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-Medical Center serving on the Nursing Research Council. Additionally, he served as a teaching fellow as a clinical instructor for the undergraduate nursing students in the Mental Health Promotion and Psychiatric Care Across Populations and Settings course. His dissertation is currently supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual Fellowship (F31) which 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: Occupational exposures to carcinogens

Stephanie Betancur, BSN, RN, is a doctoral student and research assistant in the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Jonas Scholar in the Environmental Health focus area and an NIH T32 predoctoral training grant fellow. She was a former inpatient registered nurse in the Bone Marrow Transplant unit at UNC Health. She earned a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in Spanish Literature and Cultures from Appalachian State University. 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 evaluating occupational exposure to antineoplastic drugs among environmental services (EVS) workers employed in oncology settings. She is a member of the American Nursing Society, the North Carolina Nurses Association, the Oncology Nursing Society, the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, the National Hispanic Medical Association, and the 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

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.

Dissertation Title: Service use among racial-ethnic minority adolescents with elevated suicide risk: Exploring the roles of trauma exposure and related symptomology

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

Andrea Cazales

Research Interests: Health Disparities, Social Determinants of Health, Policy Change, Psychological Well-being, Strength-Based Approaches
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Andrea Cazales earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019. Her passion for social justice and health equity for historically marginalized communities led her to pursue an accelerated BSN-to-PhD program in nursing. Her current research is focused on protective factors that mitigate excessive weight gain among Latinx adolescents, a precursor to many chronic health conditions, using a strength-based framework lens. Through her research, she aspires to hold systemic structures accountable by investigating factors that perpetuate health disparities and health inequities in marginalized communities, which will inform intervention development, clinical care, and policy. She is the recipient of the National Institute of Health-funded T32 Pre-Doctoral Trainee Grant Award: Interventions for Preventing and Managing Chronic Illness. Currently, she is a research assistant at UNC for a study that investigates cardiovascular health in perimenopausal Latinas and is a neonatal intensive care nurse at Duke Regional. In her free time, you can find her redecorating her home, trying out new restaurants, attending Burn Bootcamp, and spending quality time with her loved ones.

Mentor: Yamnia Cortés, PhD, MPH, FNP
Secondary Mentor: Eric Hodges, PhD, FNP-BC, FAAN
Expected date of PhD Completion: 2024

Cassandra Dictus

Research Interests: Improving equity in end-of-life care for those with dementia, Long-term services and supports systems and policy

Cass earned her BSN from UNC in 2018. As a second-degree nursing student, she previously earned a BS in biology and an MPH focused on Health Management and Policy. Cass found her passion for working with older adults while working as a CNA in a nursing home and home care settings. She completed her clinical fellowship in a long-term care setting, where she continues to practice. Her dissertation is focused on multi-level factors related to racial disparities in end-of-life symptoms for nursing home residents with dementia. She enjoys spending time outdoors, building things, and hanging out with her dogs.

Mentor: Anna Beeber, PhD, RN, FAAN
Secondary Mentor: Tamara Baker, PhD
Expected date of PhD completion: 2023

Moriah Fender

Research Interests: Geriatric Health Disparities in Rural Appalachia

Moriah Fender, originally from Hendersonville, North Carolina, is part of the 10th cohort of Hillman scholars. She is part of UNC’s BSN program graduating in May 2023. Her current research interests involve geriatric health disparities in rural Appalachia. Specifically, Moriah aspires to research how geriatric dementia patients are treated within an already vulnerable medical system. Moriah believes nurses will be at the forefront of impact in this region in hopes of offering equitable health care in North Carolina. Moriah enjoys spending time outside and laughing with her friends.

Mentor: TBA
Expected date of PhD completion: 2027

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, BSN, RN, is a doctoral student and research assistant in the School of Nursing at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a minor in Medical Anthropology. She is a member of the 8th cohort of Hillman Scholars. In 2022 she completed her training in Clinician Leadership in Quality and Safety (CLQS) as well as her Hillman Clinical Fellowship. Finnessy continues to work as a clinical nurse on Labor and Delivery at UNC-Medical Center while engaging in various quality improvement projects pertaining to pre-eclampsia. Her research interests include pregnancy, equitable care, and advocacy. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honors Society in Nursing—Alpha Alpha Chapter and AcademyHealth.

