PhD in Health Sciences Cohort

Newest Students 2020

The Ph.D. in Health Sciences program begins its sixth cohort this summer. 

Twelve students will be mentored by several faculty from fields across the College of Health and Human Sciences.

Student Information

Get more information and view member biographies from previous year cohorts

Current Student Biographies 2020

Samson Awoh

Most recent degree: Doctor of Occupational Therapy
Current professional position: Occupational Therapist
Research goals: Long-term care transition readiness
Faculty advisor: Jinsook Kim, Ph.D.


Marissa Beldon

Most recent degree: Master of Public Health
Current professional position: Research Faculty Member at University of Colorado, Boulder
Research goals: I hope to publish research related to socioeconomic and racial disparities in adverse health outcomes, and psychosocial stress in adverse health outcomes
Faculty advisor: Shondra Clay, Ph.D.

Alice Brewer

Most recent degree: Master of Public Health
Current professional position: Director of Clinical Affairs
Research goals: Investigate the selection, implementation and assessment of patient safety intervention strategies and how different approaches impact patient outcomes.
Faculty advisor: M. Courtney Hughes, Ph.D.

Katie Coakley

Most recent degree: Master of Occupational Therapy
Current professional position: Senior Occupational Therapist at Loyola University Medical Center
Research goals: Identify allied health and rehabilitation needs of global healthcare and disaster response teams, improve services and access for adults with intellectual disabilities in the community, demonstrate importance and effectiveness of interdisciplinary collaboration in healthcare teams
Faculty advisor: Jeanne Isabel, Ph.D.

Jessica Conn

Most recent degree: Master of Science Speech Language Pathology
Current professional position: Clinical Instructor at Stephen F. Austin State University
Research goals: To investigate how the addition of tDCS affects Aphasia treatment.
Faculty advisor: Jamie Mayer, Ph.D.

Bryan Donald

Most recent degree: Doctor of Pharmacy
Current professional position: Assistant Professor of Pharmacy at University of Louisiana Monroe. Clinical practice site at Ochsner Health Center for Children - Monroe.
Research goals: Reduce medication and research errors by using electronic data entry/capture for clinical practice and research.
Faculty advisor: Jie Chen, Ph.D.

Ronisha Edwards-Elliott

Most recent degree: Master of Social Work
Current professional position: Program Coordinator, Department of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Sickle Cell Clinic, University of Illinois at Chicago
Research goals: Quality of life and mental wellness for pediatric minority sickle cell patients
Faculty advisor: Kathryn Mazurek, Ph.D.

Kaneen Gomez-Hixson

Most recent degree: Master of Science in Nutrition
Current professional positions: Clinical Nutrition Faculty, University of Saint Joseph; Lead Sports Dietitian for the Athlete Nutrition Advising Program; Clinical Dietitian, Hospital of Central Connecticut
Research goals: To investigate the impact relative energy deficiency has on the health and well-being of competitive athletes
Faculty advisor: Michael Kushnick, Ph.D.

Kerri Lanum

Most recent degree: Graduate Certificate in Health Innovation and Implementation Science
Current professional position: Clinical Informatics Specialist at Northern Illinois University
Research goals: Specific Quality Interventions addressing Social Determinants of Health or Effectiveness of the Annual Wellness Exam
Faculty advisor: Courtney Hughes, Ph.D.

Lindsey Kojich

Most recent degree: Doctor of Physical Therapy
Current professional position: Assistant Professor, Assistant Director of Clinical Education
Research goals: Investigate the use of telehealth in physical therapy clinical education
Faculty advisor: Beverly W Henry, Ph.D.

Kheko Lewis

Most recent degree: Master of Science in Nutrition
Current professional position: Training and Policy Coordinator with the Illinois Hunger Coalition
Research goals: Community-based research on health disparities, with a focus on the effects of food insecurity on health outcomes
Faculty advisor: Flora Surjadi, Ph.D.

Brian Ring

Most recent degree: Master of Science in Respiratory Care
Current professional position: Clinical Assistant Professor, Dept. of Kinesiology; ECMO Specialist.
Research goals: To identify and quantify the impact of chronic pulmonary disease, drug burden, and healthcare access on one's mental health. Socioeconomic determinates of electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) practices.
Faculty advisor: Arlene Keddie, Ph.D.

Saara Rizzo

Most recent degree: Master of Science in Human Nutrition
Current professional position: Registered Dietitian in Long-Term Care
Research goals: To enhance person-centered care and communication through the exploration and analysis of contributing factors, with an emphasis on health professional education/training and clinical translation.
Faculty advisor: Beverly W Henry, Ph.D.