PhD in Health Sciences Cohort

Newest Students 2018

The Ph.D. in Health Sciences program began its fourth cohort on August 17, 2018 at NIU's Hoffman Estates Campus.

Fourteen students and several faculty from fields across the College of Health and Human Sciences kicked off the evening with a dinner and a reception.

NIU Vice President for Research and Innovation Partnerships, Dr. Gerald Blazey, welcomed the students and Dr. Mark Kuczewski delivered the evening's keynote address.

Current Students

Get more information and view member biographies from previous year cohorts


The 2018 cohort at the August Ph.D. in Health Sciences event

Newest Student Biographies 2018

Hannah Barden

Most recent degree(s): Master’s in Bioethics and Health Policy

Current professional position: Neuromodulation Clinical Specialist for Boston Scientific 

Research goals: Effects of stimulation on chronic pain and addiction patients

Faculty advisor: Dr. Matt Sprong

Neil Benedict

Most recent degree(s): MS in analytics, University of Chicago

Current professional position: Risk Consultant

Research goals: Military Readiness

Faculty advisor: Dr. Kathryn Mazurek

Dustin Cox

Most recent degree(s): Doctor of Physical Therapy 

Current professional position: Master of Science in Occupational Therapy Associate Professor at Cox College in Springfield, MO

Research goals: Investigating how a combination of evidence-based practice interventions such as cognitive strategies, behavior strategies, and education would impact patients’ perceived pain compared to traditional medical interventions of pain management.  

Faculty advisor: Dr. Daniel Boutin

Lee Dal Pra

Most recent degree(s): Master of Arts, University of Chicago

Current professional position: Director of Child Programs at Compass Health Center & Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Chicago

Research goals: I am interested in the relationship between compassion fatigue and physical health for providers working with children and adolescents endorsing a history of trauma.

Faculty advisor: Dr. Thomas Pavkov

Amber Davis

Most recent degree(s): Master of Science- Nursing Education, Lewis University

Current professional position: RN-BS Nursing Degree-Completion Coordinator

Research goals: Evaluate the impact that professional care giver role-strain has on academic success and create innovative ways to alleviate barriers health-care providers face when pursuing advanced education 

Faculty advisors: Dr. Maryann Abendroth

Jerian Dixon-Evans

Most recent degree(s): Master of Science Health Administration, University of St. Francis

Current professional position: Research Administrator- Clinical Trials Unit

Research goals: To develop strategies to increase minority enrollment in clinical trials and investigate the health disparities amongst African American women who are diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

Faculty advisor: Dr. Laura Beamer

Eileen Lindemann

Most recent degree(s): Master of Science Applied Nutrition, The Sage Graduate School, Troy, NY

Current professional position: Adjunct Instructor, Nutrition Sciences Department, The Sage Colleges, Troy, NY

Research goals: Communication between healthcare providers, people with serious illnesses, and their loved ones from the patient’s perspective. What are the patient’s perceived communication needs and what barriers and facilitators to communication exist? My goal is to use this research to develop educational and supportive tools for patients in order to facilitate their conversations with their healthcare providers and loved ones.

Faculty advisor:  Dr. Maryann Abendroth

Lisa Moloney

Most recent degree(s): Master of Science-Nutrition

Current professional position: Nutrition Researcher

Research goals: Evaluate methods to promote behavior change, specifically uptake and implementation of evidence-based practice by health care professionals.  Determine the appropriate study design, interventions, and reliable measure for behavior change.  Furthermore, determine if implementation of evidence-based practice recommendations results in improved health outcomes.   

Faculty advisor: Dr. Beverly Henry

Hira Paulin

Most recent degree(s): Master of Education in Rehabilitation Counseling with a concentration in Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Substance Abuse Counseling from Springfield College, Springfield MA

Current professional position: Adjunct Faculty/National Science Foundation Grant Specialist, National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology

Research goals: Investigate the effects of hearing loss on the veteran transition process into the civilian workforce, educational environments and society. Analyze the implications for enhanced interdisciplinary support of veterans with hearing loss through inter-agency partnerships as well as within single institutions.

Faculty advisor:  Dr. Daniel Boutin

Marisol Perez

Most recent degree(s): Master of Health Science in Communication Disorders from Governors State University

Current professional position: Speech-Language Pathologist

Research goals: To explore the bilingual parents' perception of their children's speech-language therapy program.

Faculty advisor:  Dr. Danai Fannin

Roy Valenzuela

Most recent degree(s): M.S in Gerontology from Kansas State University

Current professional position: Medical Technician for U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command

Research goals: Further investigate the effectiveness of a community-based comprehensive fitness program on older adults living along the U.S/ Mexico border who are at a higher risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes, COPD, and Obesity.

Faculty advisor: Dr. Arlene Keddie

Catherina Walker

Most recent degree(s): Master of Public Health with a concentration in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Current professional position: Active Duty US Public Health Service Nurse, HRSA, Regional Supervisor

Research goals: Evaluating non-diet approaches to reduce obesity in low-income pediatric populations that support positive self-esteem and lifestyle changes.

Faculty advisor: Dr. Josephine Umoren

Jennifer Waters

Most recent degree(s): Master of Science, Clinical Nutrition

Current professional position: Manager, Clinical Nutrition at Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora, IL

Research goals: Curricular innovations to develop or maintain an effective workforce. 

Faculty advisor: Dr. Amanda McCarthy

Jamie Way

Most recent degree(s): Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Bradley University

Current professional position: Assistant Professor at Bradley University

Research goals: We have a pro bono clinic on our campus that I would like to conduct research looking at patient functional measurements before and after the 10 week program as well as looking at depression and fatigue of the caregiver and does that improve as the patient improves.

Faculty advisor: Dr. MJ Blaschak