Meet the second cohort

Dora Clayton-Jones, PhD, R.N., CPNP-PC (c) All rights reserved.

Dora Clayton-Jones, PhD, R.N., CPNP-PC
Assistant Professor, Marquette University College of Nursing
Arthur J. Schmitt Leadership Fellow
President, International Association of Sickle Cell Nurses and Professional Associates

Fellowship project: Eliminating sickle cell disparities among youth: the POSSE intervention

As an assistant professor in the College of Nursing at Marquette University and president of the International Association of Sickle Cell Nurses and Professional Associates, Dora Clayton-Jones advances health and health care equity for adolescents and young adults living with chronic illnesses. She is an Arthur J. Schmitt Leadership Fellow. Using community-based participatory research and qualitative research methods, she engages the community and recipients of interventions in developing, implementing and evaluating interventions that optimize self-management behaviors and health care transition readiness. Her fellowship project tests the feasibility of an intervention designed to optimize self-management behaviors and peer support for adolescents and young adults living with sickle cell disease. The project has the potential to influence implementation of effective interventions for this population prior to a sickle cell patient’s transition from pediatric to adult health care.

Mentor: Kristin Haglund, PhD, RN, FNP, PNP, APRN, Professor of Nursing, Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program Director, Marquette University College of Nursing (self-selected)


Yamnia I. Cortés, PhD, MPH, FNP-BC, FAHA (c) All rights reserved.
Yamnia I. Cortés, PhD, MPH, FNP-BC, FAHA
Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Nursing

Fellowship project: Menopause and biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease risk in midlife Latinas

Yamnia I. Cortés is an assistant professor in the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She leads an interdisciplinary research program focused on understanding the sociocultural, environmental, behavioral and biological factors that impact midlife women’s health, as well as the interface between reproductive aging and chronic disease. She also designs interventions to reduce inequities in reproductive health and chronic disease, particularly in Latinas. She is a Fellow of the American Heart Association and serves on committees in the North American Menopause Society. Her fellowship project explores associations between menopause and blood-based biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia in midlife Latinas. Findings among Latinas may be of importance given the expected growth of the Latino population with these conditions in the United States. In addition, findings may identify potential targets for future interventions among all midlife women.

Mentor: Peggy Wilmoth, PhD, MSS, R.N., FAAN, Executive Vice Dean and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Nursing (self selected)


Rachel Lee DiFazio, PhD, R.N., PPCNP-BC, FAAN (c) All rights reserved.
Rachel Lee DiFazio, PhD, R.N., PPCNP-BC, FAAN
Nurse Scientist, Boston Children’s Hospital
Instructor, Harvard Medical School

Project: Outcomes following orthopaedics surgery in children with cerebral palsy

Dedicated to advancing care for children with complex chronic conditions and their families, Rachel Lee DiFazio is a nurse scientist in the Orthopedic Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and an instructor in orthopaedic surgery at Harvard Medical School. Her research focuses on patient-centered outcomes following orthopaedic surgery in children with cerebral palsy. DiFazio’s research shows that the post-operative trajectories for these children frequently result in wide variability in outcomes. Her fellowship project aims to identify how specific child and caregiver characteristics contribute to these diverse outcomes in order to gain a better understanding of post-operative trajectories. The results may be used to design interdisciplinary interventions to improve child and caregiver outcomes, enhance shared decision-making and set realistic expectations regarding anticipated outcomes following orthopaedic surgery. These findings may also contribute to evidence-based policy development at the local, national and international levels, including setting a research agenda and resource allocation to better care for affected children.

Mentor: Barbara Wolfe, PhD, APRN-CNS, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN, Dean and Professor, University of Rhode Island College of Nursing (self-selected)


Roschelle “Shelly” Fritz, PhD, R.N. (c) All rights reserved.
Roschelle “Shelly” Fritz, PhD, R.N.
Assistant Professor, Washington State University College of Nursing

Project: Community-based smart health system for independent older adults

As an assistant professor at Washington State University, Roschelle “Shelly” Fritz provides real-world context to big data to support the creation of effective health-related machine learning models. She is a National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education Research and Training Fellow and former commissioner for a rural public hospital district in Washington. Fritz’s research focuses on the application of smart health technologies in naturalistic settings. She seeks to improve the timeliness of care for older adults with chronic conditions who also experience low socioeconomic status and decreased access to care by extending nursing triage into the home. Her fellowship project focuses on implementing a health monitoring and intervention system that employs environmental sensing, mobile app alerts and infographics, while also integrating family, friends and community health workers to support older adults’ self-management of conditions. Fritz’s project aims to extend older adults’ independence, reduce care costs and advance sensor-based data as a new type of evidence for evidence-based practice.

