PhD Student Bios

2023 Cohort

Bridget Dobson

Bridget Dobson, BSN, RN is passionate about eliminating sexual health education disparities, specifically related to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), sexual violence prevention, and promoting inclusivity regarding sexual orientation. Her goal is to research best forms of providing sexual health education that empower people of all communities, orientations, and abilities to make informed decisions about their bodies. She is also interested in taking advantage of opportunities in health policy and global health at Duke. Coming from Louisville, Kentucky, Bridget worked for over 2 years as a trauma surgical intensive care nurse, where she was able to observe the impact that social determinants of health had on patient outcomes. During this time, Bridget was involved in implementing a “Trauma Informed Care” education module on the unit to improve cultural competence amongst nursing staff. She also served as a research assistant for UL Health’s Nursing Education Department, where we she assisted in the data collection and collaborative manuscript for the study: Institution-Wide Moral Distress Among Nurses: Post-COVID-19 Pandemic. Bridget learned lessons in active communication and importance of community engagement when she volunteered with Kentucky Refugee Ministries. There she assisted residents in acclimating to the city through resource and conversational English education. Bridget is inspired to get involved in Durham’s community and discover how her research goals can impact sexual health equity on a larger scale.

Molly Fitzpatrick

Molly Fitzpatrick, BSN, RN was drawn to nursing because of the profession’s unique ability to be present for some of life’s most significant moments. She graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Nursing Honors Program in 2020. There she researched adjuvant therapies in management of breast cancer pain and completed her honors thesis on post vicarious growth in NICU nurses. After graduation, she completed a nurse residency on a COVID/Neuro/Stroke floor at Boston Medical Center. Since then she has worked in the Emergency Department, starting at New York Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center and most recently in Connecticut. She truly loves being an ED nurse but looks forward to returning to academia, and feels privileged to have the opportunity to do so at Duke. Molly chose to pursue a PhD in nursing because she believes nursing research has the potential to reduce health inequity, improve access to care, and improve the physical and mental well-being of our communities. While at DUSON, Molly hopes to focus her research on mental health in the pediatric and adolescent population, particularly in the school setting, and as it relates to social determinants of health.

Jolie Jemmott

Jolie S. Jemmott MSN, RN, PMHNP-BC earned her BSN in 2019 from Hampton University in Hampton, VA and her MSN in 2022 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in Philadelphia, PA. She has been a nurse for the last 5 years working and has worked in the areas of colorectal and psychiatry. Over the last year, Jolie has worked as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, working specifically in community mental health adult outpatient services. Jolie is passionate about working with those in marginalized and vulnerable populations experiencing mental health challenges. She decided to pursue a career as a nurse scientist to become an expert in the psychological underpinnings of African American substance-abusing men with dual diagnoses and developing the most successful treatment approaches for them and their families. Moreover, she wants to explore strategies to reduce substance use behaviors among African American men. Jolie’s primary goal for doctorate level studies is to become a professor at a research-intensive university and develop a program of research that makes a difference in improving mental health and health equity of substance-abusing populations. Through her research, she hopes to build a research program that continues to advance nursing knowledge, contributes to the health of vulnerable, marginalized underrepresented communities around the globe, and shapes the future of nursing science and healthcare.

Caroline Kee

Caroline Kee, BSN, RN is interested in adolescent health and improving the treatment of patients with substance use disorders. Caroline graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing in 2023. In partnership with the Rollins School of Public Health and the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University, Caroline researched barriers to care for patients with substance use disorder at the pharmacy level and ED utilization in patients with substance use disorder. This work led her to complete an honors thesis exploring the compounding influence of race and substance use disorder on ED utilization in the acute care setting. During this time, Caroline also cultivated a passion for adolescent health at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honors Society of Nursing and the Southern Nursing Research Society. While at Duke, Caroline plans to continue research on patients living with substance use disorder and adolescent health while exploring essential changes in the healthcare system surrounding treatment for these populations.

Osborn Owusu Ansah

Osborn Owusu Ansah, BSN, RN is a registered nurse from Ghana who has keen research interests in the fields of oncology and palliative care. He graduated from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and has since gained significant nursing experience from working across different healthcare settings in both Ghana and the United Kingdom for the past four years. His passion for oncology and palliative care research stems from the worrying statistics on the high mortality rates associated with cancer in sub-Saharan Africa and the low number of opportunities available for individuals to extensively study on the merits of incorporating palliative care into the healthcare system in Africa. Osborn’s purpose for pursuing doctorate-level studies is to acquire competencies that will help him discover and develop cost-effective interventions that can enhance symptom management and well-being of people with cancer.

