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Michelle Dunk

Postdoctoral researcher

About me

I am a postdoctoral researcher in Weili Xu’s Medical Epidemiology research group at the Aging Research Center. I have research experience spanning the fields of cognitive neuroscience, epidemiology, medicine, and health psychology.

I earned a BS in Psychology and Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of Denver. I then completed an MS and PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. 


Research description

Through my research, I aim to identify lifestyle-related strategies to prevent chronic diseases and promote healthy aging. I am especially interested in plant-based nutrition and the role of diet in chronic disease development. My current research examines relationships between dietary patterns, cardiometabolic risk factors, and dementia.

My doctoral research focused on the involvement of dietary cholesterol and fat, blood lipids, and oxysterols in APOE-related risk for Alzheimer's disease. I have also conducted research in the following areas: genetic and lifestyle-related risk factors for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and mortality;  neuropsychological characteristics and quality of life concerns in Parkinson's disease patients and caregivers; and semantic memory formation.


  • BS, University of Wisconsin - Madison (2015)
  • MA, University of Denver (2017)
  • MS, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (2019)
  • PhD, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (2022)