Edson College welcomes new faculty, announces promotions


October 6, 2021

Arizona State University’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation welcomed a dynamic group of new researchers this fall and promoted several key faculty and staff.

In total, seven new tenure track faculty joined the college. These assistant professors’ research ranges from addiction to chronic conditions to aging and health equity. Health North on ASU's Downtown campus is home to Edson College Download Full Image

Meanwhile, more than a dozen established faculty and staff will be taking on new roles and responsibilities within the college.

When combined, the new faces and new responsibilities taken on by familiar ones will all work together to continue the "legacy of care and discovery" at Edson College.

Meet the new faculty

Chung Jung Mun, assistant professor

Mun directs the Biobehavioral Pain, Addiction, Sleep, and Momentary Experience (Bi-PAS ME) Research Laboratory and is a clinical psychologist with a research interest in understanding the biobehavioral mechanisms of development of and coping with chronic pain and opioid use disorder, as well as their treatment and prevention employing mobile and wearable technology.

DeAnnah Byrd, assistant professor

Byrd studies the effects of chronic conditions, psychosocial stressors and coping behaviors on memory and cognitive changes in older Blacks, with a focus on reducing dementia among minority aging populations. She is the recipient of multiple early career awards from the Alzheimer’s Association and the American Public Health Association.

Hannah Giasson, assistant professor

Giasson’s research considers the complex interplay between views of aging and individuals’ health and well-being as they grow older. Specifically, her work focuses on factors that shape attitudes, biases and beliefs about aging at different levels, as well as how views of aging impact people's behaviors, health and well-being.

Rachel Koffer, assistant professor

Koffer uses innovative methodologies to link stress (e.g., everyday hassles, major life events) to health and well-being across adulthood and aging. Her research expertise focuses on adult development and aging; effects of everyday stressful experiences on emotions, health and well-being; and innovative research methodology.

Alyssa Robillard, associate professor

Robillard studies health equity using a social-ecological framework to understand and address inequalities, with a focus on HIV among groups where the burden of disease is comparatively higher and the web of social and structural determinants more complex. She examines community-engaged approaches using storytelling to promote health.

Joseph Daniels, associate professor

Daniels’ research focuses on developing interventions to improve HIV, TB and cancer treatment outcomes for MSM and men globally. He has expertise in implementation science, global health, mHealth and community-based participatory research methods. He teaches courses in community health and mentors students and fellows in health research.

Fiorella Carlos Chavez, assistant professor

Chavez applies qualitative and mixed-methodologies to understand the implications of culture, family and work-life-related stressors on Latino migrant youth health and development. In 2020, she received a COVID-19 Needs Assessment grant, focusing on the effects of stress and household food insecurity on Latino youth well-being and essential workers’ mental health.

Photo collage of all seven headshots of each of the new Edson College tenure track faculty

A talented group of research faculty joined Edson College this fall.

Faculty and staff promotions

In addition to this talented group of new faculty, Edson College is pleased to share the promotions of several key faculty and staff who continue to help the college lead the way in nursing and health innovation. 

Rick Hall, assistant dean of health entrepreneurship and innovation

Hall will continue to oversee the HEALab and will build on existing and new opportunities to embed health innovation education and activities throughout the college, university and community. His appointment is also supported by the Mayo Clinic and ASU Alliance for Health Care, where he is the managing partner of the MedTech Accelerator.

Kelly Cue Davis, senior director of research education and training, and director of PhD program

Davis is an associate professor as well as a licensed clinical psychologist. Her work and research target sexual assault assessment, response, prevention and policy throughout various organizations, with an emphasis on the role of alcohol in sexual assault perpetration and victimization. She is also a recent recipient of a MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health.

JoAnn Pfeiffer, senior director of clinical research management and regulatory science programs

Pfeiffer earned her master's degree and a doctorate in regulatory science from the University of Southern California’s International Regulatory Science program, with recent research including current practices of U.S. investigators in the management of clinical trial agreements. Her expertise and education also extends to HIPAA, budget and contract management, IRB submissions and regulatory reporting

Kaushal Shah, associate director of clinical research management and regulatory science programs

Shah earned her PhD in biochemistry from the University of Mumbai in 2007. Before working for ASU, she was the head clinical researcher at Kasiak Research and a manager of clinical research at Bharat Serums and Vaccines, Ltd. Her career has provided opportunities to excel in areas such as phase one to phase four clinical trials for pharmaceutical drugs, biological drugs and stem cells.

