Current Fellows

Sarah Wawrzynski

Sarah Wawrzynski

Title:  Predoctoral Student, College of Nursing, University of Utah

Research Focus: Understanding and mitigating the impact of pediatric cancer within the family unit.

Program of Research: Sarah has worked as a pediatric intensive care nurse for the last 15 yeaars, where she has developed a passion for helping famillies dealing with pediatric life-threatening illnesses.  Her experiences as a bedside nurse have fueled her desire to support the dynamic system of families dealing with cancer and its long-term chronic illness consequences.

Sarah is currently in her third year as a PhD student, and has worked as a research assistant focusing on gaining relevant skills to her research goals. Sarah is working with mentors to develop the skills necessary to conduct family and child research related to pediatric cancer and family dynamics. She has an established working relationship with Dr. Lauri Linder which has focused on adolescent and child cancer symptom assessment and management. This has resulted in two publications. Currently, she is assisting Dr. Linder on a project focused on the acceptability and feasibility of a child centric application that can be used to track and describe cancer symptoms in real time.  Sarah is also working closely with Dr. Kristin Cloyes who is leading a supplement project related to Dr. Lee Ellington’s RO1 focused on family caregivers. This work will give her a better understanding of working with vulnerable populations and preforming family centered research.

Sarah’s dissertation will focus on examining the relationship between parental caregiver burden in pediatric cancer, and the perceptions of change in parental support from the perspective of healthy siblings. The ultimate goal of this research will be to identify possibly interventions to support family coping throughout the cancer course.

In her spare time Sarah enjoys triathlon training, hiking, attending her kid’s soccer games and traveling with her husband.

Faculty Advisors: Kristin Cloyes, PhD, RN and Lauri Linder, PhD, APRN, CPON

Selected Publications:

Linder LA, Bratton H, Nguyen A, Parker K, Wawrzynski SE. Symptoms and Self-Management Strategies Identified by Children with Cancer Using Draw-and-Tell Interviews. Oncology Nursing Forum. 2018 May 1;45(3):290-300. doi: 10.1188/18.ONF.290-300. PubMed PMID: 29683122.

Litchman, ML., Walker, HR., Ng, AH., Wawrzynski, SE., Oser, SM., Greenwood, DA., Gee, PM., Lackey, M., Oser, TK. (In Press) State of the Science: A Scoping Review and Gap Analysis of Diabetes Online Communities. Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, 2019, DOI: 10.1177/1932296819831042

Litchman, M. L., Wawrzynski, SE., Allen, N. A., Tracy, E. L., Kelly, C. S., Helgeson, V. S., & Berg, C. A. (2019). Yours, Mine, and Ours: A Qualitative Analysis of the Impact of Type 1 Diabetes Management in Older Adult Married Couples. Diabetes Spectrum, ds180057.

Megan Hebdon, PhD, DNP, RN, FNP-C

Megan Hebdon, PhD, DNP, RN, FNP-C

Title:  Postdoctoral Fellow, College of Nursing, University of Utah

Program of Research: Through clinical, research, and personal experiences, Dr. Hebdon identified the unmet supportive care needs of caregivers of cancer survivors, which can lead to caregiver physical and mental distress. Her dissertation focused on a model of self-efficacy in caregivers of Latina breast cancer survivors. Findings reflected a moderating effect of self-efficacy between informational support and depression outcomes. These findings reinforce the importance of support for cancer caregivers that can be provided by health care providers, friends, family, and community members. Through the T32 fellowship at the University of Utah School of Nursing, Dr. Hebdon plans to continue to pursue this line of research through a complex adaptive systems approach including: gathering biometric data from caregivers to understand the correspondence between symptom report and biometrics, working with caregivers to identify supportive care need priorities for this population, and developing a care model that promotes caregivers as both patients and health care team members.

Dr. Hebdon lives In Blacksburg, Virginia with her spouse, three active children, and sweet puppy. She loves running, cooking, practicing yoga, hiking, spending time with family and friends, reading, and writing.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Lee Ellington, PhD

Selected Publications:

Hebdon, M., Griggs, R., Abrahamson, K., & McComb, S. (2018). Shared mental models of cancer survivorship care. European Journal of Cancer Care, 27(2). doi: 10.1111/ecc.12831

Hebdon, M., Foli, K., & McComb, S. (2015). Survivor in the cancer context: A concept analysis. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 71(8), 1774-1786. doi: 10.1111/jan.12646.

Hebdon, M., Fahnestock, O., & McComb, S. (2015). Shared mental models of provider roles in cancer survivorship care. Journal of the Advanced Practitioner in Oncology, 6, 337-348. doi:
10.6004/jadpro.2015.6.4.4.

Shawna Mitchell Sisler, MS, MA, MAPP, RN, PHN, PNP, PMHS

Title:  Predoctoral Student, College of Nursing, University of Utah

Research Focus: Identifying social, behavioral, and ecologic phenotypes that may predict health outcomes for college students on the suicide spectrum, and how/where they leverage their informal and formal caregiving networks for support.