Somin Sang

Somin Sang, BSN, MSN, is dedicated to enhancing healthcare systems through systems engineering to ensure safety and efficiency. With an academic journey at the College of Nursing, Yonsei University in South Korea, Somin earned her BSN and MSN, laying a solid foundation for her pursuits. Her experience as a surgical nurse at the Seoul Asan Medical Center, coupled with her role as a nurse at the International Healthcare Center of Gangnam Severance Hospital, empowers her with a comprehensive perspective on patient care and global healthcare dynamics. Building on her clinical expertise, Somin's research focus lies at the intersection of patient safety and technology. Through her research, she aims to harness mobile monitoring data and electronic health records, to predict patient safety events and strategically intervene to mitigate patient harm.

Jill Sergison

Jill Sergison, MA, CNM, RN is a certified nurse-midwife with nearly 20 years of experience in maternal and family planning care. In addition to her clinical experience, Jill conducted novel contraceptive research at FHI360 to promote availability and sustainability of family planning services worldwide. She was the NC Director of Policy for a reproductive health organization before co-founding Points True North (PTN) Consulting in 2022 and is currently engaged in the implementation of pharmacist-initiated contraception in NC. She has many years of experience working with progressive organizations on a range of critical health, gender, racial and social justice issues and expertise in building coalitions and driving policy change. Notable recent policy achievements include work in the extension of Medicaid for Pregnant Women and 12-month dispensing of contraception through Medicaid. Jill is founder and Executive Director of North Carolina Nurses for Reproductive Rights and co-developed, dedicated to providing reproductive health access information to NC residents. She is tri-chair of NC’s Reproductive Life Planning group, board chair of the C4 arm of Pro-Choice NC, and member of the NC Perinatal Equity Collaborative. She obtained her BS from Wake Forest University and her MA from New York University.

Olivia Short

Olivia Short, BSN, RN joins DUSON after three years as a clinical research nurse on neurological and maternal-fetal medicine studies, two of those years with Duke School of Medicine. Her passion for research blossomed during her senior thesis, where she tested the impact of biofeedback videogaming on stress and anxiety in young adults. This experience, alongside her own journey with PTSD, highlighted the importance of considering both internal and external factors in addressing anxiety, especially in low resource environments. Healthcare systems and providers play an enormous role in determining the evolution of long-term health outcomes of anxiety, PTSD, and trauma. Olivia recognized the pressing need to establish networks of trauma-informed care environments, where individuals can safely and actively shape their healthcare experiences and avoid re-traumatization and delayed or inappropriate care. Her research interests center around understanding the healthcare experiences of survivors of interpersonal violence, particularly those dealing with chronic pain and PTSD, and addressing individual and systemic barriers to improved care coordination. With a passion for holistic sexual health, Olivia aims to incorporate education on violence prevention, power dynamics, autonomy, and pleasure within the trauma-informed framework. Outside of her professional endeavors, she enjoys spending quality time with her partner and their cat Nutmeg. She spends as much time as she can doing activities that fill her cup such as cooking, reading fiction, camping, hiking, dancing, and playing piano.

Tamia Walker Atwater

Tamia Walker-Atwater BSN, RN, CNRN, is a recipient of the Duke University Dean's Graduate Fellowship and has a passion for intimate partner violence research. She began her nursing career in 2018 at the University of Virginia Health System in acute care neurology. During her time here, she explored her passion for research through several initiatives with stroke, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury patients, developing models for safer practice across the care continuum. Born from her professional and personal experience, her research interest includes exploring the intersection of neuroscience, nursing education, and intimate partner violence—a field in which she has already co-authored published work. Through her research, she aims to develop models for the healthcare profession that help to explore and define the landscape of neuroscience nursing research.

2022 Cohort

Patty Alonso

Patricia (Patty) Alonso, MSN, FNP-BC, RN-BC, CNOR(E) is dedicated to finding health care access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for patients at high-risk of HIV transmission globally. Her learning experience at Duke in the ABSN and MSN programs plus work on multiple different specialties at Duke Health has fostered her interest in HIV and global health care. She obtained both her Bachelors of Science in Nursing degree and Masters of Science of Nursing as Family Nurse Practitioner with and HIV concentration at the Duke University School of Nursing (DUSON). Patty looks forward to completing her PhD as well, becoming a triple Duke grad! During her time at Duke, she has worked in-patient, outpatient and as a telehealth triage nurse for COVID and Endocrinology. This has given her a broad view into how nursing works on many levels but has also helped to foster her desire to study HIV by seeing the health disparities in the healthcare system. In addition to her work as a staff nurse at Duke Health, she has been a Clinical Instructor at DUSON for several years. She especially enjoys teaching the beginning nursing students how to complete basic nursing skills and learn the tricks of the trade to becoming a novice nurse. In her spare time, Patty enjoys reading books that are not required by school, baking pastries and being able to spend time with her family.

