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Director Heading link

David X. Marquez

David Marquez received his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago, and his PhD in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is currently a Professor in Kinesiology and Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Visiting Associate Professor with the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Dr. Marquez’ area of specialization is in Exercise Psychology/Behavioral Medicine. His research agenda focuses on disparities in physical activity and disease/disability among older Latinos. His research also includes examining the factors that influence the incidence and prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease among older Latinos.

Meet David

Graduate research assistant Heading link

Michelle Annette Jaldin

Michelle Jaldin is a PhD student in the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Trinity Washington University and her Masters’ in Public Health from Liberty University. Her research interests include physical activity and its effect on brain health and integrity among older adults. Michelle aims to work and engage with the community through health promotion and interventions. Her ultimate goal is to reduce disparities in affected underserved areas and minority populations.

Contact Michelle

Graduate research assistant Heading link

Miguel Negrete

Miguel Negrete is a PhD student in the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Furman University.  He aims to effectively utilize physical activity and nutrition-based interventions to prevent compounding health issues and understand social, cultural, and environmental determinants of diet-related morbidities and mental health in low-income communities. Miguel’s passion for prevention science stems from his upbringings as a resident from Little Village, an underserved community with various health disparities.

Contact Miguel

Research Associate II Heading link

Jocelyn Ocampo

Jocelyn Ocampo is a Visiting Research Associate II at the University of Illinois Chicago. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Illinois Chicago. Jocelyn currently works within the Exercise Psychology Lab as the Project Coordinator for the CEREBRO Study, which offers two remote culturally relevant physical activity programs for older Latinos. Her research interests include understanding how socio-cultural and economic factors shape health outcomes and experiences for minority communities. In her free time, Jocelyn enjoys exploring new Chicago food spots, going out for walks, and flexing her creativity muscle by learning new skills like knitting and sewing.

Contact Jocelyn

Graduate research assistant Heading link

Brynne Skidmore

Brynne is a graduate student at UIC pursuing her Master’s degree in Nutrition. She previously graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where she enjoyed the beautiful mountains. When she graduates from UIC, she plans to become a registered dietitian and help families find ways to enjoy food and feel their healthiest. Brynne was born in St. Louis, Missouri and moved around frequently growing up, which is how she learned Spanish. She spent time living in Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Peru. She loves going on walks, cooking, reading books, and teaching her toddler words in Spanish!

Contact Brynne

Graduate research assistant Heading link

Eduardo Cardiel

Eduardo Cardiel graduated DePaul University in 2020 and has recently obtained his MPH at the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Eduardo is a public health enthusiast and has been working in the field for 5 years. His work has revolved around community engagement, epidemiology, research, and infection/outbreak control. He currently works for the CEREBRO study translating material, screening, and testing study participants, while also advocating for the Alzheimer’s Association with the purpose of decreasing Alzheimer’s and dementia among older Hispanic adults in the United States. During his free time, Eduardo enjoys hiking new trails, traveling, watching football, spending time with family and friends, watching action-packed movies and learning new skills.

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Graduate research assistant Heading link

Sonam Khanna

Sonam earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Bachelor of Arts in Spanish at Loyola University Chicago, and her Master of Science in Medical Physiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She enjoys dancing, singing, playing cello, Zumba classes, running, and new experiences. Having grown up in largely Latino/Hispanic communities in Streamwood and Elgin, Illinois, she is passionate to use Spanish to serve others, including low-income and underserved communities. She aspires to become a physician and provide health care that diverse patients can access and will reap the benefits of. Her goal is to build patient trust through effective communication with use of patients’ primary languages, cultural sensitivity, and attentiveness to patients’ unique situations, to ultimately achieve desirable patient health outcomes. As a research assistant, she aims to foster her capabilities to work together with diverse patient populations and to promote the wellbeing of all, especially those limited in resources, through healthy physical activity, diet, and lifestyle.

Contact Sonam

Research Associate II Heading link

Karina Morales

Karina works as a Community Liaison for the CEREBRO Study under the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Part of her career has focused on support and care of vulnerable and minority communities. She is also an avid media content creator, connecting people’s experiences through storytelling. She spends her time between serving the local Latino community, and collaborating with creatives forces to produce exceptional digital media.

Contact Karina

Undergraduate research assistant Heading link

Dayane Padilla

Dayane Padilla is a 4th year at the University of Illinois Chicago. Studying public health + Biology in the pre-medicine track.  Dayane joined the team at the beginning of 2023 with the L@S GANAS Research Fellowship. Dayane is the president and co-founder of Mujeres En Medicina, an organization created to support first- generation, Latine, students pursuing careers in healthcare. She is undergraduate volunteer coordinator and run leader in the Mobile Migrant Health team providing basic health care to the emerging migrant population in the Chicago police stations. In addition, she works as a medical assistant at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. She enjoys running long distance but playing soccer and reading in her free time. Her ultimate goal is to become a physician, working with latine and minority populations to address the healthcare disparities.


Contact Dayane

Undergraduate research assistant Heading link

Miguel Gutierrez 

Miguel is a Neuroscience and Sociology major who is currently an undergraduate student. He serves as a combat medic in the Army National Guard and also works as an ER Technician in the Emergency Department. Additionally, he volunteers at Community Health as a lab tech. In his free time, Miguel enjoys working out at the gym. His goal is to become a surgeon and represent Latinos in the field of medicine, especially in surgery. He joined the team in the summer of 2023.

Contact Miguel

Undergraduate research assistant Heading link

Mariana Tellez 

Mariana is a second year Public Health student on the Pre-Medicine track. She hopes to specialize in neurology, specifically in adults. Her ultimate goal is to educate Latinos about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle to prevent cardiovascular diseases and neurological injuries. Mariana is an e-board member for Mujeres En Medicina, an academic advisor to her sorority, a volunteer, and a nursing assistant at an inpatient rehabilitation hospital. In her free time, she enjoys reading, working out, and visiting coffee shops in Chicago. She joined the team in the Fall 2023 with the help of Mujeres en Medicina!

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Undergraduate research assistant Heading link

Sara Restrepo

Sara Restrepo is a third-year undergraduate studying kinesiology on the pre-occupational therapy track at UIC. During her free time, Sara enjoys cooking, trying new foods, and running with her dog. Sara heard about CEREBRO through taking KN 237 with Dr. Marquez, she found the topic of this research interesting and wanted to learn more about it. Sara is interested in learning more about how physical activity and exercise can impact brain development and function.

Contact Sara

Undergraduate research assistant Heading link

Mariana Pinto

Mariana is a second year Biology student at the University of Illinois at Chicago who joined the team at the beginning of 2023. She is a recent transfer student from Lewis University where she played on the Lewis Women’s Soccer Division II Team for two years. She is a member of UIC’s Medicina Scholars. Mariana also works at a family medicine clinic as a medical assistant. In her free time, she likes to work out and listen to self-development podcasts. Mariana’s goal is to become a Sports Medicine Physician to provide athletes with the best possible course of treatment following their injuries. She also aims to educate the Latino community and other underserved areas on the importance of building healthy habits with nutrition, as well as integrating injury prevention exercises in one’s daily routine.

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Undergraduate research assistant Heading link

Alicia Herrera 

Alicia is a 4th year Kinesiology Major at UIC. She transferred to UIC from City Colleges of Chicago after getting her associate degree in applied science. She is an aspiring Physical Therapist who is preparing for enrollment in her Graduate program. Alicia currently works multiple jobs within the service industry but is primarily working as a Patient experience coordinator at a physical therapy clinic. Alicia enjoys staying active by weight training and playing sports like Soccer and volleyball in her free time. One of her favorite things to do is spend time with her dogs training and playing. Alicia hopes to make a positive impact as a Physical therapist by serving her community and emphasizing preventative care and education to promote safe and healthy physical activity for all populations.

Contact Alicia

Instructor Heading link

Miguel Mendez 

Miguel Mendez is the founder of the Dance Academy of Salsa in Chicago. He has over 30 years of teaching experience and is also the co-founder of the BAILAMOS dance program for Seniors through the University of Illinois, Chicago.

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Instructor Heading link

Miguel Torres

Miguel A Torres Jr., a Chicago native, carries the legacy of salsa in his veins. Born to Miguel Sr., who hails from Villalba, Puerto Rico, and Mary Torres, who has Puerto Rican and Mexican heritage from Waukegan, Illinois, Miguel grew up immersed in salsa rhythms. His journey in dance began in the lively gatherings of “El Corrillo De Humboldt Park”. It extended through high school, where he transitioned from social dancing to choreographing school shows, cotillions, and weddings. After honing his skills at Latin Street Dancing and Chicago Dance, Miguel expanded his horizon to the international stage, joining the Salsa Cruise Staff in 2013 and teaching in over 10 countries. His rich experience and unique style are now culminating in Windy City Salsa Studio, bringing a world-class salsa experience to his hometown.

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Instructor Heading link

Lupe Jimenez

Lupe, originally from Jalisco, Mexico, has spent most of her life in Chicago, Illinois. With a degree in Kinesiology, she is now pursuing her master’s at UIC. Before joining the PSEP program, Lupe worked as a personal trainer and group instructor in various fitness facilities. Driven by her passion for wellness, she founded her own personal training business S-Corp, and took on the role of a teaching assistant for KN 137 Personal Fitness. Lupe finds joy in teaching and coaching others to reach their full potential. In the PSEP program, Lupe aims to become an adjunct professor and expand her coaching business. She looks forward to working with students, creating educational content, and helping people in their journey of self-discovery. Lupe is excited about the opportunity to contribute to the learning experiences of others and continue supporting them in becoming their best selves.

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Instructor Heading link

Anahi Tilapa

Anahi Tilapa earned her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is  a NASM certified personal trainer at Orange Shoe Personal Fitness in the Lakeview area.  Her interests in fitness range from hiking, to running and strength training. She aims to help individuals stay consistent and motivated with their fitness goals regardless of their age and level of expertise. Her ultimate goal is to help promote exercise as medicine as she believes in the importance of performing physical activity to help prevent and treat certain medical conditions.

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Ph.D. alumni Heading link

Masters alumni Heading link

  • Ibraheem Oguntade
  • Jaqueline Guzman
  • Melissa Magallanes