Cross-disciplinary Researchers Join Carle Illinois as Health Innovation Faculty


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Ten faculty members from across the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus are bringing expertise in a broad range of disciplines to Carle Illinois College of Medicine as the latest group of Health Innovation Professors (HIP). The new HIP faculty will champion Carle Illinois’ interdisciplinary approach that leverages expertise from across the UIUC campus to lead advancements in the medical field and improve the human condition.

The new faculty join from The Grainger College of Engineering, the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES),  College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS), College of Education, the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the School of Information Sciences, and Gies College of Business.

Health Innovation Professors are positioned to collaborate with Carle Illinois students, physicians, and other health care providers to pursue new frontiers in health-related research and innovation, creating new opportunities for funding from government agencies, industry, and foundations. The new faculty members will also pioneer advancements in medical education and the integration of health-related concepts into undergraduate and graduate courses across the UIUC campus.

“This is our largest cohort of Health Innovation Professor faculty to date, and we are thrilled by the breadth of expertise and experiences they will bring to our college,” said Stephen Boppart, Carle Illinois’ Executive Associate Dean and Chief Diversity Officer. “Our selected Health Innovation Professor faculty members will serve as change agents that both reflect their individual disciplines yet come together to focus on the future of medicine and educating future physician-innovators.”

Carle Illinois’ new Health Innovation Professors include:

Professor Nir Ben Moshe is an assistant professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Philosophy and an affiliate faculty of the Illinois Program in Law and Philosophy and the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research falls into two areas. The first area lies at the intersection of contemporary moral philosophy and 18th-century moral philosophy. The second area is biomedical ethics (especially the values at play in the physician-patient relationship). He is currently working on a book entitled Idealization and the Moral Point of View: An Adam Smithian Account of Moral Reasons.


Professor Blake currently serves as Program Director for the Information School’s Master’s degree in Information Management (MSIM) and the campus wide master’s degree in Bioinformatics (Bio) programs. Her active projects including leading the National Science Foundation’s Midwest Big Data Innovation Hub (MBDH), developing health data literacy ambassadors, and applying text mining methods to privacy standards in the Cloud. Dr. Blake’s research explores both human and automated methods to synthesize evidence from text to extract key findings from empirical studies in medicine, toxicology, and epidemiology.


Professor Dariotis researches ways to facilitate greater alignment between one’s intentions and behaviors to promote well-being. She investigates biosocial determinants of risk-taking, decision-making, stress responsivity and coping, and prevention and intervention programs (e.g., mindfulness-related). She addresses “wicked” problems through whole person research integrating theoretical and methodological approaches across many disciplines—public health, prevention science, biostatistics, evaluation and implementation sciences, behavioral endocrinology, and developmental psychopathology.


Professor Huang’s research is focused on the design, implementation, and evaluation of interventions to optimize individuals’, organizations’, and communities’ motivation and capabilities to change. His work also delineates decision-making scaffolds and barriers in broadly defined learning and performance contexts, to improve decision-making conditions for stakeholders at various levels. His current research engagement includes implementation research, career decision-making effectiveness, motivational scaffold, technological affordance to impact learning in different modalities, and immersive technologies’ emotional, motivational, and cognitive effects on learning.


Girish Krishnan
Girish Krishnan

Professor Krishnan is an associate professor in the Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering with joint appointments in Mechanical Engineering and Carle Illinois College of Medicine at UIUC. He obtained a Ph.D. from University of Michigan. His research is at the intersection of engineering design and robotics, with applications in agricultural robots, surgical simulators, exoskeletons and orthotics and telehealth robotics. Professor Krishnan is the recipient of the 2015 National Science Foundation Early Career award (CAREER), 2016 UIUC council award for excellence in advising, and 2017 Freudenstein Young Investigator Award (ASME). He has published around 32 peer-reviewed journals, 45 conference proceedings, and holds two patents. He is the director of the Monolithic Systems Lab.


Deana McDonagh is Professor (Industrial Design) and Chair of Graphic Design (undergraduate) and Design for Responsible Innovation (graduate) programs in the School of Art and Design. She is the founder of the (dis)Ability Design Studio at the Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology. As an Empathic Design Research Strategist who focuses on enhancing quality of life for all through more intuitive and meaningful products, leading to emotional sustainability. She concentrates on the emotional user-product relationships and how empathy can bring the designer closer to users’ authentic needs, ensuring both functional and emotional needs are met by products.


