Who We Are



Dr. Margarita Teran-Garcia, MD, PhD, Food Science and Human Nutrition and Division of Nutritional Sciences, I-TOPP faculty mentor

Dr. Teran-Garcia obtained her M.D. from the National University Autonomous of Mexico, UNAM, and did her pediatric residency at the National Institute of Pediatrics in Mexico. In 2001, she received her Ph.D. in Metabolism/Nutrient-gene interactions form the University of Texas at Austin under the mentorship of Prof. Steven D. Clarke. After completing her post-doctoral training with Prof. Claude Bouchard at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, she continued her work as an Associate Scientist in the Human Genomics Laboratory and as Co-Director of the Cell Culture Core Facility. Dr. Teran-Garcia has experience in clinical nutrition, nutrigenetics, and childhood obesity. In August of 2008, she joined the faculty of Food Science and Human Nutrition as an Assistant Professor in Nutrition. She served as chair of the Latin American Affairs Section and is current Council at-large of The Obesity Society.

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Dr. Irfan Ahmad, PhD, Executive Director, Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology

Dr. Irfan Ahmad is Executive Director at the University of Illinois Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST); Research Faculty at the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Dr. Ahmad firmly believes in intellectual and social exchanges and views learning as a two-way street for advancing societies. In pursuit of these ideas, he has initiated and served on several forums and panels (such as robotic surgery; societal implications of nanotechnology; systems approach to addressing healthcare disparities, role of free clinics in the training of next generation healthcare workforce, to name a few), and has appeared on radio interviews, and delivered invited lectures in the U.S. and overseas.


Dr. Angela Wiley, PhD, Human and Community Development, I-TOPP faculty mentor

My research program has provided a basis for my teaching and outreach emphases on promoting resilience among diverse families and individuals in stressful contexts. An increasingly diverse society mandates that effective outreach and engagement be based on research that explores a wide range of normal family processes. Additionally, over the life course, most people will face one or more challenges such as financial strain, health challenges, chronic poverty, racism, and disruptions in residence and social support. My recent research has addressed (a) factors related to resilience among diverse individuals and families in a variety of contexts and across domains and (b) development and evaluation of programs designed to support resilience. Most recently, my team has developed and evaluated a community-centered outreach project, Abriendo Caminos, which utilizes a whole family approach to obesity prevention in Latino immigrant families. This approach assumes that sustainable health promotion requires building on existing family strengths. Cultural traditions such as shared family mealtimes and family folk dancing form the foundation for this Latino obesity prevention programming. Abriendo Caminos has led to several new public engagement activities as well as educational opportunities for University of Illinois students.

Graduate Students:


Katherine Magerko, MD/PhD candidate, Human and Community Development

Katherine Magerko is a 3rd year MD/PhD student in the department of Human and Community Development.  Her research interests are in health and families.  She is currently working with Dr. Angela Wiley on projects related to health: in the family child care context; of applicants to the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosi, Mexico (UP AMIGOS); of preschool aged children and parental and pediatrician interactions through the STRONG KIDS project; and of children with special health care needs.  Katie also enjoys volunteering in the community and has recently become assistant clinic manager at Avicenna Community Health Center after volunteering and helping to lead their community outreach at the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen for the past two years.  She greatly enjoyed the multidisciplinary work at Avicenna and hopes to share and to learn from others working in the community through this Focal Point Initiative.

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Paven Aujla, MD/PhD candidate, Neuroscience

Paven Aujla is a 6th year MD/PhD candidate at UIUC. Paven completed her PhD in Neuroscience in 2014 and her long-term research interests involve understanding the pathways responsible for proper development of neural circuitry, as well as investigating translational models of developmental disease. Paven also has an interest in health care equity and addressing health care disparity, and has worked with Avicenna Community Health Center as Clinic Manager and as a member of the Board of Directors for a number of years.

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Samuel Logan, BSN, RN, MSN candidate

Sam Logan is a Bachelors Prepared Registered Nurse attending classes at University of Illinois at Chicago for a Masters in the Science of Nursing with a focus of Family Nurse Practitioner. Sam grew up in Champaign-Urbana and has worked as a nurse at long term care facilities, private in home duty, correctional facilities and currently acts as the clinic manager at Avicenna Community Health Center. Sam’s focus in nursing is to emphasize the importance of primary care, teach and practice effective patient motivation techniques and encourage nurses to be active professionally, lead teams, and achieve higher levels of education.