Elena Bregier

Elena Bregier, MSN-Ed, BSN, is passionate about providing equitable care for pediatric congenital cardiac populations. She has volunteered for over a decade to help provide sustainable surgical access for children with congenital heart disease around the world. Elena is committed to improving equitable, comprehensive care for this vulnerable population. While obtaining her BSN, Elena achieved the Outstanding Student Award at Michigan State University. After a decade of bedside practice, international volunteerism, and travel nursing, Elena obtained her MSN for education and worked as an academic specialist for West Coast University, Los Angeles, to support the persistence and outcomes of accelerated BSN students. Elena remains actively involved as a writer and volunteer mentor in the non-profit organization Be1Support1 to promote the success of new graduate nurses.

Patricia Buzelli

Patricia G. Buzelli, MSN, BA, AGNP-C is a recipient of Duke University's Dean's Graduate Fellowship and has a research interest in in improving care for Latinx immigrant families living through the loss of a child to cancer, focusing on asset framing and resiliency. Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Patricia has wielded her lived experiences to guide her academic and clinical pursuits over the last decade. She graduated Suma Cum Laude from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a psychology degree, where she worked as a research assistant in the Gaston Institute for Latino Community Development, was in the first cohort of the Health Equity Scholars Program, and worked on a Brazilian transnational project.  Having always wanted to pursue a career in nursing, she then attended Johns Hopkins University for her BSN and MSN-NP where, as a research honors student and Fuld Fellow, she completed a capstone project analyzing racial difference in religious coping and depressive symptoms by extrapolating data from an end-of-life decision-making trial. Patricia has since been immersed in clinical practice as a Nurse Practitioner where she has developed her expertise in hematology oncology and captured the practice challenges that remain in providing equitable care for immigrant populations.

Lisa Carnago

Lisa Carnago, FNP-C, MSN, BSN, RN aspires to develop health care innovations addressing chronic pain among patients and opioid prescribing behaviors among providers. Her prior clinical experience as a nurse in multiple settings, ranging from Intensive care, Emergency Department and Cardiac Care Units, and her personal experience of having a family member with a painful autoimmune condition has informed her perspectives on pain management, stigma, and health care navigational pitfalls.  In 2016, she obtained her MSN with a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) concentration from James Madison University (JMU), where she was selected for the Virginia Nurse Advocate Health Policy Fellowship.  She then began her FNP career as a Rheumatology Nurse Practitioner at Duke Health, which has greatly informed her perspective of the chronic autoimmune condition, chronic pain, and pain management needs, including opioid prescribing.  Through her leadership, she has created team-based work flows and processes to improve the uptake of risk mitigation strategies for opioid use and increased the understanding of opioid pain management approaches needed to improve the health and well-being of individuals experiencing chronic pain. She also participates on multiple Duke Health System committees including the safe opioid prescribing and optimal management groups, which are working towards system level improvements in pain management.

Margaret Fletcher

Margaret Fletcher, BSN, RN graduated summa cum laude from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2013 with an Honors Bachelor of Science in Nursing. During her time in school, she completed an honors thesis on nursing perspectives related to parental presence during invasive procedures in pediatric patients. She has since worked in various settings, with patients of all ages and across multiple levels of acuity, but was most inspired by her patients in the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. The advances in this relatively new field are remarkable, however the neurologic sequelae for these patients can be profound and have a significant ongoing impact on quality of life. Margaret chose to pursue a PhD in nursing in hopes of improving long term quality of life for children following intensive care admission, congenital heart disease, and other experiences which place them at a higher risk of neurodevelopmental ramifications.


Donghwan Lee, BSN, RN graduated in 2018 with a BSN from Gyeongsang National University and worked as a registered nurse in the PACU of the Seoul Asan Medical Center. For four years working as a PACU nurse, he had participated in more than 1000 cases of surgeries. He noticed that patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) have a higher risk of complications and poorer prognosis after surgery, and were more likely to have higher hospitalization costs. During the COVID-19 pandemic period, he also witnessed how cardiovascular disease negatively affected patients’ outcomes and quality of life. Health disparities severely affect health outcomes of CVD patients, especially those who are marginalized in other ways in society, such as limited access to education or health resources. He is passionate about developing mHealth technologies that are easy to use for the elderly and other medically high-risk individuals through health literacy measurements that are specific for CVD patients and can later be applied to a wider variety of people. Through his research, he aims to develop interventions that can resolve personal, technical, and contextual related factors to break down the barriers to the application of mHealth for these populations. 

