Director

Staff

Lara Balian, MPH
Lara joined the lab in 2020 and currently serves as the Research Lab Manager, overseeing research across all lab projects. She earned her Masters in Public Health from UNC-Chapel Hill and has worked as a researcher and project manager in a variety of areas including cancer prevention, nutrition, and aging. Lara specializes in integrating evidence-based strategies in behavior change, design, technology, and communications to tailor public health interventions to community and individual needs.

Raquel Castro, RN, BSN, CHW
Raquel is by profession a Registered Nurse who joined Purdue in March of 2021. She has overseen and trained Community Health Workers (CHWs) for many years. She is a strong advocate of CHWs and joined our team to serve in that role and to promote and leverage CHWs. She serves on the project, Enabling Community-Based Cervical Cancer Screening, addressing multilevel barriers to cervical cancer screening among the Hispanic community in Lake County. Raquel also serves to promote Purdue’s Community Health Workforce Development Institute and as part of the Indiana Community Health Worker Association (INCHWA).

Nicholas Nagel
Nicholas is a 2009 graduate of St. Joseph’s College with a B.A. in History. Nicholas has been part of the lab since 2020 and is currently based at LTHC Homeless Services as a Community Health Worker where he assists the homeless population with various healthcare needs. Nicholas also conducts COVID-19 rapid testing on-site as well as COVID-19 education. He will soon be conducting self-testing for HIV/AIDS education. Nicholas has a passion for helping others and plans to continue to assist the vulnerable population. 

Rebecca (Becca) Ziolkowski
Rebecca is a Community Health Worker who works closely with research staff and partner organization, LTHC Homeless Services. Rebecca joined the lab in 2020 and currently leads a COVID-19 education intervention for people experiencing homelessness to assess changes in knowledge and attitudes on COVID rapid testing, a study that is part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics- Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program. A Public Health graduate from Wayne State University, Rebecca strives to understand and address barriers to health equity through community engagement.

Graduate Students

Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle
Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle is a Ph.D. candidate in health and risk communication at the Brian Lamb School of Communication. She is driven by a desire to use insights derived from social scientific research to promote healthy outcomes across a variety of contexts. She joined the lab in January 2022 and primarily works on the cervical cancer screening project. Upon graduation, she hopes to be engaged in multi-disciplinary collaborations to advance equity.

Mrithula Suresh Babu
Mrithula is a PhD student in Public Health in the College of Health and Human Sciences at Purdue University. Her research interests include reproductive epidemiology and health disparities. She joined the lab in August 2022 and is currently working on the cervical cancer screening project. Going forward in her career, she hopes to build upon her research to bridge the gaps in health care quality and delivery.

Luke Patrick Brennan
Luke is a Ph.D. student at the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University as a part of the Medical Scientist Training Program at IU School of Medicine. Luke joined the lab in 2020 to design a more accessible way to screen for cervical cancer in the United States by amplifying HPV DNA that might be present in patient samples and showing this result in a small handheld device. Luke has conducted interviews with physicians about what they would want in such a device, written and analyzed a survey, and is currently working on creating the device in the Linnes lab. After the program, he hopes to use engineering principles and technology to address problems in global public health.

Layla Claure
Layla is a graduate student working towards a Ph.D. in the Department of Public Health at Purdue University. She earned her BA in Public Health with majors in Criminology and Sociology from the University of Miami. Layla’s research interests include women’s health and implementing community-based participatory research methods in breast and cervical cancer prevention. Layla aims to formulate interventions at different levels to reduce health disparities and produce favorable outcomes for communities. She hopes to promote innovative public health research approaches that will contribute to sustainable health care practices that benefit global society.

Rebecca Martinez
Rebecca is a Ph.D. student in Anthropology interested in the application of social theory and methods to understand health as it is situated in culture, society, and people’s lived experiences. As an applied cultural/medical anthropologist, Rebecca joined the lab in August 2020, working on the COVID-19 and Homelessness project. She is currently working on this project and a project for her MS thesis looking at the menstrual health experiences of people experiencing homelessness. After she graduates, she hopes to continue working across disciplines on reproductive health policies, organizational needs, and design and innovation applications.

Undergraduate Students

Alyssa Arreola
Alyssa is a senior majoring in Interdisciplinary Sciences with a concentration in Biology and supporting area in Medical Humanities/Public Health along with minors in Dance and Psychology. She joined the lab in January 2022 working on the cervical cancer screening project. Alyssa also serves as Lilly Endowment Scholar for Lake County and founder of the Medical Humanities Book Club at Purdue. She plans on using her experiences gained from this project to address health barriers in the field of Genetic Counseling and Public Health.

Ishita Kataki
Ishita is a second-year student in Medical Laboratory Science. She joined the lab in January 2022 and is currently working on the HIV Testing project. Ishita hopes to pursue medicine in the future, working with medically underserved populations across the United States and abroad.

Francesca Kimera
Francesca is a professional student in Pharmacy. She joined the lab in January 2021 and currently works on the Community Health Workforce Development project. After graduation, she hopes to work within medically underserved populations and carry on the fight against health inequity.

Sathveka Sembian
Sathveka is a third-year student at the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University. She joined the lab in Fall 2021, and currently works on the Cervical Cancer Screening Project. After she graduates, she hopes to continue working on innovative device design in the medical field to make a positive difference in the world.

Shreya Sridhar
Shreya is a second-year Master’s in Public Health student, who recently graduated early with her bachelor’s in science from Purdue University. Shreya joined the lab in 2022 and is working on the CHW-led COVID-19 project.
Through this project, she is able to further her passions in understanding the role of social attitudes towards healthcare services within different communities. Upon graduating with her MPH, she hopes to attend medical school. Ultimately, Shreya’s goal is to practice surgery in an underserved area, where she can conduct research to prevent the unequal stratification of neuropsychiatric services.

Cealia Tolliver
Cealia is a professional student at the Purdue College of Pharmacy. She joined the lab this past spring, April 2021, and is currently working on the COVID-19 Homelessness project. Upon graduation, Cealia intends to pursue an ambulatory care residency in hopes of becoming a Women’s Health Clinical Pharmacy Specialist, practicing in an outpatient setting. The COVID-19 Homelessness Project fosters her passion for health equity through the analysis of current inequitable structures and the development of targeted approaches in order to better serve the homeless community.

Alumni

  • Maggie Hesler (2022)
  • Anders Hovstadius (2021)
  • Lexi Lahey (2020-21)
  • Justin MacNeill (2020-21)
  • Darya Mansoori (2022)
  • Jordan Mick (2021)
  • Mallili Morvans (2021)
  • Chimdi Offodile (2022)
  • Elise Oquendo (2022)
  • Nina Elizabeth Teo (2020-21)
  • Andres Torres (2020-21)
  • Hope Young (2021)