Barbara Fiese explores the effects of shared mealtimes on child and family health. She applies this knowledge to advance research and policy in the prevention of childhood obesity starting at birth and the reduction of childhood hunger through private-public partnerships.

Lynda Gibson

Lynda Gibson

Director, Psychological Services Center; Clinical Assistant Professor, Psychology

Lynda Gibson is the principal investigator for the Safe First Steps Training and Consultation Program, which is an early intervention research program designed to support providers in addressing the wide-ranging impact of childhood exposure to trauma and community violence. She is also the program director a mental health initiative to support families who are experiencing intergenerational trauma (SPACE Program).

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Whitney Greger

Director Wellness & Health Promotion, Champaign-Urbana Public Health District

Whitney Greger is a health education specialist with several years experience working in a local public health department coordinating and implementing health education programs focusing on comprehensive sexual health, tobacco prevention and policy, childhood immunizations and adolescent health. She holds a master's degree in Public Health from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Bachelor's degree in Health Administration from Eastern Illinois University.

Sara Pedron Haba

Sara Pedron Haba

Research Assistant Professor, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Sara Pedron Haba develops biomaterial-based platforms that recreate brain physiology to better understand neurological diseases and enhance the available treatment options. These systems aim to enhance the efficacy and toxicological assessment for specific patients, enhancing treatment options and improving patient’s quality of life.

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Rachel Hoopsick

Assistant Professor, Department of Health & Kinesiology

Rachel Hoopsick utilizes epidemiologic methods and a socioecological lens to understanding risk and resilience for problems with substance use and mental health among populations with high-stress occupations and life circumstances. Her research has primarily focused on military populations, with a particular focus on never-deployed service members and veterans. Dr. Hoopsick also has substantial applied epidemiology and evaluation experience.

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August Jenkins

Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development & Family Sciences, Auburn University

August Jenkins is a postdoctoral researcher in the Human Development and Family Studies department at the University of Illinois. Her research program examines socio-ecological determinates of couple/family functioning and mental health across multiple timescales for Black Americans from an intersectional perspective. The ultimate aim of her work is to remediate disparities and enhance the relational and mental health for Black Americans by producing and translating culturally relevant research for prevention and policy efforts.

Zach Kennedy

Zach Kennedy

Extension State Specialist, Community & Economic Development

Zach Kennedy provides program leadership and support for Extension Educators in community and economic development statewide by developing curriculum, creating and curating demographic and economic profile databases, and producing maps that utilize GIS for statewide Extension use. 

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Naiman Khan

Associate Professor, Department of Health & Kinesiology

Dr. Naiman Khan currently leads the Body Composition and Nutritional Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Illinois. His research has taken a multidisciplinary approach to integrate knowledge in the areas of nutrition, kinesiology, and cognitive neuroscience to understand the influence of health behaviors on specific aspects of attention, memory, and achievement. The overarching objective of his research program is to generate foundational knowledge in translating the impact of health behaviors to childhood cognitive function.

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Hillary Klonoff-Cohen

Saul J. Morse & Anne B. Morgan Professor, College of Applied Health Sciences

Professor Hillary Klonoff-Cohen integrates biological, behavioral, cultural, and socio-political aspects of disease and disease prevention. Her current research focuses on the barriers, concerns, successes, and risks of fertility preservation in girls and women of reproductive age with cancer, late effects and risky behaviors among childhood cancer survivors, and training of primary care physicians about caring for cancer survivors.

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Karen Kramer

Associate Professor, Department of Human Development & Family Studies

Karen Kramer’s work advances the understanding of the relationship between the division of work and care in families, and career and family outcomes of individuals. She investigates how policies such as paid and unpaid parental leave affect the division of care between parents, future career outcomes of mothers and fathers, and the health and well-being of families.

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Laurie Kramer

Emeritus Professor in Applied Family Studies, Northeastern University

Dr. Laurie Kramer is Professor of Applied Psychology and Director of the University Honors Program at Northeastern University. She is also a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the State of Illinois. Dr. Kramer was the founding Director of the Family Resiliency Center and The Pampered Chef Family Resiliency Program at the University of Illinois. Kramer’s research focuses on the mechanisms by which young children can develop positive relationships with their siblings.

