Research Staff

Johanna Dezil

Research Study Coordinator

Johanna joins the Foundations of Health Research Center after graduating from DePaul University with a B.A. in Community Psychology.
During her time at DePaul, Johanna served as a peer mentor for students of color, a Jumpstart Corps member, and a research volunteer in
DePaul’s Center for Community Research and Center for Access and Attainment. Johanna’s research interests are rooted in issues affecting
African American girls, who are often underrepresented in research. In her free time, she enjoys writing poetry. Johanna is excited to serve as a full-time research assistant on a team so focused on helping empower underrepresented populations .

Jane Drage

Research Study Coordinator

Jane is an Evanston native, born and raised. Jane graduated from North Park University with BS in Human Development. She has an extensive healthcare background as a medical assistant that spans over 18 years. Areas of focus were Cardiology, Internal Medicine, Family Medicine and Pediatrics. She is very passionate about research focused on improving health outcomes and is excited to be a part of a team whose mission and passions align with hers. At the Foundations of Health Research Center, she works on a variety of studies including On the Rise and Stress, Pregnancy, and Health.

Robin Hayen

Project Coordinator

Robin received a B.A in psychology and history from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA. Prior to joining the research team at Foundations of Health Research Center, she gained over 8 years of experience working with parent and child research participants in studies of early-onset depression at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. At Foundations for Health Research Center, she helps to coordinate a variety of Dr. Edith Chen’s projects including: On the Rise, Mentoring and Health, Family Asthma Study, and conduct study assessments.

Lauren Hoffer

Project Coordinator

Lauren started at the Foundations of Health Research Center as a member of the My World, My Heart Study team where she designed and implemented recruitment initiatives. As a former high school chemistry teacher, Lauren enjoyed teaching 8th graders all over Chicago about stress and health connections. Lauren currently works as a project coordinator for the On the Rise Study and is proud to be part of a team of curious, innovative, and passionate minds that are looking to find new and exciting ways to improve the lives of others.

Adam Leigh

Wet-Lab Manager

Faster than a spinning ultra-centrifuge, more powerful than FACS laser, able to pipet entire 96-well plates in a single motion! Up on the second floor labs, look! It’s a bird! It’s a rat! No, it’s Adam Leigh! Yes it’s Adam Leigh! Strange visitor from another department, who came to the Foundations of Health Research Center with lab skills and techniques far beyond those of normal techs! Adam Leigh! Who can get blood from the most deep and narrow of veins, process thousands of samples with his bare hands, and who disguised as a mild-mannered research tech, takes on the never ending lab work, for data, knowledge, and the scientific way!

Aubrey Russak-Pribble

Research Study Assistant

Aubrey graduated from Centre College in 2016 with a B.S. in behavioral neuroscience and a minor in psychology. Originally from St. Petersburg, Florida, she is excited for the opportunity to work with the FHRC team. She is interested in the impacts of chronic and acute stress on physical health, mental health, and negative life outcomes. She is particularly interested in how poverty, race, gender, and mental illness create compounded inequities in health and life outcomes, and in programs and methods to help reduce these effects. Previously, she worked in Kentucky as a youth counselor at a group home for adolescent girls and as a counselor at a correctional facility for male state inmates. In her free time, she likes to explore the city, cook new foods, and snuggle up with a book and her cat.

Rebekah Siliezar

Research Study Coordinator

Rebekah joins the lab after receiving her B.A. in Sociology (Intensive Track) at Yale University. Rebekah believes wholeheartedly in the power of research to inform change, especially for underserved communities. Her overall goal is to use research to push for policies that enable resilience and agency for at-risk communities. At Yale, she conducted qualitative research on racial and socio-economic inequality in cities across the world. Her focus incorporated neighborhood effects, citizen-police relations, and collective efficacy as influencers of resilience. At FHRC, Rebekah works on the On the Rise Study while pursuing a Master’s in Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) at Northwestern University.

Tina Tran

Research Technologist

Tina joins the Foundation of Health Research Center from her hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee. She graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, with a B.S. in Biology. Prior to joining the research team, Tina worked at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Developmental Neurobiology, focusing on growth-control mechanisms of the vertebrate nervous system. She is thrilled about being a part of the team and contributing her efforts in exploring the connections between social context and physical health. Outside of research, you can find Tina exploring Chicago and its surrounding neighborhoods, mostly likely enjoying her favorite pastime of eating.

Kay Vause

Project Coordinator

Kay helps manage Dr. Miller’s My World, My Heart and Stress, Pregnancy, and Health studies. She graduated from Ohio University in 2012 with a B.A. in psychology where she volunteered in both a health psychology and a child clinical psychology lab. After graduation, she lived in Washington D.C. working at University of Maryland in their Child Development Lab. Starting in the Fall of 2020, Kay will begin working towards a Master’s in Education for School Counseling.

Rachel Weissman-Tsukamoto

Research Technologist

Rachel hails from the sunny Bay Area where she earned her B.S. in Neurobiology and a minor in Studio Art at Stanford University. She worked in different research settings for about 7 years spanning fields like immunology, cancer biology, and neurobiology. While studying neurobiology, she became interested in the different processes of learning and how education systems lead to the lack of diversity in STEM careers. This prompted her to join Teach for America to teach secondary biology, which brought her to the cold reaches of the windy city. During her teaching career, Rachel focused on trauma-informed teaching practices and how trauma impacts learning in the prefrontal cortex. A growing desire to return to research and a newfound interest in psychoneuroimmunology led her to the Foundations of Health Research Center where she now works as a research technologist. In her free time, Rachel enjoys fly-fishing and hiking all over the country, and hopes to someday catch an elusive midwestern trout.

Tony Bach

Research Technologist

Tony joins the lab after working as a research technologist at Michigan State University and Northwestern University’s Chicago campus over the course of seven years. Prior to joining FHRC, Tony worked in an immunotoxicology laboratory studying the effects of cannabinoids on the immune response. Tony used to play viola, enjoy meals with his wife, and have interests, but now has two young sons.