Principal Investigator

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Peñalver Bernabé, Beatriz

“Dr. Peñalver Bernabé is a chemical and biological engineer applying systems biology approaches into regenerative medicine for more than 10 years. Broadly, Dr. Peñalver Bernabé has a great interest in dynamic biological processes (developmental processes, disease progression and treatment), especially those with applications in women’s healthcare. After 8 years working in the polymeric industry, leading several high-profile research and development projects that render multiple patents, Dr. Peñalver Bernabé returned to academia to work in applications for translational and regenerative medicine.

Since 2009, Dr. Peñalver Bernabé has been focused in developing statistical and computational platforms to analyze the evolution and treatment of breast cancer, the dynamical effects of mechano-transduction into cellular programs and ovarian follicle development in vivo and in vitro. Her recent research has been focused on the host-microbial interactions during pregnancy and postpartum, with initial studies in perinatal depression and anxiety. In all those projects, Dr. Peñalver Bernabé has been collaborating with very inter-disciplinary teams, composed by doctors and clinicians, experimentalists, statisticians and computational experts from US and internationally.”

Email: penalver@uic.edu

Read Dr. Peñalver Bernabé’s CV here

Clinical Coordinators

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Brianna Betzaida Davíd

“Brianna graduated from UIC with a B.S. in Neuroscience with a minor in Latin American and Latino Studies in May of 2019. She was a research assistant for the Women’s Mental Health Research Program from February of 2018 to May of 2019. Her goal is to attend graduate school. Brianna is interested in understanding the neurobiological components of trauma and perinatal depression and anxiety.”

Email: bdavid8@uic.edu

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Unnathi Nagelli

“Unnathi graduated from UIC with a B.S. in Neuroscience. She worked on the Perinatal Mental Health research projects in the Women’s Mental Health Research Program from April 2018 until graduation in May 2019. Her goal is to attend medical school. During her gap year, Unnathi will continue her involvement with the Perinatal Research project as a staff member.”

Email: unagel2@uic.edu

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Julia A. Camardo 

“I am a student working on getting my Masters in UIC’s Graduate Entry Nursing Program. I enjoy patient interaction very much and that is why I am a graduate research assistant because I get to work with patients in the clinic, like recruiting, consenting and assisting in sample collection. I see a future in Women’s Health or Pediatrics, such as OBGYN, midwifery, or neonatal. My ultimate goal is to go back to school for my DNP or FNP. I would also like to be involved in research for the remainder of my career as well. I played college softball so my biggest hobby includes going to MLB games around the country. I also enjoy going to concerts and playing with my 2 dogs.”

Email: jcamar23@uic.edu

Graduate Students

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Suzanne Alvernaz

“Suzi is a 1st year MD/PhD candidate in UICs Medical Scientist Training Program. She completed her Bachelors of Science in Microbiology at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. While there, she worked in research labs studying plant genomics and algae biofuel production. Suzi completed her first MSTP lab rotation working on developing viral vaccinations”

Email: salver5@uic.edu

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Yusuf Baggia 

“I am a senior bioengineering student specializing in neural engineering. I have a strong interest in medicine, and I currently work part time as a pharmacy technician. I enjoy playing tennis.”

Email: ybaggia2@uic.edu

www.linkedin.com/in/yusufbaggia

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Akanksha Dilip Khedekar 

“Akanksha Khedekar is a 2nd year Master’s student in the Bioengineering department with a concentration in Bioinformatics at UIC. She has completed her bachelor’s in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Mumbai, India. She has past work experience in medical devices and quality assurance. Her work as a research assistant primarily focuses on analyzing longitudinal microbiome, cytokines, and heart rate variability data in pregnant and postpartum women for Perinatal Anxiety.”

Email: akhede2@uic.edu

www.linkedin.com/in/akanksha-khedekar

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Yongchao Huang
“Yongchao Huang is a 1st year PhD candidate in the Bioinformatics program, graduated from the University of Iowa with a BS and MS in Biomedical Engineering focus tracking in bioinformatics and a minor in computer science.
He has a strong interest in artificial intelligence and a desire to develop and utilize the machine learning tools to understand and diagnose the mental disorder in close relationship with genetics and system biology. Learning through this field and applying his strengths to healthcare industry is his future goal. Besides, in his spare time, he has tremendous enthusiasm in sports and music, especially in tennis and classical music.”
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Ashwin Koppayi 

“My name is Ashwin Koppayi. I am pursuing  Masters of Science in Bioengineering in UIC. I am from Mumbai, India.I am interested to study about the human microbiome because there are millions of microorganisms which are unexplored for their contributions towards a healthy body. I like to travel,eat and watch movies.”

Email: alnu6@uic.edu

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Emma Lee

“Emma is a first year PhD student in Bioinformatics. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelors of Science in Bioengineering in May of 2021. She is interested in better understanding host-microbial interactions through modeling metabolic processes. In her free time, she enjoys reading, running, and cooking.”

Email: elee228@uic.edu

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Suha Mohiuddin 

“Suha Mohiuddin graduated from UIC in 2020 with a B.S. in Bioengineering and a concentration in Bioinformatics. She joined the UIC College of Medicine in 2020 as a medical student. Her primary interests include genetics, biomedical ethics, and health informatics. As a research assistant, her work focuses on analyzing microbiome changes in pregnant women with gestational diabetes mellitus and other risk factors.”

Email: smohiu8@uic.edu

Undergraduate Students

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Shivani Senguttuvan

Shivani Senguttuvan is studying Bioengineering with a concentration in Bioinformatics and a minor in Computer Science. She looks forward to solving problems at the intersection of engineering, medicine, and data analytics. She is on the executive board of the Biomedical Engineering Society for the 2019-2020 academic year. ”

Email: shivani2@uic.edu

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Andrea Ohk 

“Andrea is a junior at UIC majoring in Bioengineering with a concentration in Bioinformatics. She is also a member of the Honors College and an educator through Peer Health Exchange and a volunteer at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital. Upon graduation, Andrea plans to attend medical school and continue to advocate and research mental health.”

Email: aohk2@uic.edu

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Rene Sieracki 

“I am an undergraduate bioengineering student at UIC with a planned concentration in bioinformatics. Even though I do not yet know what discipline I would like to complete them in, after undergrad I plan to continue studying toward a masters and doctorate because I love being in school and learning among my peers. My academic interests include engineering, molecular biology and genetics, bioinformatics, and much more. In the future, I hope to contribute to research regarding the cause and prevention of genetic diseases and other multifactorial disorders.”

Email: rsiera2@uic.edu

www.linkedin.com/in/rene-sieracki

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Andrea Lopez

“I am a first-generation, third-year undergraduate student majoring in Biological Sciences on a pre-medicine track, with a great interest in women’s health. I currently volunteer at Community Health clinic as a Spanish-English interpreter, Lakeview food pantry, and the Greater Chicago Food Depository. At UIC I am involved in The Society of Future Physicians, L@S GANAS research fellow, and worked as a chemistry tutor for campus housing. In my free time, I enjoy playing and coaching soccer, listening to music/podcasts, and drinking chai!”

Email: alope49@uic.edu

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Nelofer Arjumand

“Nelofer Arjumand is an undergraduate student majoring in Bioengineering and minoring in computer science.She is currently working on the meta-analysis project which uses microbiome data to analyze gestational diabetes.” 

Email: narjum2@uic.edu