Our Team

Jesse HeadshotJesse Blumenstock, MPH is a Research Project Coordinator with Team Ruchi and currently coordinates a variety of research projects from epidemiological, clinical, and community-based perspectives focused on asthma, food allergy, and clinical health systems. Through this position, he enjoys working on multiple levels of public health research and practice. He supervises a Student Media-Based Asthma Research Team Program to empower Chicago 7th and 8th grade students to better manage their asthma, creates maps and spatially analyzes chronic disease data across Chicago, and analyzes international survey data on opinions about food allergy labeling and thresholds from countries around the world. Jesse previously studied infectious disease epidemiology at UIC’s School of Public Health and conducted research on HIV linkage to care with the Chicago Department of Public Health. Jesse also works with CHIRP Radio as a productions, promotions, and events volunteer. Outside of work, he enjoys travelling, cooking, seeing live music, and cycling. 

Ashley HeadshotAshley Dyer, MPH is Team Ruchi’s Research Project Manager and manages a variety of research projects from epidemiological, clinical, and community-based perspectives focused on asthma, food allergy, and school health systems.  Within this position, she is able to work on multiple levels in public health—from delivering a Student Media-Based Asthma Research Team Program to help students better manage their asthma to partnering with the CPS Office of School Health and Wellness to streamline districtwide chronic disease reporting systems.  Ashley chairs the Chicago Asthma Consortium’s School Health Work Group.  Outside of her day job, she dedicates time to global health projects including a community-based disaster risk reduction program in Haiti and is involved in child health advocacy efforts in Indonesia and Washington D.C. with Save the Children.   Ashley completed her MPH in Community Health Sciences, Program in Maternal and Child Health with a concentration in Global Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

claudia-picClaudia Hillam Lau has been a full-time research associate with Dr. Gupta at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago since graduation from Northwestern University in 2010.  In her early years, she managed both the pediatric food allergy epidemiology studies and the first media-based asthma intervention in Chicago Public Schools.  Claudia now leads the clinical side of Team Ruchi, including an NIH-funded study to develop and test an EMR-based decision support tool to improve primary care management of food allergy, and the development of a new and more accurate diagnostic test for food allergy.  Claudia began medical school at Case Western in fall 2014, and continues to work part-time with Dr. Gupta. In between working and studying, Claudia enjoys choreographing or going to dance classes at the local studio.

VRivkina HeadshotVictoria Rivkina, MPH, CHES is a Research Project Coordinator with the NU Feinberg School of Medicine.  Victoria is currently wrapping up a joint research initiative with the Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Student Health and Wellness, a study which aimed to improve chronic disease reporting, verification, and management in the district.  She also leads an adolescent risk taking study and spearheads the development of an anaphylaxis registry.  Victoria received her MPH from DePaul University, and she recently became a Certified Health Education Specialist.  Her previous professional experience includes evaluation work for the Chicago Department of Public Health, graduate program administration for DePaul University, and supply chain data analysis for Siemens Industry, Inc. Her public health interests include program evaluation, chronic disease prevention, and food equity.  Outside the workplace, Victoria enjoys running, vegetarian culinary exploration, and wine tasting.

maddy walkner headshot Madeline Walkner is a Research Assistant for Team Ruchi. In May 2014, she graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Physiology. Her work experiences include: Research Assistant at the National Advanced Driving Simulator at the University of Iowa; and Laboratory Assistant in the Microbiology Department at the University of Iowa. Madeline served as an intern in the Health Policy Office on Senator Harkin’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee at the United States Senate in Washington D.C. While studying at the University of Iowa, Madeline served as the vice president of Phi Eta Sigma Honors Fraternity and chaired the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Student Advisory Committee. Madeline’s interests are in access to health care services for the underserved as well as global health. She has traveled to Haiti to volunteer and study its public health infrastructure.  

Chris HeadshotChristopher Warren is a part-time research coordinator on Team Ruchi. He is also a doctoral student of health behavior research at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.  Before moving to CA, he worked with Dr. Gupta to coordinate a sub-study of the National Children’s Study, using videovoice methods to enhance community outreach. He also oversaw the development, and implementation, of a media-based asthma intervention for communities with high asthma burden as well as the refinement and evaluation of a new, pictographic asthma action plan for low-literacy populations.  He is now working to evaluate this asthma intervention, investigate the etiology of pediatric asthma disparities and improve food allergy quality of life. When not working/studying, Chris is likely out exploring his new home by boot, board or bike.



Sonya HeadshotSonya Dave is an undergraduate research intern on Team Ruchi. She just finished her second year studying Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she is involved in service and tutoring organizations and also helps with research in the Nano Sensors Lab Group on campus. Sonya first got involved with Team Ruchi two years ago while at the Illinois Math and Science Academy, where she and two peers focused on and presented their work, "Characterizing Tolerance in Pediatric Food Allergy". Sonya's current focus in the group is writing a manuscript detailing food allergy labeling practices in Canada and the United States, which we hope to have published and available in the next year. Sonya's other interests include being outdoors, running half-marathons with her dad, trying new flavors of chocolate, and spending time with friends and family.

Reem Headshot

 Reem Kieso is a research assistant on Team Ruchi.  She is a second-year dual degree Masters in Public Health and Masters in Business Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Her research with Dr. Gupta focuses on the implementation and evaluation of the effectiveness of a clinical decision support tool to aid providers in diagnosing and managing food allergies among children.  Prior to pursing dual Masters degrees, Reem received a Bachelors degree in psychology from Loyola University in Chicago.  After she finishes her degree, Reem hopes to make an impact in Global Health.  During her free time, Reem is either jetsetting or shopping.  


Andrew Headshot

 Andrew Thompsonis an intern working for Dr Gupta this summer. His main projects include a risk taking behavior among teens with food allergies study, as well as laying the groundwork for a friends of food allergies study that looks to get an outside perspective on how teens handle their food allergies. He is a rising junior at Purdue University majoring in microbiology and has food allergies himself including treenuts, peanuts and eggs. In his spare time, he enjoys competitive ballroom dancing and rowing.


Alice 1

 Alice Wei is a summer research intern on our team.  She is from the true dairy state of Wisconsin and is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin--Madison studying microbiology and immunology as well as global health and African studies.  Alice is particularly interested in the role of research in informing and improving community-based interventions.  Her work on our research team mainly encompasses an epidemiological study on the risk factors and outcomes of violent injury in youth.  Outside of research, Alice loves keeping up with her comedy queen idols, cooking and travelling.  


Maggie HeadshotMaggie Yarbrough is a research assistant on Team Ruchi and she is currently working on evaluating the SMART Asthma program.  Through her analysis on the SMART program, she hopes to help add to the knowledge of asthma morbidity disparities in Chicago.  She also is currently seeking her MPH at the University of Illinois at Chicago with a concentration in Community Health Sciences.  Before graduate school, she went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and obtained her Bachelors of Science Degree in Interdisciplinary Health with a concentration in health behavior change.  When not studying or working at Northwestern, Maggie spends her time cooking new foods, working out and walking her dog, North, all over Chicago.