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Sigma Theta Tau International awards recognize achievements and contributions in nursing. 

Below are the different award categories and the recent award winners. To see the many individual award options within each category on the STTI site, and to submit nominations, please click on the category name at the bottom of this page.  Scroll down for our awards archive to view previous award winners.

Student Leadership Award 

Recognizes a BSN, MSN, and PhD student who is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society, Xi Chapter, who demonstrates a high level of academic achievement, leadership, and service within the School of Nursing, University and/or the community.


2020 Student Leadership Award Winners 

BSN Student Leadership Award: Samelle Arhin

Samelle Arhin is receiving the Sigma Theta Tau XI chapter BSN Student Award for her leadership known on Penn’s campus and within the Philadelphia community. Samelle serves as the president for the Minorities in Nursing Organization, exercising listening and problem-solving skills by listening to the grievances of minority nursing students and presenting solutions to the dean for diversity such as student-faculty town halls and inclusivity lectures for Penn nursing faculty. Samelle’s community efforts are multiple. She has served as a SNAP Peer Mentor and Quaker Days host, the director for New Spirit of Penn Gospel Choir, tutor in Urban Public Schools 5th grade English class at Lea Elementary School and a Labor Support doula supporting laboring momsat HUP through their birth. She attended community health fairs and educated women on the importance of HIV testing and helped to design an app for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) adherence among women in recovery homes. Last summer, she served as a coordinator and mentor to 15 high school juniors interested in nursing helping students with the college application process and facilitated a trip to volunteer at Share Food Philly and many other events.


MSN Student Leadership Award: Aaron Ahlgren Huntley, BSN, RN

Aaron Ahlgren Huntley, BSN, RN is receiving the Sigma Theta Tau Xi Chapter MSN Student Award for his scholarly work, his personable demeanor and take-charge personality and community involvement. For instance, at a recent outreach event on MLK day, planned activities, procured resources and collected valuable data. His well-thought out planning resulted in the nursing involvement being extremely well-received by both the event hosts and the pet-owners who attended the event. Aaron is also a compassionate individual with a generous heart. In spite of the intensive AGACNP program, Aaron has been an ardent volunteer at SPCA assisting with cat socialization, fund-raising events, paperwork and laundry for the organization weekly. Aaron is always seeking opportunities to expand his experience at Penn. On top of his full-time student status, he is a research assistant working with Dr. Peggy Compton and collaborating with Dr. Terri Lipman and the School of Veterinary Medicine on a Quality Improvement project working towards optimizing outcomes of both pets and pet-owners in outreach programs.


PhD Student Leadership Award: Clare Whitney, MS, RN

Clare Whitney, MS, RN is being awarded the Sigma Theta Tau Doctoral Student Leadership Award as a Hillman Scholar in Nursing Innovation in the School of Nursing, simultaneously working on her Masters in Bioethics through the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy in the School of Medicine, and obtaining a Teaching Certificate through the Center for Teaching and Learning at Penn. Claire volunteered on several committees including the PhD taskforce, developing a curriculum map for the program and putting substantial effort each week supporting local COVID-19 testing efforts. Clare is a high-achieving student and has a deep commitment to others within the community.



Nurse Researcher Awards

Honor a nurse whose early career or long-term research has impacted the nursing profession.

2020 Research Award Winners

Olivia M. Arnold, BSN, M.Sc. RN: Path Analysis to Understand Neurocognitive Outcomes of Children Exposed to Lead and Adversity

Onome Osokpo, MSc., MSN, RN: Socio-Cultural Factors Influencing Self-Care By Community-Dwelling African Immigrants With Chronic Illness: A Mixed Method Study

Beth Hogan Quigley RN, MSN, CRNP: Fall Prevention and Injury Reduction Utilizing Virtual Sitters in Hospitalized Patients


Awards Archive


2019 Student Leadership Award Winners

BSN Student Leadership Award: Breanne Mastromarino, BSN

Breanne Mastromarino, BSN, an undergraduate nursing student and member of Sigma Nursing is honored for her outstanding leadership and passion. Breanne has been active in Xi Chapter including her participation of the publicity committee and has been instrumental in updating our website making Xi Chapter more visible. In addition to earning a BSN, she minored in Medical Sociology and has been accepted as a sub-matriculated student in the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program. Breanne is a born leader having served as the Nursing Chair of Class Board and in a variety of other on-campus groups such as Student Nurses at Penn (SNAP), the Penn Newman Catholic Community, and Penn Nursing Peer advisory to name a few. Breanne has been on the Dean’s List and received the Wellesley College Book Award for “outstanding academic record and character with significant extracurricular contributions to school and community”. She has accomplished this as she studied abroad, and participated in the Englewood Hospital Surgical Science Research Course and Georgetown Summer Medical Institute.


