Mickeal Key

Profile picture for Mickeal Key

Contact Information

Beckman Institute for
Advanced Science and Technology
405 N Mathews Ave
Urbana, IL 61801
Teaching Assistant, Molecular & Cellular Biology

Research Interests

My general interest is in how genetic, metabolic, and lifestyle factors influence the brain across the life span. I want to understand what predictive information diet, body composition, metabolic status, and inflammation status can provide to support healthy brain aging outcomes.

Research Description

I am a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Aron Barbey at the Beckman Institute here at UIUC. One of my active projects involves analyzing data from the Longitudinally Dynamic Biomarkers of Healthy Brain Aging in the Illinois Elderly Adult Cohort, an interdisciplinary study supported by the Center for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory. One of the key aims of this study is to understand the role of nutrition in the healthy aging brain. The data being analyzed is multi-dimensional in nature, including brain imaging via MRI, nutritional biomarkers, diet history surveys, inflammatory proteins, and a variety of cognitive assessments.

A second project I have been pursuing involves analyzing data from the INSIGHT study, a multi-modal intervention study in young adults. The aim of my project is to characterize the role nutrition might play in the relationship between measures of brain health (structure and function) and measures of cognitive function (decision making and fluid intelligence).



University of Illinois, Champaign, IL

Doctor of Philosophy in Neuroscience, 2020


Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN

Master of Arts in Experimental Psychology, 2014


Louisiana State University, Shreveport, LA

Bachelor of Science in Biological Science, 2011


Louisiana State University, Shreveport, LA

Bachelor of Science in Psychology, 2011 (Psi Chi)

Awards and Honors

UIUC Graduate College Distinguished Fellowship-2015-2018

UIUC Summer Pre-Doctoral Institute Fellow-2015

Service Award-Graduate College Educational Equity Programs-2016 & 2017


Courses Taught

MCB 251-Experimental Techniques in Molecular Biology; University of Illinois

CHLH 520-Health Behaviors; University of Illinois

CHLH 594-Health Disparities; University of Illinois

PSYCH 101-Introduction to Psychology; Indiana State University