Meet the Scholars

Harry Adynski

Research Interests: Social Determinants of Health, Social Adversity in Early Life, Chronic Stress and Allostatic Load, Biomarkers, Psychological Distress, Child Emotional Health, Longitudinal Analysis, Nursing Intervention Development

Harry Adynski graduated with a Double Major with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Psychology from UNC in May 2018. He then completed the Hillman Clinical Fellowship and continues to work clinically as a clinical nurse in adult inpatient psychiatry at UNC-MC serving on the Nursing Research Council and is a current teaching fellow for the undergraduate nursing students in the Mental Health Promotion and Psychiatric Care Across Populations and Settings course. His dissertation will explore the role of early life social adversity on trajectories of child emotional health regulation across early childhood, related functional outcomes at school entry, and potential mediating factors including parenting characteristics.

ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1375-232X

Mentor: Hudson Santos, PhD, RN
Secondary Mentor: Cathi Propper, PhD
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2023

Stephanie Betancur Grondona

Research Interests: Health disparities in oncology care

Stephanie Betancur is a doctoral student and research assistant in the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is also an inpatient oncology nurse in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at the UNC Medical Center. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a member of the 6th cohort of Hillman Scholars. Her primary research interest is in minimizing occupational exposure to carcinogens among BIPOC. She is the recipient of the NIH-funded T32 Pre‐Doctoral Trainee Grant Award: Interventions for Preventing and Managing Chronic Illness. She is also the recipient of the Jonas Nurse Scholars Program award focused on Environmental Health. She is a member of the North Carolina Nurses Association, the Oncology Nursing Society, the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, the National Hispanic Medical Association, and Sigma Theta Tau International Honors Society in Nursing—Alpha Alpha Chapter.

Mentor: Ashely Bryant, PhD, RN, OCN
Secondary Mentor: AnnMarie Walton, PhD, RN, MPH, OCN, CHES, FAAN
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2023

Katelyn Blanchard

Research Interests: Pediatric Oncology

Katelyn Blanchard, now hailing from Chapel Hill, originally called Hobbsville, North Carolina home. She is graduated from UNC’s ABSN program in 2020 and is a member of the 7th cohort of Hillman Scholars; her current research interests include pediatric oncology, looking into how pediatric patients are able to make strides to understand their own diagnosis and how best to provide parents and caregivers with the support they need throughout their child’s cancer treatment. Prior to getting her second degree, she was a senior data technician at the Duke Clinical Research Institute, and served as an RA in Public Policy at UNC.  She has a BA in Environmental Studies from UNC, and was a Buckley Public Service Scholar

Mentor: Ashely Bryant, PhD, RN, OCN
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2024

Lilian Guadalupe Bravo

Research Interests: Improving mental health outcomes in the Latinx community through culturally competent interventions

Lilian Guadalupe Bravo is a 2018 graduate of UNC’s BSN program. She aspires to optimize mental health care for Latinx youth through culturally-tailored interventions and is funded by a T32 Pre‐Doctoral Trainee Award, NR007091‐22: Interventions for Preventing & Managing Chronic Illness. Her current research interests are to (1) understand suicidality among Latinx adolescents in the context of trauma exposure and (2) identify mental health service engagement strategies for Latinx adolescents with depression and suicidality. She is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, National Latinx Psychological Association, and Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. In her spare time, she likes keeping up with new music releases, mentoring, and spending time with her chihuahua, Miguel.

Mentor: Cheryl Giscombe, PhD, RN, PMHNP‐BC, FAAN
Secondary Mentor: Gabriela Livas-Stein, PhD
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2022

Andrea Cazales

Research Interests: Examining culturally tailored diabetes self-management education interventions in the Latino/Hispanic Population

Andrea Cazales is a member of the 6th cohort of Hillman Scholars and earned her BSN in May 2019. She is interested in examining culturally tailored diabetes self‐management education interventions in the Latino/Hispanic Population. She is known for always having a bottle of Franks Red Hot Sauce on her and she enjoys paddle boarding.