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Amy Leman

Assistant Professor, Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communications Program

Amy Leman advances the understanding of effective strategies for teaching and learning in both K-12 classrooms and out-of-school time programs in community settings. Her work is informed by her background as a 4-H youth development educator and belief in youth empowerment. She currently teaches in the Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications program at the University of Illinois.

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Christy Lleras

Associate Professor, Department of Human Development & Family Studies

Christy Lleras has conducted empirical research on racial disparities in socioemotional and cognitive development, mental health, educational attainment, and labor market outcomes with an emphasis on neighborhood and school-level factors for over 20 years. Dr. Lleras also teaches several graduate courses as well as an undergraduate course at the University of Illinois.

Rachel Magee

Rachel Magee

Assistant Professor, Information School

Rachel Magee focuses on how young people interact with technology to get the information they need. She employs participatory methods to spark interest in research among young people and to create resources for libraries and researchers looking to work with young people.

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Sheena Martenies

Assistant Professor, Department of Health & Kinesiology

Sheena Martenies's research is focused on the independent and joint effects of ambient and pollution and neighborhood-level exposures on childhood health outcomes. In particular, she is interested in studying prenatal and early-life exposures to traffic emissions, features of the build environment, and social determinants like poverty influence birth weight, childhood obesity, and other indicators of long-term health risk.

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Brent McBride

Director, Child Development Lab; Professor, Department of Human Development & Family Studies

Brent McBride is a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies  and also serves as the Director of the Child Development Laboratory (CDL) program, and as a Professor of Nutritional Sciences. As Director of the CDL, he has been actively engaged in working with investigators from a variety of disciplines on the UIUC campus as they explore protocols and approaches for studying young children’s development in the context of classroom environments as well as in laboratory settings.

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Jennifer McCaffrey

Assistant Dean, Family & Consumer Sciences Program

Jennifer McCaffrey focuses on building healthier families by providing statewide leadership for Extension programs in nutrition, family relationships, and personal finance. She has extensive experience in developing and implementing programs for limited resource families and currently oversees two federal grants that provide nutrition education for families throughout Illinois.

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Ruby Mendenhall

Professor, Katheryn Lee Baynes Dellenbach Professorship in Liberal Arts & Sciences

Ruby Mendenhall is a Professor in Sociology, African American Studies, Urban and Regional Planning, and Social Work at the University of Illinois.  She is also an affiliate of the Institute for Genomic Biology and the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.  Mendenhall research focuses on issues of social inequality over the life course and the role of public policy and individuals’ agency in facilitating social and economic mobility.

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Tracy Parsons

Community Relations Manager, City of Champaign

Tracy Parsons is responsible for coordinating and facilitating the work of the Champaign Community Coalition. Mr. Parsons helps the Coalition successfully implement sustainable strategies which improve the lives of area youth and families through an effective collaboration of diverse community partners and service agencies.

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Julie A. Pryde

Public Health Administrator, Champaign Urbana Public Health Department

Julie Pryde is an accomplished grant writer, researcher, and speaker. She is also a licensed Social Woker in the state of Illinois. She has held many positions with the Champaign Urbana Public Health Department before becoming the first female Public Health Administrator in CUPHD’s history.

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Minakshi Raj

Assistant Professor, Department of Health & Kinesiology

Mina Raj’s research focuses on using patient and clinician perspectives to improve healthcare quality. She uses mixed methods approaches to study ways of integrating caregivers into health care teams for older adults and patients with cancer with the goal of improving the quality of care for patients and supporting well-being among caregivers. Her research also explores the ethical and social implications of these different health information technologies, including privacy and trust implications of health information sharing.

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Jenna Riis

Assistant Professor, College of Applied Health Science

Jenna Riis's research examines the etiology of health disparities and the processes by which environmental factors and social experience affect child development and life-long health. Her research uses salivary biomarkers to examine the interplay between the biological and environmental processes underlying health. This work includes a focus on advancing the field of salivary bioscience by expanding the range of analytes measured in saliva and increasing the application of salivary bioscience to new fields, including a broader integration into clinical, public health, and social science research.

