Meet Our PhD Students
Toqa Alanbry, MSN, BSN, RN, is a full-time nursing PhD student who is from Saudi Arabia. She earned her BSN degree from Umm AlQura University, Saudi Arabia, and her MSN in Child Health and Wellbeing from Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, Ireland. She is a faculty member in the nursing school at Umm AlQura University, Saudi Arabia. She taught pediatric nursing classes for almost three years. She has experience working as a registered nurse in the Children's Hospital. Her research interest is child mental health, as well as holistic health, which examines integrative approaches to health promotion and healing. After graduation, she will work at Umm al-Qura University as a faculty member, teaching in the BSN, MSN, and PhD programs as well as creating, implementing and evaluating program curricula and mentoring nursing students. Furthermore, she hopes to continue working as a nurse researcher in the Children's Hospital.
Natalie Bermudez, MSNed, RN, PCCN, is a third-year part-time PhD student. Her current area of research interest is related to morality, moral agency, and autonomy in decision-making of the direct care nurse. She has been a registered nurse for 16 years and is currently employed as the Lead Clinical Nurse Educator at Bethesda Hospital East. As a PhD student, she is looking forward to becoming an effective researcher, but her greatest passion is for teaching her nurse colleagues. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, Iota Xi Chapter, and is a Regional Chapter Advisor for the State of Florida for the American Association for Critical Care Nurses (AACN). Most recently, she has become a member of the American Nurses Association in an effort to become more involved in nursing politics, policy-making, and ethics.
Marlene Brennen, DNP, FNP-BC, PMNP-BC, APRN is an Assistant Professor at Florida Atlantic University, Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing (FAU CON) where she teaches on both the graduate and undergraduate levels. She began her nursing career in New York City practicing medical/surgical nursing, and then late pediatric nursing. She later practiced as an advanced registered nurse practitioner in primary care, and now in psychiatric mental health on a part-time basis. Dr. Brennen obtained her Associate Degree in nursing from SUNY in Morrisville and a Bachelor of Science in nursing from SUC Utica/Rome. She received a Master of Science degree in Nursing from the Pennsylvania State University where the topic of her thesis was: the relationship of health care behaviors, health perception, and the use of health care service of urban African Americans. In 2012 she completed the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at Florida Atlantic University, where the topic of her quality improvement project was the lifestyle management of African American women with hypertension. Dr. Brennen was fortunate to attend the Summer Genetic Institute (SGI) at the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) in 2016. The SGI is an intensive month of education and laboratory training on genetics and genomics. Dr. Brennen is an active member of the Florida Nurses Association, the Association of Black Nursing Faculty (ABNF), and the International Society of Nurses in Genetics. She has presented posters at the Southern Nursing Research Society and the Renfrew Center conferences. She has done both podium and poster presentations at ABNF conferences. Her phenomenon of interest for her PhD research is stress-driven epigenomics among African American pregnant women
Raquel Brown is a PhD student at the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, Florida Atlantic University where she is also a teaching assistant and clinical instructor. She earned her diploma in nursing at the University Hospital of the West Indies School of Nursing. After further studies and working in diverse settings she went on to earn her Master of Science in Nursing with a major in education. She feels privileged to have had her Master’s thesis published in The Jamaican Nurse, the journal of the Jamaican Nurses Association.
As a PhD student she has worked with experienced researchers as she engaged in directed independent studies. She participated in a federally funded study with older adults collecting and entering data. In 2014 she was a recipient of the Gertrude E. Skelly Foundation stipend as well as the Cross Country scholarship. In 2016 she received the Jonas Scholarship.
Raquel appreciates being mentored by scholars who live caring. She looks forward to influencing nursing as much as she herself has been influenced. As a nurse scholar she proposes to explore factors contributing to the decision to use herbal modalities in the Caribbean-American population in South Florida.