Michael Collins, director of innovation programs

Collins is originally from Waverly, New York. He graduated from Waverly High School and attended Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. He received a Bachelor of Science in human biology and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Logan College in Chesterfield, Missouri. Collins has been in private practice as a chiropractor for 19 years, and this is his sixth year teaching at ASU.

Craig Laser, associate director of innovation programs

Laser is a progressive and inclusive health care leader who integrates his knowledge of leadership, performance and systems thinking to help create success and to operationalize innovative ideas in health system practices. His leadership experience includes tertiary care, academic medical centers and dealing with complexity and challenge. Laser is also a current member of the Edson College Alumni Advisory Board.

Heidi Sanborn, senior director of RN to BSN, and MS nursing and health programs

Sanborn earned her Bachelor of Science in nursing from Salem State University, leading to a bedside career in both clinical and leadership positions in medical and surgical care, progressive care and critical care. Since moving to Arizona in 2009, she has taught at the clinical, associate and baccalaureate settings, earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice in innovation leadership and earned distinction as a certified nurse educator.

Natalie Heywood, director of RN to BSN and concurrent enrollment programs

Heywood's clinical background is in critical care, with the majority of her practice being in the emergency/trauma department. She has been teaching at ASU since 2015, starting out in the prelicensure program teaching traditional and post-baccalaureate nursing students and then switching to the RN to BSN and concurrent enrollment programs in January 2018.

Salina Bednarek, senior director of prelicensure nursing programs

Bednarek has been with Edson College since 2020 and teaches in prelicensure programs in addition to her role overseeing graduate and undergraduate prelicensure nursing programs. She champions diversity, equity and belonging efforts in our community of nursing to advance nursing and health professions.

Erica Lee, director of the traditional prelicensure program

Lee earned her master's degree in nursing from Grand Canyon University in 2014, and is currently on track to earn her Doctor of Nursing Practice in psychiatric mental health from ASU in 2023. She started working at ASU as an instructor in 2015, before moving on to associate program director in 2018. Erica served on multiple professional associations, including the American Nephrology Nurses' Association and the National League for Nursing.

Margaret Morris, director of accelerated prelicensure program and master's entry program in nursing

Morris has a history of research and publication as a sole principal investigator, as well as a member of a research team on a series of CDC-funded grants. She has been active in teaching and administration since 1978 and has served as director of educational programs as well as a director of education, research and practice at a 1,000-bed university hospital.

Margaret Calacci, senior director of Grace Center

As the director of the Grace Center, Calacci oversees systems operations, teaching and learning for approximately 80,000 student hours annually. Edson College students get hands-on experiential learning to develop skills and simulation experience with minimal risk because the patients are either actors or high fidelity lifelike mannequins. Calacci also provides faculty coaching in her specialty of simulation, mentoring and development of new nurse educators.

Monika Alesnik, associate director of the Grace Center

Alesnik works directly with the center director to manage more than a million-dollar budget and manages the administration side of the center. Prior to ASU, Monika was the associate director of development for the University of South Florida Diabetes Center, where she directly worked with the top-funded NHI researcher in Type 1 diabetes

Diane Nuñez, director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program

Nuñez has 25 years of clinical experience in primary care, community residential care for treatment of eating disorders and coexisting conditions, and geriatric health promotion and wellness. She has been faculty at ASU since 1997, serving as specialty coordinator in the adult/gerontology Doctor of Nursing Practice program as well as director of the Rural Health Professions and AHEC Scholars Programs.

Danielle Sebbens, associate director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program

Sebbens is a certified pediatric nurse practitioner, clinical associate professor and coordinator of the acute care PNP program. She has been practicing as a pediatric nurse practitioner for over 18 years and maintains a full-time clinical practice in the pediatric intensive care unit at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska.

Joe Russo, director of the Edson College Learning Enterprise

Russo joined Edson College in 2017 as a project manager. With a background in maternal and child health, he has primarily worked in health education and program development. Prior to his time at ASU, Russo worked with the Arizona Department of Health Services and was extension faculty at the University of Arizona.

Aliria Muñoz Rascón, director of the Global Health Collaboratory

Muñoz Rascón has taught at ASU since 2013, where she has instructed didactic, experiential and clinical courses. She has served as co-director of Edson's Veterans Affairs Nursing Academic Partnership and as the originator of the college's study abroad program. Muñoz Rascón completed her PhD in nursing at the University of Arizona, where she studied managing Type 2 diabetes.

Gabriel Q. Shaibi, senior director of research collaborations

Shaibi is a professor and Southwest Borderlands Scholar at Edson College. In addition to this new role, he will continue as the director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. His research examines obesity-related health in high-risk and vulnerable populations with an emphasis on understanding and preventing cardiometabolic diseases in obese youth.

