Core Faculty Members


Sherry Falsetti, PhD
Phone:  815.395.5665

Sherry A. Falsetti, PhD, is the Director of the Division of Health Policy and Social Science Research, Professor and the Assistant Dean of Research.  She is also a licensed clinical psychologist and recently completed a certification in health coaching with an emphasis on holistic nutrition. Dr. Falsetti’s research and clinical practice focus on the physical and mental health effects of trauma on women and the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder and panic attacks. She developed Multiple Channel Exposure Therapy (MCET) for posttraumatic stress disorder and panic attacks, and is known for the Modified PTSD Symptom Scale, which has been translated to 17 different languages and has been used in at least 35 countries around the world. Dr. Falsetti is currently working with NCI Pearson to test a web-based tool to identify mental health disorders in a primary care setting, revising her treatment to include mindfulness components and address holistic health, and serving as a consultant on a study testing her treatment with veterans at the Houston VA. She hopes to begin a study of the effectiveness of health coaching for women who have comorbid PTSD and chronic disease in a primary care setting.  

Dr. Falsetti earned her doctoral degree from University of Missouri-St. Louis and a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Medical University of South Carolina, where she was also a faculty member for 10 years. She has been with the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford for the past 11 years and during her career has won numerous awards, including the Faculty Scientist-Practitioner Award, Golden Apple Teaching Award, a Professional Contribution Recognition Award for professional contribution in the aftermath of September 11th from the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy, and the YWCA Women of Achievement Professions Award. Dr. Falsetti has had research funding from the National Institutes of Health, Center for Disease Control, Department of Defense, and the Illinois Department of Public Health among others.

Areas of Interest

  • Treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental and physical health problems associated with trauma exposure

  • Influence of culture on doctor-patient communication

  • Identification of trauma and PTSD in primary care

Alesia Jones, PhD

Phone:  815.395.5716
Alesia Jones, PhD, is a Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford (UICOM-R). She serves as the Director of Behavioral Science for the Family Medicine Residency and Interim Director of the Psychiatry Clerkship for the Department of Psychiatry.  Dr. Hawkins’ research area focuses on the study of interpersonal violence and the psychological, emotional, and behavioral consequences of victimization. Her research also includes examination of healthcare delivery to violence exposed individuals and improving the identification and response to victims of violence within the context of primary care.  

Dr. Hawkins has been the recipient of numerous awards in recognition of her research, clinical work, and teaching including the UICOM-R Faculty Distinguished Teaching Award, the Robert Magwood, Jr Award for Outstanding Service to Crime Victims and 2011 Rockford YWCA Women of Achievement, Professions Award. She has been awarded grants and scholarships from the National Institute of Health, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, University of Illinois, and the Medical University of South Carolina. She has published peer-reviewed articles and book chapters related to trauma and present on violence exposure and mental health at national and local conferences.   Prior to joining the UICOM-R, she completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Areas of Interest

  • Identification of family and interpersonal violence in primary care

  • Mental health disparities among ethnic/racial minorities and impoverished communities

  • Community violence and homicide survivorship

  • Violence prevention research

  • Workshops and presentations on adolescent and adult violence exposure

Manorama M. Khare, PhD
Phone:  815.395.5762
Manorama M. Khare, PhD, is a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford with extensive experience in research related to underserved populations, women’s health and diversity in higher education. Her technical expertise includes program evaluation, planning and implementation of community-based programs, quantitative and qualitative research methods, quasi experimental research designs, survey development and multivariate data analysis.    
The focus of her research has been reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in women using behavioral lifestyle change interventions. She is currently the lead evaluator for the Illinois WISEWOMAN program and CVD risk reduction program for underinsured and uninsured women across the state. For the past six years, she has served as co-investigator on a collaborative effort of the UIC National Center for Excellence in Women’s Health and the Illinois Department of Health to improve the cardiovascular risk profiles for adult women living in rural southern Illinois.

Dr. Khare earned her doctoral degree in public health from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to this position, she was a senior research specialist at the Center for Research on Women and Gender and the National Center for Excellence in Women’s Health at UIC.   

Areas of Interest

  • Women’s Health, Rural Health 

  • Behavioral Lifestyle Change Interventions

  • Use of mHealth to promote behavior change

  • Program Evaluation

  • Planning and Implementation of Community Programs

  • Diversity in Higher Education  

Sandra Perpignani, MUPP

Phone:  815.395.5765
Sandy Perpignani is the new Associate Director for Health Systems Research (HSR) within the division of Health Policy and Social Science Research (HPSSR) in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford (UICOM-R).  She has an extensive background in survey research, data collection, data analysis, data visualization and reporting.  She is a member of the US Census Bureau’s State Data Center system in Illinois and is particularly interested in working to bridge the gap between those who produce, analyze and report data and those who consume it.   

Prior to joining UICOM-R, Ms. Perpignani worked in both public and private sector positions, completing large and small studies on a broad array of topics.  Examples of studies she designed, managed, and reported on include water consumption in northeastern Illinois, urban travel patterns, racial segregation in housing patterns correlated to college completion rates, program evaluations for career and technical education programs in public high schools, customer satisfaction, and shopping and purchasing patterns.  

Ms. Perpignani has a Master’s degree in Urban Planning & Policy from the University of IL at Chicago (UIC), with an emphasis on housing and economic justice.  While at UIC, she also earned a graduate level certification in Survey Research Methods from UIC’s Survey Research Laboratory (SRL).    

Areas of Interest

  • Rigorous applied community-based research

  • Geographic patterns

  • Public vs private educational outcomes

  • Housing policy

  • Racial/economic segregation

James A. Powers, Jr., LCSW

James A. Powers, Jr., LCSW, has been part of Health Systems Research since 2008. He previously served in professional and administrative capacities for a wide variety of not-for-profit organizations that provided counseling and family services, employee assistance, hospital outpatient psychiatry, services for child abuse and neglect, and child development and disability services. He either serves or has served on a number of not-for-profit and foundation boards. At Health Systems Research, his primary work focuses on healthy community studies and mental health program evaluation and needs assessment. His projects include assessments for a variety of Mental Health 708 Boards, such as DeKalb County, Oak Park, and Hanover Township, and evaluations for such projects as for the children’s mental health system of care project operating in Carroll, Lee, Ogle, and Whiteside Counties and funded by the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation.