Exceptional, diverse, supportive, driven. Penn Nursing students are some of the best in the country, and we are proud that they’ve decided to pursue their goals with us.
Let us introduce you to some of them:
My research interests revolve around understanding why people die where they die and how place and displacement impact the quality of the dying process. Through the Hillman Scholars program and with the help of my mentors, Mary Ersek and Julie Sochalski, I plan to examine a specific case of this issue through my dissertation: what is the impact of rurality on place of death and quality of care at the end of life for Veterans dying in inpatient VA facilities?
This study will be based on data from the Performance Reporting and Outcomes Measurement to Improve the Standard of care at End-of-Life (PROMISE) Center at the VA. To this end, I am interested in learning and applying different statistical methods, including observational study design, spatial analysis, and statistical learning, and examining how quality and performance is measured in end-of-life care.
Matthew, a student in our Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation, was inspired to become a nurse because of nursing’s focus on holistic care of the individual and its historical receptiveness to innovation in personalized care, which he sees as necessary in the treatment of mental illness, after spending time as a volunteer for several theatre therapy programs.
As a member of the lab, he is currently working on several projects, including the development of a digital toolkit for nurses to aid in the diagnosis and management of PTSD (funded by the American Nurses’ Foundation), a study tracking the physiological markers of the mentally ill, a study on the markers of stress, and the development of an mobile app to treat anxiety disorders in international students.
Drawing on his prior and current experience, his ultimate goal is the integration of therapeutic elements into existing media (such as mainstream video games and television shows) in order to facilitate preventative care in mental health.
Andrew entered Penn Nursing in 2011 and applied for the Hillman Scholar Program at the end of his sophomore year. He began integrating himself into the Biobehavioral Research Center at Penn by participating in the work of one of his research mentors, Dr. Martha Curley. Though Andrew’s research interests are continually being refined, he will likely arrive at the intersection of pediatric intensive and critical care, health policy, and biomedical ethics.
Clare Whitney is a senior in the School of Nursing from Schroon Lake, New York. She is also pursuing her PhD as a Hillman Scholar in Nursing Innovation. Her passion for women’s health and mental health has been informed and nurtured by her nursing coursework as well as extracurricular experiences.
Clare is a work study student in the School of Nursing’s Office of Student Services and Academic Affairs and has also worked in West Philadelphia public schools through Community School Student Partnerships and Academically Based Community Service courses. Since her freshman year, Clare has served on numerous boards such as Student Nurses at Penn and the Foundation of International Medical Relief of Children, and has enjoyed participating in a theater arts group and an undergraduate mental health outreach organization. Her international experiences studying for a semester in Oxford, England and working clinically in Nicaragua for two months have provided her with perspective and skills that will undoubtedly influence her career in nursing research and practice.
Josh is an international student from England and a Hillman Scholar in Nursing Innovation. He is looking forward to a career conducting research in the nursing field and his interests lie within global women’s health, international health ethics, and health disparities.
He was recently awarded two grants from Questbridge, a non-profit that connects low income and diversity students with top academic institutions within the United States. Through Questbridge, Josh was also fortunate to be awarded an international grant from Penn for four years of undergraduate study. The research that he plans on completing is a study looking at increasing quality antenatal care and maternal care access and education using technology based interventions in Nepal.
Josh is currently a residential adviser in Riepe college house. After he graduates he hopes to find a position as a professor at a nursing school and continue to pursue research in global women’s health.
A Hillman Scholar, Jason has shifted his passion for research from molecular biology to nursing in order to create a more direct community and population health impact, relaying his prior experience with respiratory disease surveillance and testing of new molecular respiratory disease diagnostic devices.
Under the mentorship of Dr. Salimah Meghani and Dr. Bart De Jonghe, he works to address disparities in healthcare regarding lower income and minority communities by trying to increase access, utilization, and efficacy of preventative healthcare services.
Jason is from San Diego, CA and obtained a BS in Biology with a minor in chemistry at San Diego State University.
After graduating from SDSU, he worked for 7 years as a Senior Molecular Research Assistant for the U.S. Navy at the Naval Health Research Center Operational Infectious Disease Laboratory.
Marcus Henderson, Nu’17, plans to sub-matriculate into the dual degree MSN Health Leadership and MPH program.
Prior to attending Penn, Marcus went to Franklin Learning Center High School in his home town of Philadelphia where he majored in Health Related Technology. It was in that program that Marcus developed his passion for nursing and mentorship, and began his leadership journey. Marcus is a member of the Student Nurses at Penn (SNAP) and the National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA).
As a freshman, he successfully ran for Central Philadelphia Regional Coordinator on the SNAP State Board of Directors. He continues to be an active member in SNAP and has since assumed the role of State Vice President and now State President. In addition, Marcus was elected to the NSNA Board of Directors as Ex-Officio Director and Chair of the Council of State Presidents. Marcus is the Nursing Chair for Class Board 2017 and has been in this role since fall 2013.
Aside from his organizational leadership, he is interested in the study of nursing history, diversity in the nursing workforce, public health, health policy, and how all of these areas intersect. Marcus is a research assistant for the School-Wide Health Equity Research Collaborative and the Office of Diversity and Inclusivity at Penn Nursing. Eventually, he would like to obtain a PhD in Nursing.
Stephen hails from Iowa, the land of corn and soy, where he studied math and statistics at the University of Iowa. As an undergraduate, his research focused using computational statistics and spatial models to analyze environmental and epidemiological data.
He fled the cold weather to live in Austin, Texas, where he worked variously as an after-school teacher, a cook at a homeless shelter, a “compost pedaller”, and a nurses’ aide at the children’s hospital. His experiences in Austin led him to pursue a career studying health inequity and community-based health research, particularly in pediatric and adolescent populations, and he is now enrolled at Penn Nursing as a Hillman Scholar in Nursing Innovation.
As a Hillman Scholar, Marta’s research foci include injuries and violence, trauma nursing care and health systems service delivery, vulnerable populations, and health equity. She is currently working on Dr. Therese Richmond’s study, investigating psychological issues following violent injuries among urban black men in Philadelphia.
She was awarded a supplement to Dr. Richmond’s study: “Psychological Effects of Injuries in Urban Black Men: A Disparate Health Issue” from National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), which supported her through the completion of her BSN. Marta presented the findings of her study at the national meeting of the Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Research (SAVIR) and at the Eastern Nursing Research Society (ENRS) in spring of 2015.
Marta currently works part-time as an RN at the trauma center at Penn Presbyterian, is a full time pre-doctoral student, and is a member of the Penn Injury Science Center.
Kara Pavone is a Hillman Scholar in Nursing Innovation, an integrated BSN-to-Ph.D. program committed to educating young nurse scientists and leaders to go on and develop original solutions in healthcare. Kara completed her BSN in 2016 and is currently a full time Ph.D. student. The primary focus of Kara’s research is to understand the relationship between pain and the development of delirium following surgery.
Amy Elizabeth (E-beth) Barrera-Cancedda received her Bachelor of Science and Master in Public Health from Emory University, where she focused her studies on Anthropology and Global Health, particularly infectious diseases. Following her graduate studies, she worked for Harvard School of Public Health as a Research Coordinator in Rwanda, where she facilitated the development of a family-centered intervention for HIV/AIDS affected families.
Prior to starting at Penn Nursing as a Hillman Scholar in Nursing Innovation, Elizabeth worked for Partners In Health (PIH) as a Tuberculosis Analyst for TB CARE II, a collaborative project between USAID and PIH. While in this position, her chief role was to work closely with Ministries of Health in high burden TB countries to implement novel infection control interventions to reduce nosocomial transmission among healthcare workers in various healthcare environments. After completing this project, Elizabeth became the Director of Monitoring and Evaluation for PIH, in Sierra Leone, during the Ebola epidemic, where she was responsible for collecting clinical data on patient outcomes. Given her interests in nursing and global health, her research interests are focused on mechanisms related to improving professional development opportunities for nurses in countries that have been burned with hemorrhagic fever epidemics, as a means of investing and strengthening the healthcare systems within these contexts. Elizabeth looks forward to continuing her work in Western Africa after graduation, but for now, she is excited to live in Philadelphia with her amazing husband, Corrado, and their wonder pug, named Chorizo.
