Community Engagement Core Personnel

Phoenix Matthews, PhD

Dr. Matthews is the Co-Director of the Recruitment, Retention and Community Engagement Program of CCTS.  They are known nationally and internationally for their health disparities research with underserved populations primarily focused on the development and evaluation of culturally targeted health risk reduction interventions.  They are a Professor in the Department of Health Systems Sciences at UIC’s College of Nursing.  Their program of research focuses on cancer prevention and control in underserved populations with a primary emphasis on culturally tailored smoking cessation treatments. Funded by NIH, they have conducted research in health disparities research for more than 15 years.  Their research and advocacy regarding mentholated cigarettes has contributed to tobacco policy change in Chicago and Cook County.  They have served on three separate Institute of Medicine panels focused on improving mental health outcomes among cancer survivors and addressing health disparities among LGBT populations.

Amparo Castillo, MD, MS, PhD

Dr. Castillo is Co-Director of the Recruitment, Retention and Community Engagement Program of CCTS.  She is Acting Director of the UIC Midwest Latino Health Research Training and Policy Center, as well as the Center’s Training Coordinator. She develops and implements educational programs for community health workers and other health care professionals assisting the Hispanic and African American minorities. Dr. Castillo is also co-author and Senior Trainer of the Diabetes Empowerment Education Program (DEEP) and other health education programs addressing low health literacy among minority groups. Additionally, she conducted intervention research using Tai Chi for glycemic control and stress reduction among Latino older adults. Her current interests continue to address health disparities by implementing health education interventions, and facilitating the training and capacity building of community health workers. 

Emily E. Anderson, PhD, MPH

Emily Anderson serves as Co-Director of the Recruitment, Retention and Community Engagement Program of CCTS. She is assistant professor in the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine. Dr. Anderson holds a PhD in Health Care Ethics from Saint Louis University and an MPH from University of Illinois at Chicago. Her work encompasses several themes, including informed consent, community-based research, IRB decision making and policy, research misconduct, and research with vulnerable populations. She has over 10 years of experience serving on 6 different IRBs (both biomedical and social/behavioral science boards) and has presented at numerous conferences of Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R), the membership association for IRB professionals. Dr. Anderson has been a co-investigator on several federally-funded research and educational projects related to research ethics. She developed a comprehensive human subjects protection training program for community research partners, entitled CIRTification (Anderson 2015), which is available freely online and has been downloaded by approximately 200 individuals nationwide ( She also wrote and produced Informed Consent in Action, a 60-minute training DVD (available through same link) that shows research staff, particularly those without previous research experience, best practices for obtaining informed consent in community-based research. 

Wendy Choure, BS, MPH

Wendy Choure is a Research Associate II for the Recruitment, Retention and Community Engagement Program and is the coordinator of the Community Engagement Advisory Board (CEAB) and Individual Consultations. She completed the Community Health Sciences MPH program at the University of Illinois at Chicago and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Central Florida. She has experience working with special populations (LGBT and Latinos), has worked with Dr. Matthews on their culturally targeted smoking cessation study at Howard Brown Health, and volunteers as the Social Media Manager for Dr. Rohan Jeremiah’s Integrated PASEO project outside of her CCTS role. Her research interests include health disparities of special populations, mental health (PTSD, depression, anxiety), and HIV/STI prevention and awareness. 

Sandra Morales-Mirque, MUPP

Sandra Morales-Mirque is a Research Specialist with the Recruitment, Retention and Community Engagement Program of the Center for Clinical and Translational Science. She has many years of experience in the areas of research in academic settings as well as community involvement through her work in non for profit organizations. Her roles in community-based organizations have included: direct services, organizing, managing programs, and serving in boards of directors. She has experience in outreach, recruitment, and retention, as well coordination of all aspects of research projects. Sandra holds a BA in Arts from Northeastern University and a Masters Degree in Urban Planning and Policy from UIC.

Kevin Rak, MA

Kevin Rak is a Research Specialist with the Recruitment, Retention and Community Engagement Program of the Center for Clinical and Translational Science. He has several years’ experience working in community-based organizations on a variety of issues, including homeless services, support for domestic violence survivors, and violence prevention. Kevin has analyzed and presented data to make it useful to community groups and residents. He has contributed to several reports on the Little Village community, as both a researcher and writer. Kevin holds a BA in History from Northwestern University and an MA in Public Policy from King’s College London.