Mirlene Perry

Mirlene Perry, MSN, BSN, RN has been a cardiac nurse for the last 15 years and has worked at Johns Hopkins and Duke Hospitals. She received her BSN at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA and her MSN at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore MD. Originally from Haiti, she was a surgical and community health nurse at the Hospital Albert Schweitzer in rural Haiti before relocating to the US. Although she has been committed to providing direct patient care, Mirlene decided to pursue a career as a nurse scientist to address her passion for community-based primary health care in low-and middle-income countries. Mirlene’s purpose for undertaking doctorate-level studies is to acquire competencies that will help her to be an advocate for programs that can improve the health and well-being of mothers and children who are dying from readily preventable and treatable conditions-- still more than 10 million per year (including stillbirths).  Her main goal is to translate her nursing knowledge and her global health experience to develop and scale interventions addressing maternal and child health disparities and chronic health conditions using a bottom-up and task-shifting approaches that empower communities to improve their own health.


Julia Slack, BSN, RN is passionate about reducing the symptom burden for those suffering from cancer. Her interest in oncology symptom science started as a young girl watching her grandmother undergo treatment for breast cancer and the negative impact a high symptom burden had on quality of life.  Julia graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the Emory University Nell Hodgson School of Nursing in 2022. During her time at Emory, she further cultivated her passion for oncology research through her time spent in the Bai Laboratory investigating the biopsychosocial mechanisms of cancer symptoms. This work led her to complete an honors thesis focused on the relationship between inflammatory biomarkers and fatigue in black women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Julia has presented her work at multiple scientific conferences and published in several leading journals such as Nature Communications and the Journal of Virology. She also is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honors Society of Nursing and the Southern Nursing Research Society. While at Duke, Julia plans to continue researching the physiological and biological pathways that contribute to the symptom experience for those dealing with cancer in order to better inform interventions.  

2021 Cohort

Maryam Al-Mujtaba

Maryam Al-Mujtaba MPH, BSN, RN, RM, PGDip, PGCert has research interests in the health of adolescents living with HIV, interventions to reduce maternal and child morbidity and mortality in resource-limited settings, cancer screening in medically underserved populations, cancer survivorship, and HIV treatment in adult populations. Since 2010, Maryam has led/significantly contributed to the coordination, administration and management of health and research programs in Nigeria and Canada. In Nigeria, she coordinated the first nurse-led 'see and treat' cervical cancer screening program (which screened over 3,000 women for cervical cancer in two years). In Canada, as a research associate at Ontario Health (Cancer Care Ontario), Maryam led the analysis and report writing of data from 25 interviews with Aboriginal Canadians on barriers and facilitators to cancer screening. Maryam has extensive experience working on qualitative and quantitative studies and she has presented her work at international scientific conferences, and published in several leading journals, such as PLOS One, BMC Infectious Diseases and Journal of AIDS and HIV Research and Biomed Research International.

Katie Brooks

Katie Brooks, DNP, AGPCNP-BC has clinical expertise in geriatric care and has a deep passion for providing high-quality, individualized, age-appropriate care for all patients. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with her BSN from Auburn University in 2014. Her background as a registered nurse on an Ortho/Neuro surgical floor sparked her interest in the unique care of the older adult population. She furthered her knowledge by obtaining her Adult-Gerontological Primary Care Nurse Practitioner degree at Vanderbilt University, followed by a year-long Internal Medicine fellowship in Charlotte, North Carolina. While working as a primary care provider in an internal medicine clinic, Katie sought to further improve her practice through the pursuit of her Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree from Duke University. During this time, she implemented a quality improvement project that focused on dementia screening in the primary care setting while simultaneously working with faculty on their research as part of an independent study elective. It was through these experiences that she recognized the distinctive and important role of a nurse scientist while concurrently seeing how her training and passion for the older adult population would allow her to bring a unique practice perspective to her research. Throughout her training at Duke, Katie strives to continue her pursuit of ensuring all older adults receive the highest level of age-appropriate and evidence-based care.