Primary Mentor: Yamnia Cortés, PhD, MPH, FNP
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2024

Cassandra Dictus

Research Interests: Improving the health and well-being of those served by and working in long-term services and supports

Cassandra Dictus earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from UNC in 2018. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International and enjoys spending time with her dogs, cooking, reading, being outdoors and working on the construction of her tiny house.

Mentor: Anna Beeber, PhD, RN, FAAN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2021

Elizabeth Finnessy

Research Interests: Women’s understanding of the nature of a good birth, and how nurses can contribute to achieving their vision of a good birth.

Elizabeth “Liz” Finnessy is a BSN student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Class of 2021) with a minor in medical anthropology. She is a member of the 8th cohort of Hillman Scholars, as well as a member of the Undergraduate Students Governance Council, and Sigma Theta Tau International Honors Society in Nursing – Alpha Alpha Chapter, and a former varsity athlete for UNC’s Rowing team. Her research interests include pregnancy, equitable care, and advocacy. In her free time, Liz enjoys spending time outdoors with friends, creating art, and learning new things.

Mentor: Jennifer Leeman, DrPH, MDIV
Expected date of PhD completion: 2025

Taleah Frazier

Research Interests: African American women’s mental and physical health

Born and raised in Charlotte, NC, Taleah Frazier is a BSN student who is passionate about utilizing her role as an up-and-coming nurse researcher to advocate for others. She is a McNair Scholar, a research assistant in the Giscombe mb-HEAL lab, and a member of Mentors2, the Minority Nursing Student Association, and the Central Carolina Black Nurses Council. Her research interests lie in African American women’s mental and physical health, with a particular focus on the link between stress and coping and maternal morbidity and mortality. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, reading, and binge-watching series on Netflix.

Mentor: Cheryl Giscombe, PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC, FAAN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2026

Gabrielle Grant

Research Interests:  Sexual assault and domestic violence survivors and their response to trauma

Gabrielle Grant of Dracut, MA, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA in 2017. She is currently enrolled in UNC’s ABSN program and is a member of the 8th cohort of Hillman Scholars. Gabrielle previously worked as a clinical research coordinator at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Boston and the Massachusetts General Hospital. In her free time, she enjoys reading, crocheting blankets, and discovering new music and podcasts.

Mentor: Mary R. Lynn, PhD
Expected date of PhD completion: 2025

Prashamsha Haridass

Research Interests: Pediatrics

Prashamsha Haridass is a doctoral student in the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a member of the 7th cohort of Hillman Scholars (2019), graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2020. She obtained previous degrees B.S. in Zoology from the University of Madurai, and an M.S. in Zoology from the University of Madras, Chennai, India. She completed her clinical fellowship at UNC Health Maternity Care Center, where she continues her practice. She has a strong research background and brings to the program nine years of international research experience with a plan to advance her research career in clinical-based research. She is passionate about feeding behavior in high-risk infants and her research interest includes understanding how feeding is impacted in high-risk infants with in-utero substance exposure.

Mentor: Suzanne Thoyre, PhD, RN, FAAN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2024

Latesha Harris

Research Interests: Intergenerational Cardiometabolic Disease and Disparities in African American Communities

Latesha Harris, BSN, RN graduated from The University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Nursing with highest honors and University Distinction in December 2020. She is member of the 7th cohort of Hillman Scholars and currently works on a cardiac intermediate care unit at UNC Hospital. Her research interests include 1) cardiometabolic health disparities, particularly among African American communities; 2) environmental and psychosocial factors that promote and sustain cardiovascular health; and 3) intergenerational factors that affect cardiometabolic health. She is an active participant in her community and university. She is a member of the UNC Campus Safety Commission, an executive member of the Office of Interprofessional Education and Practice Student Executive Committee, a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honors Society in Nursing – Alpha Alpha Chapter, UNC School of Nursing Ambassador, Mentors2 scholar, and a faithful volunteer for the YMCA youth sports. She enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, writing poetry, and traveling.

