Sigma Rho Chapter announces 2021 award recipients

Sigma Rho logo

The University of Michigan's Rho Chapter of the Sigma Nursing Honor Society recently announced the recipients of their 2021 awards, recognizing U-M School of Nursing faculty and students as well as Michigan Medicine nurses for their excellence and leadership in various categories. The awards were presented during the chapter's livestream Induction and Awards Ceremony on Sunday, March 21. The recording is now available on YouTube



Excellence in Nursing Research

Smith photoEllen Smith, Ph.D., RN, AOCN, FAAN
Smith has been honored for her nationally recognized program of research in chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), focused on improving the assessment, treatment and prediction of CIPN in adults and children. She has published extensively on this topic, and her research has included instrument development and treatment for painful CIPN.


Excellence in Nursing Practice

O'Brien photoDenise O’Brien, DNP, RN, ACNS-BC, CNS-C
O'Brien has been recognized for her extensive contributions to the field of perianesthesia at Michigan Medicine and nationally, having led numerous quality improvement projects in addition to serving in national leadership roles in her field.


Ransom photoAndrea Ransom, RN, FNP-BC
Ransom has been recognized for her enthusiastic and hardworking leadership at University Health Service as a member of the U-M COVID-19 response team. Her work included development of  COVID-19 testing workflows within UHS, creating a multidisciplinary team for COVID care, securing large, off-site COVID-19 testing locations for the U-M community and overseeing testing and care for COVID-19 across campus, including in the Athletic Department.

Excellence in Leadership

Juno-Lapan photoAdamczyk photo

Julie Juno-LaPan, MS, RN-BC, CNML and MaryAnn Adamczyk, MSA, RN, CNML
Both clinical nursing directors at Michigan Medicine, Juno-LaPan and Adamczyk were recognized for their outstanding work in leading the creation of the Regional Infection Containment Unit for treating patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their work involved rapidly setting up a large multidisciplinary team in the early stages of the pandemic, coordinating over 200 volunteers and managing the concerns of patients, families and staff while modeling servant leadership during a challenging time.

Excellence in Education

Charania photoNadia A. Charania, Ph.D., RN
Charania has been recognized for her outstanding creativity and dedication to creating meaningful and engaging online learning experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic at the U-M School of Nursing. The challenges of rapidly converting a large undergraduate theory course in behavioral health were daunting, but Charania was praised by her students and colleagues for her availability and support.

Rising Star Award

Harris photoMelissa Harris, BSN, RN, Ph.Dc.
Harris has been recognized for her outstanding potential to make significant contributions to nursing science and practice to improve health care for older adults with dementia and their family caregivers. Her study of caregivers’ well-being during the pandemic has received national attention, including citation in U.S. News and World Report. She will continue her development as an emerging nurse scientist after securing a postdoctoral fellowship for the coveted National Clinician Scholars Program at Duke University.

Student Leadership Awards 

Lee photo

Joyce Lee
Lee has been recognized for her outstanding record of community service and involvement in student government. Lee currently serves as vice president for the Student Nurses’ Association at the U-M School of Nursing. Her contributions to Sigma Rho Chapter have been exceptional this year, showing initiative and creativity as social media chair and a member of the Awards Planning Committee.

Folbe photoJones photo

Erika Folbe and Emily Jones
Folbe and Jones were nominated for their work on the newly formed Student Innovation Ambassadors group. They surveyed innovation and collated the results into a formal presentation for the U-M School of Nursing dean and faculty. They led work on a student hackathon proposal and then pitched to an audience of donors. Their team came in second place and was awarded over $5,000 to make the nursing student-led hackathon a reality.

Drickamer Student Mentorship Awards

Polik photoCarri Polick
As a Ph.D. student at the U-M School of Nursing, Polick has been an outstanding mentor to current and incoming doctoral students. She compiled resources and tips to ease the first-year transition and served as a coordinator for the first Pre-Ph.D. Institute to aid in the transition to the Ph.D. program. She also initiated weekly, virtual peer write-together events for students to productively come together, have a sense of connection and battle isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Sliwinski photoKathy Sliwinski
Sliwinski has a long record of mentorship, serving as president of the Nursing Student Government, where she leads the first-year mentorship program committee to pair incoming students with those already at the U-M School of Nursing. As a resident advisor at Bursley Hall, she also mentors students in problem-solving and conflict resolution. And as Sigma Rho Chapter student intern, she implemented an outstanding program on stress management for students focused on the challenges of being a nursing student and a new nurse during a pandemic.

Thirumoorthi photoVidya Thirumoorthi, RN, BSN
Thirumoorthi is a graduate student in the Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program and was nominated for outstanding mentorship in her work as student director of the University of Michigan Student Run Free Clinic. She has been recognized for her ability to connect with and motivate new undergraduate student volunteers, coaching her peers in sensitive communication and her mentorship of undergraduate nursing students in career planning. She continues her mentorship role as a member of the Student Advisory Board for the Center for Interprofessional learning and the Director’s Student Advisory Board for Services for Students with Disabilities.