MCHI Team Investigators


Karen Tabb Dina, PhD, MSW

María Piñeros-Leaño, PhD, MSW, MPH

María Piñeros-Leaño, PhD, MSW, MPH

Karen Tabb Dina, PhD, MSW is associate professor in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Social Work and faculty affiliate at Carle Foundation Hospital, the Lemann Institute for Brazilian Studies, and the Women and Gender in Global Perspectives. Her research agenda focuses on identifying risk factors for morbidity and mortality among perinatal women and clinical factors to improve minority health. Currently, she is Principal Investigator (PI) of a PCORI-funded project to engage pregnant and postpartum women as collaborators in perinatal depression research. In 2019, Dr. Tabb received the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Thought Leader Award for Leading in Peer-Reviewed Publications, the New Connections Program’s premier honor for early career faculty. 

Karen Tabb Dina received her PhD in Social Welfare and a Certificate in Demographic Methods from the University of Washington in Seattle. She received her Master of Social Work, concentrating in Social Policy and Evaluation, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Eastern Michigan University. In addition to scholarship, she is a biological mother of two and has been screened for depression more than three dozen times.


María Piñeros-Leaño, PhD, MSW, MPH

María Piñeros-Leaño, PhD, MSW, MPH

María Piñeros-Leaño, PhD, MSW, MPH

María Piñeros-Leaño is an Assistant Professor at Boston College. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, a Master of Social Work, a Master of Public Health, and a doctorate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Maria’s research interests are related to maternal and infant health and early maternal risk and protective factors for child obesity. Specifically, she explores the role that maternal depression has on the development of childhood obesity among minority groups. 


Brandon Meline, RD

María Piñeros-Leaño, PhD, MSW, MPH

Brandon Meline, RD

Brandon S. Meline is the Director of the Division of Maternal and Child Health at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD).  He is a licensed and registered dietitian, and holds a Masters in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Bachelors in Human Biology from Illinois Wesleyan University.  He is interested in research related to the built environment, planning, education, and health policy changes to benefit the health of the local and regional community schools.   He has published collaborative research on salivary bacterial microbiome diversity in infants and mothers, and non-nutritive food components and cancer prevention.  In his free time, Brandon enjoys being physically active with his dog Floyd and traveling the entirety of Champaign County to watch his children’s sporting events.


Hsiang Huang, MD, MPH

Hsiang Huang, MD, MPH

Hsiang Huang, MD, MPH

Hsiang Huang, MD, MPH is an Instructor of Psychiatry at Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School where he directs the Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry Fellowship and the Primary Care Behavioral Health Integration Program. He is a collaborator on the Global Burden of Disease Study, Seattle, WA. He is a 2015 Fulbright Scientific Mobility Scholar, researching Collaborative Care models in the Brazilian public health system.  From 2015-2019, he served as a Master Trainer in collaborative care as part of the CMS funded Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative, which has trained more than 3,500 U.S. psychiatrists in this evidence based health care delivery model.   He has co-authored more than 65 peer-reviewed articles.


Joanna Buscemi, PhD

Hsiang Huang, MD, MPH

Hsiang Huang, MD, MPH

Joanna Buscemi, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at DePaul University. Dr. Buscemi is a Clinical Psychologist and behavioral scientist whose work focuses on obesity prevention within at risk youth. Specifically, she is currently interested in increasing healthful eating in Chicago Public Schools. She also has expertise in technology-supported behavioral interventions and in dissemination and implementation science. 


Jane Macdonald

Hsiang Huang, MD, MPH

Jane Macdonald

Jane Macdonald is Director of Community Health at Loaves & Fishes. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Food Technology encompassing studies in food science and nutrition from Cornell University, and a Master’s in Business Administration through the Executive Program at Northern Illinois University. With more than 25 years as a professional in the food industry, she has worked with global food manufacturing organizations, as well as non-profit trade association management firms. Like many Loaves & Fishes staff, Jane started as a volunteer in 2010, and became a staff member shortly afterward. She was instrumental in introducing many of the program services and grocery store initiatives of our current emergency food system and has most recently focused on community initiatives for low income residents throughout DuPage County.  

MCHI RESearch Assistants (Present)


Asma Y. Ali (2019-Present)

Asma Y. Ali graduated Magna Cum Laude from DePaul University where she double majored in Arabic and Islamic World Studies with a focused concentration in Islamic Law, Hadith, and Qur’an. Her formal research interests include psychological effects of organ transplants and analgesic alternatives to opioids in post-operative pain control.  Her plans for the future include graduating from a doctoral nurse anesthesia program. Currently, she volunteers with a variety of organizations and individuals to help secure financial endowments for students pursuing graduate degrees. She is an intern at Compassionate Care Network, a Master’s in Nursing Science candidate, and a graduate research assistant at DePaul University’s School of Nursing. 


Olanrewaju Awosika (2019-Present)

Olanrewaju Awosika has her Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish for the Professions from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Nursing from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. Formal research interests include poster presentations at Marquette University on the Perceptions of Latina Undergraduate Students on People Living with HIV/AIDS. Currently, she works with a research team developing a systematic review of the physiological health outcomes associated with food insecurity in early childhood. In the future she plans on pursuing more research projects concerning maternal and child health outcomes, specifically as a result of adverse childhood experiences (ACE). 


Claire Klement (2019-Present)

Claire Klement has a degree in Biomedical Sciences from Marquette University and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing. Formal research interests include food insecurity and perinatal mood disorders. Plans for the future include working as a nurse in women’s health, with a goal to become a nurse midwife.


Mary Ellen Ostrowski (2019-Present)

Mary Ellen Ostrowski has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Benedictine College and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in nursing from DePaul University. Formal research interests include food insecurity and other health disparities and how these issues need to inform clinical practice. Plans for the future include becoming a Registered Nurse and continuing education to better serve children and families. 


Anna Tanaglia (2018-Present)

Anna Tanaglia has a Bachelor's Degree in Advertising and a Master's Degree in Communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She will complete her Master's Degree in Public Health from George Washington University in December 2019.  Formal research interests include food insecurity and health disparities.

MCHI Research Assistants (Past)


Kristen Hench (2018-2019)

Kristen Hench is a Cardiac ICU RN at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, CA. She earned her M.S. in Nursing from DePaul University and B.S. in Kinesiology (emphasis in Pre-Physical Therapy) with a minor in Personality & Social Psychology from San Diego State University. Formal research interests include health in pediatric populations, maternal-child health promotion/disease prevention, food insecurity, health disparities, and public health. Plans for the future include working towards clinical mastery, completing advanced certifications (i.e., CCRN), engaging in more pediatric-focused research, and obtaining an advanced nursing degree (i.e., DNP).


Kristal Kim (2018-2019)

Kristal C. Kim has a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Science-Dietetics from The University of Arizona, and a Master of Science degree in Nursing from DePaul University. Formal research interests include maternal and infant mortality rates, birthing practices in rural Southeast Asia, and malnutrition in children under the age of five in developing countries. She plans to pursue doctoral studies in public health, specializing in maternal health. Currently, Kristal works as an RN in Labor and Delivery at Saint Anthony Hospital in Little Village, Chicago.


Shira Prero (2017-2018)

Shira Stromer has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Touro College. She also has a Master's Degree in General Nursing from DePaul University. Her formal research interests include women's health topics specifically focused on the perinatal time period. Shira currently works as a labor and delivery nurse in Chicago.


Maya Bass (2017-2018)