Rio Tate, Leading the Way to Inclusive Brain Health Research

Black History Month | 02/21/2023

2022 Tillman Scholar Rio Tate was emboldened by his time in the Air Force as an AC-130W crew chief, going on to earn his bachelor’s degree while on active duty at Cannon Air Force Base. After his military career, Rio began examining cognitive aging as well as minority aging; specifically, he’s working to serve his community through making research more inclusive. He pursued his degree plan because he believes science can make a positive difference in the lives of many people; he wants to be involved in that positive change.

Through research and collaboration with the community Rio is working towards this positive change by recruiting minority participants into the Preventing Alzheimer’s with Cognitive Training (PACT) study. Long-term he hopes to examine factors such as behaviors to reduce the prevalence of dementia in either a government or academic capacity. He hopes the impact he makes on his community is in showing others that they can impact change, and that the circumstances they find themselves in today will not necessarily be the circumstances they find themselves in tomorrow.

Rio recognized the gap in minorities being involved in cognitive research when it comes to dementia and Alzheimers, despite the research that shows minority groups, specifically the Black community, are more likely to receive these diagnosis. He believes that closing this gap starts with representation at the level of those conducting the research; cultivating a more comfortable, inclusive environment. Rio is not alone in this effort. Becoming a Black Men’s Brain Health Scholar in 2022, Rio joined a community of fellow inspired researchers who want to build as innovative and inclusive community to make the change they seek.

The leadership Rio displays effects not only his field of study, but he believes this type of work has the power to make transformative change in the world. “Learning our triumphs and seeing ourselves in successful positions of power is important. When we see ourselves in these roles and when we highlight successful Black individuals, we can dismantle the preconceived notion society has on us.”

As we near the end of Black History Month, we are honored and thrilled to support the work of Rio and the rest of our remarkable Tillman Scholars in the Black community as they continue to become the leaders of tomorrow. For more stories on the impact they are having, visit