Current PhD Students
Students in the PhD in Nursing & Health Science program are licensed clinical health care professionals from a variety of disciplines, including nursing and social work. They work closely with School of Nursing research faculty in a meaningful area of interest to help improve care and set standards for research and practice. This research is enriched by interaction with scholars and practitioners across the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Lindsay Batek, ND, BSN, RN, is a recipient of the Loretta Ford Fellowship and is a doctoral student in the MS-PhD Combined Accelerated program. With her undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester, she continued her studies and completed a doctoral degree in naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University. Her research interests include adolescent sexual health promotion, integrative health, and global health. Her dissertation work will explore adolescent experiences regarding contraceptive decision making and access.
Sunita Pokhrel Bhattarai, MS, RN, is an international doctoral student at the University of Rochester School of Nursing studying cardiovascular nursing. Her research focus is on characterizing the electrographic changes among acute heart failure patients who present to the Emergency Department. Bhattarai works as a research assistant in the Cardiovascular Research Lab and on the QUAFFER Study (Heart Failure) at the University of Rochester Medical Center. She is also a member of the Eastern Nurses Research Society and the Nepal Critical Care Nurses Association and serves as a registered nurse on the Nepal Nursing Council. She earned her master’s in emergency and critical care nursing from the Erasmus Mundus in collaboration with the University of Oviedo, University of Algarve, Polytechnic Institute of Santarém and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, and bachelor’s degree from Tribhuvan University in Nepal.
Melanie D. Bobry, BS, RN, OCN, is a doctoral student at the University of Rochester School of Nursing in the MS-PhD Combined Accelerated Program. She also works as a research assistant on Connect for Caregivers (PI: Norton), a pilot study of the Rochester Roybal Center for Social Ties and Aging Research. Bobry will earn her master's degree in nursing education in May 2022 and has completed an advanced certificate in online teaching from the Warner School of Education. Her research focus is on understanding the experience of loneliness in individuals with cancer. Bobry is a member of the Eastern Nursing Research Society, and Oncology Nursing Society and serves as the activity coordinator for Sigma Theta Tau, Epsilon Xi chapter. Bobry was awarded the 2021 Nurse of Distinction by the Genesee Valley Oncology Nursing Society, Oncology Nursing Foundation Masters Academic Scholarship, and the Jeanne T. Grace Excellence in Evidence-Based Practice Award from Sigma Theta Tau, Epsilon Xi chapter.
Wonkyung Chang is a doctoral student at the University of Rochester School of Nursing. Before moving to the U.S., she worked as a psychiatric nurse in an inpatient alcohol treatment center in South Korea. She continues to practice as a certified nurse at Hillside Children’s Center, where she cares for youth who have experienced significant trauma. Based on her clinical experiences, she is particularly interested in mechanisms underlying the relationship between early traumatic experiences and drinking behaviors in later lives. She plans to pursue a master’s program in the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner specialty during her PhD program. She is also an active member of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association.
Yuri Choi, MSN, RN, is a international doctoral student at the University of Rochester School of Nursing. She also works as a research assistant with Marie Flannery, PhD, RN, associate professor at the School of Nursing, on understanding treatment tolerability in older patients with cancer. Choi earned both her master's and bachelor's degrees in nursing from the Catholic University of Korea. She is an active member of the Oncology Nursing Society, Genesee Valley Chapter and Eastern Nursing Research Society.
Dillon Dzikowicz, MS, RN, PCCN, is a teaching associate and doctoral student at the University of Rochester School of Nursing. As a teaching associate, Dzikowicz instructs or co-teaches numerous courses in the RN-BS and doctoral programs including 12-lead Electrocardiogram Interpretation, Genetics, and Scholarship Formation. He is specifically interested in integrating technology into courses to enhance student engagement and interaction. Dzikowicz is also actively involved in the school’s research mission and his dissertation aims to utilize machine learning and novel electrocardiographic features to improve the stratification of patients suffering from heart attacks and it is supported by grants from Sigma Theta Tau and Emergency Nurses Association. In addition to this own research, Dzikowicz is an active member of the University of Rochester Clinical Cardiovascular Research Center working with other scientists and cardiologists to conduct clinical trials for multiple sponsors. Dzikowicz continues to practice as a certified nurse on the Cardiac Care Unit at the University of Rochester Medical Center where he routinely cares for heart attack patients. Dzikowicz is also an active member of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, American Heart Association, and the International Society for Computerized Electrocardiology.
Faith Lambert, MS, RN, FNP-BC, is a doctoral student, research assistant and graduate of the Family Nurse Practitioner program at the University of Rochester School of Nursing. Lambert's research interests include health disparities in marginalized populations, pediatric to adult care transition, adolescent and adult health and HIV care management. Her dissertation focuses on investigate psychosocial relationships and transitional care for young adults living with HIV infection. Lambert's work is supported by a grant from the Interdisciplinary Sexual Health and HIV Research (INSHHR) group at the University of Rochester. She is a 2021 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Student Fellow for the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, an active member of the School of Nursing's INSHRR group and Rochester Black Nurses Association and a recent inductee to the Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society.
Martez Smith is a licensed master social worker, and a doctoral student at the University of Rochester School of Nursing. His research interests include addressing racial, sexual and gender minority health disparities through community-driven, asset-based interventions. For his dissertation, Smith is examining associations between sexual health communication and motivations for sexual health behaviors among Black and Latino men who have sex with men who participate in New York City's House Ball Community, which is supported by the National Institutes of Health ( F31MH124585) and the University of Rochester Interdisciplinary Sexual Health and HIV Research (INSHHR) Group.
Erin Vernetti, MS, RN, is a doctoral student at the University of Rochester School of Nursing and a senior level III RN in F.F. Thomspon Hospital's Operating Room. She also works as a research assistant with Danielle Alcéna-Stiner, PhD, RN, an assistant professor at the School of Nursing, on community environmental and sexual health projects. For her doctoral work, Vernetti is interested in exploring how stigma and community affect healing for survivors of sexual assault. Prior to her nursing degree, her master's degree thesis involved looking at the Democratic Republic of Congo and how the war was fought on the bodies of the county's women and girls. Vernetti is a member of Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society, Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, and the Rochester Black Nurses Association.
Zhihong Zhang, MS, RN, is a doctoral student at the University of Rochester School of Nursing. She is specifically interested in examining resilience in symptom trajectory in older adults with advanced cancer receiving cancer treatment. Zhihong is also an active member of the Oncology Nursing Society, Sigma Theta Tau, and Eastern Nursing Research Society.