IDEA Team Investigators

Principal Investigator


Karen Tabb Dina, PhD, MSW

Karen Tabb Dina is an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, at Urbana-Champaign in the School of Social Work. Dr. Tabb Dina’s current research focuses on the social determinants of health and mental health outcomes for pregnant and postpartum women. She is principal investigator on a database registry study in a racially and ethnically diverse public health clinic to screen perinatal women for psychosocial and clinical risk factors during pregnancy related to adverse birth outcomes. She is also a part of a team investigation to identify the multiple social determinants of pregnancy outcomes and health disparities over the life course. Dr. Tabb Dina received her PhD in Social Welfare from the University of Washington in Seattle.

Research Profile


maria_pinceros_imageMaria Pineros-Leano

Maria Pineros-Leano is an Assistant Professor at Boston College. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, a Master of Social Work, a Master of Public Health, and a doctorate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Maria’s research interests are related to maternal and infant health and early maternal risk and protective factors for child obesity. Specifically, she explores the role that maternal depression has on the development of childhood obesity among minority groups. Maria has been a member of the IDEA team since August 2012.

Google Scholar Profile

Wenhao David Huang

Wenhao David Huang is an Associate Professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His current research is focused on delineating the process and value of design, development, and evaluation for learning (engagement) systems augmented by technologies. He also investigate design efficacies for affective learning outcomes that contribute to sustainable cognitive learning and behavioral modification. 

Research Profile


Hsiang Huang, MD, MPH

Hsiang Huang, MD, MPH is an Instructor of Psychiatry at Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Huang’s professional interests include women’s mental health, substance use disorders, mental health in the elderly, and integrated mental health solutions for multicultural populations in primary care settings.

Research Profile

Brandon Meline, RD

Brandon S. Meline is the Director of the Division of Maternal and Child Health at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD).  He is a licensed and registered dietitian, and holds a Masters in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Bachelors in Human Biology from Illinois Wesleyan University.  He is interested in research related to the built environment, planning, education, and health policy changes to benefit the health of the local and regional community schools.   He has published collaborative research on salivary bacterial microbiome diversity in infants and mothers, and non-nutritive food components and cancer prevention.  In his free time, Brandon enjoys being physically active with his dog Floyd and traveling the entirety of Champaign County to watch his children’s sporting events.

Biomedical Profile

Shannon D. Simonovich

Dr. Shannon D. Simonovich’s (Nursing) program of research focuses on food insecurity, maternal child health promotion and public health services. She completed her doctoral studies at the University of Washington in Seattle where she had the opportunity to conduct health promotion research utilizing mixed methods approaches including systems-level analyses, survey development, qualitative interviewing and GPS data collection. She serves as an active member of the American Public Health Association (APHA), as the Illinois representative to the Alliances of Nurses for a Healthy Environment (ANHE), and as North America’s representative to the International Catholic Committee of Nurses and Medico-Social Assistants (CICIAMS).

Biomedical Profile

Pamela_Samara_imagePamela S. Samara, RN, MA

Pamela S. Samara, RN, MA is a registered nurse and has been working at Carle Foundation Hospital for more than twenty years and six years as a counselor. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Health Arts from University of St.Francis, and a Master’s degree in Counseling from Lincoln Seminary. Currently, Pamela is a nursing supervisor at Obstetrics and Gynecology department at Carle Physician Group, and an interim patient care manager. Her research interests center on women and children affected by trauma, abuse, and violence. Specifically she is interested in how these factors affect early childhood development and impact the life course trajectory for individuals. Pamela’s long years of professional experiences have prepared her to conduct collaborative research with diverse and multicultural populations of women and children.

Aubrey_Hudson_imageAubrey N. Hudson, PA

Aubrey N. Hudson, PA is a physician assistant-C at Obstetrics and Gynecology department of Carle Physician group. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Eastern Illinois University, and Master’s of Medicine Science in Physician Assistant Studies from Miswestern University. Her research interests include investigating the relationship between mood and maternal health over the lifespan of both mother and child.  Aubrey would like to see how cultural differences play a role in mood, especially between cultures where there is typically greater direct family involvement and help for the mother and child in the infant and toddler years.   She is interested to see how mood affects perinatal outcomes and investigate how to minimize poor outcomes by better screening, treating, and engaging patients with mood disorders.  Aubrey has worked in women and children’s settings for 13 years.  As a physician assistant in women’s health for nearly 6 years, she regularly screens and treats for mood disorders in women of all ages.  For the last 3 years she also been working as a clinical liaison to the IT build team to improve documentation tools and tracking through the EMR.  In this role, Aubrey worked to build the perinatal depression screening into the routine intake process for all prenatal patients.

Linda_Donovan_imageLinda Donovan, RN

Linda Donovan, RN is a registered nurse coordinator at Obstetrics and Gynecology department of Carle Physician group, and she has an associate degree in nursing from San Antonio College. Her research interests center on the potential for nursing care to enhance or impact positive outcomes of pregnant women, both socially and medically. This includes nursing involvement in assessment and intervention of mood disorders in medically complicated pregnancies and how self-care can impact outcomes. Linda has worked in health care systems for over 25 years as a research coordinator and a nurse. Her experience includes 14 years specific to maternal fetal medicine. She has recently taken a certified diabetes educator exam. Linda’s career experiences and interests allow her to take an active role in research regarding care of the patients with depression in pregnancy.

Melissa_Tate_imageMelissa S. Tate, MSN

Melissa S. Tate, MSN, NP Melissa is a nurse practitioner at Obstetrics and Gynecology department of Carle Physician Group. She has a Bachelor’s degree in nursing and Master’s degree in Perinatal Nurse Practitioners. Her research interests include high risk pregnancies; specifically preeclampsia, diabetes, and congenital anomalies and the impact of these complications on mothers and infants. She has worked in impatient and outpatient obstetrics and maternal fetal medicine as a nurse for 8 years and as a perinatal nurse practitioner for 15 years. She is a certified diabetes educator. Together these interests and her experiences provide an optimal foundation to conduct collaborative research about pregnancy and depression.