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Faculty Spotlight

jao-cnr-spotlight-2016Dr. Ying-Ling Jao joined our research faculty in 2014 as an assistant professor in the graduate program. After completing a B.S.N. and five years of clinical experience in Taiwan, Dr. Jao came to the United States to study gerontological nursing. She completed a master’s degree in the adult and gerontological nurse practitioner program and a Ph.D. in nursing with a gerontology focus at the University of Iowa.

Dr. Jao’s area of research is nonpharmacologic interventions for dementia. Specifically, her research program focuses on the impact of physical environments, social environments, and care provider–patient communication on apathy in long-term care residents with dementia. During her doctoral studies, she received pilot funding to develop the Person–Environment Apathy Rating (PEAR) scale, an innovative tool designed to measure environmental stimulation and apathy in persons with dementia. Using this scale, she conducted a study to examine care environments for long-term care residents with dementia and discovered that clear and stimulating care environments are associated with lower apathy. Her work has been published in two journals, The Gerontologist and Aging & Mental Health.

As part of Dr. Jao’s doctoral work, she also received funding to test the accuracy and feasibility of two activity monitors in measuring posture and activity, which may be used in the future as an objective measure of apathy or other behavioral symptoms of dementia.

Building upon this line of work, Dr. Jao currently collaborates with Dr. Kristine Williams at the University of Iowa on Dr. Williams’ NIH funded R01 study to test the impacts of care provider–resident communication on apathy in nursing home residents with dementia. Dr. Jao is also interested in neurobiological evidence of apathy, dementia, and nonpharmacological interventions. One of her goals is to develop effective nonpharmacologic interventions targeting apathy by linking neurobiological evidence and clinical practice for dementia care.


Ann Kolanowski
—Invited by the National Institute of Nursing Research to present her work on the behavioral and cognitive symptoms of dementia at the National Nursing Research Roundtable March 3–4, 2016, in Bethesda, Maryland.

Harleah Buck
—Co-chair of the steering committee for the Palliative and Hospice Nursing Professional Issues Panel convened by the American Nurses Association.
—Co-chair of the Policy Working Group of the American Academy of Cardiology for the national Improving Palliative Care Therapies for Heart Failure Patients and Families (ImPaCT-HFF) group.
—Nursing/Heart Failure representative on a technical expert panel for the Polisher Research Institute of the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Funded Awards

Barb Birriel: In-Training Research Proposal Award from the Society for Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) Pennsylvania Chapter, a competitive peer-reviewed grant for her dissertation research.

Christopher Engeland: Bridges to Translation grant, Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), for “Hyperglycemia and impaired healing in medically complex surgical patients,” in collaboration with Dr. David Soybel, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and Dr. Gregory Shearer, Department of Nutritional Sciences, College of Health and Human Development.

Susan Loeb: Funding for two Future of Nursing Scholars from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Proposal Submissions

Harleah Buck: “Assessing Preferences in Home Health Care: A Person-Centered Approach to Managing Multiple Chronic Conditions,” Penn State Social Science Research Institute, Advancing the Science of Person-Centered Care.

Amy Sawyer: “Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction for Claustrophobia in Positive Airway Pressure Treated Adults,” American Lung Association Social Behavioral Research Grant Program.

Susan Loeb: “Evaluating Chronic Disease Self-Management Program Effectiveness with Older Male Inmates in Prison Communities,” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Evaluating High-Value Innovations from Low Resource Communities.

Windy Alonso (mentor: Judith Hupcey): “Rural–Urban Comparison of Ventricular Assist Device Outcomes,” National Institutes of Health (NRSA F31).



6—Christopher Engeland presented “Stress and inflammation: What can we learn from wound healing and saliva?” for the Noll Seminar Lecture Series hosted by the Department of Kinesiology, Penn State.

9—Harleah Buck, Victoria Dickson, Roberta Fida, Barbara Riegel, Fabio D’Agostino, Rosaria Alvaro Alvaro, and Ercole Vellone presented “It’s complicated: Comorbidity, self-efficacy, self-care when hospitalization and quality of life are outcomes in heart failure” at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2015, Orlando, Florida.

9—Alison Lee Walsh, Judith Hupcey, and Davis Munoz presented “A tale of two countries: Comparing the heart failure patient journey in the United States and France” at the Sigma Theta Tau International 43rd Biennial Convention, Las Vegas, Nevada.


2—Christopher Engeland presented “Stress and inflammation: Interpreting measures from saliva and the oral mucosa” at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.

4—Christopher Engeland presented “Things the oral cavity can tell us about mucosal and systemic immunity” as part of the Regenerative Sciences Seminar Series at the Center for Wound Healing, The University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.


M. O. Ezenwa, Y. Yao, C. G. Engeland, R. E. Molokie, Z. I. Wang, M. L. Suarez, and D. J. Wilkie. 2015. Feasibility of a tablet-based guided audiovisual relaxation intervention for reducing stress and pain in adults with sickle cell disease. Journal of Advanced Nursing, in press.

C. G. Engeland, F. N. Hugo, J. B. Hilgert, G. G. Nascimento, R. Junges, H-J. Lim, P. T. Marucha, and J. A. Bosch. 2015. Psychological distress and salivary secretory immunity. Invited commentary. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, in press.

L. Kitko, J. Hupcey, B. Birriel, and W. Alonso. 2015. Patients’ decision-making process and expectations of a left ventricular assist device pre- and post-implantation. Heart & Lung: The Journal of Acute and Critical Care, in press.

K. Harkness, H. G. Buck, H. Arthur, S. L. Carroll, T. Cosman, M. McGillion, S. Kaasalainen, J. Kryworuchko, S. O’Keefe-McCarthy, D. Sherifali, and P. H. Strachan. 2015. Caregiver contribution to heart failure self-care (CACHS) questionnaire. Nursing Open, in press.

M. A. MacKenzie, S. H. Meghani, H. G. Buck, and B. Riegel. 2015. Unique correlates of heart failure and cancer caregiver satisfaction with hospice care. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, in press.

H. G. Buck, V. V. Dickson, R. Fida, B. Riegel, F. D’Agostino, R. Alvaro, and E. Vellone. 2015. Predictors of hospitalization and quality of life in heart failure: A model of comorbidity, self-efficacy, and self-care. International Journal of Nursing Studies, in press.

A. M. Kolanowski, D. M. Fick, N. Campbell, N. Hill, P. Mulhall, L. Behrens, E. Colancecco, M. Boustani, and L. Clare. 2015. Anticholinergic exposure during rehabilitation: Cognitive and physical function outcomes in patients with delirium superimposed on dementia. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 23(12):1250– 1258.