2023-2025 Scholars Cohort
Candice Alick, PhD
Candice Alick is a public health researcher focused on the social and cultural factors impacting behaviors associated with obesity and obesity-related conditions. Her expertise includes the development and implementation of behavioral interventions, community-based participation research, and working with underserved populations. She has led and collaborated on several research studies, from behavioral weight loss interventions targeting Black men to faith based adapted rural diabetes prevention programs. Dr. Alick focuses on mixed method approaches to research promoting the use of qualitative methods to inform development and evaluation of behavioral interventions. Dr. Alick holds a PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a MS in Cellular Molecular Biology and Physiology from Georgia State University. She has over 15 years of experience in behavioral research methods.
Ximena M. Bustamante-Marin, PhD
Dr. Bustamante-Marin completed a BS in Biochemistry from the Universidad Catolica the Valparaiso, Chile. Subsequently she earned her MS and PhD in Biological Sciences with mention in Physiology from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica of Chile. After finishing a Research Scholar training at Duke University and a postdoctoral appointment in the Cystic Fibrosis Department at University of North Carolina, Dr. Bustamante-Marin joined the Gillings School’s Department of Nutrition in July 2019 as a Research Assistant Professor. Her research focuses on understanding how obesity controls the protein and microRNA composition of extracellular vesicles (EVs) and the function of the cell’s primary cilium. Specifically how these two organelles control cancer metabolism, cell differentiation, and inflammation in the obese environment. Dr. Bustamante-Marin’s uses her background in nutritional biochemistry, cancer molecular biology, ciliogenesis and bioinformatics to deciphering new mechanisms associated with the impact of obesity in cancer development.
Yvonne Ford, PhD, MHS-CL, MSN
Yvonne R. Ford is an assistant professor in the School of Nursing at North Carolina A&T State University. She received her BSN from Barton College in Wilson, NC, dual Master’s degrees from Duke University in Nursing and Clinical Leadership, and her PhD from UNC Greensboro. Her research focus is on cardiometabolic risk reduction by affecting social determinants of health to improve health outcomes. She is also interested in genomic predictors of heart failure in long-term breast cancer survivors. Dr. Ford recently received her second reappointment pursuant to achieving tenure as an associate professor. She has experience with qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research, scoping reviews, mentoring undergraduates in research activities, and biomarker collection and interpretation. She participates in collaborative research with colleagues from engineering, kinesiology, and nutrition.
Chia-Chi Key, PhD
Dr. Chia-Chi Key is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine in the Section on Molecular Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. She received her PhD in nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dr. Key’s research focuses on elucidating the molecular and physiologic mechanisms controlling lipid metabolism and their relationship to disease pathogenesis. The major goals of her research are to understand how disruption of lipid metabolism affects adipocyte energy balance and obesity, and to exploit those insights to develop new preventative measures and therapies. These efforts include identifying adiposity-associated genes using genome-wide association studies and evaluating novel genes for their therapeutic potential. Dr. Key uses a variety of experimental approaches, including -omics technologies and novel cell and mouse models. Her professional goals include promoting diversity and equity in STEM and becoming an independent researcher in nutrition and metabolic diseases, particularly obesity.
Mohanraj Krishnan, PhD
Mohanraj Krishnan is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Originally from Aotearoa, New Zealand, he has earned a master’s degree at the University of Otago and a PhD at the University of Auckland, investigating the genetics of cardiometabolic complications that drives health disparities among the Māori people. He obtained postdoctoral fellowships from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to further his research experience in the fields of cardiovascular disease and integrative multi-omics epidemiology. His overarching goal is to marry his genetics and epidemiology backgrounds to bridge the gap between ‘omic’ discovery and public health translation to bring about changes in health in underrepresented communities. To achieve this goal, he aims to use three elements that are critical in research: whānau ora (healthy families), wai ora (healthy environments) and mauri ora (healthy individuals). All three concepts are captured in ‘omic’ profiles of health and disease and his work will identify the important combinations of these elements.
Magdalene S. Tukov-Yual, PhD, MSN, MPH
Dr. Magdalene S. Tukov-Yual is an Assistant professor of nursing at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University School of Nursing. She is a board-certified adult health nurse practitioner and a registered professional nurse. Clinically, Dr. Tukov has worked in both outpatient and in-patient settings with a majority of her clinical career spent in acute care. She teaches courses in community and adult health nursing. Her research area of interest is cardiovascular risk reduction in patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus with focus on minority and uninsured populations. She also examines the use of telehealth in Diabetes management among uninsured patients.
Dr. Tukov-Yual holds a Bachelor of Nursing Science degree from the university of Buea, Cameroon, a Master of public health-epidemiology from the university of Alabama at Birmingham and a Master of science in nursing and a PhD in Nursing from the university at Buffalo, The State University of New York.