Faculty honored for research

Faculty honored for research

Several Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing faculty and current and former students have received prestigious awards and grants from the Midwest Nursing Research Society (MNRS) in recognition of their contributions to nursing science.  

The awards, given at the MNRS annual conference in Minneapolis, Minn., held Feb. 28-March 2, 2024, recognized an up-and-coming faculty researcher, provided funding for studies being conducted by a postdoctoral researcher and PhD student, and honored faculty for two research projects. MNRS is a highly respected nursing organization that advances nursing science by connecting researchers throughout the region. 

Dean Lorna Finnegan said the MNRS awards highlight the successful expansion of Loyola Nursing’s research program, which has hired five tenure track faculty in last two years and is increasingly competitive for distinguished National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding.  

“These awards are an indication that we’re building our research program into something very special,” she added.  

One of those new faculty hires, Assistant Professor Ginger Schroers, received the MNRS Nursing Education RIIG (Research Interest and Implementation Group) Early Investigator Award in recognition of her growing body of research in nursing education.  

A 2020 graduate of Villanova University’s PhD in Nursing program, Schroers is leading a study to investigate deliberate practice of medication administration, handoff, and interruption management skills among pre-licensure nursing students. Deliberate practice is a teaching strategy that has received little attention in nursing.  

Her study has received grants from the National League for Nursing and the Illinois Nursing Foundation, and lays the groundwork for a future NIH grant application. 

Schroers has designed, conducted, and served as principal investigator on seven nursing research education studies and has published in several highly respected peer-reviewed journals.  

Professor Karen Saban, associate dean for research and scholarly innovation, wrote in her nomination letter that Schroers “has a very promising future research trajectory in nursing education...Dr. Schroers is one of the most motivated, hardworking early career faculty that I have had the pleasure to work with. She is exceptionally talented and I have no doubt that her work will significantly improve the education of nurses.”  

Two Loyola Nursing researchers who are being mentored by Saban received competitive MNRS grants.  

Postdoctoral researcher Sueyeon Lee received a $5,000 seed grant for her study examining the impact of race-based stress reduction on improving sleep and melatonin onset in Black women at risk for cardiometabolic disease. Her findings will contribute to the understanding of a promising intervention that could reduce the negative impact of race-related stress on sleep quality, while highlighting nursing’s critical role in collaborating with interdisciplinary teams to improve health care.  

PhD student Paula de la Pena received an MNRS/Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science Dissertation grant for her study evaluating symptom clusters in first-time ischemic stroke survivors, an area of research with significant potential impact for post-stroke nursing care.  

Two faculty received Distinguished Abstract awards: Assistant Professor Alexandra Nowak for her poster, “Preterm Birth in African American Women: A Multi-Omic Approach in Early Pregnancy”, and Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Inclusive Excellence Dian Squire (with Associate Professor Mary Byrn and Clinical Associate Professor Dina Tell) for their presentation, “Exploring the Relationship between Campus Climate and Undergraduate Nursing Student Perceived Academic Success.” 

Seven faculty were presenters at the conference: Schroers, Nowak, Squire, Byrn, Tell, Ann Solari-Twadell, and Lisa Burkhart. Lee, the postdoctoral researcher, also presented. 

Six students - one PhD, three Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), one Master of Science in Nursing, and one Bachelor of Science in Nursing - participated in student poster competitions. Amy Pasmann, a 2023 DNP graduate, won first place in the DNP student poster competition for her work, "A Nurse-led Nutritional Screening Process in Community Oncology."

Finnegan noted that the MNRS awards are a sign of Loyola Nursing’s growing strides in research. 

According to recent rankings released by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, Loyola Nursing ranks 49th nationally and second in Illinois among nursing schools that received prestigious National Institutes of Health funding in 2023. The new ranking is a jump of 41 spots from 2022.  

Last year, Meharvan Singh, Loyola’s vice provost for research, said Loyola Nursing had increased its research expenditures by 23 percent in four years.  

“Noting the tough climate for external funding, this trajectory of success is a testament to the competitive programs of research being established by the faculty and their research teams,” he said.