NRIG Executive Team
Chair - Charlene Chu
Dr. Charlene Chu is an Assistant Professor at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto, and an Affiliate Scientist at KITE Toronto Rehab at the University Health Network. She is also cross-appointment (status only) with the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work’s Institute for Life Course & Aging at the University of Toronto. As a Registered Nurse with 12 years of experience working with older adults across the health spectrum, Dr. Chu’s primary area of research is in designing interventions that support the mobility and daily function of older adults in post-acute care settings (e.g. long-term care, rehabilitation, community). The major focuses are:
person-centred interventions; co-designing and evaluating innovative technology that is translatable into practice; and the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in patient care.
Her research to develop technology for older adults has been funded by the Canadian Nurses Foundation; Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Canadian Partnerships for Stroke Research, Centre for Brain + Health Innovation, and AGE-WELL Strategic Investment Program. She currently holds funding from Women’s College Hospital to design an exergaming system for older women living in long-term care. She has experience in health based technologies for clinicians, as well as developing technology for older adults in LTC to support their mobility and cognitive function.
As a steering committee member of The Consortium of Professional Nursing Practice in LTC and the Worldwide Elements To Harmonize Research In long-term care liVing Environments (WE-THRIVE) to support the use of common data elements in long-term care and support person-centred care globally. Notably, Dr. Chu has authored and co-authored 36 peer-reviewed full manuscripts focused on interventions for older adults, advancing gerontological nursing practice, or developing international clinical guidelines to support care.
Past Chair – Amy Wright
Amy Wright is a Neonatal NP with a passion for health equity and social justice. She is also an Assistant Professor at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto. Challenged by the health inequities experienced by Indigenous infants and their families in urban areas, she has focused her career to advocating for the unique needs of this population.
Amy has extensive experience as a board member on several other committees and organizations and an active research portfolio. She is excited to be the new Chair of NRIG and is looking forward to working with this team to meet the educational and research needs of its members.
Finance Officer - Michelle Heyer
Michelle Heyer is the Director, Seniors Care in the Schlegel Centre for Advancing Seniors Care at Conestoga College. Michelle started her health care career as a Nurses Aide in long-term care, sparking her interest in gerontology. Michelle graduated from the Practical Nursing program at Conestoga College in 2005. She then went on to complete her BScN from McMaster University in 2010, and finished her MSc from McMaster in 2017. The focus of her MSc thesis was on the quality-of-life of older adults in long-term care. Michelle has a vast array of clinical nursing experience including complex-continuing care, palliative care, mental health, acute care and gerontology. In Michelle’s role at Conestoga, she is dedicated to helping prepare health care providers to care for older adults with complex needs through gerontological research and education.
Secretary - Yehudis Stokes
Yehudis is a PhD candidate at the University of Ottawa with a research focus on implementing trauma-informed care in practice. While furthering her studies, Yehudis continues as RN at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, currently with the Child and Youth Protection team. Yehudis intends to continue her path in the future as a clinician scientist, integrating research and academia directly and indirectly with clinical practice. She also hopes to incorporate her art therapy education and experience with her nursing research and practice.
Communication Officer - Newsletter - Valentina Donison
Valentina Donison, RN, MN, has been a member of the NRIG since 2015 and joined the Executive Board as the NRIG Newsletter Communications Officer in 2019. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the Ryerson, Centennial, and George Brown Collaborative Nursing Degree Program in 2015 and received her Master of Nursing Degree from the Yeates School of Graduate Studies, Ryerson University, in 2018. Passionate about research, Valentina is involved in several research based initiatives with a focus on the older adult population. She is presently working towards advancing her education and research work with the goal of applying to the University of Toronto’s PhD program in the fall of 2020. She is thrilled to be the new NRIG Newsletter Communications Officer and to further be working with such a dynamic team in upholding the mission and values of the group.
Communication Officer - Website - Joyce Tsui
Joyce has been a student member of Nursing Research Interest Group (NRIG) since 2008 and joined as a student member on the executive team in 2010. Over the years Joyce has taken on various roles on the NRIG executive team such as membership officer and most recently as communication officer – website. Joyce is passionate in the area of Gerontology and Nursing Education. Joyce holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing as well as a Masters of Nursing with a focus in Leadership in Health Care Policy and Education.
Membership Officer - Kylie Teggart
Kylie Teggart is an oncology RN with a passion for integrating research evidence into front-line nursing practice. She began her MSc in the School of Nursing at McMaster University in 2019 and will transition into the PhD program this fall. Her thesis work is focused on exploring knowledge translation strategies to support oncology nurses in providing evidence-based cancer symptom management in outpatient settings. She also has an interest in home/community care and methods that engage patients and other stakeholders in research. Kylie has been an RNAO member since 2012 and is excited to join the NRIG Executive as the new Membership Officer.
