Lab Members

Laboratory Director

Anna Arthur, PhD, MPH, RDN, LDN


Dr. Anna Arthur is an Assistant Professor and Sylvia D. Stroup Scholar in Nutrition and Cancer within the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department at the University of Illinois. She is also an Oncology Dietitian Nutritionist at Carle Cancer Center. Prior to joining the UIUC faculty and Carle Cancer Center, Dr. Arthur earned a PhD in Nutritional Sciences and Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan School of Public Health while simultaneously earning her Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credential. She then went on to complete a Postdoctoral Fellowship with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Cancer Prevention and Control Training Program funded by the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Arthur has received several fellowships and awards for her research from organizations such as Susan G. Komen, the American Institute for Cancer Research and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She has also presented her research at many national and international scientific research conferences. The overarching objectives of Dr. Arthur’s research are to 1) conduct epidemiological studies to determine how diet and nutritional status are associated with cancer outcomes such as recurrence, survival and quality of life, as well as with biomarkers of cancer progression and prognosis; 2) translate the findings of these epidemiological studies to clinical intervention trials that will have the potential to inform the development of new clinical nutrition recommendations for cancer patients and survivors. For more information visit Dr. Arthur’s faculty directory page.


Graduate Students

Amirah Burton-Obanla, MS

Amirah Burton-Obanla is a second year doctoral student in Nutritional Sciences and a recipient of the Kraft Heinz Human Nutrition Fellowship. Amirah received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, as well as a Master of Science degree in Biology from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. During her graduate studies at North Carolina A & T State University, Amirah studied how solution management techniques influence nutrient use efficiency in hydroponically grown salad-type plants. Amirah’s current research interests include understanding how food insecurity impacts the lives of cancer survivors. Through her studies at UIUC, she hopes to contribute bridging the gap between agriculture, food, and nutrition to develop sustainable interventions that will improve food security and prevent chronic disease.



Xin Chen

Xin is a first-year graduate student in Human Nutrition. Xin received a Bachelor of Medicine degree from Southern Medical University, where she minored in Clinical Pathology and acquired common clinical skills. For the last year of her undergraduate study, she interned at Guangdong Second Provincial Hospital and honed the professional practical skills in diagnosis and treatment of common diseases. At UIUC, she will be researching on the effectiveness of nutritional related interventions for breast cancer survivors. Having a heart for cancer patients, she wants to become a specialist in nutritional or dietary therapy, expanding and combining her study with solid medical practice in order to help as many as possible.



Sylvia Crowder, MS, RDN, LDN

Sylvia Crowder is a doctoral candidate in Human Nutrition and was awarded a Cancer Scholars for Translation and Applied Research (C*STAR) Fellowship. Sylvia received a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Southern Indiana and a Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at Eastern Illinois University. Sylvia acquired experience using medical nutrition therapy while caring for clinical oncology patients in an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics accredited dietetic internship at Carle Foundation Hospital.  Furthermore, Sylvia was employed by Carle and gained experienced as a clinical dietitian. Her most significant research interests as a UIUC doctoral candidate involve the impact of oncological treatment on nutrition impact symptoms, quality of life, and nutritional status in head and neck cancer survivors. Sylvia plans to utilize her profession as a registered dietitian nutritionist to perform quantitative and qualitative clinical research optimizing nutritional outcomes while improving overall survivorship in head and neck cancer survivors. 



Shatabdi Goon, MS

Shatabdi Goon is a first year Master’s student in Human Nutrition. Shatabdi received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Food Engineering from Bangladesh, and a Master of Science degree in Community Health and Epidemiology from University of Saskatchewan, Canada. During her graduate studies at University of Saskatchewan, she studied how neighborhood built environmental features influence children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviors. Her current research interests include understanding the relationship between vegetables intake and HPV infection and vegetables intake behavior of patients with head and neck cancer. Through her studies at UIUC, she hopes to practice the fundamentals of epidemiological research and develop her knowledge of the dietary behaviors and chronic diseases prevention and control.



Christian Maino

Christian is a second-year graduate student in Nutritional Sciences. In 2015, he received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland at College-Park. While at UM and following graduation, he held various molecular biology and biochemistry-related research positions within the Department of Nutrition and Food Science. Most recently, he worked in a rheumatology clinic and tutored students in biochemistry. Chris’s research interests include delineating the relationships between dietary factors and cancer-related outcomes in head and neck cancer patients, as well as other related cancer types. He focuses, primarily, on harnessing large observational datasets and applying epidemiological and statistical methods to answer these questions.



Hania Taha, MS

Hania is a third-year Ph.D. student in Human Nutrition. She previously received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Food Technology from Jordan University of Science and Technology and a Master of Science degree in Nutritional Sciences from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. While at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, she studied nutrigenomics in colorectal cancer prevention. She also studied colorectal cancer risk factors among Palestinians. She completed an internship with the Israeli Ministry of Health and became a registered dietitian. Hania has acquired clinical experience as a Registered Dietitian at Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem, working in all hospital wards and providing nutritional education to oncology, hematology, diabetic, and geriatric patients, as well as to patients with renal disease. Hania’s current research interests include the feasibility of a carbohydrate-restricted, high-fat diet to improve cancer outcomes in head and neck cancer patients. From her time at UIUC, she hopes to become a nutrition & cancer researcher.


Undergraduate Students 

Katie Douglas

Katie is a senior pursuing a dual degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Human Nutrition. As a member of the Arthur Lab, she primarily contributes to literature reviews, website maintenance and data entry and review. Outside of her lab work, Katie is a volunteer Girls on the Run coach in Champaign County and is involved at the Newman Center on campus. In the future, she hopes to work in the medical device or food and beverage industry, blending her passions for health, nutritional science, and business.


Sophia Kim

Sophia is a senior studying Kinesiology. On campus, she is a member of the UIUC Boxing Club and works as a lifeguard and swim instructor at campus recreation pools. Last year, she was a member of the Exercise Oncology Laboratory with Dr. Linda Trinh. Following her undergraduate years, Sophia would like to attend medical school. She hopes to specialize in psychiatry and be an advocate for preventative medicine.



Past Lab Members:

UIUC May 2019 Graduates

Helen Cheung
Helen received a Master of Science degree in Dietetics. She is currently completing her dietetic internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA.

UIUC May 2018 Graduates

Kenny Chen
Kenny received a Bachelor of Science degree in Statistics. He is currently enrolled in graduate program in Biostatistics at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Aleksas Valaitis
Aleksas received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry, with a minor in Chemistry.

Rachel Zwilling
Rachel completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology, with a minor in Human Nutrition. She is currently working towards a Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Bradley University.