Program of Research: Shawna is a third-year PhD student in the College of Nursing and a certified pediatric nurse practitioner, specializing in child psychiatry and developmental medicine. For her T32 research, Shawna is building social, behavioral, and ecologic phenotypes of college students with suicidal thinking and behavior. Shawna is particularly interested in how a youth’s informal and formal caregiving network impacts their health access, adjustment to college, and eventual transition to adulthood. As a member of Dr. Andrea Wallace’s research team, Shawna is building her foundation as a clinical researcher and developing rigorous mixed methods skills to advance as an interventionist in the social determinants of health landscape. Current projects include: (1) improving social needs screening protocol and supportive resource identification during ED and hospital discharge for patient-caregivers with behavioral health concerns, and (2) understanding how supportive resource assessments may be integrated into clinical decision-making for high-risk populations.

Outside of her professional life, Shawna is an avid ultrarunner and has completed dozens of trail races that range from 50k to 100-mile distances. Originally from San Francisco, she moved with husband and two boys to Park City in 2018 to maximize her time on the trails and be close to the wonderful people and resources at University of Utah.

Faculty Advisor:  Andrea Wallace, PhD, RN

Selected Publication: Sisler, S.. Schapiro, N., Stephan, L., Mejia, J., & Wallace, A. (2019). Consider the Root of the Problem: Increasing Trainee Skills at Assessing and Addressing Social Determinants of Health. Translational Behavioral Medicine, 9(3), 523-532. doi:10.1093/tbm/ibz046

Christina M. Wilson, PhD, WHNP-BC

Christina M. Wilson, PhD, WHNP-BC

Title:  Postdoctoral Fellow, College of Nursing, University of Utah

Research Focus: Understanding and improving communication regarding body image, sexuality, and sexual functioning between gynecologic cancer patients and their providers.

Christina M. Wilson, PhD, WHNP-BC is a post-doctoral research fellow.  She is board certified as a women's health nurse practitioner. Dr. Wilson completed her PhD in nursing at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. Her dissertation research examined the relationships among body image, sexuality, and sexual functioning in women with cervical and endometrial cancer. Her research interests include sexual health in cancer patients. Her T32 research will seek to analyze and improve communication regarding body image, sexuality, and sexual functioning in gynecologic cancer patients with their providers.

Dr. Wilson recently relocated to Salt Lake City from Richmond, VA with her Labrador Retriever, Beau.  She is looking forward to enjoying the wealth of outdoor activities in Salt Lake City.

Faculty Advisor: Kathi Mooney, PhD, RN, FAAN

Lorinda A. Coombs, PhD, FNP-BC, AOCNP

Lorinda A. Coombs, PhD, FNP-BC, AOCNP

Title:  Postdoctoral Fellow, College of Nursing, University of Utah

Lorinda A. Coombs, PhD, FNP-BC, AOCNP is a postdoctoral research fellow. She is board certified as a family and hematology/oncology nurse practitioner. Dr. Coombs completed her PhD in Health Policy and Nursing at the University of California San Francisco. Her dissertation analyzed the contributions of nurse practitioners and physician assistants providing care for older adults with malignancies using the SEER-Medicare dataset. Her research interests include evaluating value in cancer care delivery as well as disparities that exist in outcomes for rural patients. The focus of her T32 research will be evaluating a model of value-based care led by nurse practitioners. This innovative program, Huntsman at Home, will measure outcomes of patients with cancer discharged from the hospital to their home and managed by nurse practitioners.

Dr. Coombs recently relocated to Salt Lake City from Okland, California with family who are passionate skiers, and our huskie mix dog. She considers Clinical Problem Solving Conference (CPC) rounds fun, and this year diagnosed her first Chronic Neutrophilic Leukemia.

Faculty Advisor: Kathi Mooney, PhD, RN, FAAN

Selected Publications:

Coombs, L., Max, W., Kolevska, T., Tonner, C. & Stephens, C. (2019) “Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant Care for Older Adults with Cancer: A Hidden Workforce” Journal of the American Geriatric Society, May 2019. doi.org/10.1111/jgs.15931

Coombs, L. & Stephens, C. (2019) “"Measuring the Care of Older Adults with Cancer: An Evaluation of Available Datasets" Oncology Nursing Forum, 46(3): 272-282. 10.1188/19.ONF.277-282

Hunt, L., Coombs, L., & Stephens, C. (2018) “Emergency Department Use by Community-Dwelling Persons with Dementia in the United States: An Integrative Review” Journal of Gerontological Nursing; Jan 16: 1-17.

Coombs, L., Hunt, L. & Cataldo, J. (2016) “A Scoping Review of the Nurse Practitioner Workforce in Oncology” Cancer Medicine; August 5, (8): 1908–1916.

Coombs, L. (2015) “The Growth of Nurse Practitioners in Specialty Care” Journal for Nurse Practitioners; 11 (9): 907-909.

Katherine Bernier Carney, PhD, RN

Katherine Bernier Carney, PhD, RN

Title:  Postdoctoral Fellow, College of Nursing, University of Utah

Research focus: Advancing symptom science in pediatric cancer care with a family-centered approach to improve daily well-being and long-term outcomes.