Sarah Janek

Sarah Janek, BSN, RN, ACRN has an interest in research focused on sexual health disparities related to race and sexuality within the LGBTQ+ community. Sarah’s past research focused on HIV prevention for black and Hispanic/Latino men who have sex with men using technological integration with at-home testing.  She was introduced to this field as an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan School of Nursing Honors Program. Sarah studied qualitative research methods and how cultural competence intertwines with research study recruitment. After graduating in 2020, she began clinical work as an RN at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago on an orthopedic/trauma unit. On a unit that later transitioned into a COVID-19 step-down intensive care unit, Sarah witnessed first-hand how health disparities affect various populations depending on backgrounds and experiences. To seek leadership opportunities, Sarah became a HIV/AIDS Certified Registered Nurse (ACRN), and she trained to be a Skin Champion for her unit, performing audits, educating staff, and caring for patients to prevent pressure injuries. While caring for LGBTQ+ patients at Northwestern, she gained additional clinical experiences with the community and volunteered at Howard Brown Health in downtown Chicago during this time. Sarah’s academic, professional, and philanthropic experiences led her to pursuing a career in research full-time to mitigate health disparities.

Shewit Jaynes

Shewit Jaynes, MSPH, BSN, RN is passionate about improving health outcomes for all birthing people by eliminating health disparities. Her work experience as a postpartum nurse sparked her interest in critically evaluating health policies that impact her patients' lives. She obtained her MSPH from UNC Chapel Hill in the department of Health Policy & Management. During her time at UNC, she worked on various maternal health projects including conducting a policy analysis for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) on how to reduce maternal mortality among Black women. In addition, Shewit served as a research assistant for the UNC Collaborative for Maternal and Infant Health where she conducted qualitative video coding. Shewit has been actively involved in various diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. She helped form the Health Policy & Management Student Equity Collective, a student-led organization dedicated to creating, promoting, and sustaining equity within the department. In addition, she co-chaired the largest and longest running student-led health conference, the Minority Health Conference.

Youran Lee

Youran Lee, MSN, BSN, RN is passionate about research on caring for vulnerable cancer survivors in the community using innovative technology. She dreamed of becoming a nurse when she watched her mother who loved nursing and was very proud to be a nurse. Youran broadened her understanding of humanity and diversity through various volunteer activities. During a volunteering experience in Ethiopia, she witnessed the need for nursing care in a challenging environment. To decrease health disparities, she volunteered in developing countries such as Malaysia, Cambodia, and Tanzania, sensing a global need for nursing care. After graduating with her BSN, she worked as a cancer ward nurse at Asan Medical Center in Korea. While working as a nurse in the gastric cancer ward, academic curiosity to provide high-quality care to patients through evidence-based nursing led her to study for her master’s degree in nursing. During her master’s studies she participated in a study funded by the Korean government to establish intensive care unit in nursing homes. Her role on this project was to educate nursing staff, develop nursing manuals, draft web-based questionnaires, collect and analyze the data, and write reports. Through this project, she contributed to the change of health policies in nursing home facilities. This research experience led her to desire more advanced training in research. In addition, an unexpected life event further motivated Youran when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. As a cancer survivor, having direct experience in dealing with a challenging and unexpected diagnosis allowed her to connect with patients with a deeper understanding. Through her doctoral program at Duke, she hopes to improve the quality of life for cancer survivors, and to contribute to better health outcomes by bringing together knowledge, science, professional compassion, and personal empathy.

Christian Noval

Christian “Ian” Noval, MCR, BSN, RN, CCRN is from the Cordilleras in the Philippines. He completed his bachelor’s degree in nursing from the Far Eastern University (Cum Laude) in 2006 and has since practiced as a registered nurse. His nursing experience extends from working across different healthcare settings to include: the Philippines, the United Arab of Emirates, the United Kingdom, and most recently in the United States. This experience across different healthcare systems has helped him to better understand how belief and culture affects patient care. As a registered nurse, he has worked as an infection prevention nurse, a case manager, a mentor and preceptor for nursing students and entry-level nurses, and recently as the Lead Research Nurse for a COVID-19 drug trial at the University of Texas Health-Houston. Christian’s research interest started when he was working in the NHS (United Kingdom) and contributed to clinical trials from the University of Edinburgh and the Ohio State University where he completed his master’s in clinical research (MCR). Christian is a certified critical care nurse (CCRN) and a member of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing (STTI), and the Texas Emergency Medicine Research Center (TEMRC). As he joins Duke University School of Nursing PhD in Nursing program, his research focus is on palliative care in a critical care environment. He believes that patients in a high acuity environment should be able to decide the path of their care and should receive competent and compassionate care from their healthcare providers, wherever they fall within the health-illness continuum.