Primary Mentor: Yamnia Cortés, PhD, MPH, FNP
Expected date of PhD completion: 2025

 

Alyson Helms

Research Interests: HIV/Aids and obstacles related to ART, adherence, and compliance.

Alyson Helms earned her BSN in 2021 and is a member of the 8th cohort of Hillman Scholars.  She is currently in her clinical fellowship year at UNC Health.

Mentor: Jennifer Leeman, DrPH, MDIV
Expected date of PhD completion: 2025

Diana Hernandez

Research Interests: Addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in the Latinx population.

Diana Hernandez is from Hudson, NC, graduated with her BSN in 2021 and is a member of the 8th cohort of Hillman Scholars. She is a member of MENTORS2 Program and Co-President for the Minority Nursing Student Association. She aspires to design culturally competent, trauma-informed interventions and resources for Latinx youth who experience Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) with the aim to prevent the negative mental health effects of them and improve their overall health. Her research interests include to systematically address the significant unmet mental and physical health needs in the Latinx population. In her free time, Diana enjoys spending time with her family and friends, bullet journaling, and traveling.

Mentor: Jessica Williams, PhD, MPH, PHNA-BC
Expected date of PhD completion: 2025

Rebecca Hoover

Research Interests: Cancer Survivors Unmet Needs and Health Behaviors and Wellness Promotion

Becky Hoover of Morehead City, North Carolina, earned her BSN from UNC in May 2019 and is a member of the 6th cohort of Hillman Scholars. Becky is currently starting her second year of full-time Ph.D. coursework after passing Qualifying Exams. She has finished her clinical scholars year and has continued to work at UNC Main Hospital on the Adult Hematology/Oncology floor.  She obtained previous degrees from North Carolina State University; B.S. in Microbiology and a Masters of Microbial Biotechnology and Business. She has a strong background in science and plans to fuse that background with her passion for cancer survivors and look to improve their transition after treatment ends. Her dissertation topic is understanding the way physical activity can be used to improve cardiovascular health for adult survivors of adolescent and young adult cancers. When Becky has free time, you can find her outside, traveling to new places, and spending time with her two children, significant other, and family. Fun fact: She has a special gift for finding four-leaf clovers!

Mentor: Deborah Mayer, PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN
Secondary Mentor: Rachel Hirschey, PhD, RN

Expected date of PhD completion: 2023

Mary Killela

Research Interests: Pediatric oncology, with a particular emphasis on the use of online crowdfunding to offset the costs of childhood cancer.

Mary Killela of Raleigh, North Carolina earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 2015 and was admitted to UNC’s fourth cohort of Hillman Scholars in January 2016. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2017. Her dissertation topic, Examining the use of medical crowdfunding to address the costs of childhood cancer, examines how families use online crowdfunding sites to offset the costs of childhood cancer and how social support is present in these online settings. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International and enjoys going on walks with her dog.

Mentor: Sheila Santacroce, PhD, RN, APRN, CPNP
Expected date of PhD completion: 2022

Charity Lackey

Research Interests: Mindful self-compassion and Somatics, Models of Stress and Trauma within the Diaspora, Scholar Activism and Participatory Research

Charity Lackey, RN, BSN, YT-200 (she/her) is a native of North Carolina, born and raised throughout the Piedmont region. Her research foci are centric to Black women’s health and wellness throughout the life course. Her theoretical orientation is grounded in the work of her advisor’s development of “The Superwoman Schema Conceptual-Framework,” a model depicting the relationship between culturally-relevant models of stress for African-American women, their health behaviors, and their ensuing health outcomes. Her approach to research is rooted in her experience as a community and campus organizer for social justice at UNC-Chapel Hill, thus she champions the power of team science, community engaged work, and speaking truth to power through data-driven storytelling. Check her out on twitter for a few laughs and some very watered-down political commentary @NurseLackey.

