November 2021


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My Life as a Gator Nurse Scientist

This series highlights daily experiences of our PhD students to help readers get an idea on what they may experience in the PhD program.

"My life as a Gator Nurse scientist begins with a steady routine. I wake up early in the morning and go to the gym. Exercise gives me the motivation which I need for the rest of the day. Once I get ready, I make myself lots of coffee and begin working. I do the most difficult things first. For example, if I need to write, I avoid leaving it for later in the day when my brain is not as sharp as it is in the morning. In the afternoon, I usually attend one of our research lab meetings. After I have had dinner, I simply keep working until I get tired!

While this may sound like a dull day to many, I find it exciting, because I have an opportunity to learn. I thrive when I learn! Every day is a new opportunity for me to learn something new and do this in such an intellectually stimulating environment which is the UF College of Nursing! Knowledge makes me feel powerful, especially when I am able to apply it to real life. A day in the life of a PhD student can get “lost” among the many similar days but each brings me closer to my goal, which is to make hospitals safer for patients."

 -Urszula Snigurska, BSN, RN, third-year PhD student


Faculty Profile

This month's faculty profile is on Staja 'Star' Booker, PhD, RN, assistant professor in the Behavioral Nursing Science department. Booker's research interests center on understanding the lived experience of osteoarthritis pain in older adults.

Why did you decide to become a nurse researcher?

I went into research because I’m naturally curious about things. I like asking people questions and trying to understanding how they view the world. Plus, I observed that many older adults were not getting the care they needed for pain and I wanted to change how we view, assess and treat pain in this population that I admire so much. 

I remain drawn to this area because assessment and treatment of pain in older adults remains a significant problem worldwide. We’ve made a lot of progress in this area, but still much more is needed, especially for "racially underrepresented" older adults.

What are you working on now?

I am currently investigating how movement can evoke pain and its impact on performance on functional tests. My objective with my research program is to identify ways to reduce pain disparities in older adults and improve self-management of osteoarthritis pain.

What excites you about conducting research at the College of Nursing?

What excites me is that I have several colleagues in the College of Nursing that I can reach out to for collaboration at the drop of a hat. The college makes it easy to do research and is supportive in ensuring that you have the resources needed to successfully conduct research. The faculty at the college have great ideas for high-impact studies and I like the freedom to be creative and innovative in my research.

A fun fact about you?

I love chicken salad! I’m willing to try chicken salad from almost anywhere.


Research Roundup

Associate Professor Leslie Parker, PhD, APRN, NNP-BC, FAAN, was part of a research team which found that breast milk from COVID-19 vaccinated mothers contained COVID-19 antibodies, which may be able to protect nursing babies.

The study was part of a collaborative effort between the College of Medicine, College of Nursing, Department of Pediatrics, Department of Microbiology and Cell Science and the Medical University of South Carolina.

Read more about the research that was featured in the Gainesville Sun and USA Today.


Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, we spoke to Debra Lyon, PhD, RN, FAAN, executive associate dean and the Thomas M. and Irene B. Kirbo endowed chair. Lyon’s research focuses on developing a better understanding of the biological underpinnings of breast cancer, specifically on a patient’s quality of life post-diagnosis/treatment, which can be adversely affected.

According to Lyon, breast cancer patients often report a “constellation” of psychoneurological symptoms which include stress, anxiety, depression, pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance and cognitive dysfunction.

Read about Lyon's research here.


To learn more about the University of Florida College of Nursing's PhD programs, including faculty mentors and admissions information, visit here or contact Mailing Pauzauskie at!


Current PhD students, if you have information for Discover Magazine, submit it to Kyle Chambers at!


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