Ph.D. Students give TED-style talks at the 12th Annual Duke GRADx Event

Ph.D. Students give TED-style talks at the 12th Annual Duke GRADx Event

Olivia Short and Patricia Buzelli addressed issues surrounding health inequity and gender-based violence outcomes and epistemological violence.

Short & Buzelli

The Society of Duke Fellows and The Graduate School recently hosted the 12th Annual Duke GRADx Talks, an event showcasing graduate student research. The 2024 talks were a part of Duke's Centennial celebration. Duke School of Nursing Ph.D. students Olivia Short and Patricia Buzelli both were selected to present during the program. 

In her talk, Short spoke about how health inequity is ingrained in gender-based violence health outcomes, particularly chronic pain. “It’s such a common problem for women exposed to gender-based violence but is very poorly understood,” Short said. 

In order to address this consequence of violence, chronic pain needs to be recognized as associated with gender-based violence, and there is a need to understand what kinds of things put women at risk, as well as what kinds of things protect women from chronic pain after gender-based violence exposure. “This means we have to talk about bias -- what’s at work behind health inequities, and what affects women’s symptoms, choices, and access to resources for treating or preventing chronic pain.” 

Short said that her background in biopsychology and nursing has helped her to develop an appreciation for how the mind and body interact with and affect each other. “I think pain is the best example of this complex relationship. Pain is fascinating, widely experienced, sometimes debilitating...and ultimately, I think, capable of being treated or prevented,” Short said. “However, I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to get help for chronic pain symptoms, even to just get a provider to acknowledge it and take it seriously.” 

Short has had the privilege of accessing care through Duke’s Innovative Pain Therapies clinic the past couple years. She said the providers taught her to think about pain differently. “My experience with the clinic has fostered in me a great sense of hope for the future, and a desire to help others in pain - especially women, who face a lot of barriers in pain care,” Short said. She mentioned that working with Dr. Rosa Gonzalez-Guarda and Dr. Mitchell Knisely within the School of Nursing has also been instrumental in shaping her ideas and direction of research.  

As a Spring 2027 graduation candidate, she said she is interested in directing her own program of research evaluating and treating the health outcomes of gender-based violence within the local community, as well as violence prevention efforts. “I’d like to use my experience and research to advocate for violence prevention and health equity policy measures at state and national levels.” 

For her presentation, Buzelli spoke about epistemological violence in the study and clinical practice of grief among Latinx populations in the U.S. who have lost a child to cancer and a call to action for change using liberatory approaches to research and practice in this space. 

Because of her experiences of personal loss and her family’s immigration to the U.S., Buzelli became deeply informed on not only the way she views the world, but how she can carry out her research and generate new knowledge in this space. “Ultimately, I hope to positively change the way we care for Latinx families who are facing the loss of a child.”  

As a spring 2026 graduation candidate, Buzelli said she is open to pursuing a career that responds to the needs of the community her work revolves around whether that be in policy, a community-based organization, academia, or something else. “I’m open to the possibilities of where my efforts could be most impactful and haven’t found out where that is just yet.” 

View Short and Buzelli’s full presentation here

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