Andi Schwingel

Andiara Schwingel

Associate Professor, Department of Health & Kinesiology

Andi Schwingel directs the Aging and Diversity Lab, where her research informs public health policy and practice that can lead to healthier communities. For the past fifteen years, she has studied ways to improve the health of underserved populations through community health programs that are both culturally-sensitive and sustainable.

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Anne H. Silvis

Assistant Dean, Community & Economic Development, Illinois Extension

Anne Silvis is Assistant Dean and Program Leader, Community and Economic Development, University of Illinois Extension, and serves on the Community and Economic Development Team for University of Illinois Extension. Her work focuses on community development, leadership development, community assessment and group process skills. She directs funded projects in leadership development and community planning.

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Karen Crawford Simms

Founding Executive Director, Trauma & Resilience Initiative, Inc.

Karen Crawford Simms is an experienced consultant, trainer, facilitator, and coach. She has spent her career advocating for individuals, families and communities who have been marginalized because of race, gender, sexual orientation/identity, health, or their socioeconomic status. She is the founder of Trauma & Resilience Initiative, Inc. (TRI) a not for profit that trains, educates, advocates for, and promotes resilience and justice for individuals, families, organizations, and communities.

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Rebecca Smith

Associate Professor, Veterinary Medicine

Becky Smith works in the framework of One Health, which is the concept that human, animal, and environmental health are inextricably linked and must be considered from a systems perspective. Much of her work is in the realm of vector-borne diseases for which there are not many effective resources to control diseases such as West Nile Virus or Lyme Disease at the ecological level, so we must rely on people to protect themselves – wear bug spray, do the tick check. The COVID-19 pandemic further exposed the role of social forces in the control of disease, how diseases develop, spread and affect our lives.

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Shardé McNeil Smith

Associate Professor, Department of Human Development & Family Studies

Shardé Smith examines the impact of racial discrimination on mental health outcomes, and the supportive resources used to combat these effects, within the African American family context. She seeks to reduce mental health stigma, foster healthy family relationships, and ultimately contribute to the reduction in existing racial health disparities.

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Leona Yi-Fan Su 

Assistant Professor, College of Media

Leona Yi-Fan Su is a faculty affiliate at the Institute of Communications Research, the Center for Digital Agriculture (CDA), and the Informatics Programs. She is on the editorial board of Environmental Communication. Su’s research examines the interplay between media and society, with a particular focus on how social media and new technologies influence human communication and social behaviors in the context of scientific and health topics.

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Margarita Teran-Garcia

Assistant Dean, Integrated Health Disparities Programs

Margarita Teran-Garcia conducts transdisciplinary research on obesity and other nutrition-related diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, among low-income populations. She works on promoting health and wellness among families of Hispanic-heritage and translates evidence-based science to community-based programs that serve children and families in need. Her aim is to better understand the biological and psychological dimensions that could be modified in individuals and families, to tailor more efficient and practical interventions to prevent obesity and chronic diseases.

Mynda Tracy

Mynda Tracy

4-H Youth Development Educator, Illinois Extension

Mynda Tracy’s work focuses on helping youth embody resilience, well-being and a sense of purpose; on amplifying young people's perspectives, ideas and agency; on preparing youth for post-secondary education and the workforce; and on cultural awareness programming.

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Kelly M. Tu

Associate Professor, Department of Human Development & Family Studies

Kelly Tu’s work advances the understanding of adaptive stress responses among children and adolescents. She investigates children’s physiological and behavioral responses to stress and parents’ role in helping children navigate and manage challenges, and her work will inform broader efforts to promote positive youth development and well-being.

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Rachel Whitaker

Harry E. Preble Professor in Liberal Arts & Sciences

Rachel Whitaker studies the dynamics of microbes and their viruses using a combination of genomics, experimental evolution, modeling and molecular biology. In recent years, she has focused on how virus-host interactions impact evolution.