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Melissa Batchelor-Aselage, PhD, RN-BC, FNP-BC of Duke University Named One of Just 12 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars for 2014

NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                   Contact: Lisa Lederer

September 30, 2014                                                                                                       202/371-1999


Melissa Batchelor-Aselage of Duke University Named One of Just 12

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars for 2014


Researcher Studying Alleviation of Mealtime Difficulties for Persons with Dementia in Nursing Homes Selected for Competitive Program Designed to

Advance the Careers of Talented Junior Nurse Faculty


Melissa Batchelor-Aselage, PhD, RN-BC, FNP-BC, an assistant professor at Duke University School of Nursing, is one of just 12 nursing educators from across the country to win a prestigious grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nurse Faculty Scholars program this year. The Nurse Faculty Scholar award is given to junior nurse faculty who show strong promise as future leaders in academic nursing. In conjunction with the selection, Batchelor-Aselage will receive a three-year, $350,000 award to promote her academic career and support her research.


“This award from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provides a remarkable opportunity to examine the behavioral cues that persons with dementia give to feeding assistants, and the responses that feeding assistants use to promote nutritional intake. The project will be the first to match the ability of a person with dementia to take in nutrition using one or more of the three different careful hand-feeding techniques,” Batchelor-Aselage said. “I am extremely excited to have been selected for this program; it is an excellent opportunity for me to grow professionally as a leader, teacher, and researcher.”


For her research project, Batchelor-Aselage plans to analyze video-recorded meal interactions between persons with dementia and trained feeding assistants in the nursing home setting, with particular interest in behavioral cues and the impact of functional ability on meal intake. The findings will be used to develop the first algorithm to guide nursing home staff decision-making to respond to feeding behaviors in ways that promote meal intake. The algorithm will be incorporated into a dementia feeding skills training program and tested through staff training.


The RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholars program strengthens the academic productivity and overall excellence of nursing schools by developing the next generation of leaders in academic nursing. Batchelor-Aselage is part of the program’s seventh and final cohort. Supporting junior nurse faculty will help curb a shortage of nurse educators that could undermine the health and health care of all Americans. The Affordable Care Act is vastly increasing the number of people with health coverage in the United States. As the number of patients grows, the demand for skilled nurses is rising as is the need for nurse faculty to educate them. 


Right now, many schools of nursing are turning away qualified applicants because they do not have the faculty to teach them. The RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholars program is helping more junior faculty succeed in, and commit to, academic careers. The program also enhances the stature of the scholars’ academic institutions, which will benefit fellow nurse educators seeking professional development opportunities.


To receive the award, scholars must be registered nurses who have completed a research doctorate in nursing or a related discipline and who have held a tenure-eligible faculty position at an accredited nursing school for at least two years and no more than five years.


The 2014 cohort of RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholars includes:


  • Katie Adamson, PhD, RN, University of Washington Tacoma. Her research compares learning outcomes and costs associated with two high-technology, experiential student learning activities: Manikin-based simulation and Virtual simulation.


  • Melissa Batchelor-Aselage, PhD, RN-BC, FNP-BC, Duke University. She is currently developing a dementia feeding skills training program based on adaptive algorithms to teach nursing home staff how to best respond to feeding behaviors when assisting persons with dementia during mealtimes so as to improve nutritional outcomes.


  • Felesia Bowen, PhD, RN, Rutgers University. Her research will determine if bringing comprehensive, team based, asthma specialty care to school based clinics improves the health outcomes of urban children with higher asthma morbidity and high health care utilization due to uncontrolled asthma.


  • Abraham A. Brody, PhD, RN, New York University. His research project explores how to improve the care and health of older adults with dementia and their family caregivers through an interprofessional evidence based practice intervention delivered by home healthcare teams.


  • Ashley Darcy-Mahoney, PhD, RN, Emory University. She explores the advantages of bilingualism and its promotion of neuroplasticity in preterm infants by explicating the relationships between biological characteristics and the response to early environmental factors in high risk newborns in an effort to reduce health and educational disparities for groups disproportionately affected by preterm births.


  • C. Ann Gakumo, PhD, RN, University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her research evaluates MOBILE (Managing Health Outcomes by Interventions in Literacy and Effectiveness), a peer support and text/graphic messaging intervention to promote HIV and comorbid medication adherence in low-literate, older African Americans with HIV.


  • Mary Dawn Koenig, PhD, RN, CNM, University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research examines maternal and fetal iron bioavailability in obese and lean mother-infant pairs through an innovative approach using two naturally occurring iron isotopes.


  • Sheila M. Gephart, PhD, RN, The University of Arizona. Her research goal is to fit computerized clinical decision support to clinician workflow to support consistent delivery of a multifaceted intervention called “NEC-Zero” to prevent and improve early recognition of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in premature infants. 


  • Ronald L. Hickman, Jr., PhD, RN, ACNP-BC, Case Western Reserve University. His research examines a dual process model for surrogate decision making in the intensive care unit. 


  • Karen E. Johnson, PhD, RN, The University of Texas at Austin. She seeks to assess health-risk behaviors and protective factors among alternative high school (AHS) students and school health policies in AHSs by modifying and administering two surveys in order to establish a statewide public health surveillance system for AHSs, and to develop strengths-based health promotion interventions for this high-risk, diverse, and underserved population at-risk for school dropout.


  • Emily J. Jones, PhD, RNC-OB, University of Massachusetts Boston. Her research program is designed to contribute to and advance the science focused on reducing cardiometabolic disparities in American Indian women, their families, and communities.


  • Jennifer Mallow, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, West Virginia University, School of Nursing. Her research evaluates the feasibility, acceptability, and patient outcomes of an empirically developed, HIPPA compliant, web based, system of mHealth sensors and mobile devices.


The Nurse Faculty Scholars also support the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, which is engaging nurses and nurse champions in a nationwide effort to improve health care by implementing recommendations from the groundbreaking Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. The Campaign for Action is backed by RWJF and AARP, and has Action Coalitions working in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The Nurse Faculty Scholars program is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered through the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. It is directed by Jacquelyn Campbell, PhD, RN, FAAN, who is the Anna D. Wolf chair and professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.

To learn more about the program, visit


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