Meet the Scholars

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Elizabeth Allen

Research Interests: Reducing rising incidence of health concerns associated with aging through improved care

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Elizabeth Allen of Raleigh, North Carolina, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015. During her undergraduate studies, she participated in Duke University Hospital’s Professional Nursing Assistant Program. Her research interest is in the area of improving the quality of care for the geriatric population, with special emphasis on quality and safety in nursing homes.  Elizabeth is a member of UNC’s third cohort of Hillman Scholars.  She recently completed a Clinical Fellowship on 8 Bed Tower (a geriatric unit) at UNC Hospitals.

Sallie Allgood

Research Interests: Health care related decision making in chronic diseases 

hillman_allgood_sallieSallie Diane Allgood, of Durham, North Carolina, earned a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from Campbell University in 2000 and a Master of Science in Biology from Wake Forest University in 2005.  From 2005-2014, she worked at Duke University exploring the mechanism of action for chemotherapeutics to treat leukemia in both preclinical and early phase clinical trials; assessing the therapeutic potential of chemotherapeutics in preclinical studies for the treatment of leukemia; and studying familial genetics in leukemia. In 2014, Sallie joined the second cohort of Hillman scholar program at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in May of 2015.  Sallie is interested in health promotion and disease prevention through improving people’s health behaviors and exploring Community Health Workers capacity to help with this.  Specifically, her dissertation will focus on the client/CHW relationship and understanding what qualities of this relationship are most important to aid the client to improve their health behaviors.  Sallie is actively involved in her mentor’s research project, CHANGE, and has been active in the statewide conversation in NC to recognize and professionalize the CHW workforce.  She is currently preparing a NRSA, F31 application, for December 2016 submission.

Laura Britton

Research Interests: Health policy, health disparities, and reproductive health in the context of chronic illness management

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Laura Elizabeth Britton of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences from Wellesley College in 2005 and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of North Carolina in 2014. She is a member of UNC-CH’s first cohort of Hillman Scholars and is currently a pre-doctoral trainee supported by NIH/NINR T32NR007091-20: “Interventions for preventing and managing chronic illness.”  Laura is broadly interested in the delivery of family planning services to women with chronic illnesses, and her dissertation research will focus on contraception use among women with diabetes and women with cancer.  She is currently preparing a NRSA, F31 application, for December 2016 submission.

Katherine Busby

Research Interests: Chronically ill children and their families

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Katherine Busby of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015. She served as a lab assistant at Women’s Birth and Wellness Center and as a certified Nursing Assistant II.  She is a member of the third Cohort of Hillman Scholars, and recently completed a Clinical Fellowship in pediatrics at UNC Hospitals.  Katherine’s research interests are based on experiences caring for her daughter who has a rare congenital disorder (Hypothalamic Hamartoma).  Katherine had first-hand experiences as a family care giver and patient advocate, and in this role, she helped change a hospital policy that had resulted in a medication overdose. Her research will focus on helping chronically ill children and their families find ways to enhance family resiliency. Katherine is a member of UNC’s third cohort of Hillman Scholars.

Eric Chapman

Research interests: Nurse resiliency

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Eric Chapman of Durham, North Carolina, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Kent State University in 2006. He served in the position/rank of Infantry Officer in the United States Army from 2006-2014, and is currently serving in the United States Army Reserve. As an Infantry Officer, his responsibilities include training and development of individuals and teams. His research interests are focused on nurse resiliency through training and team building exercises to be accompanied in house with existing staff members to create a comprehensive system network. Eric was admitted into UNC’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program in January 2016, and admitted into UNC’s fourth cohort of Hillman Scholars.

Martha Grace Cromeens

Research Interests: The intersection of the legal and health care systems, with an emphasis on issues in the nursing workforce.

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Martha Grace Cromeens of Bryan, Texas, earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of St. Thomas in 2002, a Master of Arts in History from Baylor University in 2007 and a Juris Doctorate from the South Texas College of Law in 2008.  Martha Grace was admitted into the first cohort of Hillman Scholars in the spring of 2013, and graduated with her BSN from UNC School of Nursing in May 2014.  She was licensed to practice as an RN in North Carolina in 2014.  She completed the Clinical Fellowship on a burn step-down unit at UNC Hospitals in the spring of 2015.  Her research will focus on the intersection of the legal and health care systems, with an emphasis on issues in the nursing workforce.

