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Students tackle obesity, sleep and smoking in summer research at nursing school

UB professor with summer students.

From left to right: School of Nursing Assistant Professor Laura Anderson with students Andressa Ferruch Pimentel, Alexander Salinas and Eileen Diih.

Release Date: July 8, 2015

“The whole process of research is new for me and it’s something that a lot of nurses don’t realize is a field. The experience opened my eyes and has changed my view on what nurses are.”
Alexander Salinas, UB rising junior

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Newborn sleep, insomnia and nutrition interventions are under the microscope as eight undergraduate students conduct summer research in the University at Buffalo School of Nursing.

The students will spend 10 weeks completing original studies under the guidance of nursing faculty members.

The programs, which conclude on Aug. 1, include the Institute for the Strategic Enhancement of Educational Diversity (iSEED), Brazil Scientific Mobility Program, Nursing Undergraduate Research Summer Experience (NURSE) and the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program.

“The opportunity for undergraduate nursing students to become actively involved as team members in a research study is invaluable to their educational foundation,” says Marsha Lewis, PhD, professor and dean of the School of Nursing. “These experiences serve to introduce students to evidence-based research in nursing and the critical role it plays in the advancement of nursing practice.”

In addition to studying topics of their choice, the students will complete weekly workshops with students in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and present their findings at a poster presentation during the final week of the program. Each student will also receive a stipend of $2,500 to use toward housing and living expenses.

“Going to a large research university like UB, to not take this type of opportunity while you’re here would be a waste,” says Khloe Barlow, a Buffalo native who is participating in the NURSE program, a summer research program for UB students interested in nursing careers.

Barlow, a rising junior, is completing a systematic review to uncover how culture and family influences the sleeping position a mother places her newborn in, which sometimes go against National Institute of Child Health and Human Development guidelines. She is studying under Deborah Raines, PhD, associate professor of nursing.

To gather data, Barlow will interview new mothers discharged from Sisters of Charity Hospital of Buffalo.

Born into a large family, Barlow played an active role in helping her mother care for her siblings. After working in a day care, Barlow decided to combine her passion for child care with her desire to become a nurse by studying neonatal care.

Travelling to UB through the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program is Andressa Ferruch Pimentel, a senior nursing major at Pontifical Catholic University of Goias.

Pimentel’s research will examine the effectiveness of a dietary intervention program for residents living on the East Side of Buffalo. She will gather data by analyzing the food and grocery receipts of 12 families to determine if the intervention led the families to make healthier diet choices. The work is being completed under Laura Anderson, PhD, assistant professor of nursing.

Pimentel is midway through the study abroad program, having spent two semesters learning English and completing coursework at Clarion University. After her summer research at UB, she will return to Clarion for an additional semester. Pimentel plans to enter the nursing field specializing in care for athletes.

“I have always enjoyed exposing students to research with high-risk or low-income populations. Many are unaware that applied, clinical research can bring creative programming to these individuals,” says Anderson.

“Summer research is sometimes a challenge given the time-limited nature of the work, but it is rewarding to support them in creating something from start to finish. It is especially exciting when summer students get back in touch to let me know that I may have played a role in their decision to pursue a PhD or other advanced degree.”

Other student research projects include:

  • Terika Pereira, UB undergraduate, NURSE: Understanding the barriers to quitting smoking for patients with psychiatric disorders. Pereira is working under Yu-Ping Chang, PhD, associate professor in the SON.
  • Michael Victor, UB undergraduate, NURSE: A review on mental health and substance abuse. Victor is working under Chang.
  • Natalie Weimer, Illinois Wesleyan University undergraduate, iSEED: A review of client-centered therapy. Weimer is working under Adrian Juarez, PhD, assistant professor of nursing. iSEED provides hands-on research opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields for students.
  • Christina Moore, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff undergraduate, iSEED: Developing an evaluation plan for assessing behavioral therapy for insomnia. Moore is working under Grace Dean, PhD, and Suzanne Dickerson, PhD, associate professor and professor of nursing, respectively.
  • Eileen Diih, UB undergraduate, McNair: Examining creative adaptions to healthy weight programs for low-income families. Diih is working under Anderson. The McNair program provides support and services to low-income and first-generation college students and increases the participation of underrepresented groups in doctoral programs.

Also working under Anderson is Alexander Salinas, a UB rising junior nursing major participating through the NURSE program. Salinas is examining how psychosocial factors influence a patient following bariatric surgery.

The project will examine the psychological effects that the procedure causes, including an overlooked aspect of bariatric surgery: Patients who become depressed and regress into binge eating when their social network doesn’t agree with their altered lifestyle or their ideal weight isn’t achieved after the surgery.

Using existing literature and data from 40 bariatric patients surveyed about their experiences, Salinas will form a post-surgery intervention.

Salinas hopes to help patients increase their quality of life after losing weight, a goal he accomplished after losing 40 pounds since attending college.

“The whole process of research is new for me and it’s something that a lot of nurses don’t realize is a field,” says Salinas, a Queens native and scholar in the UB Honors College. “The experience opened my eyes and has changed my view on what nurses are.”

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