Researchers & Support Staff

Principal Investigator
Naiman Khan, PhD., RD

Dr. Naiman Khan’s research interest is in the area of Nutritional Neuroscience. Our laboratory utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to integrate knowledge in the disciplines of dietetics, body composition, and cognitive neuroscience to understand the interactions between lifestyle behaviors (e.g., diet and physical activity), abdominal adiposity, and cognitive and brain health in the pediatric and adult population. The knowledge gained from this work is used to develop effective behavioral or environmental strategies of mitigating the detrimental effects of obesity and metabolic risk on measures of physical and mental health.    

Ph.D., Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
M.S., Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Click here to Download Naiman Khan’s CV

Post Doc

Anne Dorothy McClure Walk, PhD

Anne received her PhD from Saint Louis University in Cognitive Neuroscience and is currently a post-doctoral scholar in the BCNN Lab. Her research interests lie in uncovering the fundamental mechanisms that drive human learning and cognition using both behavioral and brain-based approaches. She is particularly interested in how cognitive abilities are affected by a variety of health behaviors and has studied cognition in the context of health, diet, language status, and atypical development. In the past, she has studied the neural correlates of implicit learning and language in a variety of developmental contexts. Much of her current work examines the relationship between neuro-pigments and cognitive control, multi-sensory integration and processing, and ERPs in children. A new project she is helping to launch in the lab will focus on investigating body composition and cognition in preschool children.

 

Research Coordinators

 

Ginger ReeserGinger Reeser, MS, RDN, LDN

Ginger Reeser received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Mobile and completed a Master of Science in Nutritional Science degree along with the dietetic internship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2010. Ginger is a research coordinator for the laboratory. She works with Dr. Khan and his staff to support, facilitate, and coordinate daily research activities. Her primary project is the PATH study.

 

 

Macie Sinn

    Macie Sinn received a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2014. She began working in the laboratory in 2011 with the FITKids study as an undergraduate research assistant and later as a coordinator. Macie is currently pursuing her a Master of Science in Recreation, Sport and Tourism degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a research coordinator in the lab and her primary project is the WITIKids study.

 

Linda Steinberg

Linda Steinberg received a Bachelor of Science in Community Health degree with a focus in Health Administration and Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign in 2006.  She has since gathered 10 years of professional experience in health and wellness program planning and implementation working in the local public schools and public health district.  Linda started at the BCNN lab in 2016 as a research coordinator and began perusing her a Master of Health Communications degree at the University of Illinois. Her primary project is the BAT Kids study.  In her spare time, Linda likes to workout, spend time with her family, paint, and check out local community events.

Graduate Students

Corinne Cannavale

Corinne Cannavale received a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cell Biology  degree with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2017. She then joined the BCNN lab and started a PhD program in Neuroscience. Corinne’s main research interests are in learning and memory, specifically, how memory can be enhanced through diet and exercise. Her first main research project is investigating cognitive function in preschool aged children. Her second main project is understanding how probiotics affect memory and cognition in adults. In her free time, Corinne enjoys reading and cooking.

Alicia Jones

Alicia CovelloAlicia joined the BCNN Lab in 2015. She received a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology degree at Eastern Illinois University in 2016. Alicia’s main research interests are physical activity, fitness, nutrition and their combined impact on mental health and cognitive function. Alicia’s current research projects are diverse and focus on either the effects of fluid modulation on cognitive control, the impact of nutrition on the health of individuals diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, or the effects of exercise and nutrition on low SES women living within Illinois. She looks forward to completing her master’s degree at University of Illinois while continuing to investigate how the body responds to nutrition and exercise.

 

 

Morgan Chojnacki

Morgan Chojnacki graduated from Illinois Institute of Technology in May 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology degreey. She worked as a chemist for a year and a food specification specialist for two years before joining the BCNN lab. Morgan is in her third year in the Division of Nutritional Sciences master’s program and is currently completing her dietetic internship.  Morgan’s main research interests are the impact of nutrition, body composition, and early life on cognitive function. Her current research focuses on early life nutritional effects on macular pigment accumulation in the eye and cognitive control in 8 to 11 year olds. The FITKids and RETLU studies are ongoing components of Morgan’s master’s thesis project.  She hopes to work in a pediatric clinical nutrition setting.

 

Caitlyn Edwards

 

 Caitlyn Edwards

Caitlyn Edwards received a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics degree with a minor in Psychology from New York University in 2012. After college she ran a kids cooking school and worked in kitchens around the country before joining the BCNN lab. Caitlyn’s main research interests are the impact of dietary choices on mental health and cognitive functioning. She is currently working on many projects looking at the interactions between BMI, diet, and cognitive functioning, Caitlyn’s main project is an avocado supplementation study aimed at examining the effects of avocado consumption on visceral adiposity and glycemic control.