Crisma Emmanuel

Research Interests: How neurological disorders are viewed and defined by various cultures

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Crisma Emmanuel of Cary, North Carolina, earned her Bachelor of Science in Social Work and Psychology from East Carolina University in 2011. She was admitted to UNC’s BSN program in 2015, and she will complete that program in the spring of 2016. She currently works part-time at the Burn Center (Burn ICU) at UNC Hospitals as a nursing assistant. She has previously worked at a domestic violence shelter, Triumph Employment Services with adults with disabilities, UNC Horizons, and completed two internships – one at a private mental health clinical and at Federal Prison’s Step-Down program for inmates diagnosed with Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. Her research interests are focused on how neurological disorders are viewed and defined by various cultures. Crisma is a member of UNC’s third cohort of Hillman Scholars (2015).

Mary Killela

Research Interests: Pediatric oncology, with a particular emphasis on how recreational therapy can improve the work environment for nurses and benefit patients 

hillman_killela_maryMary Killela of Raleigh, North Carolina, earned her Bachelor of (degree & area of study) from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 2015. From 2014-2015, she worked at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, on the Thermoelectric Cooler Project, that developed and tested a prototype for a thermoelectrically cooled vaccine center. She also volunteered with the Carolina Pediatric Attention Love Support (CPAL), UNC Hospitals, UNC’s Latino Health initiative, and was a member of the UNC Marching Tar Heels. Mary’s research interests include pediatric oncology, with a particular emphasis on how recreational therapy can improve the work environment for nurses and benefit patients. Mary was admitted to the UNC’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program in January 2016, and into UNC’s fourth cohort of Hillman Scholars.

Alasia Ledford

Research interests: Health disparities among American Indians and Alaskan Natives

hillman_ledford_alasiaAlasia Ledford of Durham, North Carolina, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Lee University in 2004. She earned a Master of Divinity from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in 2009, and currently serves as a Childbirth Education Coordinator with North Carolina Women’s Hospital. Alasia previously held the position of Instructional Assistant-Dual Immersion Classroom (Spanish/English) with Durham Public Schools. Her community involvement includes working with UNC Hospitals as a Feria de Salud volunteer translator, Maternity tour guide with Women’s Health Information Center, Ready Set Baby Instructor with Women’s Health Information Center, and as a Doula and Mentor with UNC Birth Partners: Volunteer Doulas. Alasia’s research will focus on addressing health disparities among American Indians and Alaskan Natives, focusing on issues related to maternal and child health, particularly perinatal care and early post-natal care and the prevention of childhood obesity as it relates to early intervention methods. Alasia was admitted to UNC’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program in January 2016, and into the fourth cohort of Hillman Scholars.

Gillian Litynski

Research Interests: Global public health

hillman_litynski_gillianGillian Litynski of Niskayuna, New York, will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a double major in Global Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May, 2016. She was admitted to UNC’s third cohort of Hillman Scholars. Gillian brings to the program her experience working with HIV/AIDS patients in a Middle East Research Project, and as an English teacher to Sudanese refugees living in Israel. She has also volunteered at the University of North Carolina Institute of Global Health and Infectious Disease. She is a member of the Baddour North Carolina Leadership Academy, and is currently the Captain of the Fencing team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Gillian’s research focus is on global public health, and particularly access to care. She recently completed an honors project comparing the backgrounds and experiences of internationally educated nurses from high- and low-income countries who were working in the U.S. After Gillian completes the BSN in May, 2016, she will begin the Clinical Fellowship at UNC Hospitals in the fall of 2016.

Leah Morgan

Research Interests: The nursing workforce

hillman_morgan_leahLeah Morgan is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, but moved to Chapel Hill at beginning of her undergraduate career. She is a traditional, first-degree Bachelor of Nursing Science student, and completed the BSN in May 2015. She is a member of UHC’s second cohort of Hillman Scholars. From the time she was admitted to the nursing school, Leah has been very involved in leadership at various levels, including the Undergraduate Student Governance Council and the Association of Nursing Students. She also served as a nursing school ambassador. Leah recently completed the Clinical Fellowship at UNC Hospitals, working in pediatrics. Her research interests focus on the nursing workforce, with a particular emphasis on the attributes of caring in nurses’ work and nurse satisfaction.

Jennifer Nance

Research Interests: The microbiome of transplant patients with a concentrated focus on innovation in healthcare

hillman_nance_jenniferJennifer Nance of Raleigh, North Carolina, is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is a Dean’s List recipient. Her clinical experience consists of working in the Gastrointestinal Surgery Department at UNC Hospitals. Jennifer currently holds the position of Founder and Co-President of the “Be the Match” program at UNC-Chapel Hill. She previously has been the Event Chair for Be the Match, a Committee Member of Public Relations and Sub-Chair of Advocacy and Luminary Committee for UNC Relay for Life, a UNC Children’s Hospital volunteer, and a tutor with North Carolina’s Food Bank Kid’s Café. Jennifer’s research interests focus on studying the microbiome of transplant patients with a concentrated focus on innovation in healthcare. Jennifer is a member of UNC’s fourth cohort of Hillman Scholars.

