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SON Welcomes New Faculty Members

Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing

Dr. Roxana Chicas   

Dr. Roxana Chicas is an Assistant Professor, Research Track. She specializes in clinical research in occupational and environmental health, particularly agricultural workers. Her research program focuses on reducing the severe kidney and brain damage that farm and construction workers can experience from being subject to extreme heat. Her nurse-scientist work will bring innovative cooling methods right to the fields. Dr. Chicas received her BSN and Ph.D. in Nursing from Emory and completed a postdoctoral traineeship in the Renal Department of Emory School of Medicine. In 2020, she received The Silver Bowl award from Emory University. The Silver Bowl was initiated to honor outstanding graduate students. 

Dr. Chicas has been featured in numerous publications throughout her career.  The latest being Wiley Online Library. The featured article is titled Nursing is never neutral: Political determinants of health and systemic marginalization.


Dr. Abebe Gobezayehu    

Dr. Abebe Gobezayehu, MD is an Assistant Professor, Research Track, and expert in maternal-child health. He leads the Emory-Ethiopia projects which are implemented through the Emory University Ethiopia Country Office.   Dr. Abebe previously served as country director of the Emory Ethiopia Office, and in his current faculty role, he supports the Emory Ethiopia research efforts and the School of Nursing alongside fellow NHWSN faculty member Dr. John Cranmer and colleagues across the university, and the Ph.D. program partnership with the Addis Ababa University.  


Dr. Kalisha Bonds Johnson   

Dr. Kalisha Bonds Johnson is an Assistant Professor, Tenure Track, specializing in caregiver well-being, gerontology and elder health, health disparities, mental health, and vulnerable populations. She graduated from The University of Tennessee at Martin with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2007, followed by a Master of Science in Nursing in 2012 from Vanderbilt University, specializing as a Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Most recently, Dr. Bonds Johnson graduated with a Ph.D. from Oregon Health & Science University in 2019 where she focused on African American persons living with dementia and their caregivers. She has been a T32 postdoctoral trainee in the School of Nursing for the past two years. Dr. Johnson has received funding from SAMHSA at American Nurses Association Minority Fellowship Program and the Jonas Foundation as a Veterans Healthcare Scholar. Dr. Bonds Johnson hopes to improve health outcomes for African American persons living with dementia and their families through the development of culturally tailored clinical interventions. She was recently awarded the Hattie Bessent Research Award for her innovation in nursing research in mental health.  


Prof. Lalita Kaligotla

Lalita Kaligotla is Professor of the Practice and Senior Director for Leadership and Engagement at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of NursingHer work is focused on values based leadership, civic engagement, social innovation, and community-based research leveraging human centered design. Before moving to Emory, Prof. Kaligotla was Associate Director and Adjunct Professor in the Hart Leadership Program at Duke University, one of the oldest endowed leadership development centers in the countryThere she directed the Hart Fellowship Program, a 10-month immersive leadership development experience for new graduates of Duke University. Dr. Kaligotla significantly increased diversity in the program. She was responsible for administering and steering the highly competitive fellowship program including program dissemination, selection, recruitment, and post-selection orientation and advising throughout the fellowship experience. She also led the nationally recognized Service Opportunities in Leadership Program that combined curricular programming with service learning, community based research and one-to-one mentorship to help students discover and develop their leadership skills. Prior to that, she helped launch and administer the highly successful and interdisciplinary Minor in Leadership Studies at the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship at Georgia TechShe completed graduate training at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.


Dr. Laurie Ray  

Dr. Laurie Ray is an Assistant Professor, Clinical Track. Dr. Ray specializes in Women’s health with expertise in sexual and reproductive health and nearly ten years experience delivering improved health outcomes for individuals and populations. She most recently through evidence-based and patient-centered clinical care and research. She most recently worked as a nurse practitioner and colposcopy program director at Planned Parenthood Southeast. Dr. Ray completed her DNP from Emory School of Nursing in 2018 and also holds a Masters of Science as a Women Health Nurse Practitioner from Columbia University. Dr. Ray has studied contraceptive adherence and STI screening protocols to improve the quality of care.


Dr. Telisa Spikes  

Dr. Telisa Spikes is an Assistant Professor, Tenure Track. She received her BSN in nursing from Georgia Baptist College of Nursing at Mercer University in 2003, MSN in advanced care management and health policy from Kennesaw State University in 2009, and Ph.D. from Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing in 2019. For the past two years, Dr. Spikes has been engaged in postdoctoral training in cardiovascular health equity through the Emory Rollins School of Public Health. Dr. Spikes’ overall research interests focus on the relationships among adverse social stressors, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease risk, specifically subclinical disease and hypertension, in young adult African American women, a group that has seen a dramatic increase in cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. Additionally, she is interested in the stress-buffering of the role of resilience effect on mitigating cardiovascular risk.   


Dr. Missi Stec  

Dr. Missi Stec was a visiting scholar at SON before joining the faculty as a Professor, Clinical Track in the spring of 2021. She earned her MSN in midwifery in 2005 from Vanderbilt as well as a DNP in 2010. In 2015, she was inducted as a fellow in the American College of Nurse-Midwives and as a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in 2017 for her work on technology integration in nursing education. Dr. Stec has a long history in nursing education teaching at all levels in her 16-year career. She is the previous midwifery and DNP program director at the University of Cincinnati, where she spent the first 12 years of her career. She moved into administration as the Associate Dean of Evaluation and Educational Innovation at SUNY in Brooklyn.  


Dr. Athena Sherman  

Dr. Athena Sherman is an Assistant Professor, Tenure Track and was a Post-doctoral to Faculty Fellow Dr. Sherman is a certified nurse educator and expert in public and mental health.  Sherman’s program of research focuses on improving our understanding of how complex systems of racism, cisgenderism and heterosexism influence health and health equity for racially/ethnically diverse LGBTQ+ communities, with a focused lens on the impacts of trauma/violence and substance use on mental health and social functioning among transgender and gender diverse people. Dr. Sherman’s work has been funded by the Southern Nurses Research Society,  Danger Assessment Technical Training and Support Center, and the Association of Community Health Nurse Educators to mention a few.


Dr. Shannon Stevenson  

Dr. Shannon Stevenson is an Assistant Professor, Clinical Track, and joined the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing in the fall of 2021. Before joining Emory, Dr. Stevenson was an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. Her clinical background includes labor and delivery, antepartum, and mother/baby nursing. She earned a Doctorate of Education in nursing education from Teachers College, Columbia University (2021) where she was a Jonas Nurse Leader Scholar from 2016-2018. Dr. Stevenson earned a Bachelor of Arts in Medicine, Health and Society (2011) and a Masters in Nursing in nurse-midwifery (2013) from Vanderbilt University. Her research interests include the transition to parenthood, the use of simulation in nursing education, and how to foster a culture of academic integrity in nursing programs.  


Dr. Weihua Zhang    

Dr. Weihua (Vivian) Zhang is an Assistant Professor, Research track. Dr. Zhang completed her Ph.D. in Nursing and Masters in Statistics at the University of Texas Austin and completed a postdoctoral traineeship in the Center for Data Science in the Emory University School of Nursing. Her BSN is from Central South University in Changsha, China. Dr. Zhang’s research program centers around improving outcomes for persons aging with arthritis and multimorbidities with a focus on concepts of self-regulation, symptoms, and self-management. An expert in data analytics, she is also interested in the application of innovative data science, Health Informatics, & Telehealth to clinical problems for multiple populations.

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