 

Bridget Hannon

Bridget Hannon completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Psychology degree with a minor in Spanish at the University of Rochester in 2014.  She received a Master of Science in Nutritional Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2017. Her research focuses on dietary and surgical treatments for obesity, the role of genetics in weight loss variability, and how personalized nutrition programs can be designed to better treat adiposity-based chronic diseases. She is particularly interested in the role of dietary fat and how different dietary fatty acids affect metabolism. She is also enrolled in the Didactic Program in Dietetics and plans to complete the Dietetic Internship following her doctoral defense. In her free time, Bridget likes reading, CrossFit, and playing the violin.

 

Grace Niemiro

Grace Niemiro received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry degree with a minor in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2014. She then started on the PhD program in Kinesiology and Community Health with a concentration in Exercise Physiology as well as Bio-Behavioral Kinesiology. Her projects focus on how hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells affect cognitive functioning in childhood obesity, but is also investigating the changes in the hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell population from exercise in the obese population. In her free time, Grace enjoys cooking, baking, and running.

 

Visiting Research Assistants

 

 Gabriella McLoughlin

Gabirella is a PhD Candidate in Kinesiology and Community Health, currently conducting her dissertation research. Her research focuses on children’s health behavior and the role of schools in health promotion. She is a licensed physical education teacher and conducts research in school settings to understand the impact of policy, curriculum, and instruction on children’s health knowledge and behavior. She is particularly focused on low-income schools and the impact of school health interventions to prevent and reduce obesity prevalence through augmenting health behaviors in children. Her recent research has examined children’s school-based recess physical activity and the perceptions of their social environment, the impact of school lunch schedules on nutrition consumption and physical activity, and the relationship between physical activity and executive functioning. She has been working with the BCNN lab for the last two years leading their school based research efforts and physical activity measurement for larger intervention trials. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and playing sports.

  Click here to download Gabriella McLoughlin’s CV

 

Laboratory Technicians

Jackson Evensen

Jackson recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology degree. He began as an undergraduate research assistant with the BCNN Lab in 2015 and now works as a laboratory technician. His primary research interests include the interconnectivity between physical activity, nutrition, and neurocognitive function. Jackson aspires to pursue a career in physical therapy and is currently in the process of applying to physical therapy graduate schools.

 

 

 

Isabel Flemming

Isabel is a senior at the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign. She will be graduating in December of 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology degree and a minor in chemistry. Isabel joined the lab in the summer of 2016 and is hoping to use her experience as a lab technician to address body composition and it’s effects on anxiety and depression. After graduation, she is hoping to attend medical school to pursue Osteopathic medicine.

 

 

 

Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones received a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology degree at Eastern Illinois University in 2016. He has worked as a Strength and Conditioning Director and continues his interest in body composition and health. Ryan’s main research interests are biomechanics, nutrition, physical activity, video games,  and their impact on cognitive function and lifestyle behaviors. Ryan’s current research focuses on adult protein consumption and cognitive function.

 

 

Samantha Iwinski

Samantha is currently a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and she will be graduating in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Psychology degree. She started working in the laboratory in the summer of 2017. Her main research interest includes nutrition and family environments’ impact on mental health. Once she graduates, she will pursue clinical experience with children and adolescents and apply to graduate schools. She hopes to become a clinical psychologist and continue research on the factors that impact mental health.

 

 

 

Ruyu Liu

Ru started working in the laboratory in 2015 as an undergraduate research assistant and now as a laboratory technician. She is a fifth-year Dietetics student at the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign. Her main research interests are the impact of nutrition and other lifestyle factors on obesity and cognitive functions. Ru is in the process of applying to master’s programs in human nutrition and dietetic internships. She hopes to become a registered dietitian and continue her research focusing on the impact of dietary behaviors on obesity and cognition.

 

Connor Robbs

Connor is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and will be graduating in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Integrative Biology degree and a minor in chemistry.  He started his kinesiology research in the spring of 2016 and then joined BCNN lab in the fall of 2016.  Connor became a laboratory technician in the spring of 2017 with a specialization in acquiring and analyzing retinal images using Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT).  His main research interests pertain to the impact of nutrition on the retinal layer and how it affects the vision of patients. Connor will be attending the Illinois College of Optometry in the fall of 2018.

 

Daniel Hill

Daniel is a junior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and will be graduating in May 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering and Design degree with a concentration in Control Systems and a minor in Electrical Engineering.  He began working in the lab in the Fall of 2017 to support data integration and analyses procedures in the laboratory.  His main interests are in the optimization of autonomous vehicles and other complex control systems.  In his free time, Daniel enjoys playing sports and video games.

 

Undergraduate Students

Andrea Algarra ● Alaina Balbinot ● Alyssa Blinder ● Kieran Buckley ● Jim Choi ● Eryka Cordero ● Marianne Durkin ● Tricia Ebersold ● Makayla Gayler ● Ritika Jain ● Veronica Jung ● Richard Kim ● Nitesh Kumar ● Vinny Lai ● Kara Lane ● Justin Lee ● Deena Lipson ● Kelsi Miller ● Mary Ondrejka ● Migi Park ● Madi Podjasek ● Ethan Rocha ● Danielle Schur ● Athina Simotas ● Marc Sleiman ● Sarah Sung ● Payton Walters ● Sarah Zwick ● Sean Zwicky