Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar Award Recipients

2017 Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar Award Recipients

Jacquelyn Taylor

J Taylor

Dr. Taylor plans to examine the genetic and psychosocial factors that may influence blood pressure, a major symptom of lead exposure and a major public health concern for African Americans. The Heilbrunn award will be used for team building with multi-site investigators and pilot testing of 10 samples of the data collection, laboratory, and data analysis methods.

She is a Tenured Associate Professor in the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Specialty. Her undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees in nursing are from Wayne State University College of Nursing in Detroit Michigan. She is prepared as both a pediatric nurse practitioner and a school nurse practitioner. She holds a certificate in molecular genetics from Georgetown University and has completed additional coursework in cardiovascular epidemiology at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Dr. Taylor also completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Urban Health of Older Populations at the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Nicole Osier

N Osier

The purpose of Dr. Osier’s proposed study is to address this significant knowledge gap by examining the ability of promising pro-inflammatory protein biomarkers to: (1) identify TBI cases and (2) predict the subset of individuals who experience psychiatric symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and other emotional issues. Dr. Osier’s research uses molecular genomic techniques to understand the consequences of brain injury and identify those individuals most likely to respond to therapy and/or have favorable recovery profiles.

Dr. Osier is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Nursing Research, Tissue Injury Branch, and Brain Injury Unit. She earned a PhD (2016) from the University of Pittsburgh, and both a BS in Nutritional Science (2008) and a BSN (2010) from Michigan State University. Her dissertation project used molecular techniques to explore melatonin receptor changes in response to pre-clinical TBI. This dissertation was supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society, the Neuroscience Nursing Foundation, the International Society of Nurses is Genetics, and The Copeland Fund of the Pittsburgh Foundation. Dr. Osier has received several honors including being named a “Rising Star of Research & Scholarship” at the 2016 Sigma Theta Tau International Annual Conference in South Africa and invitation to the “Young Investigator’s Colloquium” at the 2017 American Psychosomatic Society Conference in Spain.


2016 Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar Award Recipients

Hagan Joseph Knudson Kurtz Weaver

From left: Teresa L. Hagan, Paule Joseph, Krista Knudson, Melissa Kurtz, and Kristen R. Weaver

Teresa L. Hagan

Dr. Hagan’s research focuses on how women with a history of cancer advocate for their health needs and well-being. Her proposed study will develop and test a web-based interactive game to teach women with advanced cancer how to advocate for their own care. Her ultimate goal is to create nurse-led, interactive educational interventions based in psychology that aim to reduce cancer inequities related to lack of patient self-advocacy.

Dr. Hagan is a postdoctoral research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. She received her Ph.D. in nursing science and her B.S.N. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. Dr. Hagan has published eight peer-reviewed articles and two articles related to methods and policy, and has co-authored a book chapter on oncology, women’s health, self-advocacy, and symptom management. Dr. Hagan is the recipient of an F31 training grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) at the National Institutes of Health and a doctoral scholarship in cancer nursing from the American Cancer Society. She is currently a Jonas Policy Scholar with the American Academy of Nursing and serves on its Women’s Health Expert Panel. She is active in the Massachusetts chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition as well as several other community and cancer organizations.

Paule Joseph

Dr. Joseph plans to study predictive models of how brain–gut interactions underlie human eating behavior and obesity. Her goal is to find new approaches to improve personalized nutrition and prevent weight gain in both children and adults. With the support of the Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar Award, Dr. Joseph will answer key questions about eating behavior, the microbiome, and obesity, an important milestone toward her early-stage investigator research goals. Dr. Joseph incorporates both clinical and bench science approaches to her work.

Dr. Joseph is currently a clinical and translation postdoctoral fellow at the NINR Digestive Disorders Unit, Biobehavioral Branch. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and her M.S. as a family nurse practitioner from Pace University. Her research interest in eating behavior, genetics, obesity, symptom management, and gastrointestinal disorders stems from her clinical and research experience as a gastroenterology nurse and family nurse practitioner. Dr. Joseph’s goal is to lead and mentor the next generation of research leaders from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds as independent scientists at top research institutions.

Krista Knudson

Ms. Knudson is interested in how individuals and families experience illnesses requiring extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a complex rescue treatment for severe but potentially reversible heart or lung failure. Ms. Knudson plans to examine experiences from the perspectives of both patients and their family members and use her findings to identify opportunities for patient- and family-centered practice changes that may ultimately lead to improved outcomes.

A doctoral candidate at Yale University, Ms. Knudson aims to develop a program of research centered on understanding and addressing the short- and long-term needs of critically ill patients and their families.

Melissa Kurtz

Ms. Kurtz’s study will explore factors that influence decision-making for neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU) parents, including one’s perception of being a “good parent.” Outcomes from this study will inform the development of decision-support interventions for NICU parents with the goal of reducing long-term risks to parent psychological health.

Ms. Kurtz is a doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Ms. Kurtz has 15 years’ experience caring for NICU patients and their families. Her long-term goal is to become an independent nurse scientist and develop a program of research targeting the needs of parents with critically ill children.

Kristen R. Weaver

For her dissertation research, Ms. Weaver is examining brain–gut axis dysregulation in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), conducting an exploratory investigation for markers of stress. The Heilbrunn funding will allow her to build upon this work to explore the role of sex hormones, leptin, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor in modulating the brain–gut axis of patients with IBS, incorporating physiological measurements, patient-related factors, and molecular technologies.