MSN Student Leadership Award: Joshua Boscak, BSN, RN

Joshua Boscak, BSN, RN, a full-time student in the adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner is recognized for his leadership and service and has been active in a variety of projects. He has gone above and beyond to enhance student experiences by participating in extra interdisciplinary and interprofessional simulation events for undergraduate and graduate students. Jason attended the Graduate Open House, sharing his enthusiasm for Penn with potential graduate students. He addressed potential student questions especially as they applied to his oncology minor. Beyond that, he serves as a research assistant and a bone marrow transplant coordinator, leading and participating in interdisciplinary team meetings. Prior to coming to Penn, he consistently participated in leadership activities. For instance, he collaborated with a team to implement a new local palliative care clinic implanting a hybrid tele-palliative medicine clinic, a novel approach at the time. Finally, Jason’s peers nominated him for a nursing excellence award.


PhD Student Leadership Award: Alicia Kachmar, Nu’15, MS, BSN, MRN

Alicia Kachmar, Nu’15, MS, BSN, RN, a doctoral student, has evolved as a writer and scholar, getting certified in narrative medicine in her pursuit of narrative science. Alicia has been recognized by her colleagues for her scholarly writing as a nominee for the Dorothy Mereness Award for excellence in scholarly writing with students attesting to her willingness to mentor others, and being a “generous and thoughtful colleague”. In addition to her excellent research, Alicia has shown real leadership in integrating new approaches to nursing education into the curriculum during her years at Penn. For example, she played a leadership role in developing a new narrative course in the undergraduate program. She also helped teach its first iteration, making critically important pedagogical suggestions, helping to guide students, and facilitating discussions and the creation of novel assignments. She played such an important role that the School hired her to teach several classes in spring 2018.


2019 Xi Chapter Research Award Winners

Brittany Koons, PhD, RN, is a postdoctoral research fellow (National Institutes of Health, National Institute for Nursing Research T32NR009356) at the NewCourtland Center for Transitions and Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholar Program. Dr. Koons’s proposal is entitled “Prospective Study of Symptom Profiles and Length of Posttransplant Hospitalization Among Lung Transplant Candidates”. Dr. Koons is interested in lung transplant candidates’ physical and psychological symptoms. In this project, she proposes a single-center prospective cohort study to identify symptom profiles among patients waiting for a lung transplant and examine the relationship between symptom profiles and physiology and posttransplant hospital length of stay. She will prospectively enroll 150 adults who are listed for their first lung transplant at a large academic medical center and follow those who undergo transplant through hospital discharge. Participants’ symptoms will be assessed within three months of receiving a lung transplant to identify distinct symptom profiles. The relationship between symptom profiles and length of hospitalization after lung transplant will also be assessed.


Patricia Pawlow, GNu’94, MSN, ACNP-BC, is an advanced senior lecturer and associate program director for the Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Adult Oncology Minor/Post-MSN Certificate, Streamlined Post MSN Adult Gerontology ACNP Certificate Programs. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Pennsylvania. Her study is entitled “Exploring Palliative Care Needs of Patients Awaiting Lung Transplantation and Their Family Caregivers”. This study will describe the palliative care needs of lung transplant candidates and their caregivers from the patients’ and caregivers’ perspective using a cross-sectional study design. The study will include 150 patients referred for lung transplant evaluation or on the lung transplant waitlist at the University of Pennsylvania Health System Lung Transplant Program and 150 of their family caregivers. The study will explore the relationship between demographic, social, and clinical factors and palliative care needs. This research will be the first study to provide a comprehensive assessment of the palliative care needs of this population.


