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 projects are the PATH study and the SHELL 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 projects are the WITIKids study and the RETLU study.


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.

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.


Ruyu Liu

Ru received a Bachelor of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition degree with a concentration in Dietetics from the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign in 2018. She has extensive experience working with human subjects of different ages and background in a research setting. Her area of research interest is nutrigenetics, specifically the relationship between genetics, lutein, and cognition. Ru will start her Dietetic Internship at the U of I in August 2018. She hopes to work as a Registered Dietitian who provides personalized nutrition services based on individuals’ genetic make-up and biomarkers.


Jonathan Cerna

Jonathan Cerna received a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics degree from Iowa State University and is currently completing a Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois.  His main research interests include cognitive health and its interplay with lifestyle variables and behaviors.  Jonathan’s current project focuses on the relationship among pigmentation levels in the macula and structural changes in the retina and surrounding areas in individuals suffering from multiple sclerosis.  In his free time, Jonathan enjoys reading, working out, meditating, and playing bass.


Andrew Dinsmoor

            Andrew graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and a minor in Creative Writing in 2014.  After graduation, he worked as a Lab Manager at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Attention and Perception Lab and Cognitive Neuroimaging Lab, where he collected data to understand the effects of lutein on breasted infant brain development.  He joined the BCNN Lab in 2018 as a Nutritional Sciences graduate student.  In the BCNN lab, his research focus will be on the relationships among body composition, microbiome, nutrition, and cognition in pre-school-aged children in the STRONG kids 2 cohort.  In his free time, he enjoys writing, being outside, and spending time with family.


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

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.



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.



Nikta Anaraki


Undergraduate Students

Alyssa Blinder ● Raphael Chutuape ● Maria Derrig ● Niko Dimantopoulos ● Kevin Ding ● William Fairfield ● Ashley Garcia ● Makayla Gayler ● Lacey Gibbons ● Jeff Jackson ● Ritika Jain ● Veronica Jung ● Kinga Kowalczyk ● Justin Lee ● Deena Lipson ● Kelsi Miller ● Madi Podjasek ● Ethan Rocha ● Danielle Schur ● Marc Sleiman ● Neil Sundaram ● Sarah Sung ● Perry Tonoff ● Payton Walters ● Jinyan Zhou ● Sarah Zwick