Marya Corden, Research Specialist



I was born outside of Detroit, Michigan and moved to Chicago in high school. Though I’ve been in and out of Chicago, I’ve been calling it home ever since. As a child, my younger sister and I loved to put on performances – it ranged from Spice Girls sing-a-longs to full blown costume and prop plays, where we ‘sold’ tickets to our family members for those premium couch seats. I also really loved arts and crafts, taking care of pets and my younger cousins, and playing outdoors including time well spent on slip n’ slides.

I graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!). I majored in Brain, Behavior and Cognitive Science and minored in Spanish. During that time, I studied aboard in Santiago, Chile and lead a student group on a HIV/AIDS prevention education tool validation endeavor in the Dominican Republic. We worked with local, non-profit organizations, community health Promotoras, and adolescents to culturally adapt a comic book (that was previously used in Columbia) for Dominican Youth. It was this experience that helped me understand the balance between research and practice, and thus lead me to pursue graduate study in Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Following my MPH training, I gained experience working on projects domestically, as well as internationally, in a variety of health related areas with most recent foci on health disparities among urban African American and Latino adolescents, depression, and HIV/AIDS. In my last position as a Program Manager, I oversaw all active Behavioral Intervention Technology (BITs) projects and I lead the technology development team in providing expertise on the design of behavioral intervention systems. Additionally, I directed pilot testing of intervention content to translate qualitative findings into usable, practical interventions. I continue to provided consultation to investigators interested in developing BITs, work with them through conceptualization to feature development to dissemination, as well as assist in preparation and grant writing. My emphasis continues to be on prevention and wellness programs and the implementation and dissemination of evidence-based, behavioral interventions. I have become Certified in Public Health (CPH), Project Management (PMP), and Mobile App Development.

I’m very much looking forward to the new experiences with the CPERL team. In my role, I will monitor project developments and mentor junior team members in project management for studies involving technology-based data collection. I will also contribute to product enhancements and assist with protocol and grant writing.