Debra Fisher, director of research operations

Fisher has been with Edson College since 2008 when R.I.S.E was then known as the Office for Research and Scholarship. She has grown with the office and enjoys her leadership role facilitating Edson College faculty research. Prior to ASU, she was at The Ohio State University where she worked with diverse groups of middle and high school students from urban school districts preparing them for college.

Amanda Goodman

Senior communications specialist, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation

602-496-0983

Supporting transfer students on their journey to ASU

Pima Community College student utilizes ASU's transfer tools to prepare for her bachelor's degree


October 6, 2021

Inspired by her family to pursue higher education, Arizona State University transfer student Nora Thompson decided to begin her studies at Pima Community College to better prepare for the academic realities of attending a university.

Although Thompson felt she was never the kind of person who excelled in academics, she knew how proud her family would be if she were to attain her bachelor's degree. Both of her parents and her brother began their studies at a community college as well and could attest to the benefits of starting there to build a foundation for success. Nora Thompson ASU transfer student Nora Thompson. Download Full Image

While attending Pima Community College, Thompson majored in journalism and was editor-in-chief of the college's newspaper, the Aztec Press. But during Thompson's final semester at the community college, she interned with an advocacy group that was trying to improve felony disenfranchisement. There, she had the opportunity to meet people in her community who were working toward the same goal and spoke with incarcerated people in Arizona, discussing policies that would enable them to get their voting rights back.

After this experience, Thompson realized she didn't want to only write about politics, but wanted to be directly involved as well. She decided to major in public policy instead, and she never looked back. She graduated from ASU in spring 2021.

While at Pima Community College, Thompson focused on taking the classes that would get her closer to her bachelor's degree by creating her own ASU major map. We talked with Thompson about her motivations for transferring to ASU and about the path that led her here.

Question: Why did you decide to attend community college?

Answer: I was never very good in school. I was super involved with sports and music classes, but grades weren't my motivation. I ended up in a position where I didn't have the grades to be accepted into a university and I didn't want to retake the SAT. So I instead decided to go to my local community college on the advice of my family.

Q: Were you involved in any clubs or organizations at your community college? If so, please share which one(s) and how your participation impacted your community college experience.

A: I was a journalism major while I was in community college. Most notably, I was editor-in-chief of Pima Community College's newspaper, the Aztec Press. This improved my life greatly, as I loved leadership and I loved writing. It was a soft landing ground for me, a place to go when I got to school and meet up with friends. This is where I made professional connections and lifelong friends. I still read their newspaper from time to time when I'm in Tucson or browsing online. 

Q: Why (and when) did you choose your major?

A: My final semester of community college I interned with an advocacy group that was trying to improve felony disenfranchisement. I was a journalism student at this point. I had been accepted into the Cronkite School and was planning to be a journalist when I graduated. But after this experience, my life kind of did a 180 and I realized that I wanted to do more than write about politics — I wanted direct involvement. So I shopped around for a little while and landed on public policy. I haven't looked back, I love my major so much. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: In truth I wanted to go to the Cronkite School; it was a good program and I was passionate about it at the time. I ended up changing my major, but I'm still so happy that I did. 

Q: How did your ASU pathway program or MyPath2ASU help you?

A: I took classes at Pima Community College that would transfer to ASU based on my major map. I was taking courses that helped get me closer to my bachelor's degree. This was best for me because I always had the mindset that I would be transferring to ASU as soon as I could. 

Q: What did you enjoy most about your ASU experience?

A: I decided to write for one of the student publications at ASU and ended up meeting my best friends. I also applied to student government to be a senator — on a whim — and I became the Downtown Phoenix campus student body president, in addition to helping to start the Watts College Council.

Q: Were you involved in any clubs, organizations, research or internships?

A: Yes! I was the student body president and was involved in the Watts College undergraduate research program, working with faculty on a project that I presented on this past April. Over the summer, I also worked at Mayor (Kate) Gallego's office in Phoenix and had been chosen to be a part of the Capitol Scholars program, but due to COVID-19 the program was unfortunately canceled. I was a first-year success coach as well and was further involved with Downtown Devil as a staff reporter. 

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to a new transfer student?

A: You shouldn't stray away from getting involved! Even if it's just getting a job on campus, you should do something to participate in the ASU community. 

Q: Plans after graduating with your bachelor's degree?

A: This is a fantastic question. I have no idea. I am leaning heavily towards graduate school for a master's in public administration, but I am also looking for a job in the meantime.

Melanie Pshaenich

Coordinator senior, Office of the University Provost, Academic Alliances

602-496-1180