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2021 Research Summit Participants

NANN's Research Summit allows neonatal nurses currently engaged in research or evidence-based practice projects the opportunity to present their research or projects to an audience of their peers.

Learn more about the Research Summit

2021 Research Summit Faculty

Amy D'Agata, PhD RN

Associate Professor, University of Rhode Island College of Nursing

Amy has over 20 years of nursing experience. Her undergraduate degree was earned from the University of Saint Joseph and master's degree from the University of Connecticut. She practiced for a number of years as a bedside NICU nurse in Connecticut before enjoying other roles as a nurse manager and within the industry as a clinical consultant. Amy returned to clinical practice as a NICU staff nurse to reconnect with caring for vulnerable infants and their families. Recognizing the immense stress and pain experienced by NICU infants, she became inspired to conduct research focused on improving both outcomes for these patients and their families. Her doctoral dissertation at the University of Connecticut was titled "Infant Exposure to Potentially Traumatic Events in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit". This study provided the foundation for future work investigating neurodevelopmental associations with stress, pain and parent-infant separation experiences in the NICU, all of which have the potential for long-term consequences. Amy believes the NICU experience has the potential to be traumatic for some infants and has described the context for this in Infant Medical Trauma in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (IMTN): A Proposed Concept for Science and Practice. During a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of South Florida, Amy studied the implications of NICU stress exposure on the developing gut microbiome. She also examined NICU stress exposure and skin cortisol. Each of her bench science investigations have been aimed at improving our understanding of molecular impacts from early life stress exposure. As faculty at the University of Rhode Island, Amy has pivoted her research towards adult survivors of preterm birth. In the only U.S.-based longitudinal study of adults born preterm, Amy is an NIH R01 co-investigator helping to examine allostatic load and epigenetic markers, physical and psychological health, adaptive and executive function, work, and social competence in the 10th study wave.

Christine Fortney, PhD RN

Associate Professor, The Ohio State University College of Nursing

Dr. Christine "Chris" Fortney is an assistant professor in the Martha S. Pitzer Center for Women, Children, and Youth at The Ohio State University College of Nursing. Dr. Fortney has built a program of research based on the study of the experiences of critically-ill infants in the NICU and their families. Through the use of descriptive data, behavioral observations, and qualitative interviews, she has highlighted the trajectories of symptoms and suffering, as well as how perceptions of symptoms and suffering influence decision-making and changes in goals of care for both infants and their parents. She has also highlighted challenges to the identification and management of symptoms in critically-ill infants in the NICU, developed a framework to evaluate the quality of neonatal death, and published patient-reported symptom data in this population.

Jacqueline McGrath, PhD RN FNAP FAAN

Professor and Vice Dean for Faculty Excellence, University of Texas Health, San Antonio, School of Nursing

My background of 30+ years in neonatal/pediatric nursing with 20+ years research experience has centered around care of infants and families with a focus on integration of neuroprotective developmentally supportive interventions during hospitalization in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Neuroprotective strategies include environmental facilitation (sound and light), handing, pain management, integration of family centered care interventions during caregiving and feeding. During my studies at the University of Pennsylvania, I was the project director for two large NIH funded studies (RO1-NR02093) related to understanding the neurologic organization of preterm infant sucking and oral feeding. Coupled with this experience and my clinical expertise in the NICU, I developed and psychometrically tested the Feeding Readiness and Progression in Preterms Scale (FRAPPS) (R15 NR09235); to predict initiation and progression of preterm infant oral feedings. Ongoing work with FRAPPS includes: additional reliability and validity; further refinement of physiologic/neurobehavioral feeding variables; and, increased potential to precisely identify infants feeding readiness.

Furthermore, I am an expert in family-centered developmental care of newborns, infants and their families. Given this expertise, I coordinator development of the Neonatal Developmental Specialist Designation for the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN). I am the Co-Editor of Developmental Care for Infants and Newborns: A Guide for Health Professionals, 2nd(ed.) (2010). The third edition is in development. I am also the Co-Editor for the NANN Journal, Advances in Neonatal Care. My research related to parent delivered touch and handling is providing direction for positive interventions with high-risk infants in the NICU that could be important to decreasing the long-lasting effects of early life experiences. Generally speaking, pain and stress are iatrogenic to NICU healing and management that needs to occur yet, understanding how we facilitate the development of neuro receptors for more positive stimuli in an attempt to better support the long term neurodevelopment of vulnerable preterm infants is an area where much work is still needed. Next steps include examining genetic phenotypes that might predict how preterm infants might respond to both stressful and more positive stimuli during early life experiences in the NICU. Most recently our team has worked to better understand strategies that increase parent engagement for all high-risk infants that must traverse the noxious environment of the NICU.

I successfully supported three F31 recipients Drs. Brenda Baker (VCU), Sheila Gephart (UofA), and Emily Tuthill (UConn)as well as 13 others PhD graduates. I also supported two post-doctoral students (Drs. Carrie Ellen Briere, & Ruth Lucas) who both received external funding for their research trajectories under my guidance as well as 15 undergraduate nursing students who each completed studies funded through university awards. Dissemination of their work was supported through development of posters, presentations and publications. Throughout my career I have been very prolific with 130+ peer review articles (half where I am first or senior author). I have also published 100+ editorials, columns, and abstracts as well as 35+ book chapters. Many publications include mentorship of the next generation of nurse scholars.

2021 Research Summit: Group A

Jacqueline McGrath, PhD RN FNAP FAAN

Group Leader

Stephanie Abbu, DNP RN CNML

Peer-to-Peer Mentoring

Adwoa Gyamfi, MPH RN

Meta-ethnography of the Breastfeeding Support of African American Women in the United States

Valérie Lebel, RN PhD

The Development of Father-infant Emotional Closeness in a NICU Context

2021 Research Summit: Group B

Christine Fortney, PhD RN

Group Leader

Amanda Dear, BSN-RN RNC-NIC

Developmentally Supportive Care During Phototherapy for Neonates <30 Weeks

Hannah Fluhler, BS RN

Outcomes of a Movement-and-Music Intervention for Hospitalized Infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome: A Pilot Study

Barbara ORourke, RN

The Neuroprotection of Oral Enjoyment by Offering Milk Drops

Victoria Vykol, MS RN

Improving Consistency in the Use of Sucrose with Comfort Measures During Minor Painful Procedures

2021 Research Summit: Group C

Amy D'Agata, PhD RN

Group Leader

Jessica Adrian, BSN RN CCRN

Implementation and Evaluation of a Rapid Sequence Intubation Protocol in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Alex Flanigan, RN BSN

Improving Oxygen Saturation Compliance in the NICU

Beth Huizinga, MSN RNC-NIC

Skin Injury Prevention in NICU Patients Receiving Non-Invasive Ventilation

Rosa Mathis-Brito, DNP APRN NNP-BC

Safe Sleep Practices in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: An Evidence-Based Quality Improvement Initiative