Mentor: Marilyn Rantz, PhD, RN, FAAN, Curators’ Professor Emerita, Helen E. Nahm Chair, MU Sinclair School of Nursing from 2008-2015, University Hospitals and Clinics Professor Emerita of Nursing, Executive Director, Aging In Place Project and Sinclair@Home, University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing (self-selected)


Luz G. Huntington-Moskos, PhD, R.N., CPN (c) All rights reserved.
Luz G. Huntington-Moskos, PhD, R.N., CPN
Assistant Professor, University of Louisville School of Nursing

Project: Developing report-back strategies for adolescents to build asthma self-management

Committed to conducting environmental health research centered on improving adolescent health outcomes, Luz G. Huntington-Moskos is an assistant professor and director of the Community Engagement Core for the Center for Integrative Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Louisville. Her research focuses on the intersection between adolescent health, environmental health and health disparities. She seeks to develop environmental health report-back interventions specifically designed for the adolescent population to support asthma self-management and prevention of asthma exacerbations. Her long-standing interest in promoting adolescent health stems from serving as a high school science teacher in Malawi as part of the U.S. Peace Corps. Her fellowship project involves working in partnership with youth to train them in environmental exposure data collection as an avenue to drive improvements in their own asthma self-management. The project has the potential to improve asthma outcomes and, ultimately, reduce the burden of asthma on adolescents, their families and their communities.

Mentor: Barbara Polivka, PhD, RN, FAAN, Associate Dean of Research and Professor, University of Kansas School of Nursing (self-selected)


Urmeka T. Jefferson, PhD, R.N. (c) All rights reserved,
Urmeka T. Jefferson, PhD, R.N.
Associate Professor, Rush University College of Nursing

Project: Improving access to breastfeeding support: the Mother’s Milk Connection project

Passionate about reducing breastfeeding disparities and improving health outcomes in vulnerable populations, Urmeka T. Jefferson is an associate professor at Rush University College of Nursing. With more than 16 years of experience caring for mothers and critically ill infants, she seeks to expand best practices in maternal-child health that promote equity and social justice for African American mothers. Her research focuses on breastfeeding interventions that resonate with the cultural and contextual traditions of African American mothers. Jefferson developed the Mother’s Milk Connection app, which combines multiple components to bridge the gap in breastfeeding support from hospital to home and to promote convenient access to community services. Her fellowship project aims to refine the Mother’s Milk Connection design, conduct usability testing and examine breastfeeding outcomes in a primary care setting. This project holds promise for engendering effective change in breastfeeding outcomes for African American mothers that can yield health benefits for generations to come.

Mentor: Wrenetha Julion, PhD, MPH, RN, CNL, FAAN, Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion, Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation Faculty Scholar, Professor and Chairperson, Department of Women, Children and Family Health Nursing, Rush University (self-selected)


Lenette M. Jones, PhD, R.N. (c) All rights reserved.
Lenette M. Jones, PhD, R.N.
Assistant Professor, University of Michigan School of Nursing

Project: Empowering WHISE (Wellness, Hypertension, Information-Sharing, Self-Management, Education) women

As an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing, Lenette M. Jones seeks to eliminate health disparities affecting African American women with high blood pressure. Her research focuses on uncovering the mechanisms – biological, psychological, social and physical – of self-management interventions. She uses neuroimaging to explore brain activity associated with behaviors, such as diet, exercise, and medication-taking, and examines how health information behavior can be enhanced to support blood pressure self-management. Her fellowship project on empowering WHISE (Wellness, Hypertension, Information-Sharing, Self-Management, Education) women focuses on developing a mobile application designed to educate African American women on behavioral changes that can be used to lower blood pressure. The intervention also promotes social activities related to blood pressure self-management and focuses on sharing blood pressure self-management information with peers. Findings from this research may have a direct impact on better understanding brain activity associated with behavior change and improving the precision and tailoring of self-management interventions.

