Hillman Scholar Mentors

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Our Hillman scholars are embedded in the research of a mentor or mentors beginning with their Honor’s Project and moving through to completion of dissertation research. The scholars have been matched with the following mentors based on their areas of scholarly interest and the mentors’ research expertise, program of research, and/or connections to interdisciplinary partners in clinical practice, health systems and policy.  

Meet our Mentors:

Dr. Gwen Sherwood and Dr. Dr. Margaret (Peggy) Bentley

Dr. Gwen Sherwood and Dr. Dr. Margaret (Peggy) Bentley
Mentee: Adria Spinell

Gwen Sherwood, PhD, RN, FAAN, is a professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the School of Nursing, and Margaret (Peggy) Bentley, PhD, is the Carla Smith Chamblee Distinguished Professor and Associate Dean for Global Health at the Gillings Global School of Public Health at UNC. 

Dr. Sherwood’s scholarship focuses on quality outcomes and global leadership, and she is co-leader of the national Quality and Safety Education for Nurses initiative. Dr. Bentley’s research focuses on women and infant’s nutrition, infant and young child feeding, behavioral research on sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, and community-based interventions for nutrition and health. Drs. Bentley and Sherwood will link Adria Spinelli with research teams conducting comparative analyses of nutrition, health, and food supplies among Brazil, Mexico, and the United States. 


Beth Black

Dr. Beth Black
Mentee: Laura Britton

Beth Black, RN, PhD, is an assistant professor at the School of Nursing. Laura Britton will join Dr. Black’s study of end-of-life care at the Center for Infant and Maternal Health at UNC Hospitals, where she is looking at how pregnant women and their partners understand and experience severe fetal diagnosis, prognosis, and end-of-life care as well as the factors that contribute to their decision to accept or decline end-of-life care. Dr. Black also received funding to examine how reproductive losses, such as infertility, miscarriage and stillbirth, impact lesbian couples. 



Dr. Cheryl Jones and Dr. Erin Fraher  Mentee: Martha Grace Cromeens

Dr. Cheryl Jones and Dr. Erin Fraher
Mentee: Martha Grace Cromeens

Cheryl Jones, RN, PhD, FAAN, of the School of Nursing directs the Hillman Scholars program, and Erin Fraher, PhD, MPP, of the UNC Cecil G. Sheps Center is the Program’s research and policy advisor. They will embed Martha Grace Cromeens in their collaborative work to improve patients’ access to care through the health workforce. 

Dr. Jones is a recognized leader in nursing and health services research, having devoted her career to improving understanding of nursing workforce issues and their influence on the organization, delivery, quality and financing of nursing and health care. Dr. Fraher has led, and participated in, various studies of the allied health workforce in North Carolina including studies of the physical therapy, speech-language pathology, health information management, radiologic sciences, respiratory therapy and clinical laboratory science workforces. 


Jennifer Leeman

Dr. Jennifer Leeman
Mentee: Arthur Gribensk

Jennifer Leeman, DrPH, MDIV, is an assistant professor in the School of Nursing. She will provide opportunities for Arthur Gribensk to learn the body of obesity prevention research, become embedded in an interdisciplinary research team, and provide a critical link for connecting him to others as his own research interests evolve. Her funded research examines ways to effectively translate, disseminate and implement obesity prevention research into practice. She is the Co-Principal Investigator of a CDC-funded Center that provides training and evidence to support public health practitioners’ obesity prevention efforts nationwide (Center of Excellence for Training and Research Translation, 2004-2014).   


Dr. Deborah Mayer

Dr. Deborah Mayer
Mentee: Hannah Roy

Deborah Mayer, PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN, is an associate professor in the School of Nursing. Hannah Roy will benefit from Dr. Mayer’s well-established interdisciplinary relationships through her appointment at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and her clinical practice working with breast cancer survivors. Dr. Mayer has developed, implemented, and evaluated interventions for cancer survivors and has an extensive external network, having served as president of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS), a member of NCI’s National Cancer Advisory Board, and Editor of ONS Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.