Ms. Weaver worked as a nurse practitioner in gastroenterology while pursuing a Ph.D. in nursing from New York University, and received an Intramural Research Training Award from the NIH in July 2015. Through the Graduate Partnership Program between NYU and the NINR, she is now conducting her dissertation research in the Digestive Disorders Unit, Biobehavioral Branch, of NINR’s Intramural Research Program.


2015 Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar Award Recipients

2015 Nurse Scholar Recipients

Jessica Castner, PhD, RN, CEN, AE-C: Dr. Castner plans to test the feasibility of using the Fitbit, a wireless, wearable activity tracker, to monitor sleep disruption caused by asthma in women. She will then determine the relationship between the women’s sleep data and variations in their lung function, asthma control, and exacerbation. An assistant professor at the University at Buffalo’s School of Nursing, Dr. Castner’s research focuses on preventing, eliminating, and managing dyspnea, or difficulty breathing. Her work is focused on diminishing the gender gap in adult asthma control, developing sensors and devices as clinical applications to improve asthma, and using a “big data” approach to ascertain asthma sub-types, and biomarkers.

Julie Kueppers FNP, RN, Doctoral Candidate: As part of her interest in excess weight gain among children, Ms. Kueppers will examine the relationship between mothers’ perceptions of themselves as healthy eaters and their own and their children’s dietary intake and body mass index. The results of this project could assist in developing new approaches to improving childhood nutrition and preventing unhealthy weight gain. A doctoral student at the University of Rochester School of Nursing, Ms. Kueppers has years of experience caring for patients, and currently works as a Family Nurse Practitioner in a college health center. Ms. Kueppers’ long-term goal is to become a nurse scientist, and to develop a program of research dedicated to childhood obesity prevention with a focus on maternal factors.

Chia-Kuei Lee, PhD, RN: Drinking and smoking are two activities that often overlap among undergraduates, and Dr. Lee is interested in how self-perception as a drinker affects how someone processes smoking-related information and their smoking behavior. She plans to survey undergraduates to determine whether or not they perceive themselves as smokers and drinkers. Then, she will assess their responses to smoking-associated stimuli and collect a 90-day history of their smoking and drinking behaviors. Dr. Lee, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Rochester School of Nursing, focuses on the role of self-cognition in risky behaviors among adolescent and young adult populations with the long-term goal of prevention. Ultimately, she wants to expand her research to ethnic minority populations experiencing escalating rates of substance use but receiving little attention.

2014 Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar Award Recipients

Susan Kohl Malone, PhD(c), RN, NCS

Susan MaloneA doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing since 2010, Susan Kohl Malone is currently working on her dissertation, “Does Chronotype Modify the Relationship between Sleep Duration and Body Mass Index in Adolescents?” She intends to become an independent nurse scientist. Ms. Malone received a BSN from Georgetown University in 1984 and a MSN in adult health chronic care from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986. She subsequently enjoyed a long career in diabetes education and school nursing. She has extensive experience as a clinical nurse, as a Certified Diabetes Educator, and as a Certified School Nurse/Health Educator. She has won numerous awards and grants, and her work has appeared in a number of peer reviewed publications.

In the course of her career, Ms. Malone has witnessed the worsening overweight/obesity trends in children and the subsequent occurrence of diseases in children (notably Type 2 diabetes) that were formerly only seen in adults. Recognizing the significance of sleep, overweight, obesity, and body composition (particularly intra-abdominal adipose tissue) in Type 2 diabetes in adults, Ms. Malone began to question the potential significance of these phenomena in school children. These trends are the impetus for her doctoral research.

Susan Kohl Malone brings a unique clinical perspective to her doctoral work—a perspective that encompasses both adult and pediatric experiences. Through her research she wants to help ensure that today’s youth are equipped to make healthy lifestyle choices and prevent the onset of chronic cardio-metabolic diseases. With the support of the Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar Award, Ms. Malone will be well funded to conduct dissertation research that is aimed at addressing key questions about adolescent sleep and obesity in vulnerable populations.

 Jill M. Vanak, PhD, RN, BSN, MSN, ACNP-BC AOCNP

Jill Marie VanakA scholar, clinician, and health services researcher in the field of oncology outcomes research, Jill M. Vanak received her Ph.D. in February 2014 from the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Since 2003, Dr. Vanak has been affiliated with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center as a board-certified acute care and advanced oncology certified nurse practitioner. In this role, she has specialized in the care of patients with onco-hematologic malignancies, specifically those patients whose treatment includes hematopoietic stem cell transplant. She began her career at MSKCC as a registered nurse on the Bone Marrow Transplant inpatient unit. In 2007, she took on the role of research nurse practitioner for the Lymphoma Service. Dr. Vanak has experience in the design and implementation of phase II and III clinical trials involving an oncologic patient population. She has participated in the development of clinical research protocols, and has played an active role in the orchestration, implementation, and evaluation of trials conducted in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Dr. Vanak pursued her career at MSKCC while completing the doctoral program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Vanak’s project aims to describe how a group of patients with a hematologic malignancy treated with blood stem cell reconstitution of their bone marrow as an inpatient and their caregivers perceive symptom distress, functional status, and health related quality of life prior to admission, during treatment, and post-treatment as compared to a patient group treated in the outpatient clinic setting. The Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar Award program will provide Dr. Vanak with support to become an independent nurse scientist researcher within the field of oncology and will further her career goal of developing an interdisciplinary program of research to examine outcomes of critically ill hematologic oncology patients.

2017 Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar Award RecipientsJacquelyn TaylorDr. Taylor plans to examine the genetic and psychosocial factors that may influence blood pressure, a major symptom of lead exposure