Recognizing the 2020 Pitt Nursing Research Award Recipients

The School of Nursing is proud to announce the recipients of the 2020 PhD research awards. These competitive awards are funded by School of Nursing donors, and are granted to students who are pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree at the School of Nursing.

Rachel Dieterich and Elizabeth Nilsen: Judith Erlen Nursing PhD Student Research Award

This award is used for student expenses related to their dissertation, pilot study, or other research-related activities. Dieterich’s project is “The Relationship Between Perinatal Weight Stigma and Breastfeeding Outcomes,” and Nilsen’s is “Prolonged Postoperative Opioid Use in Patients with Serious Mental Illness.”

Tara S. Davis: Ruth and Bill Fincke PhD Student Research Award

This award provides support to PhD students with the intention of supporting scholars in their efforts to discover and extend knowledge that advances the science and practice of nursing and clinical care for individuals with chronic disorders. Davis’ project is “Multiomics of the Nrf2 Antioxidant Response Element Signaling Pathway in Patients’ Outcomes after Severe Traumatic Brain Injury.”

Megan Maserati: Newmeyer-Thompson Doctoral Student Award

This award was established to provide support to a qualified PhD student(s) in the School of Nursing. The funds may be used for travel, dissertation expenses, dissemination of findings, or other related education expenses. Maserati’s project is “Genetic Variability and Mitochondiral Fission repair Mechanisms in Severe Traumatic Brain Injury.”

Karen Alsbrook: Swigart/Gold Doctoral Award for Scholarship in Nursing Ethics

This provides support to PhD students who are developing a dissertation focused on ethics-related topics.  Possible foci are issues of discrimination in health care, ethical problems in clinical practice, care of vulnerable populations, palliative care, death and dying, quality of life, issues of human or women’s rights, and methods for teaching nursing ethics. Alsbrook’s project is “Self-Advocating for Pain Control: Empowering Older Female Breast Cancer Survivors"

Esther Moon: Leslie A. Hoffman Endowed Acute Care Nursing Research Fund

This fund was created to honor Dr. Leslie Hoffman’s lifelong commitment to nursing research, the advancement of nursing practice, and continued improvements in patient care. Moon’s project is “Early Signs and Symptoms of Relapse among Adults with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)”.

Rachel Heckman: Jayne F. Wiggins Memorial Scholarship

This award is to go to a student whose approved dissertation proposal is found to be well-designed with the potential to make a substantive contribution to clinical nursing practice. Heckman’s project is “The Quality of End of Life Care and the Death Experience for Female Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients According to the Perspective of the Designated Representation.”

Margaret E. Wilkes Scholarship Fund Award

The scholarship supports nursing students pursuing their PhD, to help with the shortage of nursing educators. This year’s recipients and their projects are:

  • Lisa Gawron: “Promoting Health Through Precision Labor Management”
  • Chi Ching Vivian Hui: “Resilience Ontology Development and Text Mining Analytics on Resilience in Intimate Partner Violence”
  • Bomin Jeon: “The Role of Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Insomnia on Depressive Symptoms and Diabetic-Related Distress in Adults with Diabetes Mellitus”
  • Xiaojun Shi: “Relationships among Adherence and Patient Outcomes in a Cognitive Behavioral Plus Physical Activity Intervention for Older Adults with Comorbidity”
  • Yan Wang: “Testing the Influence of Patient Characteristics on Engagement via WRITE Symptoms Intervention among Women with Recurrent Ovarian Cancer”
  • Jian Zhao: “Exploring the Relationship among Personality, Mood and Pain in a Dataset of Daily Symptoms Collected During 4-6 Cycles of Chemotherapy for Ovarian Cancer”


Salah Al-Zaiti: Ruth Perkins Kuehn Research Award

The purpose of the award is to encourage the research career development of University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing alumni and faculty through support of research conducted by nurses.  Al-Zaiti’s project is “Vessel-Specific ECG Leads (VSEL): A Novel Solution for the Simple and Accurate Detection of Acute Cardiac Ischemia during Nursing Care”.