Mentor: Cheryl Giscombe, PhD, RN, PMHNP‐BC, FAAN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2022

Alasia Ledford

Research Interests: Science and Health Inequities Research

Alasia Ledford originally of Hayesville, NC, presently resides in the quaint town of Sanford, NC. In addition to her academic endeavors, Alasia continues to practice clinically as a nurse. A member of the fourth cohort of Hillman Scholars, her research interests have evolved into a focus on utilizing implementation science to address inequities in maternal and child health outcomes. In addition to her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, she holds previous degrees in Spanish and Divinity. Her current research projects include evaluating the implementation of a mental health innovation for Nurse-Family Partnership, investigating maternal perceptions of stress in the Galapagos, and understanding the barriers and facilitators to recruiting and retaining historically underrepresented individuals in PhD programs of nursing. She holds professional memberships in Sigma Theta Tau, American Nurses Association/North Carolina Nursing Association, and the American Public Health Association.

Mentor: Jennifer Leeman, DrPH, MDIV
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2022

Expected date of PhD Completion: 2021

Laika Maganga

Research Interests: Health Disparities

I want to focus on health disparities within my research. Specifically, I’m interested in sexual and reproductive health and stigmas towards people living with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. I am enrolled in the BSN program. I am originally from Lilongwe, Malawi and I grew up in Greenville, North Carolina. Outside of nursing, I enjoy trying new recipes, listening to my favorite albums, playing piano, and shopping for clothes and home decor.

Mentor: Natalia Villegas Rodriguez, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC
Expected date of PhD completion: 2026

Anna Matthews

Research Interests: Women’s health equity, social determinants of health, maternal child health

Anna Rothfuss Matthews of Carrboro, North Carolina, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from North Carolina State University in 2008, and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2018. She is a member of UNC’s fifth cohort of Hillman Scholars and a practicing women’s health nurse. She has a long-term goal of facilitating health equity by improving health outcomes in women during the perinatal period. She is currently investigating the role of lower social location in migraine and perinatal mood disorders. She is a member of the American Public Health Association and the Transcultural Nursing Society.

Mentor: Shawn Kneipp, PhD, RN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2022

Elizabeth Myer

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

Elizabeth Myer of Raleigh, North Carolina, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015. She is passionate about improving the quality of care provided to older adults. She is the recipient of a T32 Pre‐Doctoral Trainee Award, Interventions for Preventing & Managing Chronic Illness (2017-2018 NR007091‐22; 2018-2019 NR007091-23). She is also a pre-doctoral trainee for the Translating Research in Elder Care (TREC) program, a pan-Canadian health services research program that aims to produce knowledge that improves elder care. Her dissertation addresses the relationship between pain and mobility/function in hospitalized older adults. She completed her clinical fellowship at UNC Hospitals on an Acute Care for the Elderly Unit, where she continues her practice. She serves as a member of UNC Hospitals Nursing Research Council and chairs the Medicine Services Research Committee. She is an ANCC board certified medical-surgical nurse (RN-BC). She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International and the NC Nurses Association. She enjoys playing piano and spending time with her dogs, Camden and Gracie.

Mentor: Peggy Wilmoth, PhD, MSS, RN, FAAN
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2022

Monique Pardo-Montez

Research Interests: Infant Immunological and Neurocognitive Development

Ms. Monique Pardo-Montez is currently working on her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is also a Hillman Scholar with the intention of earning a PhD in Nursing by 2024. Additionally, she has been working with Dr. Eric Hodges since June of 2018, coding observational data for his current interventional study examining dyadic communication related to infant and child feeding.

Her research interests include gaining a better understanding of how the mother-infant-microbiome tirade impacts infant immunological and neurocognitive development. Ms. Pardo-Montez’s long-term goal is to apply her research in the community setting to have direct, positive impacts on a local level. Her research is primarily funded through the Hillman, Mentors2, Johnston, and Covenant Scholarships.

Ms. Monique Pardo-Montez is from Carrboro, North Carolina, and has an eight-year-old daughter. Her daughter’s struggle with immunological issues has had a profound effect on Ms. Pardo-Montez’s research interest and desire to help others struggling with similar issues.

