Research Day 2022

SONHSNews, 06-13-2023

Participants present their Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Training Program posters at international nursing conference


The School of Nursing and Health Studies (SONHS) welcomed its largest cohort of Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Training Program (MHRT) participants this year. Sixteen individuals from around the United States participated in the prestigious grant program, funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) to improve diverse representation of research scientists from health disparity populations in the biomedical, clinical, and social sciences.

“We are incredibly excited to have such a large, diverse MHRT cohort this year,” says Dr. Johis Ortega, principal investigator for the grant and associate dean for Hemispheric and Global Initiatives at SONHS. “Not only is this the largest cohort we’ve welcomed since COVID-19; it is our largest cohort since first receiving this prestigious grant in 2016.” Participants ranged from the undergraduate to postdoctoral level and assisted with research at the University of Miami, as well as in country at the following global partner institutions: Nuevos Rumbos Corporation and Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia; Universidad de Costa Rica’s Center for Research in Tropical Diseases; Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra School of Health Sciences in the Dominican Republic; the University of the West Indies in Jamaica; and Universidad de las Am.ricas Puebla (UDLAP) in Central Mexico.

Among the promising cohort were three SONHS students. Jessica Garafola, A.B.S.N. ’22, and Julia Byerly, B.S.N. ’22, both completed their MHRT research experiences in Bogot.. At UDLAP for the summer, Kerri-Ann Scott (B.S.N. ’24) helped investigate Puebla’s endemic foods to improve the diet of children, pregnant women, and chronic patients or older adults.

With their program concluded, the participants were invited to present final research posters with their mentors and peers at the Annual MHRT Research Day. This year, Research Day was held on site during November’s XVII Pan American Nursing Research Colloquium at UM, allowing them to disseminate the work to a larger audience of health-focused scientists from around the globe.

One of the presenters, Cassandra Michel, a UM junior psychology and community and applied psychological studies major, worked in the lab of UM faculty member Dr. Roger McIntosh on his study to determine whether HIV and/or pre-hypertension have an additive or interactive effect on cardiovascular reactivity. “I am exhilarated to further my research experience,” Michel says. For more information, visit