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Current Fellows

College of Nursing Fellows

Tumilara Aderibigbe, PhD, MPH, RN

Program of Research: Tumilara Aderibigbe is a Nurse Scientist interested in the broad area of Maternal and Child Health, Nutrition, and Genomics. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2014 at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Nigeria; Master of Public Health in 2020 at the University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom; and PhD in Nursing in May 2023 at the University of Connecticut, United States. During her PhD program, she worked as a research assistant. In this role, she supported recruitment, data collection and logistics for four NIH- funded studies related to breastfeeding, pain, and genetics. Her dissertation, funded by the International Society of Nurses in Genetics (ISONG) and the Institute of Africana Studies at University of Connecticut, which focused on the psychosocial and biological factors influencing exclusive breastfeeding among African American women identified cultural factors and genetic variants influencing breastfeeding. Stemming from her belief in the mantra “you are what you eat”, Tumilara’s primary research interest is lactation. Her other interests span transition to motherhood and well-being, adolescent health, health disparities, and genomics. The long-term goal of her program of research is to increase breastfeeding exclusivity among African American women by examining breastfeeding through cultural and biological lenses. For leisure, she likes to watch movies and go visiting historical and fun places with her husband.

Faculty Mentors: Gwen Latendresse, PhD, CNM, FACNM, FAAN; Sara Simonsen, PhD, MSPH, CNM, FACNM

Selected Publications:

Aderibigbe, T., Walsh, S., Henderson, W., & Lucas, R. Prenatal exclusive breastfeeding self-efficacy and its predictors among African American Women: A cross-sectional validation study. (under review – Frontiers in Public Health)

Aderibigbe, T., Srisopa, P., Henderson, W., & Lucas, R. Meta-ethnography on the Experiences of Women from Around the World who Exclusively Breastfed Their Full-term Infants. (under review – Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing)

Aderibigbe, O., & Lucas, R. (2022). Exclusive breastfeeding in African American women: A Concept Analysis. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 79(5), 1699-1713.


Bridget Nicholson, PhD, APRN-BC, ACONP, ACHPN

Program of Research: Dr. Nicholson is passionate about symptom management and transitions of care in advanced oncology patients. Dr. Nicholson received her PhD from Rutgers University in 2022, where she was designated Jonas Scholar. Her dissertation examined the symptom and demographic factors that impact hospice and palliative care utilization in patients with advanced cancer. Clinically, she has worked as an oncology nurse practitioner and palliative care nurse practitioner for 15 years across many oncologic subspecialties. She received both her BSN and MS from the University of Michigan. 

Dr. Nicholson remains focused on providing expert symptom management to her patients to improve their quality of life. Recently, she has operated a virtual care center implementing remote patient monitoring, electronic symptom reporting, and virtual nursing care into clinical practice. Her long-term goal is to study the integration of technologies into oncology nursing care models to improve the patient and caregiver experience across populations. In her free time, she enjoys walking, swimming, cooking, and spending time with her husband, three children, and her dog. 

Faculty Mentor: Kathi Mooney, PhD, RN, FAAN

Selected Publications: 

Nicholson, B. Advanced care planning: the concept over time. Nursing Forum. 2021; 56: 1024-1028.

Nicholson BL, Flynn L, Savage B, Zha P, Kozlov E. Palliative Care Use in Advanced Cancer in the Garden State. Cancer Nurs. 2023 Jul-Aug 01;46(4):E253-E260. doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000001105. Epub 2023 Feb 7. PubMed PMID: 35398871.

Nicholson BL, Flynn L, Savage B, Zha P, Kozlov E. Hospice Referral in Advanced Cancer in New Jersey. J Hosp Palliat Nurs. 2022 Jun 1;24(3):167-174. doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000845. Epub 2022 Feb 11. PubMed PMID: 35486912.


Synneva Hagen-Lillevik, PhD, MS, RD

Research Focus: Dr. Hagen-Lillevik’s research focuses on providing optimal nutrition to women experiencing gestational diabetes. The overall goals of her current project are to describe women’s perceptions and understanding of nutritional quality after dietary interventions for gestational diabetes, identify potential gaps in the education women received regarding overall nutrition for pregnancy, and to create a novel, tailored nutritional intervention that focuses on high-quality nutrition for gestational diabetes.  The results of this pilot study have the potential to facilitate optimal outcomes in gestational diabetes management in addition to preventing the future development of Type 2 diabetes/prediabetes in this population.

Program of Research: Dr. Hagen-Lillevik’s program of research developed from her early academic experiences in psychology, clinical background in dietetics, and passion for women’s health. She originally earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington and worked as a research assistant in a cognitive psychology lab before becoming a dietitian. Prior to earning her doctorate, she worked as a clinical dietitian treating children and adults with inherited disorders of metabolism. Working with patients in rare disease led her to unanswered questions regarding metabolism, specifically carbohydrate metabolism in Classic Galactosemia. Her PhD dissertation completed at the University of Utah in Nutrition and Integrative Physiology focused on the devastating complication of primary ovarian insufficiency for females with Classic Galactosemia. During her doctorate, she explored not only the mechanism of follicle loss in the ovary due to the absence of the enzyme required to metabolize galactose, but also novel treatments with nutraceuticals and supplements to support the ovary. 