Kathleen Cappo MSN, RN, CNE is PhD student at Florida Atlantic University since 2014. She started out as a medical assistant right of high school 1981 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, then LPN in 1988, practicing mainly in medical offices in Boca Raton where her love of the older adult sparked. After moving to Avon Park, Florida she earned her Associate Degree in Nursing at South Florida Community College in 1999. Continuing explore her passion for the older adult working in step down rehab center. She completed a bridge program ADN to Masters in Nursing Science and Bachelors in Nursing 2006 at the University of South Florida. While working on her Masters she accepted a position as a full time nursing faculty at South Florida State College in Avon Park, Florida in 2003, finding a second love, nursing education. Since then taught undergraduate programs such as Practical Nursing, Associate Degree Program and currently in a new cohort of RN-BSN Nursing Program since 2015. She obtained the Certificate of Nursing Education in 2012. She was the recipient of the Endowed Chair 2012 from South Florida State College for her work in competency tracking. Kathleen’s interest in research focus is the community-dwelling older adults and their experiences with others through meaningful engagements to co-create a sense of belonging and wellness. She knows her passion for Caring Science and Gerotranscendence will guide her dissertation research focus. She believes Florida Atlantic University is the best fit for her to be successful, guided by the Dance of Caring. She is dedicated in her studies and the work to advance Caring Science and was honored to have attended Ann Boykin Institute Summer Academy for Caring Science for the past two years.
Katherine Chadwell, DNP, ARNP, GNP-BC, GCNS, CPHQ is an Associate Professor and teaches both at the graduate and undergraduate level. She is trained in primary care, acute care, and long term care as a geriatric NP/CNS. During her tenure in clinical practice, she worked in the intensive care unit, served as the clinical specialist for an open heart surgery program, and practiced as a CNS/ARNP at a local hospital, where she worked on improving quality of care and clinical nursing practice, particularly around the care of older adults. Her research focuses on safer sexual practices related to HIV, STD’s, substance abuse, and hepatitis. Dr. Chadwell has been funded by SAMHSA and OHAIDP and served as the project director for a successful HIV prevention program on a college campus. In addition, she is the President of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, Broward County Chapter and is recognized by both Sigma Theta Tau International and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. As a PhD student her research interest is focused on genomic and epigenetic factors in postmenopausal women that may contribute to neurocognitive decline and aging.
Lea Crestodina is the Clinical Manager for wound care at Memorial Regional Hospital. She is an Advanced Practice Certified Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurse and a Certified Diabetes Educator. Experienced in acute care, home care, outpatient care, education, and long term care. Her nursing career has spanned 30 years. Lea began as an ADN graduate from Broward Community College (now Broward College), attained her BSN from FIU and her Master’s degree from FAU. Currently, Lea is a PhD student. Her employers have included the North Broward Hospital District (now Broward Health), Emory University, and the Memorial Health Care System.
Lea is a member of the American Association of Diabetes Educators, the Wound, Ostomy, & Continence Nurse’s Society. She has served as the chair of the Exam Committee of the Wound, Ostomy & Continence Nursing Certification Board. She is currently a member of the Guidelines Taskforce for WOCN. This task force has recently updated the Guidelines for Pressure Ulcer (Injury) Prevention and Treatment. These guidelines were accepted by the AHRQ’s National Guideline Clearinghouse.
Lea’s research interests include perfusion and pressure injury development, health liminality during the first 6 months following ostomy surgery and compliance with diabetic regimens.
Willa Fuller currently serves as the Executive Director of the Florida Nurses Association. Her clinical background is in medical-surgical nursing, working in the specialty areas of Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Otorhinolaryngology, Gerontology and Woman’s Health. She has served as both a staff nurse and a clinical educator covering several units. While in the clinical educator role, she developed programs on culturally-sensitive care, nurse-physician communication and care of infants exposed to substance abuse. More recently she served on the Attorney General’s Task Force on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome representing the Florida Nurses Association. Her professional interests include educating and mentoring nurses on health policy and advocacy in regard to both patients and the profession. Her research interest is incivility in nursing and its effect on quality and safety in patient care. The caring philosophy of the College of Nursing at FAU is the perfect environment to explore these topics.
Angelica C. Hernandez
Angelica C. Hernandez is a nursing PhD student. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Far Eastern University-Manila, Philippines in 2009 and her Master’s Degree in Nursing with an emphasis in Nursing Education from Grand Canyon University-Phoenix, Arizona in 2014.