Policy and Political Action Officer - Marzieh Moattari
Marzieh Moattari is an internationally educated nurse with a PhD. degree in nursing. As the holder of two Master’s degrees in Medical-Surgical Nursing and Medical Education, she is very passionate for learner-centered education in nursing. As a nursing scholar she has taught many aspects of medical-surgical nursing to undergraduate and graduate nursing students. Also, she is expert in teaching of the subjects related to education and research such as curriculum development and evaluation, teaching strategies, assessment, and research methodologies. She also has supervisory skills and has supervised more than 40 theses and dissertations.
She has an extensive publication record and possesses an author impact factor (H Index) of 20 in google scholar and 7 in Scopus. She is an expert in both quantitative and qualitative methodology and has more than 40 published articles in peer-reviewed journals. Her research interest can be categorized in the following areas: Medical-Surgical Nursing to improve patients’ health and or quality of life in challenging situations, Primary Health Care, Ethics, Critical Thinking, Social Responsibility, and Nursing Education and Assessment. She continuously presents her research findings in national and international conferences.
To obtain the registration license to work in Canada, she completed the York University Post RN program in 2017 and currently works as a registered nurse in a Nursing Clinic where she has the opportunity to empower the clients who live with different challenges across the life. Also, she is engaged in on-line teaching of graduate nursing students of Azad University since 2015.
Members at Large - NRIG Board – Connie Schumacher (Clinical Lead DIVERT, Post-doctoral Secondment McMaster University Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact)
Connie joined NRIG in 2019. An RN with 25 years of direct clinical experience in emergency, cardiology and community health sectors as well as clinical instructor experience. Connie’s research interests include self-management practices in chronic disease and care at transitions, focusing on heart failure, COPD and geriatric populations. An expert on the interRAI DIVERT Scale, a pre-emptive tool that identifies home care patients at risk for a future emergency department visit, Connie has been actively designing clinical applications for the DIVERT Scale outputs to facilitate uptake and promote practice change.
Current research includes the DIVERT-CARE Trial, the DIVERT-CARE Experiences multiple case study, trends in homecare characteristics and service use, the association of afterhours care and emergency department use in home care populations, and collaboration on a study of immigrants in long-term care. Education initiatives include development of caregiver skills and education resources to be used in home care. Connie received her PhD in Nursing specializing in Interprofessional Practice from Walden University, Masters in Nursing Science from Walden University with placement at Mohawk College Simulation Lab, and Bachelor in Nursing Science from the University of Windsor.
Members at Large - Social Media – Kamika Sylvester
Kamika Sylvester, BSc is currently entering her final year of the Scholar Practitioner Program at Nipissing University after completing an undergraduate degree in Life Sciences at McMaster University in 2016. During her time in Hamilton, she developed a passion for research and advocating for health equity for minority populations. Kamika first identified her passion for nursing through an independent placement course at McMaster in 2014 where she analyzed the correlation between incidences of pressure injuries on a General Surgery unit and nursing wound care competency. She hopes to continue to study these areas of interest during her nursing education and future practice. Since graduating, she has worked in a number of departments at Toronto General Hospital and currently works in Home and Community Care. Throughout her community volunteer work and administrative roles, Kamika developed her communication and social media skills which led her to begin consulting for small businesses and community organizations in 2018. As social media coordinator, she will leverage these skills to promote NRIG initiatives and support the executive team.
Student Representative - Celia Cassiani
Celia is entering her final year in the University of Toronto (UofT) Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Prior to her journey in nursing, she completed an undergraduate degree in Health Sciences at Wilfrid Laurier University and an MSc in Rehabilitation Science at UofT. Her masters focused on a qualitative exploration of social support within a virtual peer mentorship program for youth with physical disabilities. In the past she has worked as a research assistant at Holland Bloorview Kid’s Rehabilitation Hospital and as a research coordinator at The Hospital for Sick Children. As a research coordinator she supported many multi-site randomized controlled trials of virtual peer support for youth with cancer, sickle cell disease and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. She also has experience with supporting research focused on user centered design of smartphone applications for pain and self-management of chronic conditions. Celia’s research interests include healthcare transitions for children with chronic conditions, e-health technologies to support the self-management of chronic conditions, and management of pediatric pain. She looks forward to engaging students in nursing research as the student representative. Her future goals include working clinically within pediatrics and combining her passion for research with clinical care.
Student Representative - Czarielle Dela Cruz
Czarielle is entering her fourth and final year in Ryerson University's Collaborative Nursing Program. She has worked as a research assistant at Centennial College for the last two years on projects involving debriefing methods after in person and virtual simulations for nursing students and is also part of a Steering Committee planning a new virtual simulation. Currently she is working on a research project where she is assessing the impact of social isolation among members of a community centre during Covid-19 and another project testing an app among seniors in long term care. As an active member of Ryerson's Canadian Nursing Student Association, she has served as the Director of Research and Education where she helped sponsor the school's first ever Undergraduate Research Training Program for nursing students. Currently, she is serving as the Official Delegate for CNSA to connect students with resources and educational opportunities with her team. Czarielle is grateful for the opportunities that she has been given and hopes to continue facilitating nursing student research involvement through her work with the NRIG, as well as further develop her research experience.