As a pediatric nurse, Katherine Bernier Carney, PhD, RN is driven to improve the lives of children with complex care needs through a family-centered approach. Her specific research interests are focused on understanding why some children living with cancer experience higher symptom burden than others and identifying innovative team-based strategies that address these health disparities at the individual and systemic levels. As a doctoral student, Dr. Bernier Carney implemented advanced statistical methods to uncover relationships between psychological stress and pain sensitization during the transition of acute to chronic low back pain. She now seeks to further her training by investigating how the family context may influence the illness-related experiences of children living with cancer, with particular interest in pain-related outcomes. Exploring the biopsychosocial factors which contribute to the development of chronic pain and disease-related disability across pediatric cancer populations will help to identify the best methods for children and families to manage symptoms throughout the cancer care continuum.

Dr. Bernier Carney lives in Connecticut with her husband and their dog, where they like to find new places to hike and explore the local coastlines. In her spare time, she also an avid knitter and baker.

Faculty Advisor: Lauri Linder, PhD, APRN, CPON

Selected Publications:

Bernier Carney, K., Starkweather, A., Lucas, R., Ersig, A., Guite, J.W., & Young, E. (in press). Deconstructing Pain Disability Through Concept Analysis. Pain Management Nursing.

Bernier Carney, K., Polifroni, E.C., & Moriarty Daley, A. (2019). School-based health centers: A means to meet the whole school, whole community, whole child model. Collaboratory on School and Child Health. Found at https://csch.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/2206/2019/05/School-Based-Health-Center-Final-Report-2019.pdf

Bernier, K. M., Strobel, M., & Lucas, R. (2018). Assessing the Effect of an Educational Intervention on Nurses’ and Patient Care Assistants' Comprehension and Documentation of Functional Ability in Pediatric Patients with Sickle Cell Disease. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 41, 117-122. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedn.2018.04.001

Jacqueline Kent-Marvick

Jacqueline Kent-Marvick

Title:  Predoctoral Student, College of Nursing, University of Utah

Research Focus: Understanding the role of loneliness in postpartum depression as it relates to infant caregiving in order to improve outcomes and transitions into motherhood.

Program of Research: Jacqueline is a first-year Ph.D. student in the College of Nursing. She is excited to be at the start of her life-long goal to become a social scientist in order to help people. Loneliness and its effects, both physiological and psychological, have been a driving interest in Jacqueline's independent studies. She is interested in gaining research skills that will help her to improve outcomes for new mothers and their infants, and is particularly interested in working with vulnerable and marginalized populations.

In her spare time, Jacqueline is an avid flower gardener, spending as many free hours as possible curating an eye-catching landscape that has all-season appeal. She enjoys long walks with her husband, their two children and standard poodle, and she is a film buff.

Faculty Advisor: Sara Simonsen, Ph.D. (Public Health), CNM, associate professor and Annette Cumming Endowed Chair in Women's and Reproductive Health, University of Utah College of Nursing

Ryoko Pentecost, MN, RN, CCRC

Ryoko Pentecost, MN, RN, CCRC

Title:  Predoctoral Fellow, College of Nursing, University of Utah

Research Focus: Explore the relationship between perinatal substance use and perinatal depression/anxiety and effectiveness of telehealth intervention among perinatal substance use women

Program of Research: Ryoko is a third-year PhD student in the College of Nursing. After she obtained her registered nurse license and worked as a psychiatric mental health nurse, her passion for conducting nursing research led her to work as an applied research coordinator at a local healthcare system. She supported the logistics and oversight of investigator-initiated studies and gained experiences with how healthcare system works together with local organizations to conduct research and improve health of the community.

Currently, Ryoko is working as a research assistant for Dr. Latendresse’s R01 funded study. The study evaluates the effectiveness of using a telehealth approach to reduce perinatal depressive symptoms in diverse groups of childbearing women. This experience has provided her insights and given her new skills sets in how to conduct research with the perinatal mental health population. She also has been conducted a scoping review to identify, evaluate, and report published literature regarding associations between perinatal substance use and perinatal depression and anxiety along with related maternal/newborn outcomes. This review also identified research gaps that inform the development of future studies intended to improve the care of childbearing women. The main focus of her dissertation will be to improve treatment adherence and increases access to perinatal substance use care using a telehealth approach, which also addresses comorbid psychiatric illness such as perinatal depression and prevents relapse during the postpartum period.

Ryoko enjoys travel, looking for interesting food and restaurants, and nature in Idaho. Her husband describes her as “constantly on the go”, as she is always looking for some fun things to do with her husband and two kids. She is originally from Japan and enjoys introducing Japanese culture in her local community through organizing cultural events.

Faculty Advisor: Gwen Latendresse, PhD, CNM, FACNM

Selected Publications:

Pentecost, R., Grassley, J. (2014). Adolescents’ needs for nurses’ support when initiating breastfeeding. Journal of Human Lactation, 30(2). 224-228. PMID: 24194610