Paige Synesael

Paige Randall MS, BSN, RN, CNE has been a Registered Nurse since 2013. She received her MS in Nursing Education and BSN from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY. Paige’s clinical background is in cardiac and emergency nursing. She started working as a nurse educator in 2016 in upstate NY, and moved to Raleigh, NC in December 2019 where she continued to work as a nurse educator at a community college. Paige has a certification in nursing education and received the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Faculty in 2018. Her research interests during her master’s program were focused on the topic of self-directed learning (SDL) in nursing students and educators. During her doctoral studies, she is interested in exploring how resilience impacts the transition to practice experience among newly graduated nurses. She is also interested in using innovative qualitative data collection techniques such as online photovoice and virtual focus groups. Paige is a board member of the North Carolina Nurse’s Association, the National League for Nursing, and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

Demy Wang

Dingyue (Demy) Wang, BSN, RN is originally from Kunming, China. She moved to Atlanta in 2017 and completed her BSN at Emory University. Demy loves bedside nursing, but as she explored various research opportunities, she found her passion in nursing research, a field that delves into the science of human health and health-related behaviors. Demy’s experience working with gerontological patients has provided her with invaluable insight and guided the decision to concentrate on caregivers, who have a pivotal role in patient care but are increasingly susceptible to experiencing caregiver stress, often resulting in becoming the “second patient.” Her current research is centered around understanding how caregivers perceive and cope with stress (caregiving stress appraisal) and how the stress appraisal process impacts their cognitive well-being. Looking ahead, Demy’s research objectives include the development of interventions aimed at fostering effective stress management, promoting healthy cognitive function, and enhancing the quality of life for caregivers. The overarching goal is to improve patient and family outcomes while advancing health equity through the creation of innovative educational models, training programs, and support systems designed to equip caregivers with both technical and adaptive skills essential for effective home care.

2020 Cohort

Suzanne Frisbee

Suzanne M. Frisbee is a Raleigh, North Carolina native. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Neuroscience from East Carolina University in 2012. She completed her senior thesis on the brain wave activity of a mindfulness meditation stress reduction intervention in college students. She also participated in the National Science Foundation's Mechanisms of Behavior Neuroscience summer program where she researched the impact of stress and addiction on specific brain regions. Suzanne returned to school at Duke University's School of Nursing as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scholar. Supporting herself through nursing school, she worked in a behavioral neuroscience lab in the Bowels Center for Alcohol Studies at UNC Chapel Hill. There, she worked on research regarding the interceptive effects of alcohol and nicotine on drug seeking behaviors and relapse after a stressful event. She graduated with honors with her BSN in 2016. She began her nursing career as an Operating Room registered nurse and has since become a certified perioperative nurse (CNOR). Her involvement in post-operative pain assessment surveys has influenced her current research interests. Her aim is to combine her neuroscience background in stress and addiction with her nursing knowledge. Particularly, how stressful environments and/or events in one's past impacts their susceptibility to addiction, the health outcomes of addictive behaviors and preventive measures that can be taken in order to ensure that addictive behavior does not develop in adolescence and carry on into adulthood.

Kimberlee Grier

Kimberlee Grier, BSN, RN, CHPN, PhD Candidate graduated summa cum laude from the University of Texas at Austin where she received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. She has worked with both chronically ill adults and children, finding her passion in pediatric hospice and palliative care, specifically community-based care. She was dually nationally certified as a Certified Hospice and Palliative Pediatric Nurse and a Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse. Through her experience at work, she became highly motivated to contribute to the research of priority populations, including pediatric patients and families. She has published in the Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing as well as presented at both US and international conferences. In line with her desire to help vulnerable populations, Kim has been a foster parent in Durham since 2017. She is a co-founder and co-chair of Fostering Families, a non-profit organization that advocates for meaningful system change and strives to empower foster parents and their families. Kim is also on the family council for North Carolina Integrated Care for Kids. In her work as a foster parent, she became cognizant of the significant policy and practice gaps that exist regarding mental health access and equity for children in foster care. Her interest in health policy and passion for advocating for vulnerable pediatric populations led her to the Duke Margolis Center for Health Policy where she was chosen as a Margolis Honors Scholar. She was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau Honors Society. Kim is an avid equestrian and enjoys being in nature with her spouse and four children. During her time at Duke, she plans to integrate her foster care and mental health aspirations with health policy so vulnerable and underserved families can benefit.

