Lab Members

Laboratory Director

Naiman Khan, Ph.D., RD

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

Research Coordinators

Twinkle Mehta

Twinkle completed a Bachelor of Science in Community Health and a Bachelor of Science in Integrative Biology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Twinkle is a certified phlebotomist and enjoys helping with other aspects of research however she can. She is currently pursuing a career in medicine. Her primary projects are the LuMES and SCOPE study. In her free time, Twinkle enjoys cooking and running.

Ginger Reeser, M.S., RDN

Ginger ReeserGinger 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 Urbana-Champaign in 2010. Ginger is a research coordinator for the laboratory. She works with Naiman Khan and his staff to support, facilitate, and coordinate daily research activities. Her primary project is the ICONS study.

Postdoctoral Research Associates

Corinne Cannavale, Ph.D.

Corinne Cannavale received a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cell Biology degree with a minor in Chemistry in 2017 and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2021 from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 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.

Shivani Sethi, Ph.D.

Chris Kinder, Ph.D.

Graduate Students

Shelby Keye, M.S.

Shelby Keye received a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise degree from Virginia Tech in 2017. During her undergraduate program, she worked as a college mentor for elementary aged kids and did undergraduate research in various labs studying exercise and diet interventions.  She received a Master of Science in Exercise Science degree from the University of Massachusetts, Boston in 2019. While completing her masters she taught youth fitness classes, helped to introduce movement breaks into the classroom at a local elementary school, and assisted in doing research on women using exercise prescriptions. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Kinesiology. Her research interests are on physical activity and exercise in children its impact on their body composition as well as cognitive function. In her free time, Shelby likes eating, working out, spending time with friends and family, and watching reality TV.

John Kim

John Kim received a Bachelor of Science in Life Science and Biotechnology degree from Yonsei University, South Korea.  During his time as an undergraduate student, he conducted in vitro research examining the effects of FK-506 derivatives on neurogenesis in mice. In 2016, he took a brief break from his studies to fulfill his obligatory military conscription where he served as a member of the Republic of Korea’s Naval Special Warfare program. John is currently pursuing a M.S. in Kinesiology. His main research interested focuses on examining the mechanism behind the relationship between physical activity and cognitive function. Outside of the lab, John enjoys lifting, BJJ, swimming, and running.

Tori Kusiak, RD

Tori received her Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences – Dietetics from the University of Wisconsin in 2016. Following her undergraduate program, Tori worked in a nutritional chemistry and microbiology laboratory by LabCorp and later pursued her Registered Dietitian credentials through the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She has been practicing as a clinical Registered Dietitian for the past three years and continues to consult at long-term care facilities outside of the lab. Tori joined the BCNN lab in the fall of 2021 and is completing a Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences. Her research interests include the development and prevention of chronic diseases and obesity through diet and body composition. Tori also has a passion for weightlifting and fitness and has competed in multiple bodybuilding shows.

Shelby Martell

Shelby Martell received a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience from Eastern Illinois University in 2021. During her time as an undergraduate, she researched the other race-effect in emotion across different races. Shelby is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. Her current research is exploring how fiber intake impacts the gut-brain axis and cognition in aging adults. Outside of lab, Shelby enjoys playing and watching sports, cooking, and hanging out with friends and family.

Arden McMath, M.S.

Arden McMath completed a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Nutrition, with a concentration in Dietetics, degree at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) in 2018. She completed her Master of Science in Kinesiology and Health degree from Miami University in 2019. Throughout her undergraduate and graduate studies, her research focused on biomechanics of balance and knee injuries, athlete injury predisposition screening, exercise physiology, insulin resistance, and adipocytokines. Currently, Arden is pursuing her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences, under the advisement of Naiman Khan and Sharon Donovan. Her research focuses on answering questions related to contributors of childhood and adult obesity, dysmetabolism, and dysbiosis of the gut (diet patterns, exercise, parental characteristics, and sedentary behavior). Outside of lab, Arden enjoys running, biking, cooking, hiking, traveling, and camping.

Sarah Ragab

Sarah Ragab received a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology degree from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro in 2021. During her Undergraduate program, she became a research assistant in which she focused on the implementation and outcomes of a Restorative Practices Physical Education program. She co-led this program at a local High School that experienced high rates of suspension, absenteeism, and interpersonal conflict. Sarah is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Kinesiology and Community Health under the advisement of Naiman Khan and Kevin Richards. Her research interests include Sport for Positive Youth Development, Restorative Practices, Social Emotional Learning, and the TPSR model.

Click here to download Sarah Ragab’s CV

Laura Rosok

Laura Rosok received a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Jazz Performance from the University of Miami in 2020. During her undergraduate program, she worked as a community assistant in the Butler Center of Service and Leadership and did undergraduate research in the Brain Connectivity and Cognition Lab studying connectivity in children with autism using fMRI. In addition, she completed a neuroscience honors thesis examining the relation between major depressive disorder and the default-mode network. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, and her research focuses on the cognitive and visual development of children in relation to nutritional status. In her free time, Laura likes singing, listening to live music, eating, going to coffee shops, and working out.

Rhea Sarma

Rhea earned her B.Tech degree in Biotechnology from Vellore Institute of technology, India in 2020. During her undergraduate course she conducted a preliminary study to devise a potential route to tackle the issue of lactose intolerance and cow milk allergy for her capstone project, ‘Understanding the physiochemical properties of milk chocolates developed by incorporating plant milk derivatives’. Further, she published a book chapter on ‘Child Appetite’ where she discussed about different metabolic and social factors affecting the health of children globally. Rhea is currently pursuing M.S. in Kinesiology. Her main research interest focus on examining the interaction between lifestyle behaviors and cognitive health to create effective dietary interventions and promote the importance of nutrition literacy. Outside of lab, Rhea enjoys dancing, singing, sketching, talks on fringe science, travelling and gyming.

Nate Willis

Nate received his Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Administration from Boston University in 2010, at which point he began his culinary training in various restaurants in the mid-west. His food service experience led to a role developing and operating school food service programs in the Chicago area. These programs focused on scratch-cooking and nutrition education as a way to improve the food literacy and health of the students and drove Nate to pursue an advanced degree in nutrition. He joined the BCNN lab in the fall of 2018 and is completing a Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences degree. He is working primarily on examining the relationships between hydration status and cognitive health in both children and adults.

Laboratory Technicians

Lexi Fifield

Lexi completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Eastern Illinois University in 2021. She plans to pursue a career in medicine with an interest in pediatrics or family medicine. Lexi’s primary studies are the ELIAS and iCONS studies, which examine the importance of nutrition on child health. In her free time, Lexi enjoys being outside and baking.

Melannie Pascual-Abreu

Mariah Barnett

Emma Lamblin

Undergraduate Research Assistants