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

Brian Antonio Garcia

Research Interests: Suicide risk behavior and protective factors, community reslience, LGBTQ+ and Latinx health disparities, queer identity, performativity, social connection, suicide prevention and treatment across care systems, multi-disciplinary approaches to public health interventions.
(any pronouns)

Brian Garcia is a Chicanx interdisciplinary scholar-artist from San Jose, CA and Charlotte, NC. Ni de aquí, ni de allá – his work lives at the intersections of queer identity, art and mental health. Brian graduated from the University of Michigan in 2016 with a BFA in InterArts-Performance, a joint degree from the Stamps School of Art & Design and the School of Music, Theatre and Dance. His autoethnographic integrative project, My Suicide Notes, queried the ripple effects of death, coming out and intergenerational trauma, anchored by the memory of his uncle’s death in 2001. He has performed across the country including at Link’s Hall (Chicago,IL), The Kennedy Center (New York, NY); published in the literary journal Label Me Latina/o; and trained internationally in carnivale community arts (Liverpool, UK) and devising theater of the oppressed workshops (Florianópolis & Rio de Janeiro, Brazil).

Through public health, Brian has linked his artistic work to the realities of the communities he represents. As a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor, he teaches others how to identify the signs and symptoms of a developing mental illness and intervene in a crisis. Prior to joining the ABSN class of 2023, Brian coordinated testing for Mecklenburg County Public Health’s HIV/STD outreach team. As a scholar, he hopes to advance discoveries in suicide research, developing culturally specific models about suicide risk and evidence-based interventions for marginalized populations.

Brian is grateful to his support system: beloved partner, parents, brother, sister, close friends and mentors – you have helped him not only stay alive, but thrive for a life more worth living.

Mentor: Natalia Villegas Rodriguez, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC
Expected date of PhD completion: 2027

 

Gabrielle Grant

Research Interests: Physiologic Outcomes of Victims of Sexual Assault

Gabrielle “Gabby” Grant of Dracut, MA, is a doctoral student in the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with Highest Honors from UNC’s ABSN program in 2021. Gabby is a member of the 8th cohort of Hillman Scholars, as well as a member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society in Nursing – Alpha Alpha Chapter. As part of the Hillman Clinical Fellowship Year, Gabby is currently working as a Clinical Nurse in the Behavioral Health Emergency Department. She is a CLQS Scholar within the Clinician Leadership in Quality and Safety program, where she is finishing a quality improvement project focused on workplace violence education. Gabby is also a COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) Graduate Fellow as part of the Connecting Carolina Classrooms with the World initiative. She obtained a previous Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from the College of the Holy Cross in 2017 and has worked as a clinical research coordinator at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Boston and Massachusetts General Hospital. In her free time, she enjoys crocheting blankets, discovering new music and podcasts, and watching Boston sports teams play. .

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

Latesha K. Harris

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

Exploring the intersection of structural racism, psychosocial stressors, and racial/ethnic inequities in women’s cardiometabolic health

Latesha K. Harris, BSN, RN, graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) School of Nursing with Highest Honors and University Distinction in December 2020. Latesha is a member of the 7th cohort of the UNC Hillman Scholars. She completed the Hillman Clinical Fellowship in the Summer of 2021 and continues to work clinically as a registered nurse. Latesha’s research focuses on women’s cardiometabolic health, health inequities, and structural and psychosocial determinants of cardiometabolic disease. She is an active participant in her community and university. Latesha enjoys spending time with her family and friends, cooking, writing poetry, and traveling.

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0067-8159

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 completed her clinical fellowship year at UNC Health, and is starting full time PhD study in the Fall of 2022.

Mentor: Jessica Zègre-Hemsey, PhD, RN
Secondary 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, 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: 2023

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

Laika Maganga

Research Interests: Health disparities

Laika Maganga originally of Lilongwe, Malawi resides in Greenville, North Carolina. Laika is a member of the 9th cohort of Hillman scholars and will be graduating from the BSN program in May 2022. She is interested in HIV stigma and how it impacts minority women, especially Black women. Within the school of nursing, Laika serves as a cohort representative for the Undergraduate Student Governance Council, community service chair for the Minority Nursing Student Association, and a mentor to incoming nursing students through the LINKS program. In her free time, Laika enjoys spending time with loved ones, trying new recipes, and journaling.

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: 2024

Elizabeth Myer

Research Interests: Improving pain assessment and management for older Veterans

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 was the recipient of a T32 Pre‐Doctoral Trainee Award, Interventions for Preventing & Managing Chronic Illness (2017-2018 NR007091‐22; 2018-2019 NR007091-23). Her dissertation addresses the relationship between pain, mobility, and physical function in hospitalized older Veterans. She completed her clinical fellowship at UNC Hospitals on an Acute Care for the Elderly Unit, where she climbed the clinical ladder to CNIII, served as a member of UNC Hospitals Nursing Research Council, and chaired the Medicine Services Research Committee. In August 2021, she began her post-doctoral fellowship with the Durham VA HSR&D Center of Innovation to Accelerate Discovery and Practice Transformation (ADAPT) as a VA Quality Scholar. 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. In her free time, she enjoys playing the piano, sailing, and caring for her two dogs, cat, and chickens.

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

Monique Pardo-Montez

Research Interests: The human microbiome, breastfeeding, and childhood obesity prevention

Monique Pardo-Montez is a 1st year PhD student at the UNC School of Nursing and a Clinical Nurse II at UNC Medical Center. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2020 and completed a Nurse Residency program at Duke from 2020 – 2021. She has been working with her mentor, Dr. Eric Hodges, since 2018 on research examining dyadic communication related to infant/child feeding and childhood obesity prevention efforts in multi-ethnic communities.

Ms. Pardo-Montez’s research interests include gaining a better understanding of how the mother-infant-microbiome trad mitigates the development of childhood obesity by the establishment of breastfeeding. Her long-term goal is to understand how the microbiome is implicated in autoimmune disorders and the potential nutritional interventions have in preventing and treating disorders attributed to the microbiome. She is grateful for the experiences she’s having at the Microbiome Core and the funding she has received in her PhD program – namely from the Hillman Scholars program and her Carolina Excellence Award.

Ms. Pardo-Montez is originally from Puerto Rico and now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She has a ten-year-old daughter who has had a profound influence on her research interest in the microbiome. She desires to help others who seek different solutions to treating certain health conditions. In her leisure time, she enjoys meditating, dancing, and playing with GIANT microbes!

Mentor: Eric Hodges, PhD, FNP-BC, FAAN
Secondary Mentor: John Rawls, PhD
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

Alyssa Portes of Charleston, South Carolina, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Medical Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2020. She is currently enrolled in UNC’s ABSN program (Class of 2022) and is a member of the 9th cohort of Hillman Scholars. She is a distinguished member of the Alpha Alpha chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honors Society in Nursing. Alyssa is also a recipient of the Renwick Academic Achievement Award. Alyssa currently works as a student research assistant with the UNC SON Perinatal Heart Smart study. She has previously worked as a research assistant in the UNC Women’s Hospital, UNC Lineberger Cancer Center, and UNC SECR labs. Her current research interest is in perinatal depression amongst Latinx mothers living in rural communities. She is a dedicated member of UNC Birth Partners, a student representative for the Office of Inclusive Excellence Student Advisory Group, and serves as a dedicated volunteer for the Student Health Alliance Collation, and Carolina COVID-19 Student Service Corps. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, exploring new local businesses, and spending quality time with family and friends.

Mentor: Yamnia Cortes, PhD, MPH, FNP
Expected date of PhD completion: 2026

Lucero Rocha

Research Interests: Healthcare access and education among Latinx birthing individuals

Lucero Rocha is currently enrolled in UNC’s BSN program (Class of 2023) and is a member of the 10th cohort of Hillman Scholars. She was born in Durham, NC, raised in Hillsborough, NC, but has roots in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Her research interests include patient education among Latinx birthing individuals and the effect of language barriers on patient outcomes. Lucero is also interested in addressing barriers to achieving access to prenatal healthcare among Latinx birthing individuals. In the School of Nursing, she serves as the Events Coordinator for United We Stand and provides mentoring services for rising nursing students through the LINKS program. In her free time, you can find her offering K-12 tutoring services, weight training, or spending time with loved ones.

Mentor: TBA
Expected date of PhD completion: 2027

 

Grace Russell

Research Interests: pediatrics, family-centered care, health literacy, health promotion, food security screening and intervention, care of patients with autism spectrum disorder

Grace Russell of Belmont, North Carolina, earned a Bachelor of Science in Health and Exercise Science from Wake Forest University in 2020. Before returning to her studies, she taught English at a primary school in Thailand as a Fulbright grantee. Grace is currently enrolled in the ABSN program at the UNC School of Nursing and is a member of the tenth cohort of Hillman Scholars. She has a wide variety of interests and plans to focus her research on a topic related to family-centered care. In her free time, she enjoys baking, playing tennis and pickle ball, and listening to podcasts.

Mentor: TBA
Expected date of PhD completion: 2027

 

Prashamsa Sannareddy

Research Interests: Pediatric Feeding

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 Madurai Kamaraj University, 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 infants born small for gestation age.

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

Cameron Ulmer

Research Interests: Reducing antibody resistance and improving patient outcomes

Cameron Ulmer is finishing an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing before entering into a clinical fellowship year and then full-time PhD classes with the Hillman Scholars Program. She is currently working on an Honors Project with a focus on patients with dementia and plans to continue dementia research in her PhD. In addition to being a Hillman Scholar, she is also a Charles and Colleen Astrike Nursing Scholar.

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

Sandra Garcia 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