Centennials Scholars and Clinicians Program welcomes 2021 cohort

A strong and thriving community of diverse faculty from backgrounds underrepresented in science and medicine is essential to the health of people and populations, as well as the School of Medicine and Public Health.

The Centennial Scholars and Centennial Clinicians Programs, administered by the SMPH Office of Faculty Affairs and Development, was initiated in 2009 to provide departments the resources to recruit and develop faculty from groups who experience health disparities in Wisconsin.

Group meetings, annual reviews, and other programming build community and break down barriers to success and attainment of tenure. The success of scholars means higher quality education, clinical care, and research in the school, as well as deep and fulfilling mentorship for their students.

“When faculty from these underrepresented groups join the university, a major obstacle can be their relatively few numbers, which promotes feelings of isolation, and the scarcity of forums where they may expose their minority-specific challenges and accomplishments,” says Hector Valdivia, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and advisory committee co-chair for the program. “A major goal of the program is to build a sense of community and belonging for the Centennial Scholars and Clinicians.”

To date there have been more than 30 scholars. The success of the Centennial Scholars led to an expansion in 2020 to Centennial Scholars and Clinicians to include members with a strong clinical practice and interest in research, teaching, or outreach.

“In terms of our desire to build a sense of community within the Centennial family, we have already seen an immediate impact,” says Chris Capitini, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and advisory committee co-chair. “Many of the activities we offer certainly benefit faculty at all stages, and having more points of view available has made for more dynamic conversations.”

Applications to the program are accepted on a rolling basis for start dates of either July 1 or January 1. For example, for a January 1, 2022 start date, applications are due November 1, 2021. Read more about the program at its webpage.

Meet the newest cohort of Centennial Scholars and Clinicians

Erica Knavel Koepsel, MD

Headshot of Erica Knavel Koepsel

Erica Knavel Koepsel is an assistant professor in the Department of Radiology’s Section of Interventional Radiology. Her clinical interests include MRI-guided interventions, thermal tumor ablation, and more, while her research focuses on cancer removal and developing new MRI intervention programs.

“I attended medical school here and thoroughly enjoyed my experience thanks to my excellent mentors and the community as a whole,” she says. “This program will provide opportunities for mentorship and career development that will be invaluable, as well as a strong sense of community support.”

Ivan Rosado-Mendez, PhD

Ivan Rosado-Mendez is an assistant professor in the Department of Medical Physics, with a joint appointment in the Department of Radiology. His research is centered on developing quantitative methods for medical imaging and biomarkers for tissue characterization and disease diagnosis. He is interested in their usefulness in personalized medicine.

“By joining the Centennial program, I am looking forward to being part of a diverse community of new scholars and clinicians at SMPH interested in achieving our career goals while also contributing to the community,” he says. “One key element to succeed in any career is to feel welcome and supported at your institution. The Centennial program has significantly contributed to this.”

Christine Sharkey, MD

Christine Sharkey is an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine’s Division of Rheumatology. She is passionate about her role in the school as a clinician educator involved in the education and mentorship of medical students through faculty. She is currently a member of the Department of Medicine Education Committee and a mentor with the Building Equitable Access to Mentorship Program (BEAM).

She is also involved in local community groups such as the Lupus Foundation chapter in Wisconsin and the Association of Women in Rheumatology. Her outreach goal is finding strategies to increase the representation of underrepresented populations in health care.

Claudette Adegboro, MD

Claudette Adegboro headshotClaudette Adegboro is an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics’ Division of Neonatology. In her clinical work, she advocates for maternal breastfeeding equity and understanding the racial disparities in morbidity that exists among newborns. Her research is focused on the study of newborn brain injury, with the long-term goal of developing early warning systems and tools to identify at-risk newborns.

“Given that historically, people of color have disproportionately limited access to both internal and external grant funding at research-intensive institutions, I think the Centennial Scholars Program is vital to our academic community here at UW–Madison,” she says. “For me, it provides a nurturing space and bridge to pursue future career development grants. An important goal, however, will be to continue seeking out and welcoming more faculty members/staff/trainees/students of color.”

Shenikqua Bouges, MD

Shenikqua Bouges headshotShenikqua Bouges is an assistant professor Department of Medicine’s Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology. Her research interests include the impact of metabolic dysfunction on cognition, assessing trust in medical researchers, and an individual’s willingness to participate in research studies using two community outreach interventions.

Her ultimate goal is finding alternative recruitment strategies to increase the participation rate of underrepresented populations in dementia research studies. In 2020, she was named a UW–Madison Outstanding Women of Color.

Fred Ketchum, MD, PhD

Fred Ketchum headshotFred Ketchum is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology. While in the Centennial Scholars Program, he will use qualitative and mixed methods approaches to develop a research program that examines the ethical and social aspects of diagnosing and treating individuals in the preclinical and early stages of cognitive impairment.

“I’m thankful to have been given a chance to be a Centennial Scholar and join a diverse community that provides mentorship and guidance for junior faculty,” he says. “It will benefit my career though mentorship, support for research, and the opportunity to be part of a network of talented scholars and clinicians working to improve diversity in research, education, and patient care.”

Gloria Morel, PsyD

Gloria Morel headshotGloria Morel is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology. In her brief time as a faculty member, she has developed the Outpatient Multicultural Clinic that specializes in the neuropsychological assessment of patients from diverse cultural backgrounds. Her current research focuses on the development of normative data for Spanish-speaking Latin American populations.

“Being part of the Centennial Scholars Program means opportunity, personal growth, and pride,” she says. “Opportunity for having the resources to jumpstart my career in the research field and being able to further advance the field of cross-cultural neuropsychology, personal growth as I always look for ways to further develop my skills, and pride in representing my Hispanic community in the program.”