Esita Patel

Research interests: models of maternal care delivery in the US and impacts on health care costs and outcomes

hillman_patel_esitaEsita Patel of Charlotte, North Carolina, earned a B.S. in Biology, with a minor in chemistry, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013, earning highest honors on her thesis work on the tumorigenic effects of ASC on medulloblastoma. During her time at UNC, Esita was a microbiology intern, Carolina Research Scholar, HHMI-FSC fellow, member of Phi Sigma Pi and Tri-Beta National Honors Societies, and a volunteer doula. Prior to applying to the Hillman Scholars Program, she lived and worked alongside an indigenous midwife in Tecpan, Guatemala through funding earned from the CEES fellowship. She is a member of UNC’s second cohort of Hillman Scholars, and she recently completed the Clinical Fellowship on the labor and delivery unit at UNC Hospitals.

Victoria Peterman

Research Interests: Healthcare education, access and equity

hillman_peterman_victoriaVictoria Peterman of Raleigh, North Carolina, earned her Bachelor of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 2015. Her professional experience includes working as a Moxie Scholar Intern in Project Development and Communications with NARAL Pro-Choice, Durham, North Carolina. She was nominated for the Mary Turner Lane Award and was the recipient of the Jon Curtis Student Enrichment Fund Award. Her community service work consists of working as a Volunteer Doula with UNC Hospitals Birth Partners, and serving as an Events and Action Coordinator with the UNC-Chapel Hill Sierra Student Coalition. Her research interests focus on leading in the creation of evidence based clinical practice to improve maternal and child health in rural areas, educating others on the importance and practice of providing quality care, and addressing issues of healthcare access and equity. Victoria was admitted into UNC’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science program in January 2016, and is a member of UNC’s fourth cohort of Hillman Scholars.

Adria Spinelli

Research Interests: Increasing the implementation of mental health interventions for children after they experience a trauma in an armed conflict

hillman_spinelli_adriaAdria Spinelli of Racine, Wisconsin, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies and Human Rights from Baylor University in 2011. During her time at Baylor, she was a member of the Honors College and studied abroad focusing on International Law and Organizations. Prior to applying to the Hillman Scholars Program, Ms. Spinelli worked for a non-profit home repair organization working with impoverished communities in central Appalachia and teaching English in Spain. Ms. Spinelli was admitted into UNC’s first cohort of Hillman Scholars, and graduated from the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program in 2014. She is currently completing her first-year in the PhD program after taking a year off to work in a pediatric intensive care unit. Her research interest focuses on increasing the implementation of mental health interventions for children after they experience a trauma in an armed conflict. Her mentor is Dr. Jennifer Leeman. She is currently preparing a NRSA, F31 application, for December 2016 submission.

KELLY TAN

Research Interests: Local public health; specifically improving HIV prevention and increasing routine HIV testing
hillman_tan_kellyKelly Tan of Cary, North Carolina, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2016. She was admitted into UNC’s third cohort of Hillman Scholars. Kelly brings to the program her experience working with under-served populations in North Carolina as an HIV/STD counselor at the UNC Student Health Action Coalition, and her experience working as a research assistant in the Vironomics Core at UNC Lineberger Cancer Research Center. Kelly’s research focuses on local public health; specifically improving HIV prevention and increasing routine HIV testing. As part of her BSN program, Kelly completed an honors project by conducting an integrative literature review and interviews with nurses to examine stigma towards patients with HIV, and identify educational opportunities and the benefits of stigma reduction. She will begin the Clinical Fellowship in the fall of 2016.

Nora Weatherby

Research Interests: The role of the labor and delivery nurse in a polarized care delivery setting, nurse midwifery and patient experience, palliative care on the labor and delivery unit and the unique needs of families experiencing reproductive loss and stillbirth, and incorporating story-based research into nursing school curriculum.

hillman_weatherby_noraNora Weatherby of Greensboro, North Carolina, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies with a focus in Oral History and Writing, from The New School University, New York, NY, in 2010. Nora founded The Birth Narratives Oral History Project in 2010 where she conducted independent research, interviewing over sixty women over a five year span on their experiences in childbirth to explore the subtleties and complexities of women’s healthcare across their lifespan in the United States. She was offered a fellowship by Columbia University in 2012 to present her research in the context of the history of birth in the US at their annual oral history summer program. Along with her mixed-methods research in maternity care experience, Nora brings to the program her experience working as a volunteer doula and volunteer NICU nanny. Her research interests are the role of the labor and delivery nurse in a polarized care delivery setting, nurse midwifery and patient experience, palliative care on the labor and delivery unit and the unique needs of families experiencing reproductive loss and stillbirth, and incorporating story-based research into nursing school curriculum. Nora was admitted into UNC’s 2016-2017 cohort of Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation.