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Alumni Scholars

The KL2 program has been a game changer in my research career and provided me with a solid foundation to become a successful independent health disparities researcher. [It] allowed me to expand my research knowledge through a MS in Clinical Translational Science. Prior to the KL2 program, my research was limited to retrospective reviews and survey research. The protected time allowed me to conduct my first prospective observational pilot study. Since completion of the program, I have received continuous grant funding. The KL2 was instrumental in taking my research career to that next level and my grant funding and publication success are testaments to this amazing program.

Heather Prendergast, MD, MS, MPH, FACEP  |  Professor of Emergency Medicine, Co-Asst. Dean of Clinical Affairs

2020-2022 Heading link

Mia (Maan Isabella) Cajita, PhD, RN

Assistant Professor, Department of Biobehavioral Health Science, UIC College of Nursing

Mentor: Susan Dunn, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN, Associate Professor and Department Head, Department of Biobehavioral Health Science, UIC College of Nursing

The overarching goal of Dr. Cajita’s research is to empower individuals to effectively perform self-care behaviors. Her current study is focused on the development and testing of an online health literacy-based heart failure self-care intervention.

Betsy Cliff, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Health Policy and Administration, UIC School of Public Health

Mentor: Jamie Chriqui, PhD, MHS, Professor and Director, MPH Program, Division of Health Policy and Administration, Co-Director, Health Policy Center, Institute for Health Research and Policy

Dr. Cliff uses microeconomic theory and methods to examine how incentives affect consumer behavior and spending in the medical system. Her studies have looked at low-value care, health insurance benefit design, provider prices, and price transparency initiatives. In her current project, she will examine medical care use for people in high-deductible health plans with chronic conditions and stratified by income.

Andrew Riley, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, UIC College of Pharmacy

Mentor: Terry Moore, PhD. Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UIC College of Pharmacy

Dr. Riley’s research focuses on the discovery, design, and development of novel small-molecules that target GPCRs and ion-channels implicated in pain and addiction. In doing so, he looks to provide new pharmacological tools to study the function of these receptors in the central nervous system and translate these basic science discoveries into new treatment options for patients.

Natasha Crooks, PhD, RN

Assistant Professor, Department of Women, Children and Family Health Science, UIC College of Nursing

Mentor: Geri Donenberg, PhD, Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, UIC College of Medicine, Associate Dean of Research, School of Public Health, Director of the Center for Dissemination and Implementation Science, Director of the Healthy Youths Program

Dr. Crooks’ research program centers on addressing sexual health disparities in Black girls and women. Her current research focuses on translating her conceptual model into practice, exploring sexual pathways, and identifying Black girls at risk for early sexual engagement, sexual trauma, and STIs. Her future research goals include developing and conducting a multi-level STI/HIV prevention intervention to improve Black female sexual and reproductive health across the life course.