Meet Our Clinical, Lab, Data & Admin Staff

Ralph Morack

Director of Laboratory and Data Management

Ralph began working on the WIHS study in 1997 as a laboratory technician and currently manages the Chicago WIHS laboratory and specimen repository. In addition to the laboratory duties Ralph also oversees the data quality for the national WIHS study. Ralph has an MS in Biotechnology from Roosevelt University and a BS in Biology from Loyola University Chicago.

Mieoak Bahk

Consortium Administrator

Mieoak Bahk began working with WIHS in 2018 and manages fiscal operations, personnel management, regulatory activity and provides other administrative support for the study. Mieoak has a BS in biology and BA in psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Calvine Thompson

Research Associate

Calvine has been with WIHS for 30 years. Prior to starting at WIHS, she graduated from Bryman school. She previously worked with Infants and Children, dedicated 19 years to Rush Medical Center, as well as worked for MACS (Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study). She retired in 2021 but continues to work as a consultant twice a month. 

Kathy Nash

Research Assistant

Kathy began working on the MWCCS study in 2022 and currently operates the reception area at Chicago WIHS. In addition to front desk duties Kathy also conducts interviews with study participants and serves as co-editor of the Chicago MWCCS newsletter. Kathy has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Webster University in St. Louis.

Darlene Johnson

Clinic Supervisor

Darlene has worked with WIHS for over 20 years. She assists with multiple parts of the WIHS visit. She is an interviewer as well as the lead neurocog tester. She frequently assists with phlebotomy tasks, as well as assists the clinicians with body measurements and BIA. Prior to working with WIHS, she spent 10 years working with the Howard Brown Clinic.

Ruby Hernandez

Phlebotomist and Research Assistant

Ruby has been with MWCCS since Spring 2022. With her experience as registered medical assistant for 12 years and emergency room clinician for 8 years, she helps to collect research data. Ruby studied Forensic Anthropology at the University of Southern Mississippi. 

Avril Richards

Clinical Research Assistant

Avril has over 14+ years of experience working as a Registered Medical Assistant. She transitioned from the clinical outpatient setting in Infectious Diseases at RUSH University Medical Center to assisting in research during the 2020 COVID pandemic after working on the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine clinical trial. She then started working on the WIHS study in 2022.

Rohan Rajagopal

Research Associate

Rohan began working on the WIHS study in 2023 as a data analyst and laboratory technician. Rohan has an MHS in Infectious Disease Epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University and a BS in Biology/Bioinformatics from Loyola University Chicago.

Crystal L. Winston

Substudy Research Coordinator & CAB Liaison

Crystal began working with the WIHS study in 2002 as a Research Assistant in the role to recruit and interviewer. She participated and coordinated different sub-studies within WIHS before her departure in 2014. After working in other fields of Public Health, Crystal returned to WIHS in 2022 as a Research Coordinator to help coordinate several sub studies, act as the Administrative Liaison to the Local CAB and work as contributor to the revamped local MWCCS Newsletter. Crystal holds a BA in Health Education & Communication from the University of Arizona, as well as several Public Health Certifications.

Andrea Rogando

Research Associate

Andrea began working with WIHS in 2021 as a consultant junior scientist. She returned as a research associate in 2024. Andrea has an MSc in Biomedical Sciences from Charles Drew University and a BA in Biology from Middlebury College. 

Gabriella Meredith

Gynecologic Clinician


Socorro Barrera

Administrative Assistant

Socorro joined the Chicago-Cook County MWCCS in 2024, bringing her extensive customer service experience. She is eager to deepen her understanding of the research conducted at the MWCCS and looks forward to continued growth in her role as administrative assistant.