Her postdoctoral fellowship is sponsored by the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists and the Certification Board for Diabetes Care and Education. She is excited to expand her professional experience to include other disorders of metabolism with gestational diabetes and to augment her basic science research skills with behavioral and qualitative research study design, descriptive and inferential statistics, and working with women and nutrition.   

Faculty Advisors:  Dr. Sara E. Simonsen, PhD, CNM, MSPH, BSN and Dr. Nancy Allen, PhD, ANP-BC, FADCES

Selected Publications:

Hagen-Lillevik, S., Rushing, J. S., Appiah, L., Longo, N., Andrews, A., Lai, K., & Johnson, J. (2021).   Pathophysiology and management of classic galactosemic primary ovarian insufficiency, Reproduction and Fertility, 2(3), R67-R84.

Award: The Reproduction and Fertility Lay Summary Prize, for best lay summary submitted in 2021

Hagen-Lillevik, S., Johnson, J., Siddiqi, A., Persinger, J., Hale, G., & Lai, K. (2022). Harnessing the Power of Purple Sweet Potato Color and Myo-Inositol to Treat Classic Galactosemia. International Journal of Molecular Science, 23(15), 8654.

Hagen-Lillevik, S., Johnson, J., Lai, K. (2022). Early postnatal alterations in follicular stress response and survival in a mouse model of Classic Galactosemia. Journal of Ovarian Research,15(1), 122.

Sumin Park, PhD, RN

Program of Research: Dr. Park’s research interests lie in the physical and psychological health of patients with cancer and their family caregivers and social determinants of health, especially during the care transition period.

Sumin Park completed her PhD in Nursing from Case Western Reserve University in May 2022. Her dissertation primarily addressed the psychological aspects of distance caregivers, who live more than an hour away from the care recipient, of patients with cancer. The study findings highlighted that distance caregivers experience elevated burden due to caregiving, with contributing factors similar to those of local caregivers. 

Throughout her PhD program, Dr. Park worked as a student research assistant in several NIH-funded R01 grants involving patients with cancer and their family caregivers. This experienceexpanded her training in the conduct of randomized control trials in the clinical setting and methods utilized to enhance the rigor of these studies. She also worked on a large national database (two waves from the Health and Retirement Study) and gained experience working with dyadic datasets. 

During the Family Caregiving Collaborative Postdoctoral fellowship training, Dr. Park aims to gain an advanced understanding of the impact of social determinants of health on patients and their family caregivers during the care transition. Additionally, she plans to develop expertise in planning, developing, and implementing interventions, as well as qualitative and mixed-methodresearch.

Faculty Advisor: Andrea Wallace, PhD, RN, FAAN; Alycia Bristol, PhD, RN, AGCNS-BC

Selected Publications:

Park, S., Mazanec, S. R., Burant, C. J., Bajor, D., & Douglas, S. L.  (2022). Caregiver burden in distance caregivers of patients with cancer. Current Oncology, 29(11), 8967-8974.

Mazanec, S.R., Park, S., Connolly, M. C., Rosenzweig, M. Q. (2021). Factors associated with symptom distress in women with breast cancer prior to initiation of chemotherapy. Applied Nursing Research, 62, Online publication.

Irani, E., Park, S., Hickman, R. L. (2021). Negative marital interaction, purpose in life, and depressive symptoms among middle-aged and older couples: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study. Aging and Mental Health, 26(4), 860-869.

F31 Fellows

Jacqueline Kent-Marvick, BSN, RN, NINR

F31 Predoctoral Fellow

Program of Research: Jacqueline Kent-Marvick’s research interests are in the “pinch points” of women’s health, including postpartum and midlife health. 

Ms. Kent-Marvick is a fifth-year PhD candidate and graduate research assistant at the University of Utah, College of Nursing. Her NINR F31-funded dissertation is investigating how characteristics of social networks are associated with postpartum diet, activity, and weight. She considers the investigation of the postpartum social environment an important first step in addressing postpartum health behaviors from a multi-level/domain approach.

Throughout her PhD program, Ms. Kent-Marvick has worked as a graduate research assistant for her primary mentor, Dr. Sara Simonsen and Dr. Simonsen’s community-engaged program of research focused on improving long-term health for reproductive-aged women. Ms. Kent-Marvick has assisted on a number of projects, providing experience in complex survey studies, collaboration with communities on community-identified problems, qualitative and quantitative analyses, and formal scoping reviews.

Faculty Advisor: Sara E. Simonsen, Ph.D., CNM, MSPH, BSN

Selected Publications:

Kent-Marvick, J., Cloyes, K. G., Meek, P., & Simonsen, S. (2023). Racial and ethnic disparities in postpartum weight retention: A narrative review mapping the literature to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Framework. Women's Health (London, England), 19, 17455057231166822.

Kent-Marvick, J., Simonsen, S., Pentecost, R., Taylor, E., & McFarland, M. M. (2022). Loneliness in pregnant and postpartum people and parents of children aged 5 years or younger: A scoping review. Systematic Reviews, 11(196), 1-14.‐022‐02065‐5

Kent-Marvick J, St. Clair SL, Bristol AA, Gibson B, & Simonsen SE. (2023). Perceptions about future health trajectories among women at risk for developing cardiometabolic disease: A qualitative study [in review]. Discover Social Science and Health.