Meet Our Staff and Faculty

Carlos Crespo
Principal Investigator


Dr. Crespo is the Principal Investigator of EXITO, and co-directs the Student Training Core of the project. He is Director of the PSU School of Community Health and has an active research portfolio in physical fitness, epidemiology and minority health.

Thomas Keller


Dr. Keller is Co-Investigator of EXITO and he co-directs the Administrative and Institutional Development Cores of the project. He is the Duncan & Cindy Campbell Professor in the PSU School of Social Work and Director of the PSU Center for Interdisciplinary Mentoring Research. His research focuses on understanding the development and influence of youth mentoring relationships and evaluating efforts to enhance mentoring program effectiveness.

Drake Mitchell 


After earning his doctorate in physics at the University of Oregon, Drake pursued post-doctoral training at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center.  After seven years in Charlottesville he moved to the N.I.H. for what would be a 14 year tenure in the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the last eight years serving as Chief of the Section of Fluorescence Studies.   In 2008 he was pleased to move back to Oregon and accept a faculty position (Professor of Physics) at Portland State University.  

Cynthia Morris



Dr. Morris is the Co-Director of EXITO and she co-directs the Research Enrichment Core. She is Interim Director of the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute; and Assistant Dean in Charge of Admissions in the School of Medicine at OHSU. She is Vice Chair and Professor of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology with research focused on nutritional interventions in pregnancy and chronic disease. In addition, she researches clinical trial methodology and optimizing clinical research methods.

Lisa Marriott

Lisa is an Associate Professor in the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health.  She joined EXITO in 2017 to work with students in Enrichment as they explored biomedical pathways of interest.  Lisa studies workforce development using health informatics and qualitative approaches.  She has trained in the fields of neuroscience, physiology & pharmacology, and science education.  She is passionate about interprofessional education for supporting student training.

De’Sha Wolf 
Managing Director

Dr. Wolf is the Managing Director of BUILD EXITO, where she has served as project manager and a member of the Executive Leadership Team since 2015. For nearly 10 years, she has worked in a variety of higher education settings to support the academic success and retention of marginalized student populations.  A social scientist by training, Dr. Wolf’s research interests have largely been focused on the experiences that promote success and persistence for underserved college students. However, since working for BUILD EXITO, she has developed a passion for health science research, and is in the beginning stages of transitioning into a career in public health. 

Aaron Raz Link 
Project Coordinator

Aaron Raz Link has been an academic faculty member, an education program coordinator, and a mentor for students from underserved communities. Over the years, he's worked with graduate programs, four-year undergraduate programs, two-year colleges, community organizations, a social service agency, and public institutions for science education. He holds an MFA in nonfiction writing and an MA in the History of Science, and is a graduate of the Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre. When not at work helping us all learn more from each other, he writes essays on science and society.

Kay Logan
Mentoring Coordinator 

Kay Logan coordinates the PSU Center for Interdisciplinary Mentoring Research (CIMR). CIMR brings together researchers across scientific disciplines and institutions to examine mentoring across the life course, including mentoring for youth, college students and employees.

Cassandra Ramirez
Operations Coordinator; 

Cassandra Ramirez is the BUILD EXITO Operations Coordinator at Portland State University. She also serves as the Secretary of the BUILD EXITO Scholar Success Committee at PSU. She has a B.A in Criminology and Criminal Justice from PSU. Cassandra is happy to help EXITO Community members with travel (to conferences or for EXITO Events), program requirements, Scholar onboarding, most EXITO events, Summer Programming (Summer Research Academy, Induction, & Immersion), Scholar financial support, and more. Feel free to contact her by email or by scheduling a meeting. 

Carlos Quatela
Academic Advisor

Carlos is BUILD EXITO’s Academic Advisor. He holds an MS in Educational Leadership and Policy, with a research focus on supporting First Generation College Students through servant leadership philosophy and transition theory. For over a decade, he has been helping students navigate the university environment: whether you're applying for financial aid or graduate school, registering for classes or writing a resume - he's here to help.

Jen Lindwall
Communications Coordinator 

Jen Lindwall is the Communications Coordinator for BUILD EXITO.  Prior to her position at PSU, she spent 10 years working in the youth development field.  She is also a PhD student in the Applied Developmental Psychology Department at PSU.

Radhika Reddy
Research Enrichment Coordinator

Radhika Reddy is an Instructor of Biology at Portland State University where she teaches the Principles of Biology Sequence (majors survey course), Neurophysiology, and Sensory Physiology. In addition to her role in the classroom, Dr. Reddy serves as the Research Enrichment Coordinator for Portland State’s BUILD EXITO program, where she trains, mentors, and builds research capacity for undergraduates pursuing research careers in the Biomedical sciences. Dr. Reddy’s research career has been focused on molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity, and includes graduate training in hippocampal synaptic plasticity (Johns Hopkins University), postdoctoral training in molecular mechanisms of fear based learning (New York University), and research in neuroendocrine regulated mechanisms in circuit formation (Oregon Health Sciences University).

Becky Miller
Senior Research Assistant

Becky joined EXITO in 2018 to help support recruitment and outreach efforts. She also works at the Regional Research Institute on projects to enhance support networks and Independent Living Programs for young people with lived experience in foster care. She has an M.S. in Post-secondary, Adult & Continuing Education and a background instructing songwriting and youth rock camps through the Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls and My Voice Music. 

