Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation

Meet our graduates and see some of their past accomplishments.

UMSN Hillman Scholars at the organization's annual meeting

Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation

Undergraduate students selected as Hillman Scholars begin their research path while in the BSN program, then complete their Ph.D. program in three years. By starting the research path early, students can participate in and lead research earlier in their careers, leading to a longer research trajectory and eventually, a greater impact on patients. Research and innovation are hallmarks of the Hillman Foundation. 

“We were seeking an institution willing to take risks, willing to rethink and expand on traditional notions of a nursing Ph.D.,” said Ahrin Mishan, Executive Director of the Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation. “With a highly skilled and interdisciplinary faculty and a culture of inquiry committed to linking research with real-world solutions, we expect the University of Michigan, along with our other Hillman partners, to lead the way in shaping a new generation of nurse leaders."

See the newly redesigned Hillman Scholars website featuring scholar profiles including UMSN's Grace Kanzawa-Lee, Alex Fauer and Kristen Choi.


Director of the Ph.D. program: Ellen Lavoie Smith, Ph.D., MSN, RN, AOCN®, FAAN

Director of the Hillman scholars program at the U-M School of Nursing: Patricia Abbott, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, FACMI, pabbott@umich.edu

Achievements of Hillman scholars, 2017-2018

Publications and presentations

  • Hillman scholars authored or co-authored 4 publications. In addition, 14 publications are in preparation or in press.

  • Scholars presented posters at a number of conferences including: American Thoracic Society International Conference, Academy Health Annual Research Meeting, American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation Annual Research Meeting, International Conference on Cancer Nursing, University of Michigan's annual Michigan Meeting, and UMSN's annual Research Day.

Grants and awards

  • Emily Boltey earned first place in the Ph.D. student category at UMSN's annual Research Day. She also received an American Thoracic Society abstract award at the organization’s 2018 conference.

  • Emily Boltey, Kristen Choi, Bradley Liestenfeltz and Laura Sinko received Hillman Advancing Early Research Opportunity Fellowships.

  • Grace Kanzawa-Lee earned an American Cancer Society Doctoral Scholarship in Nursing.

  • Kathryn Finn received a Rotary World Peace Organization Student Award.

  • Alex Fauer was selected as a Jonas Scholar. He also received at 2018 Academy Health IRGNI Doctoral Student Award.


Student spotlight: A focus on health services

 First-generation student rises above challenges to make a lasting gift. 

Student spotlight: A grave diagnosis in the family

Clare Donohoe came into UMSN's undergraduate program with a lot of questions that would impact her path.  

Student spotlight: First Ph.D. in family of nurses

Emily Boltey is using and investigating interprofessional teamwork with the goal of improving outcomes for patients in intensive care.  

Student spotlight: A focus on healing after sexual assault and childhood trauma

Ph.D. student Laura Sinko is committed to supporting individual and customizable healing goals.  

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