As a research scientist, Mary Pietrowicz specializes in computational health, wellness, and creativity. Her research focuses on determining health and wellness states by analyzing how a person speaks, moves, writes, creates, interacts with others, and on creating usable, deployable systems and tools which can do this at scale. Her recent work explores speech and/or language models for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), schizophrenia, Huntington’s Disease, and other conditions. This approach uses signals such as voice and movement which can be collected from now-ubiquitous cameras, microphones, and wearables, and for which end-user solutions can be deployed on phones, tablets, watches, and mobile desktop devices. This work  has the potential to extend the capacity of medicine/telemedicine, reach people without sufficient access to health care, and revolutionize current medical practice. Before earning her Ph.D., Mary worked as a software engineer in both academia and industry in a variety of application spaces and projects.


Laura Shackelford
Laura Shackelford

As a National Geographic Explorer, Professor Shackelford’s research focuses on the evolution of our species, Homo sapiens, as a background to understanding recent human diversity. She has a geographic focus in Southeast Asia and co-directs ongoing field research in northern Laos. Recently, her team’s research at Tam Ngu Hao 2 (Cobra Cave), Laos, recovered the first evidence of the elusive Denisovan population in Southeast Asia.  Shackelford’s research also explores virtual reality and technology in education to make human prehistory and archaeological field work accessible to more students. At Carle Illinois, Shackelford also teaches human anatomy to first- and second-year medical students and works with advanced students on research to answer clinical and anatomical questions and explore innovative approaches to health care. She was chosen by the Class of 2022 to receive the Phase 1 Golden Apple Award for teaching excellence.


Sonali Shah
Sonali Shah

Professor Shah’s research centers on improving understanding of the processes that fuel innovation and entrepreneurship. She investigates collaborative models of innovation development—such as open-source software development—and their implications for firms and policy. Other research streams examine the factors that determine startup success and the precursors of commercial activity and how non-profit institutions can play a role in creating and/or strengthening markets in developing countries by providing widespread training and supporting coordination amongst market participants. Her research has been recognized with an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, as well as seven best-paper awards. Grants from the Kauffman Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) have supported her research. She currently serves as a Senior Editor at Organization Science and on the Editorial Review Board of the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal.


Brad Sutton
Brad Sutton

Brad Sutton received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2003, along with master’s degrees in Biomedical and Electrical Engineering after earning hisbachelor’s in General Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He joined the Bioengineering Department at UIUC in 2006. He has affiliations with the Beckman Institute, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Carle-Illinois College of Medicine, and the Neuroscience Program. He is currently a Professor of Bioengineering and the Technical Director of the Biomedical Imaging Center at Beckman Institute. His research interests are in developing magnetic resonance imaging acquisition, image reconstruction, and systems modeling approaches to understand brain function and motor control. He has more than 150 peer reviewed journal publications, over 150 conference papers, and six patents in the area of image acquisition with MRI.

This is the third cohort of Health Innovation Professors appointed over the last two years. Carle Illinois welcomed its first group from The Grainger College of Engineering in February 2021. They include:

Joe Bradley, Clinical Assistant Professor, Bioengineering
Wawrzyniec Dobrucki, Associate Professor, Bioengineering
Iwona Jasiuk, Professor, Mechanical Science and Engineering
Mariana Kersh, Associate Professor, Mechanical Science and Engineering
Michael Oelze, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Harlee Sorkin Clinical Assistant Professor, Technology Entrepreneur Center
Jimeng Sun, Professor, Computer Science

The second cohort, selected from a limited set of colleges across the UIUC campus, includes:

Yanina Pepino, Associate Professor of Nutrition, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Zeynep Madak-Erdogan, Associate Professor of Nutrition, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Brian Aldridge, Clinical Professor in Rural Animal Health Management, College of Veterinary Medicine
Rebecca Smith, Associate Professor, Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine
Mehmet Ahsen, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Gies College of Business
Ujjal Mukherjee, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Gies College of Business
Sridhar Seshadri, Alan J. and Joyce D. Baltz Endowed Professor and Area Chair, Information Systems/Operations Management/Supply Chain/Analytics, Gies College of Business
Bruce Fouke, Professor, Department of Geology, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

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This story was published June 28, 2022.