Mentor: Eric Hodges, PhD, FNP-BC, FAAN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2025

Victoria Petermann

Research Interests: Healthcare education, access and equity

Victoria Petermann 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.

Mentor: Jennifer Leeman, DrPH, MDIV
Expected date of PhD completion: 2022

Alyssa Portes

Research Interests: Women’s Health and Underserved Communities

My research interests are centered around women’s health and underserved communities. I truly enjoy diving deeper and learning about the disparities these communities face, and how I could one day be of service to them. My overall goal is to open non-profit clinics for these communities! I am currently enrolled in the ABSN 2022 cohort. I hail from Charleston, SC, but have grown up all over the world, as my father is the military. I have lived in Fayetteville, NC for the past eight years. I have not begun nursing school yet, but in my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, exercising, listening to music, and exploring new local restaurants.

Mentor: Yamnia Cortes, PhD, MPH, FNP
Secondary Mentor: Ashely Bryant, PhD, RN, OCN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2026

Shelby Smith

Research Interests: Perinatal and Women’s health equity, biological-behavioral connections

Shelby Smith of La Plata, MD is a member of the 7th cohort of Hillman Scholars at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Before attending nursing school, she utilized her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health to manage programs for infant mortality reduction at a local health department. Her primary research interests are in perinatal and women’s mood disorders, health equity, and biological-behavioral connections. She enjoys kayaking on the Haw River, listening to podcasts, and spending time with friends and family.

Mentor: Hudson Santos, PhD, RN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2024

Cameron Ulmer

Research Interests: Reducing antibody resistance and improving patient outcomes

Cameron Ulmer is currently a member of the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing class of 2022 and the 9th Hillman Scholar cohort. She is interested in working to reduce the need for strict hospital isolation protocols, especially when dealing with antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. She enjoys all sorts of outdoor activities including running, cycling, hiking, and gardening, as well as baking and reading.

Mentor: Mark Toles, PhD, RN, FAAN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2026

Sandra Zaragoza

Research Interests: Health disparities and increasing health access to migrant farm workers, specifically Latino field workers

Sandra Zaragoza of Ash, North Carolina, is a member the 6th cohort of Hillman Scholars and earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in May 2019. She is interested in researching health disparities and increasing health access to migrant farm workers, specifically Latino field workers. She enjoys being outdoors and spending time with her family.

Mentor: Jada Brooks, PhD, MSPH, RN
Expected date of PhD completion: 2024

Alumni

Gillian Adynski +

Research Interests: Global public health

Gillian Adynski of Niskayuna, New York, has fused together her interests in travel and global health with her work and research studying health care workers around the globe. She has worked on the Middle East Project for HIV/AIDS patients, taught English to Sudanese refugees in Israel, and interned for IntraHealth International in Windhoek, Namibia. Her dissertation topic will explore the health workforce of middle and low‐income countries. She is also a competitive fencer and former Captain of UNC’s fencing team. She currently volunteers on UNC’s Fencing Team as an Assistant Coach.

Dissertation Title: Nurses’ Work and How It Impacts HIV Outcomes in Namibia

Mentor: Cheryl Jones, PhD, RN, FAAN
Secondary Mentor: Pam McQuide, PhD, RN
Date of PhD Completion: May 2020

Sallie Allgood +

Research Interests: Health care related decision making in chronic diseases

Sallie 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. Sallie joined the second cohort of Hillman Scholars at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in May of 2015, and earned her Ph.D. in Nursing in May of 2019. Sallie is active in the statewide conversation in North Carolina to both recognize and professionalize the community health worker (CHW) workforce. She is a recipient of the T32 Pre‐Doctoral Traineeship Award, Interventions for the Prevention and Management of Chronic Illness, School of Nursing (2017‐2018) and her dissertation explores outcomes from the delivery of an individualized lifestyle intervention aimed to reduce cardiovascular disease risks. She is a member of American Public Health Association, Academy Health, Sigma Theta Tau Alpha, and the NC CHW Workgroup. Sallie enjoys gardening and spending time with her family.

