Woman and man standing in front of poster presentation
Ari August, a 2021 graduate from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Honors College, presented her senior thesis research project at the International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH) in San Diego, California with Allan Carlsen, director and co-founder of Healthcare Theatre.

February College of Health Sciences For the Record

March 03, 2024 Written by CHS Staff

For the Record provides information about recent professional activities and honors of University of Delaware faculty, staff, students and alumni.

Recent appointments, presentations, publications and honors in the College of Health Sciences include the following:


Margaret LaFashia, a College of Health Sciences alumna, has been included in Women We Admire’s Top 50 Women Leaders of Delaware for 2024. Seeking a career change, LaFashia graduated from UD’s School of Nursing in 2015. She now works as director of workforce partnership development for Nemours Children’s Health, where she leads efforts to diversify workforce pipelines in nursing. “This recognition is about my work; it’s vital work, and I hope it continues gaining traction,” LaFashia said. “I may not see the trend shift in my lifetime, but I’m hopeful we'll see a positive trend shift through the work we do at Nemours and the work of my alma mater.” 

Diane Vizthum, a nutrition science doctoral candidate, has been awarded the Emerging Researcher Grant from the Commission on Dietetic Registration through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation. The $10,000 award will support her dissertation on time restricted eating, a form of intermittent fasting, and its impacts on body composition, diet quality, and eating behavior in young women. Vizthum works closely with Carly Pacanowski, associate professor of health behavior and nutrition sciences in the College of Health Sciences. Together, they wrote a mixed-methods systematic review on time restricted eating that was published in April 2023 in the journal Appetite

Esther Biswas-Fiss, professor and chair of the Department of Medical and Molecular Sciences in the College of Health Sciences, was recognized by the Foundation Fighting Blindness on International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Feb. 11. The annual observance, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, promotes full and equal access and participation of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Biswas-Fiss, a first-generation college student, was also the first in her family to graduate from high school. She now guides the next generation of scientists seeking to make an impact in the field. The Foundation Fighting Blindness awarded Biswas-Fiss an Individual Investigator Research Award in June 2023 to study the ABCA4 gene and its thousands of genetic variants that are the leading cause of Stargardt disease, an inherited retinal disease often resulting in blindness. 

“Throughout my graduate and postdoctoral studies, I have met a lot of very powerful, strong, excellent women scientists who have made wonderful discoveries. There’s a wonderful opportunity for women in the field of vision research,” Biswas-Fiss said. I’m grateful to the Foundation Fighting Blindness for their generosity and for supporting our research with this prestigious award."

Darryl Conway, a College of Health Sciences alumnus, will be inducted into the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) 2024 Hall of Fame. Conway, who obtained his bachelor’s degree in physical education studies in 1993 and graduated Magna Cum Laude, has been in the athletic training field for 31 years. He’s been the executive senior associate athletic director and chief health and welfare officer for University of Michigan Athletics for over a decade. Conway also co-owns Sports Medicine Emergency Management, which offers continuing education and hands-on professional development opportunities and workshops for certified athletic trainers. Conway, who received UD’s Presidential Citation Award in 2012, is one of seven people being inducted into the NATA Hall of Fame this year. He joins the late Roy Rylander, founder of UD's athletic training program and head tennis coach, who was inducted into the NATA Hall of Fame in 1986. 

“I’m truly honored and humbled to receive this honor from the NATA and to join this prestigious group of athletic trainers as the 407th inductee and the ninth African American inductee in NATA history,” Conway said. “The University of Delaware is a special place, and I will always cherish my time in Newark as a student and staff member in Athletics. I am forever grateful for the education and experiences I gained during my time and the many incredible people I had the privilege to learn and work with over the years, who I still consider dear friends to this date.”