Ashleigh HarlowAshleigh B. Harlow is a recipient of the James B. Duke Fellowship and the recipient of a University Scholars Fellowship, granting her membership to an interdisciplinary, inter-generational community of scholars. Ashleigh graduated with her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2008 where she also studied stage management in the department of Theatre. She began her career as a direct care nurse in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Children's of Alabama and practiced at several children's hospitals across the country. Ashleigh subsequently held roles as a direct care nurse, nurse educator, and nurse manager in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC. Her experiences in the pediatric CICU led to her participation on two cardiac surgical mission trips to Morocco and Uganda, where she mentored local staff nurses recovering complex pediatric congenital and rheumatic heart surgical patients. In 2017, she completed a Master's Certificate at the George Washington University in the Master Teacher Leadership Development Program for educators in academic medical settings. When in her role as nurse manager in the pediatric CICU, Ashleigh conducted patient and family rounds daily and led a division wide quality improvement initiative to reduce cardiac arrest. Focused rounding with parents whose children had experienced cardiac arrest led to her interest are the experiences of parents and caregivers of critically ill children and the effects of healthcare delivery inequities on patient and family outcomes in pediatric critical care.

Remi MisiewiczRemi Misiewicz graduated in 2011 with her AAS from Crouse Hospital College of Nursing. While working asa primary oncology nurse in a pediatric cancer center, she earned her BSN (2019), magna cum laude, from Upstate Medical University. She was awarded the Charles R. Ross Memorial Student Research Award and the Outstanding Student Award. She presented her undergraduate work at local conferences. Remi also received certification as CPHON. She is a member of the Association of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Nurses and Sigma Theta Tau. Her experience working with patients and families affected by cancer fueled her passion for research focused on improving care for the pediatric, adolescent, and young adult patients. Remi's research interest includes using mobile health technology to create innovative approaches to engage and support the patient and family in comprehensive care management.

Melissa PowellMelissa Powell, MSN, RN graduated from William Jewell College with her BSN in 2013. She later completed her MSN in 2018 with a focus on leadership and public health from The University of Kansas. Her diverse nursing experience has included: inpatient and ambulatory cancer care, blood and marrow transplant, cellular immunotherapy, and phase one and two clinical trials. Her most recent role was a Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Program Manager at an NCI Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. She has a robust interest in oncology nursing, healthcare worker safety, and self-care and resiliency for nurses. Her background in oncology nursing, patient safety and quality improvement has prepared her to focus on healthcare workers and a culture of safety in future research. She is a member of the Oncology Nursing Society and Sigma Theta Tau International Honors Society of Nursing. She is a recipient and nominee of the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.

HyunBin You

HyunBin You earned her BSN (2015, Cum Laude) and MSN (2019) from Seoul National University, South Korea. She worked as a nurse in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Seoul National University Hospital, South Korea (2015-2019). While practicing as a nurse, she provided the best possible patient-centered care to improve ICU patients' health outcomes during their critical point in life and got interested in patient and family experience. During her time at SNU, she investigated the influencing factors of the satisfaction of ICU families elaborating their anxiety and critical care needs of ICU families on her masters' thesis. She then transitioned herself as a research assistant of Chronic Care Research Lab at SNU (2019-2020) where she found great enthusiasm in research. More recently, her research interests focus on resilience and transitional care of the adult ICU patients. She plans to continue supporting patients and their families to have a better experience maximizing resilience at their critical point of life through her research here at Duke University School of Nursing.

2019 Cohort

Nicole Caviness-AsheNicole Caviness-Ashe is a graduate of the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill where she completed a BA in Biology. Her work with UNC Lineberger Cancer Center ignited her passion for cancer research and lead to her enrollment at North Carolina Central University in Durham where she earned a BSN. After graduating, she returned to UNC as an adult hematology and oncology nurse. Nicole's patient care experiences piqued her interest in enrolling at Winston-Salem State University where she was accepted into the WSSU-Duke Nursing Bridge to the Doctorate program and was an honors graduate of the MSN Advanced Nursing Education program. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, the Oncology Nursing Society and American Society of Hematology. Her undergraduate and graduate work have afforded her opportunities to present at regional and national conferences. Her master's research examined the impact of communication on health outcomes among cancer survivors. Nicole hopes to continue her work by examining the impact of communication and pain on cancer health outcomes. She is a recipient of Duke's 2019 Catherine Gillis Endowed Scholarship and hopes to continue her work by examining the impact of communication and pain on cancer health outcomes.

Darchelle ExcellentDarchelle Excellent graduated in 2019 with a BSN from the University of Florida (UF) College of Nursing. During her first year as a nursing student she became interested in nursing research, which lead her to apply to the UF McNair Scholars Program. As a McNair Scholar, she worked closely with a faculty member to mentor her through an intensive summer research program that continued through her second year of nursing school. By working with her mentor and her research team, she received firsthand experience with primary data collection and research project development, received feedback about conference presentations, and guidance about her PhD journey. The McNair Scholars program also introduced her to scholarly writing, research techniques, submitting abstracts for conferences, conference presentations, and the graduate school application process. Her experiences with collecting data from mothers of premature infants about breast pumping initiation with her mentor and her own experiences with her mom having difficulties breast pumping and later breastfeeding her sister born premature, inspired her current research interest to investigate factors that affect African American women's decision to breastfeed.