Dissertation Title: Active Ingredients of Community Health Worker – Delivered Interventions to Reduce Cardiovascular Disease Risks

Mentor: Jennifer Leeman, DrPH, MDiv
Ph.D. completion date: May 2019

Laura Britton +

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

Laura Elizabeth Britton of New York City, New York 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 earned her Ph.D in Nursing in December 2018.  She has a long‐term goal to improve reproductive health outcomes for women with chronic illnesses, especially those who are underserved.  She is the recipient of a Pre‐Doctoral F31 Traineeship Award, “Sociodemographic, Cognitive, and Affective Antecedents to Pregnancy Planning among Women with Diabetes” and began a Post‐Doctoral T32 Traineeship at Columbia University in summer 2019. She is a member of the Society of Family Planning, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, and Sigma Theta Tau, has a green thumb and a passion for social justice.

Dissertation Title: Sociodemographic, Cognitive, and Affective Antecedents to Pregnancy Planning among Women with Diabetes

Mentor: Diane Berry, PhD, RN, FAAN
Ph.D. completion date: December 2018

Leah Morgan +

Research Interests: The nursing workforce

Leah Morgan is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, but moved to Chapel Hill at beginning of her undergraduate career. She received her BSN from UNC in May 2015 and is a member of the 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.

Dissertation Title: Fluctuations in Nurses’ Burnout
Mentor: Mary R. Lynn, PhD
PhD completion date: December 2020

Esita Patel +

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

Esita 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. She is a member of the second cohort of Hillman Scholars and completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in May of 2015.  She defended her dissertation on May 1st, and will graduate with her Ph.D. in August 2019.  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.

Dissertation Title: The Impact of States Granting Full Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice on Access to Care in a Privately Insured Population

Mentor: Barbara Mark, PhD, RN, FAAN
Ph.D. completion date: August 2019

Martha Grace Cromeens +

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

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 works as a nurse on a step‐down burn unit at UNC Hospital. Her research interests include legal and health care systems, with an emphasis on issues in delayed diagnosis of endometriosis. She is a member of Academy Health, American Nurse Association, North Carolina Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing‐‐Alpha Alpha Chapter.

Dissertation Title: Endometriosis Diagnosis Pathways and Disability Considerations

Mentor: Suzanne Thoyre, PhD, RN, FAAN
Secondary Mentor: Whitney Robinson, PhD
PhD completion date: December 2021

Crisma Emmanuel +

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

Crisma Emmanuel earned her Bachelor of Sciences in Social Work/Psychology from East Carolina University in 2011. She graduated from UNC’s BSN program in 2016. Her research interests include health equity among individuals with disabilities, particularly those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with her kids and reading. Crisma is a member of UNC’s third cohort of Hillman Scholars (2015).

Dissertation Title: Understanding Well-Being Among Children Born Extremely Preterm & Their Caregivers

 

Mentor: Hudson Santos, PhD, RN
PhD completion date: December 2021

Kelly Tan +

Research Interests: Chronic stress responses, positive psychology, biopsychosocial mechanisms

Kelly Tan of Cary, North Carolina, is a 4th year PhD student and member of UNC’s 3rd cohort of Hillman Scholars. She received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Arts in Biology with a minor in Cognitive Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016. Kelly brings to the program four years of experience as a research assistant in the Vironomics Core at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is an experienced hematology oncology nurse who currently practices at Duke University Hospital. Kelly’s research interest includes understanding the biopsychosocial mechanisms in stress responses. Her current dissertation project is a longitudinal study of informal caregivers of adult patients receiving an allogeneic bone marrow transplant.

Dissertation Title: A Multi-method Longitudinal Study of Caregivers of Adults Receiving an Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplant

Mentor: Deborah Mayer, PhD, RN, AOCN, FAANP
Secondary Mentor: Barbara Frederickson, PhD
PhD completion date: May 2021