Caitlyn Beals
Project Coordinator

Caitlyn joined BUILD EXITO in 2016 as a Project Coordinator to support recruitment, mentoring, Pilot Projects, and reporting work. She has an M.S. in Educational Leadership and Policy from PSU and a certificate in Project Management from PSU’s Center for Executive and Professional Education. Her expertise is strategy, administration, coordination, and implementing complex projects in a higher education setting. 

Alma M. Ouanesisouk Trinidad

Alma M. Ouanesisouk Trinidad, PhD, MSW is an associate professor in the School of Social Work at Portland State University (PSU). As a first generation college graduate and professional, born and raised on the island of Molokai, Hawai’i with family roots of Filipino immigration through the sugar and pineapple industries, she describes her voyage of serving the people and community as becoming a Pinay (Filipina) scholar warrior and guardian of kapu aloha (sacred love)/mahalaya (love and freedom). She brings an array of scholarly work and practice in community development and organizing, policy analysis, organizational culture and processes, and collective impact in the areas of health promotion and education among diverse communities, and building strong children, youth, and families. Her scholarly work focuses on critical Indigenous pedagogy of place, youth empowerment, social determinants of health and education, youth and family participatory action research, social movements, and leadership and mentorship for social change. Other research and teaching interests include critical humanist design thinking, community practice, and culturally responsible research methods. Having mentored, informally and formally, youth to new colleagues in the field, Dr. Alma finds this work to be life changing and relational, always striving to build strong communities.

Leslie Bienen
Pilot Project Coordinator

Leslie Bienen is a veterinarian and faculty member at the OHSU-Portland State University School of Public Health. She is funded half time on BUILD EXITO and is the pilot project coordinator. At the SPH, she has taught Introduction to Global Health, the FRINQ Health, Happiness and Human Rights, and other courses. She is also a writer and editor. Leslie's research focused on conservation medicine and on zoonotic (from nonhuman animals to humans) disease transmission. Conservation medicine strives to understand the ways in which human health, changes to the environment, and the health of nonhuman species, interact. Substantial scientific research shows the well-being of all species is interconnected, and that environmental perturbations have significant effects on human health and on the health of all other species. She was a co-investigator on the Bighorn Sheep Disease project, examining disease dynamics of pneumonia in bighorn sheep and has researched and written about several bat viruses transmissible to humans. 

Adrienne Zell
Evaluation Team Lead 

Dr. Zell serves as the lead evaluator for EXITO. Dr. Zell is a faculty member in the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, the co-director of the OHSU Evaluation Core, and the director of the Office of Research Impact at the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute. Dr. Zell has been conducting evaluations in the education, health, and human services fields for over 25 years.

Matt Honore
Research Associate  

Matt Honoré has been a part of the Evaluation Team for EXITO since 2016. He is a proud two-time AmeriCorps alumni and was support staff for AmeriCorps programs for five years. Matt received a Masters of Public Administration with a specialization in Nonprofit Management from PSU in 2015. Prince’s Purple Rain is his favorite song, album, and movie of all time.

Kristina Nelson
Research Assistant

Kristina Nelson joined the EXITO Evaluation Team in 2019. She received her B.A. from Lewis & Clark College, where she double majored in Psychology and Studio Art. Her primary research interests lie in the intersection of human development and education. In her spare time, she enjoys sewing, weaving, and playing with dogs.

Arjun Viray
Communication Specialist

Arjun joined BUILD EXITO in 2016 as a Cohort 1 Scholar. As a scholar, they conducted research about green roofs on hospitals in Dr. Olyssa Starry’s lab. Arjun’s role in EXITO has shifted from Scholar to Peer Mentor and now Communication Specialist. They received their B.S. in environmental science in 2019. In their free time, Arjun enjoys going on runs, working in their garden, and biking around Portland.

Andre Walcott (he/him)
Enrichment Lead 

Andre Walcott, Ph.D. is a Scientific Program Management Scholar at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Knight Cancer Institute’s Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research (CEDAR) Center. He became a part of the BUILD EXITO team in 2020 as an Enrichment Lead. As a first-generation student, he received his Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience at OHSU studying the interaction between social relationships and alcohol use disorder. Andre is passionate about making the sciences a more inclusive and equitable place, especially for individuals who are a part of the BIPOC community. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his partner and cats, finding the best milkshake in town, and cycling. 

Trish Nicholson
Graduate Research Assistant

Trish became a part of the BUILD EXITO team in late 2019 as a Graduate Research Assistant in partnership with OHSU’s Northwest Native American Center of Excellence (NNACoE). In liaison between NNACoE and BUILD EXITO, Trish focuses on supporting recruitment, retention, and outreach activities of American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) students. Trish is currently a second-year Masters of Counseling student in the College of Education, specializing in School Counseling. In her free time, she enjoys going on foraging adventures around the PNW and experimenting in the kitchen.

Jesse Deleon Guerrero
Operations Graduate Assistant

Jesse joined BUILD EXITO in 2017 as a Northern Marianas College (NMC) Cohort 2 scholar. As a scholar, he conducted research alongside Dr. Olyssa Starry on comparing heavy metals in spinach grown on ecoroofs to ground sites at PSU. Jesse is currently a second-year graduate student in the Educational Leadership and Policy (ELP) program with a specialization in Leadership for Sustainability Education (LSE) and is working as an Operations Graduate Assistant for EXITO. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, gardening and spending time with his family.