Heather Milea, family nurse practitioner and adult-gerontology acute care practitioner, received a 2024 State Award for Excellence in the Nurse Practitioner category from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. As part of the Partnership for Healthy Communities, she serves as clinical lead for the HEALTH for All program, their mobile health van providing place-based care throughout New Castle County communities in partnership with 20 local agencies. Through this service, Milea provides health screenings and primary care visits for marginalized patients in places that are convenient for them – such as libraries, food pantries, and their workplace. Additionally, she aids in providing direct clinical experience to students in various disciplines across the university. Milea is also a family nurse practitioner at the University of Delaware Nurse Managed Primary Care Center located at the UD STAR Complex. Milea will be honored for her award at the 2024 AANP National Conference in Nashville on June 25 through 30.

“Heather joined us in January 2021,” said Christine Sowinski, Program Coordinator for the HEALTH for All program. “She’s been extremely compassionate to individual needs, helping to build trust in our mission and maximize impact as we aid these communities with our local partners.”

“This is about the students and community members we give back to at UD,” said Milea. “It’s especially important that we provide for those who are under-resourced, so they can maintain healthy lives.”

Joanna Hoh and Kate Kasemen, both doctoral students in the Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology, were awarded fellowships from the American Heart Association. Hoh’s research project with Jennifer Semrau, assistant professor, is titled “Understanding the Contributions of Proprioceptive Impairment on Arm Capacity and Real-World Performance After Stroke.” Considering how nearly half of all stroke survivors have issues with a limb following recovery, Hoh will be conducting measurements to determine how these deficits may affect a stroke survivor's performance in everyday life. Kasemen’s project, “The Role of Sex and Age on Intestinal Permeability and Endothelial Function,” is supervised by faculty advisor Shannon Lennon, professor. Her research will explore the relationship between the gut and vascular function using biomarkers for gut permeability as well as factoring in age and sex, with a long-term goal of understanding ways to protect vascular function in women as they grow older. 

The book titled Adverse Childhood Experiences, The Neuroscience of Trauma, Resilience and Healing throughout the Life Course, written by Kathleen Brewer-Smyth, associate professor in the School of Nursing, was first to receive four Book of the Year awards from the American Journal of Nursing since it began recognizing quality healthcare publications in 1969. The book was honored with first place in the categories of Community/Home Health, Creative Works, and Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing, as well as third place in the Consumer Health category. It serves as a resource to promote optimal brain function for all and can be utilized by healthcare providers, schoolteachers, public safety professionals, foster parents, and even loved ones to understand the long-term impact of adverse childhood experiences on trauma survivors. "With the astronomical rates of cognitive decline that are projected over the next few decades, this book provides critical information for everyone to promote healthier brain function and to prevent or slow potential decline, especially for those after trauma and other adversities who are at greater risk," explained Brewer-Smyth.


Ari August, a 2021 graduate from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Honors College, presented her senior thesis research project at the International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH) in San Diego, California, as well as a research symposium at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. Her research, titled “Credits Where They’re Due: A Qualitative Study of Motivation in a Novel Standardized Patient Program,” analyzes the impact of appropriate compensation for Standardized Patients (SPs) and how this influences the success of SP programs by strengthening motivation, professionalism, and performance quality. The results highlighted UD's Healthcare Theatre program's provision of university course credits to its SPs through a structured curriculum which not only provides necessary communication skills for a successful career, but also accelerates their professional progress. This structure of SP compensation has been successful in creating highly motivated SPs who strive for excellence and contributes to a reduction in issues of SP professionalism that threaten the stability of SP programs. 

“Simulated programs can be expensive, so it was important for us to understand how students are motivated,” August said. “Healthcare Theatre has impacted my personal goals by teaching me to effectively communicate feedback, approach uncomfortable topics, and develop the confidence to handle situations in the field to improve health outcomes for patients.”



Jennifer Horney, professor and founding director of the Epidemiology Program in the College of Health Sciences, has been appointed to the planning committee for the Communities, Climate Change, and Health Equity Workshop Series: Exploring Flood Adaptation Strategies to Support Health Equities. The committee is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Environmental Health Matters Initiative, which provides leadership on challenges in environmental health to improve health for all equitably. “These workshops bring together practitioners and researchers to hear directly from communities about their knowledge," Horney said. "These ideas can facilitate collaborations to design better solutions to the public health consequences of climate change."

To submit information for inclusion in For the Record, write to ocm@udel.edu and include “For the Record” in the subject line.

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