Angelica has been a registered nurse for more than 7 years. Her clinical expertise focuses on cardiovascular critical care nursing and renal replacement therapy. She is currently employed as a full-time nursing faculty in Keiser University-Miami Campus and as a CVICU nurse (per diem) in Broward Health Medical Center. As a PhD student, Angelica’s research focus is to investigate the patients’ perception of quality caring in a critical care setting across different cultures. Angelica is looking forward to become a nurse scientist, but her greatest passion is honing and teaching nursing students, for them to become a safe and effective nurses.
Angelica is a member of American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), National League of Nursing, Graduate Professional Student Association in Florida Atlantic University, Policy and Procedure Committee of Keiser University-Miami Campus, Nursing Pharmacology Committee of Keiser University-Miami Campus, Course Coordinator of Advanced Adult Health and a Course Coordinator of Nursing Pharmacology in Keiser University-Miami Campus.
Kelley Jackson, MSN, ARNP, began her Ph.D. in fall 2016 at Florida Atlantic University. She graduated from Michigan State University with her bachelor’s (1996) and master’s (2002) degrees in nursing; and she is a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner, practicing nursing for over 20 years. She has held clinical, educational, and pharmaceutical positions with a focus on Cardiology, Pulmonology, and Cosmetic Surgery. Currently, she works for UnitedHealthcare serving two national accounts as their corporate wellness nurse liaison. She connects employees to the tools and resources available for preventive care and chronic condition management. In addition, she leads a network of national wellness champions toward creating a culture of health and wellness in the workplace. Kelley is an active member of the South Florida Council of Advanced Practice Nurses, Sigma Theta Tau, Southern Nursing Research Society, and the American Heart Association’s Circle of Red for Broward County. In 2016, she received the Florida Atlantic University’s Provost Fellowship Scholarship, and the Barbara Lumpkin Scholarship. During her undergraduate and graduate studies, she received Michigan State University’s Nursing Scholarship, and the Borgess Medical Center’s Service League Scholarship. Kelley’s phenomenon of interest is studying the positive impacts of nutrition for health promotion and disease management.
Ayse Malatyali Kaltsas is a third year BSN to PhD student with a research focus in epigenetics of cognition and aging. Her 25 years of work experience covers various healthcare settings including general surgery, neonatal intensive care, staff development, project management and healthcare finance. She earned her BSN degree from Istanbul University, Florence Nightingale College of Nursing, and her MBA degree from Florida Atlantic University, College of Business.
Ayse has been awarded the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare Scholarship, Florida Nurses Foundation Award and Helen Schoeff Nursing Scholarship. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International-Chapter Iota Xi, Southern Nursing Research Society, International Association for Human Caring, Florida Nurses Association and Medical Reserve Corps of Palm Beach County.
Laurie Martinez is a full-time PhD student and teaching assistant at the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University. She started out as a radiographer and later earned her BSN at the University of Saint Joseph in Connecticut. After moving to Maryland, she earned dual Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Business Administration (MSN/MBA) degrees at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School. She is currently the administrator of a thriving radiology practice in South Florida.
Laurie’s research interest involves adolescents with food allergies and food sensitivities – the stigma that comes with them and developing stigma resilience. Outside of school and work, Laurie loves spending time with her family, being outdoors, and running marathons.
Marla Mygatt RN, MSN started in the PhD program January 2018. She received her BSN degree from the University of Vermont in 1988, and her MSN in Nursing Education in 2014. Her nursing career began in 1988 at the Drucker Brain Injury Center in Philadelphia, as a charge nurse. It was this experience, at the start of her career that grounded her in the foundational framework of Caring. Most of her career was spent in the Northeast, as a Head Injury Case Manager, Patient Care Coordinator, Assessment Nurse, Clinical Consultant, Hospital Account Executive and most recently Associate Director of Medical Affairs for Merck. Her experience is anchored in solid knowledge in head trauma, wound care, infectious disease and prevention and wellness with a focus on population health and implementation science. Her Master’s program concentrated on youth-based initiatives, where she developed nutrition education plans and implemented these programs at the elementary school level. While in the program she earned her EMT certification and school nurse certification for the state of New Jersey. These interactions, her passion for public health, and desire to work with adolescents and young adults, led Marla to pursue her PhD. Her current research interests include adolescents/young adults, and at-risk populations, researching the benefits of animal assisted interventions in those suffering from toxic stress. Marla is a current member of Sigma Theta Tau International, Iota Xi chapter at FAU. She is also an ACE certified Health Coach. She enjoys time with her family, and living a healthy, balanced and active life.