Mentor: Bruno Giordani, PhD, Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, Neurology and Psychology, Chief Psychologist, Department of Psychiatry, Director of Mary A. Rackham Institute, University of Michigan (self-selected)


Adrian Juarez, PhD, R.N. (c) All rights reserved.
Adrian Juarez, PhD, R.N.
Assistant Professor, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Project: Increasing PrEP uptake on the Texas-Mexico border

As an assistant professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Adrian Juarez is dedicated to exploring sources of HIV disparities in historically marginalized and vulnerable populations. He is a former Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare Scholar. Applying a racialized and gendered lens to his research, he investigates what prevents historically marginalized and vulnerable population groups from accessing – and benefitting from – the overall advancements of HIV science and HIV clinical progress. His research focuses on improving HIV prevention intervention uptake in LatinX communities on the border of Texas and Mexico. His fellowship project focuses on developing and testing a community informed, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) interventional strategy which increases HIV screening, improves HIV care linkage, and increases PrEP uptake in both rural and urban communities on the Texas-Mexico border. Findings from this research have potentially significant implications for delivery of HIV prevention interventions in LatinX communities throughout Texas and in similar populations nationwide.

Mentor: Philip Keiser, MD, Professor of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, International HIV Program and Clinic Director, University of Texas Medical Branch School of Medicine (self-selected)


Michelle L. Litchman, PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP (c) All rights reserved,
Michelle L. Litchman, PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP
Assistant Professor, University of Utah College of Nursing
Medical Director, Diabetes One-Day Education and Care Program
Utah Diabetes and Endocrinology Center

Project: Improving access to diabetes education and care for deaf populations

Michelle L. Litchman is an assistant professor at the University of Utah College of Nursing and medical director of the Diabetes One-Day Education and Support Program at the Utah Diabetes and Endocrinology Center. She is dedicated to transforming diabetes care by optimizing technologies to provide culturally relevant, linguistically appropriate and geographically available programming to diverse underserved populations. Litchman is a Jonas Scholar and American Psychological Association Leadership and Education Advancement Program (LEAP) Fellow and holds positions within the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists Research Committee and American Diabetes Association. Her research addresses the social context of diabetes management by including care partners and online peers. Her fellowship project focuses on co-designing a deaf accessible diabetes one-day program and testing it with a national sample of deaf and hard of hearing people living with diabetes. This research addresses deaf health equity and has the potential to influence implementation of other chronic disease management programming to underserved populations.

Mentor: Angie Fagerlin, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Population Health Sciences, Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Chair, Director of Driving Out Diabetes Initiative — a Larry H. Miller Family Wellness Initiative, University of Utah, Research Scientist, Salt Lake City VA Informatics Decision-Enhancement and Analytic Sciences (IDEAS) Center for Innovation (self-selected)


Kimberly Souffront, PhD, R.N., FNP-BC (c) All rights reserved.
Kimberly Souffront, PhD, R.N., FNP-BC
Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine
Associate Director, Center for Nursing Research and Innovation
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital

Project: Improving blood pressure control for emergency patients with uncontrolled hypertension

Devoted to improving care for patients who have uncontrolled hypertension in the emergency department, Kimberly Souffront is an assistant professor of emergency medicine and associate director of The Center for Nursing Research and Innovation at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. Her research focuses on improving recognition of asymptomatic hypertension, blood pressure control and adherence to follow-up care. Her fellowship project explores the utility of brain natriuretic peptide as a surrogate for detecting subclinical heart disease in emergency patients with asymptomatic hypertension. Results of this research may be used to inform a larger definitive trial evaluating the effect of brain natriuretic peptide testing in the emergency department on blood pressure control. Additionally, Souffront’s project utilizes her recently developed Translational Research and Implementation Science for Nurses (TRAIN) program. The program is designed to offer Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree students an enhanced curriculum and mentorship, with a special focus on implementation science related to hypertension prevention and management in diverse communities.

Mentor: Lynne Richardson, MD, FACEP, Professor of Emergency Medicine and Population Health Science and Policy, System Vice Chair of Emergency Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital (self-selected)