Our Team

Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy

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Judith A. Cook PhD

  • Professor of Psychiatry
  • Director, Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy
Dr. Cook is an internationally recognized authority on mental health services research, specifically the study of clinical and rehabilitation outcomes of children and adults receiving community-based care. She directs a federally funded research center along with numerous grants and contracts focused on intervention science, psychiatric epidemiology, and outcomes research. She designs and implements innovative programs to enhance the health and behavioral health of vulnerable populations. She works with federal, state and local authorities on behavioral health service system redesign and alternative financing strategies.

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Lisa A. Razzano PhD, CPRP

  • Professor, Department of Psychiatry
  • Deputy Director, Center on Mental Health Services Research & Policy
  • Director of Graduate Studies, UIC College of Medicine
  • Vice President, Research at Thresholds
  • University of Illinois Chicago
Lisa A. Razzano, PhD, CPRP is a tenured Professor of Psychiatry and Deputy Director of the Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), and Director for the James Scholar Program at the UIC College of Medicine. Dr. Razzano is recognized internationally for her funded research and workforce development programs focusing on mental health recovery, physical health co-morbidities, health literacy, mental health, and recovery among people with HIV/AIDS, and community intervention and services research.

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Jessica A. Jonikas MA

  • Associate Director, Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy
Ms. Jonikas is co-investigator or program director on multiple projects to promote self-determination, recovery, and wellness among adults living with mental illnesses. For over two decades, she has been influential in preparing and mentoring the behavioral health workforce, with a special focus on research translation in public mental health settings.

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Frances Aranda PhD, MPH, MS

  • Senior Research Specialist
  • Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine
  • University of Illinois Chicago
Frances Aranda, PhD, MPH, MS, completed her PhD in Public Health (Community Health Sciences) in 2010 and a postdoctoral fellowship in 2013. The postdoc was funded through a Diversity Supplement by NIH-National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the University of Illinois, College of Nursing. And Frances has two master’s degrees (in Human Service Administration and in Public Health [gerontology concentration]).

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Beth Bendtsen MSW

  • Research Associate I – Social Sciences
  • Center for Mental Health Services Research & Policy
Beth Bendtsen (they/them) is a Research Associate at the Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy, where they work across qualitative and quantitative research studies. Beth received their Master’s degree from Jane Addams College of Social Work and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Columbia College Chicago. They completed their generalist year field placement at Access Living, and their specialization year field placement at the Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy. They currently work in the Arts & Culture Department at Access Living.

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Runa Bhaumik PhD

  • Research Assistant Professor
  • University of Illinois Chicago
Dr. Runa Bhaumik is a Research Assistant Professor at the Biostatistical Research Program within the Department of Psychiatry. She received her Ph.D. degree in computer science from DePaul University. Her thesis focused on evaluating the security and potential biases within Recommender Systems. At UIC, Her research focuses on Longitudinal Data Analysis, Multivariate Statistical analysis, Graph Theory, Natural Language Processing, and applications of Machine Learning Algorithms to Neuroscience and other fields. She has been actively involved in teaching and mentorship of numerous trainees from the undergraduate to the junior faculties. Currently, she is investigating the impact of a generative AI-based tool on mental health specifically addressing concerns related to biases and ensuring robustness in its application.

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Melania Boker BA

  • Graduate Research Assistant
Melania Boker, BA, is pursuing an MPH at UIC with a concentration in Community Health Sciences. She is a Graduate Assistant for the Center on Integrated Healthcare & Self-Directed Recovery. Melania graduated with a BA in Biology and Spanish with a focus in Neuroscience from Washington University in St. Louis.

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Jane K. Burke-Miller PhD

  • Biostatistician / Research Analyst
Dr. Burke-Miller received her degree in Public Health Sciences from the University of Illinois Chicago, and has extensive experience in all phases of the research process including study design and statistical analysis of complex longitudinal, multisite data.

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Claudia Cortez BA

  • Research Associate
Claudia Cortez received her BA in Psychology from the University of Illinois Chicago. She currently works as a Research Associate at the Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy. She has previously assisted in research at the UIC Exercise Psychology Laboratory and the TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health. Her research interests include cognitive development, mental health, health disparities, and health equity.

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Marie M. Hamilton LCSW, MPH

  • Hourly Research Specialist
Marie Hamilton is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Master’s Degree in Social Work and Public Health. She has 25 years’ experience working in the field of mental health services. For over 15 years, she worked as a Project Manager at the University of Illinois conducting research on peer delivered mental health services, HIV and mental health issues, cultural competency, and co-occurring disabilities. Marie is currently working as a part-time research specialist.

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Sean Johnson MA, CRSS-E

  • Research Specialist / Project Coordinator
Sean is a research specialist and program coordinator for a federally-funded project bringing wellness self-management education to individuals aged 60 and older across Illinois. He previously served as an Employment Recovery Specialist with Thresholds’ SAMHSA IPS Employment Services Program, where he contributed to program development, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based models delivered toward the enhancement of mental health recovery and physical wellness outcomes.  He also serves as a member of the IL DHS/DMH Brand New Day CRSS Statewide Steering Committee.

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Annie Jung BA

  • Volunteer Intern, Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy
  • Department of Psychiatry, UIC

Annie Jung graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago with a B.A in Sociology. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree at the Jane Addams College of Social Work with a concentration in Organization and Community Practice. She is an intern for UIC’s Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy. She is under associate director Jessica Jonikas research team.

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Melani Lopera BA

  • Volunteer Intern, Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy

Melani Lopera graduated from Western Illinois University with a B.A in Psychology. She is currently pursuing a master’s in public health and social Work at UIC. She is an intern for the UIC Center of Mental Health Research and Policy. She is under Dr. Aranda’s research team for the National Initiative Training. She is also under Dr. Jonikas’s research team.

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Kimberly Skinner BS

  • Business Manager, Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy
Kimberly Skinner is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day business operations of the Center, which includes the management of federal/state grants, contracts, and financial reporting. She also coordinates dissemination, training, and educational events for the Center. Ms. Skinner has over 25 years of experience working in higher education administration and research centers.

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Pamela J. Steigman MA

  • Research Director/Senior Research Specialist
  • Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy
Ms. Steigman serves as the Center’s Research Director. For the past 25 years, she has managed a multitude of federally funded randomized controlled trials and evaluations related to health and wellness, supported employment, financial empowerment and recovery among people with mental health conditions. She also co-manages a large-scale diagnostic assessment of mental health conditions among people living with HIV/AIDS.

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