Bonnie HeplerBonnie Hepler, RN, MSW, MSPH, has a unique skill set that balances a robust research portfolio in maternal and child health with a humanistic perspective gleaned from working as both a pediatric social worker and labor & delivery and postpartum care nurse. She is currently a PhD candidate at Duke University in nursing studying healthcare systems support of birthing parents and their families, especially among those experiencing trauma and disparities using mixed method approaches. Her F31 award from National Institutes for Nursing Research specifically focuses on trajectories of needs for birthing parents during the Fourth Trimester. Ms. Hepler also worked at RTI International promoting maternal and child health domestically and globally. Her research specialized in the care of vulnerable populations and ensuring that all people receive quality, compassionate care. From evaluating breastfeeding policies in the Middle East to the impact of long-acting reversible contraception in sub-Saharan Africa, Hepler shows a commitment to empowering women.

Ramon Andres LujanRamon Andres Lujan is recipient of Duke University's Dean's Graduate Fellowship, granting him the ability to participate in the Society of Duke Fellowship, granting him the ability to participate in the Society of Duke Fellows. Born to a family of second generation Mexican American immigrants, he was raised in the borderland region of El Paso, Texas. He attended the School of Nursing at the University of Texas at El Paso. During his time there, he received mentorship in developing NIH grant proposals and training in bio behavioral research design. Meanwhile his mentor, Dr. Hector Olvera, helped him to identify his interests in cellular processes. He also served as class president for his graduating cohort and as a tutor for fellow classmates. Soon after earning his Bachelor of Science of Nursing in 2018, he began working as a Labor and Delivery Nurse at a local hospital. His current research interests are in physiology and immunology. Ramon's life dream is to engage in vaccine research and production as a nursing scientist.

Lisvel MatosLisvel Matos earned her ADN from Central Piedmont Community College (2012) in Charlotte, North Carolina. She began her career as a staff RN working with adolescents in a behavioral health facility while earning her BSN from University of North Carolina at Charlotte (2013). During her time as a staff nurse, she became interested in becoming a nurse practitioner with the purpose to fill the growing need for diverse providers offering primary care to disadvantaged adolescent females. Lisvel pursued graduate studies with Duke University and earned her MSN as a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner (2016). She also completed her Post Graduate Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate (2019). She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International. She has a passion for working in community-based settings and women's health. Her current research interest lies within learning more and improving Latin health disparities. Lisvel currently works on SER Hispano project as a data collector. SER Hispano is an NIH-funded longitudinal study, which is examining the influence of acculturation stress and resilience on the substance abuse, mental health, violence, HIV syndetic and stress biomarkers over time. She wants to conduct research that is community-based and utilize meaningful engagement strategies to generate quality data..

2018 Cohort

Kaitlyn DalyKaitlyn Daly earned her BSN with dual majors in Nursing and Theology & Religion from Marquette University (2017). Her expertise bridges clinical practice, research, and advocacy, centered at the intersection of food, faith, and health. She has worked as a registered nurse in acute care and eating disorder treatment. She is a published author, editor, and speaker on interfaith engagement. In her research endeavors, she delves into human psychology, sociology, and behavior to drive meaningful improvements in values-based health promotion for both individuals and communities. For her dissertation, she utilizes qualitative and experimental methods to uncover and elicit prosocial and individualistic healthy eating beliefs among Christians, ultimately aiming to improve dietary health. Kaitlyn has carved out an interdisciplinary approach to her research by cross-training and collaborating with Duke University’s School of Nursing, Divinity School, Sanford School of Public Policy, and Trinity College of Arts & Sciences. She served as the executive director of the university’s student food pantry for two years amidst the challenges of the pandemic and played a vital role in the development of Duke’s Food Security Action Team, reflecting her dedication to addressing critical issues related to social determinants of health equity.

Tingzhong XueTingzhong Michelle Xue studied Actuarial Science as an undergraduate at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She then found her passion in healthcare and earned her MS degree in Nursing from DePaul University in 2016. While at school, she was an active member and philanthropy committee leader of the Zeta Sigma Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society. After graduation, she has been working with patients with long-term conditions, congenital diseases and children with special needs. Her current research interest is in palliative care and quality of life of patients with chronic diseases and disabilities.

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