Diane L. Spatz, Nu’86, GNu’89, GR’95, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN is a professor of perinatal nursing and the Helen M. Shearer Term Professor of Nutrition. She is internationally recognized for her research and scholarship in the field of human milk and breastfeeding, particularly for vulnerable infants. Her study is entitled “An exploration of the use of technology (Angel Eye camera system) as part of the NICU mother’s lactation journey”. Dr. Spatz and her colleagues aim to understand mothers’ of hospitalized infants experiences using live video streaming with one-way audio communication technology (Angel Eye camera system) as part of the lactation journey. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia recently installed 113 Angel Eye cameras in the Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit. As a novel area of inquiry, qualitative research methodologies will be utilized in this project. Participants will include mothers of infants less than 30 days old who are currently enrolled in the Angel Eye program. Participants will be individually interviewed either in person or using secured web-based technology. Data will be analyzed and salient themes will then be derived to describe the mothers’ experiences.


Kristin L. Corey, PhD, RN, AGPCNP-BC, NewCourtland Center for Transitions & Health Postdoctoral Fellow, has been awarded a Sigma Theta Tau International Small Grant for her proposal: Latent Profile Analysis to Understand Differences in Psychological Distress and Sleep Quality among Former Family Caregivers of People with Dementia, 6/1/2019 - 5/31/2020.

Penn Nursing’s Karen Hirschman, PhD, MSWSalimah Meghani, PhD, MBE, RN, FAAN and Jesse Chittams, MS are co-investigators for this project.

Former family caregivers of people with dementia may experience psychological distress and sleep disturbances for many years after the care recipient’s death. The purpose of this study is to identify unique profiles of characteristics that may place former dementia caregivers at risk for psychological distress and sleep disturbances after caregiving ends. A cross-sectional design will be used to recruit a sample of former dementia caregivers to complete an online survey.



2018 Xi Chapter Research Award Winners

Solim Lee, MSN, RN    

Title: Understanding the Heart Failure Patients’ Symptom Perception Process: A Mixed Methods Study.

The purpose of the study is to explore HF patients’ process of symptom perception and its related factors in a hospitalized patient using a convergent mixed methods (QUAL+quan) design.

Jennifer Morone, MA-ATR, BS-RN

Title: The Influence of Social Determinants of Health on Family and Self-management of Type 1 Diabetes in Black Single Parent Families

Purpose: The purpose of this exploratory is to expand our understanding of what are the most influential SDOH components for black single caregiver families, how do they influence type 1 diabetes family and self-management, and what are potential solutions for addressing these components in this high-risk population.

Saumya Ayyagari, RN, BSN

Title: A Qualitative Study Investigating Lived Experiences and Perceived Reproductive Health Needs of Female Participants at Prevention Point

Purpose: This qualitative phenomenological study aims to elicit the perspectives of adult female participants of Prevention Point Philadelphia (PPP) regarding their lived experiences, their evaluation of available reproductive health services, and their reproductive health needs.


International Awards for Nursing Excellence

Recognize a nurse or group for the International Awards for Nursing Excellence.

Showcase of Regional Excellence

Highlight chapters’ achievements in relation to the Presidential Call to Action.

Chapter Key Award

Honors chapters that excel in chapter-related activities.

Honorary Membership

Acknowledge someone who has greatly contributed to the advancement of nursing.

The Episteme Award

The Baxter International Foundation’s Episteme Award acknowledges a major breakthrough in nursing knowledge development that has resulted in a significant and recognizable benefit to the public and comes with a generous $15,000 stipend to the award recipient. In the tradition of the Nobel Prize, The Episteme Award is presented to a person or team for highly significant research.

Penn Nursing is home to seven award winners, more than any other school of nursing, including Dorothy Brooten (1989), Lois K. Evans and Neville E. Strumpf (1995), Ann Burgess (1999), Linda H. Aiken (2001), Loretta Sweet Jemmott (2007), Mary D. Naylor (2009), and Therese Richmond (2017).

Research Hall of Fame

Penn Nursing has three XI Chapter Research Hall of Fame recipients which include our current Penn Nursing Dean Antonia M. Villarruel, PhD, RN, FAAN (2015) Barbara Riegel, PhD, MN, FAAN, FAHA (2015) Therese Richmond, PhD, FAAN, CRNP (2013).