Misa Nagata, RN, HNP, MA, APHN-BC, CCRN, is a holistic and integrative nurse practitioner in private practice and a surgical/trauma level-one critical care nurse in New York City. She is a graduate of New York University in both bachelor and master’s degrees, originally enrolled as an internationally transferred student from Tokyo, Japan. Since graduation, she has been certified in the following areas: CCRN (adult acute and critical care nursing) from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, AHN-BC (board-certified advanced holistic nurse) and APHN-BC (board-certified advanced practice holistic nurse) from the American Holistic Nurses Association for almost a decade. She is enrolled as a full-time PhD student at FAU, and she received a Presidential Fellowship Award in fall 2015. Her research focus on dichotomous holistic-and-critical nursing experiences has now mutually developed into a concept, nature immersion. Growing up in her parents’ organic garden in Tokyo influenced her lifelong curiosity about human lived experiences in immersing with nature in urban areas. Her research area of interest in nature immersion includes: the impacts of urban farming, gardening, canine visitation, forest bathing and basking on human adults and children’s health, healing, and well-being.
Elizabeth Olafson, MSN, MSEd, RN, is currently the Director of Clinical Education and an Assistant Clinical Professor at Florida International University’s Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences. Elizabeth has over thirty years of experience in nursing practice including clinical, educational, and administrative roles. She earned her BSN and MSEd from the University of Miami and her MS in Nursing Education from Florida Atlantic University. Her research interest is in end of life caregivers focusing currently on parental decision making for their children who have been referred to pediatric palliative care. She has received $1,250 in grant funding from the Florida Nurses Foundation for her dissertation work in pediatric palliative care and is currently conducting her research. Elizabeth Olafson is affiliated with The American Nurses Association, The Florida Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International, Southern Nursing Research Society, and The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses.
Suzanne Pinos has been an instructor in the nursing department at Palm Beach State College for over a year, managing the Patient Care Assistant Program, as well as teaching simulation with nursing students. She worked as a Telemetry Nurse at West Boca Medical Center prior to her teaching career at Palm Beach State. Before discovering her passion for nursing, Suzanne pursued her first degree in accounting, and worked in the financial/business sectors. Dissatisfied with her career, she decided to return to her first love, helping others, and returned to school for a degree in Nursing. A huge proponent of education, Suzanne earned her Master’s degree in Nursing Education in December 2016 at Florida Atlantic University, and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Nursing. While earning her graduate degree, she worked as a Research Assistant and held an integral role in several research projects. She is a co-author to an article published in the October 2016 issue of Psychiatric Nursing, entitled: “Stress in persons with dementia: benefits of a memory center day program”. Currently, Suzanne is sitting as interim president of the newly established Palm Beach County chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN).
Bandana Neupane Poudel is an International student from Nepal. She is in her second year in the BSN to PHD program. Bandana is also doing a research assistantship at the College of Nursing. Bandana did her BSN at B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Nepal. After her BSN, she taught in the Manipal College of Medical Sciences Nursing Program for about three and half years. She taught Fundamentals of Nursing, Maternal Health Nursing and Integrated Science to Proficiency Certificate Level and BSN students. Bandana also guided and supervised the students in medical-surgical units, orthopedic units and community field postings. She also has one year of experience of wardenship in the nursing hostel of Maipal College of Medical Sciences.
Bandana has a passion for teaching. After graduation, she is planning to pursue a career as a nursing faculty and a researcher in the States. She has experience working on various federally-funded research projects, manipulating databases, conducting univariate and multivariate analyses and creating interpretation with APA formatted tables. Her current research focuses primarily on exploration of the lived experience of older adults from remote areas on their socio-economic and emotional aging with the investigation of cause-effect-relationships influencing our perceptions and our well-being.
