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Faculty members, grad student tapped for honors

Published on Wednesday, August 18, 2021


Dr. Karen Winters inducted into the American Academy of Nursing

Dr. Karen Winters

The American Academy of Nursing is inducting as a fellow Dr. Karen Winters, a professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and director of data acquisition for the Jackson Heart Study.

Winters was inducted during the 2021 American Academy of Nursing Health Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.  "Being named as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing is a tremendous honor,” Winters said, “and I am proud to represent the Medical Center, the School of Nursing, the Jackson Heart Study and the state in this way.”

Winters joined UMMC and the School of Nursing as a faculty member in 1995. Starting with classes in pharmacology for undergraduates, Winters now teaches ethics to Ph.D. nursing students and chairs dissertation committees.

She was awarded the Nightingale Award for Nurse Researcher of the Year by the Mississippi Nurses Association in 2012.

Winters’ work as part of the Jackson Heart Study is essential to science now and in the future.  “The data we provide will allow future research into cardiovascular disease among African Americans,” she said.

Following up with the thousands enrolled in the study is an example of the data collection and role of nursing in research and public health policy.

“The quality of the data we gather will influence the quality of the science,” Winters said.


Dr. Kaye Bender incoming president of the American Public Health Association

Portrait of Kaye Bender

Dr. Kaye Bender, a professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, is incoming president of the American Public Health Association.

Bender, executive director of the Mississippi Public Health Association, has served the national organization as president-elect since October 2020.  She served as School of Nursing dean from 2003 to 2009

Leading the American Public Health Association during a pandemic underscores the importance of public health, Bender said.

“It’s time to reinvigorate public health, recall our history and be proud of our roots and accomplishments such as clean water, clean air and vaccines,” she said, “and also to invigorate the public health and health care workforce to move past the stress and fatigue that’s been experienced since 2020.”

The APHA champions public health by speaking out for public health issues and policies backed by science. Bender is the second Mississippian to lead the group, following Dr. Felix Underwood in 1944. She is the first woman from Mississippi and first Mississippi nurse to lead the group.

APHA’s mission is to strengthen the public health profession and to speak out for public health issues and policies backed by science.


SOD graduate student captures national honor

Aya Ali

Aya Ali, a graduate student in the Department of Biomedical Materials Science in the School of Dentistry, has been honored with an award from the Academy of Dental Materials.

Ali won first place in the Paffenbarger Awards and was recognized at the academy’s 2021 virtual meeting earlier this month. “This is a big win for Aya, our research group, our Biomedical Materials Science Department, and the School of Dentistry,” said Dr. Michael Roach, professor of Biomedical Materials Science and Ali’s research mentor.

With the award comes a cash prize and free registration to the academy’s 2022 meeting to be held in Athens, Greece.

The academy sponsors several programs, including the George C. Paffenbarger Student Research Award, that strive to encouraging students to conduct research in dental materials and hopefully to pursue careers in academics.

Ali’s dissertation committee includes Biomedical Materials Science faculty members and professors Dr. Amol Janorkar, the department chair, and Dr. Jason Griggs; Dr. Mary Marquart, professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology; and Dr. Joel Bumgardner, a Biomedical Engineering faculty member at the University of Memphis.