Alumni Spotlight

Meli'sa Crawford, Ph.D.

Meli'sa Crawford, Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Researcher, University of California, Riverside, School of Medicine, Division of Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Meli’sa S. Crawford received her Ph.D. in Biology with a focus in Physiology from Arizona State University where her dissertation work focused on the effects of poor dietary consumption on the development of obesity, metabolic syndrome and gut dysbiosis. In 2020, she began her postdoc at UC Riverside in the Division of Biomedical Sciences. Her current research focuses on elucidating the communication between the lungs and the gut by understanding how exposure to environmental pollutants induce chronic airway inflammation and alter intestinal barrier function. In 2021, her postdoctoral work was funded by the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety.

Dr. Crawford is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and is committed to mentorship and increasing participation and access to opportunities for underrepresented minorities in STEM. In March 2023, Dr. Crawford was awarded the UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship. Following her postdoc, she hopes to continue her passion for mentorship, metabolic and gastrointestinal work as a tenure-tracked professor.

Western Alliance to Expand Student Opportunities/Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation/Bridge to the Doctorate (Arizona State University)



Amanda M. Wilson, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public HealthAmanda Wilson, Ph.D.

Dr. Amanda M. Wilson studies microbial exposure and risk assessment, human behavior, and exposure modeling. Recently, she has collaborated internationally to develop COVID-19 risk assessment models and co-developed a risk scoring algorithm for a COVID-19 contact tracing app, Covid Watch. She was recently awarded a University of Arizona Health Sciences Career Development Award to expand her research training to address asthma and microbial risk-risk tradeoffs for healthcare workers conducting surface cleaning and disinfection. She received her postdoctoral training at the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah, and received her PhD in environmental health sciences at the University of Arizona. Dr. Wilson was featured in Hispanic Engineer & Information Technology magazine in 2018 and has been interviewed by Discover MagazineNew York Magazine, and The Washington Post on her COVID-19 and fomite-mediated exposure research.

Western Alliance to Expand Student Opportunities/Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation/Bridge to the Doctorate (University of Arizona)




Cynthia Perry, Ph.D. - Associate Academic Dean of Admissions for the Foster School of MedicineCynthia Perry, Ph.D.

Dr. Perry is also a passionate educator, in her appointment as Associate Professor of Medical Education, she teaches first and second year medical students in the areas of Molecular Pathology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry. Dr. Perry is a first generation college graduate that pursued an academic career despite the lack of resources and systematic knowledge in regards to higher education found at home.  Dr. Perry completed her doctoral studies in Molecular Pathology at UC San Diego and entered academia following successful NIH-funded graduate and post-doctoral fellowships.  Having benefitted for support from pipeline programs including Alliance for Graduate Education Programs, LSAMP/California Alliance for Minority Participation and NSF-Bridges to the Doctorate, she is dedicated to the recruitment, mentorship and advancement of underrepresented and first-gen students in the STEM field.

Western Alliance to Expand Student Opportunities/Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (University of Arizona)



Anarina Murillo, Ph.D. Anarina Murillo, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Warren Alpert Medical School, and Senior Biostatistician in the Center for Statistical Sciences, School of Public Health, at Brown University

Accomplishments: NIH T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship; Sloan Scholars Mentoring Network Career Development Award, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; U.S. Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need Program Award; WAESO LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship; MGE@MSA AGEP Participant; and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Minority PhD Program. Has ten original publications in peer-reviewed journals and two book chapters.

Western Alliance to Expand Student Opportunities/Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (Arizona State University)




Omar A. Escontrías, Dr.P.H., M.P.H. is the Senior Director of Policy Research at the American Dental Omar ContrerasEducation Association in Washington, D.C.

Accomplishments: Maximizing Access to Research Careers Trainee; Research Fellow at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; NIH Honors Academy Fellow at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; Project EXPORT Fellow at the University of Arizona; Research Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Awards: Has 9 significant awards from professional or community organizations, e.g. the American Public Health Association Community Health Planning and Policy Development Section-Best Doctoral Abstract Award and the Valle del Sol-Univision Radio, 40 Hispanic Leaders Under 40. Publications: Has 8 peer-reviewed publications and 7 published public policy briefs used for advocacy and policy purposes in and by the United States Congress and the Arizona State Legislature. Community Board Memberships: Council member for the Arizona Diabetes Leadership Council and Coalition; Board Director at Mountain Park Health Center.

Western Alliance to Expand Student Opportunities/Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (University of Arizona)