Seana Reid entered into Florida Atlantic University’s PhD in Nursing Program Fall of 2016. She is from Jamaica and was raised in Toronto, Canada. Seana graduated Summa Cum Laude from Barry University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science Nursing Program, obtained her Master’s degree at Florida International University and has 15 years of nursing experience in CVICU and Cardiac Cath. Lab.
Seana continues her love of education in one of Florida’s hospital corporations. She is the Division Educator and manages programs and training tools for hospitals within the Broward Market. She recently organized a “Day of Learning Symposium” for 2017. Prior to this, Seana was the Sepsis Program Coordinator. This role allowed her to stay current within the clinical and administrative sector.
Seana aspires to become a researcher and educator, giving back to the nursing community. Her focus is the Changing Environment of Healthcare, as it relates to technological advancements and redefining care. Technology is a constantly evolving part of patient care. Seana participated in a pilot program at one S. Florida’s hospital as they prepared for a new patient monitoring system. The perceptions of staff and patients from the preliminary introductions to its full integration peaked her interest.
Mercedes (Mercy) Rodriguez, RN, MSN, earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in 1984, and her Masters of Science in Nursing Education in 1995, from Barry University in Miami, Florida. Early in her career, she worked as a staff nurse and an Associate Nurse Manager in behavioral health. In 1990, she joined Jackson Health System (JHS) in Miami, Florida in the role of Clinical Educator for Mental Health Services. In 1993, she transferred to the Education & Development Department. Over the last twenty seven years she has built a career in education at JHS. She served as the Interim Associate Director of Education and is currently in a Nurse Educator role. She is the coordinator of the RN Medical-Surgical Internship program.
Mercy has a passion for creativity and teaching. She co-developed and coordinated the education initiative for Relationship-Based Care and the integration of Madeleine Leininger’s Theory of Cultural Care Diversity and Universality at JHS. Mercy is presently pursuing her research interests in exploring the stories and health challenges of Cuban refugees over decades. She recently had an article entitled “Patterns of Bedtime Preparation for In- Patients with Schizophrenia: A Pilot Study” accepted for publication in Archives of Psychiatric Nursing.
Armiel Suriaga is currently a PhD in nursing student at Florida Atlantic University. He has twenty-five years of nursing experience in rehabilitation nursing, long-term care with focus on Minimum Data Set and Medicare reimbursement, clinical and nursing education. He worked as Resident Assessment Director at Nu Vista Living in Wellington. At present, he is a clinical instructor at Palm Beach State College and faculty per diem at Bethesda College of Health Sciences. His passion for teaching ranks second to none, where he teaches Medical-Surgical Nursing, Pharmacology, Psychiatric Mental Health and Fundamentals of Nursing in some nursing schools in Palm Beach County. He also taught NCLEX-RN in one review center in the Philippines.
Armiel graduated as high school class valedictorian, and he pursued his nursing education through scholarships. In 1992, he received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing with honors at West Visayas State University, a top performing nursing school in the Philippines. He completed his MSN at Walden University, major in Nursing Informatics in 2014.
Armiel is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, Iota XI chapter at FAU. His research interests include transforming healthcare environment and healthy aging. Among his self-care approaches are traveling, going to the gym, reading and gardening.
Cheryl Wallin, MSN, RN, NE-BC, is a registered nurse with a Master’s Degree in Nursing Administration and Financial Leadership and a bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University. Ms. Wallin has been a nurse for more than 30 years working in medical units, cardiac and new born intensive care unit as well as pediatric home health and public health. Currently Ms. Wallin is the Executive Nursing Director of Children’s Medical Services Southeast Region, Department of Health providing care coordination and specialty clinic services to children with chronic special healthcare needs across 6 counties. Ms. Wallin is board certified as a Nurse Executive through the American Nurses Association. Ms. Wallin is co-founder of TuJJe Ministries, Inc. a non-profit NGO providing a clinic and a community health leader program in Uganda.
Ms. Wallin is a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society and Sigma Theta Tau International Iota Xi Chapter. She presented her qualitative pilot study, Barriers to Mosquito Net Use in an Underserved Population in Uganda, Africa at the STTI 27th International Research Conference in South Africa, July 2016. Ms. Wallin is currently a PhD student and her areas of interest are global health and cultural humility.