Building on her Penn MPH capstone research focusing on the evolution of the informed consent document, Sydney, a Hillman Scholar, works with her mentors on the issues surrounding decision-making among families and caregivers. She is assisted in all things by her constant companion, “Henley,” the Labrador retriever.
Sydney comes from a distinguished military family. Parts of her childhood were spent variously in Alaska, Hawaii, DC, and Florida. She completed her undergraduate degree in 2010 at Syracuse University, where she was recruited by the women’s rowing team with a full scholarship. There she majored in Political Science and Biology. She also interned at the Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics at Yale University. Her research entailed post-trial access and fair benefits for low resource communities and an investigation of decisional capacity in people with schizophrenia. Sydney was drawn to Philadelphia both to continue rowing at an elite level and to obtain a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Pennsylvania.
As a denizen of Boathouse Row, Sydney won a number of notable races including the Head of the Charles, Head of the Schuylkill, Canadian Henley Regatta, United States Rowing Nationals, and the Independence Day Regatta. She was also a runner-up at the Women’s Henley Regatta and a quarter-finalist at the Royal Henley Regatta, both in Henley-on-Thames, United Kingdom.
Nicholas Giordano is a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and a Hillman Scholar in Nursing Innovation, an integrated BSN-to-PhD program committed to educating young nurse scientists and leaders to go on and develop original solutions in healthcare. Throughout his time in the Hillman program, he has worked closely with his advisors, Drs. Rosemary Polomano, Therese Richmond and John Farrar, to investigate the complex relationship between chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and health related quality of life in the context of combat injured military personnel and veterans.
Nicholas is active in Penn’s research community. He is a member of several centers, including the Penn Injury Science Center, Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics, the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and the NIH designated Center of Excellence in Pain Education. Previously, Nicholas has worked in healthcare policy development, medical manufacturing, and, most recently with the National Institute of Nursing Research’s Tissue Injury Branch, genomics research.
Ian McCurry, Nu’17, combines his many academic passions with an aim to become the most holistic clinician possible.
Through his work with the Center for Health Equities research, he is currently the Principal Investigator on two grant-funded studies that focuses on young adults with developmental disabilities who are pursuing post-secondary education and the delivery of healthcare services to homeless individuals in Philadelphia.
In addition, Ian manages a local homeless shelter, has worked as a Clinical Chaplain on the Heart and Vascular Intensive Care Unit at HUP, and is an Adjunct Chaplain at the hospital, working with families through critical illness and counseling them through death and dying. He is a member of the Penn Glee Club, with which he has traveled to Tanzania, Qatar, and Western Europe, and has performed for senators, Supreme Court justices, and President and Mrs. Obama.
After growing up in a small town in central Massachusetts, Elizabeth started at Penn Nursing in the Hillman Scholars program in 2012. She is an active member of Student Nurses at Penn (SNAP) and the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA). Elizabeth is also the president of Penn’s Club Ski and Snowboard team.
Elizabeth became interested in research after completing the Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring (PURM) program in the summer of 2014. This research experience involved conducting telephone follow-up interviews with children who had been on mechanical ventilation in the pediatric ICU. The goal was to evaluate how their quality of life was affected following the hospitalization.
After conducting these interviews, Elizabeth developed an interest in family-centered follow-up care, and is now working on a project about bereavement outcomes in parents of children who did not survive the PICU. Elizabeth’s research goals involve determining how nurses can better the quality of life of critically and/or chronically ill patients and families following intense treatments.