NRIG Executive Team


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.

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Chair Elect - 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.

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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.

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Secretary - Oona St-Amant


Oona St-Amant, RN, PhD is an Assistant Professor at the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing at Ryerson University. Her program of research focuses on health promotion and social inclusion, notably with an interest in various forms of care work, including pedagogical explorations of caregiving and culturally responsive care. As principal investigator, she leads work funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and other institutions. Dr. St-Amant’s research involves various qualitative methodological approaches to facilitate a critical and rich understanding of contextualized human experiences. As an educator, she consistently relays the important of research not only as a safeguard for patient care, but also as an engine for social innovation and progression.

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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 - Christina Moldovan


Christina first joined RNAO as a student member, and over the years has been part of different interest groups, including ongoing involvement with the Nursing Research Interest Group (NRIG). Christina’s nursing practice background is surgical nursing and post-operative care, as well as leadership and teaching in both the academic, as well as presently in the acute care setting. Christina holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Teaching Effectiveness Certificate, as well as an Honors Master of Nursing with a field of study in Leadership in Health Care Policy and Education.


Policy and Political Action Officer - Sheila Boamah and Marzieh Moattari


Sheila Boamah, RN, PhD, has been a member of NRIG since 2012 and joined the Executive Board as the Policy and Political Action Officer last year. Sheila is an Assistant Professor at Windsor University. Her research interests include leadership, healthcare quality, human resource management, health policy, and population health. Her clinical work has mainly been in critical care nursing. Sheila’s teaching interests include global health, leadership, research methods, and organization theory and design in healthcare systems.



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 - NRIG Board – Melissa Northwood


Melissa joined the NRIG executive in November 2018 having found the community a great support as a PhD student and early-career nurse researcher. She works in home care as an advance practice nurse specializing in continence promotion and geriatrics. Melissa is PhD student in the School of Nursing at McMaster University and is conducting a mixed methods research study on the complexity of living with diabetes and urinary incontinence for older adults receiving home care services.


Student Representative -  Jennifer Cano


Jennifer is entering her second and final year in University of Toronto’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. She completed an undergraduate degree in Health Sciences and an MSc in Interdisciplinary Health Sciences, both from University of Ottawa. Her qualitative Master’s thesis focussed on women’s reproductive and sexual health services, specifically in rural, remote, and northern regions of Canada. She spent the past two years in Kenora, Ontario working as a Public Health Coordinator with a First Nations organization. Her volunteer experiences include working on mental health crisis lines and as a certified Canadian Ski Patroller; she currently volunteers with the Toronto Distress Centre. Jennifer hopes to further develop her research experience, with specific interests in women’s health and Indigenous health. She is grateful for her early opportunities and mentorship in research and looks forward to encouraging and facilitating research involvement for other nursing students and novice researchers. In the future, she hopes to gain clinical nursing experience in rural, remote, and/or northern areas of the country.


Student Representative -  Rupinder Kaur


My name is Rupinder Kaur and I am currently a third-year Second entry Nursing student at the University of New Brunswick/Humber College. I have previously graduated with BSc of Kinesiology and Health Science at York University. I have been involved in research for more than three years and served as a role of research assistant through KIN KIDS program in Toronto. Seeing my diligence and commitment to the program, Dr. Belcastro agreed to supervise me as an independent research student in 2019 where I studied the benefits of unstructured physical activity on young children. In addition to research, extracurricular commitments through campus clubs have also been an important part of my experience. I have in past been a part of women empowerment club where issue like maternal and child health, reproductive rights, missing and murdered aboriginal women, domestic violence, rape and consent were discussed and spread awareness about. I have great interest in student involvement and therefore, will serve the role of Peer mentor at Humber college and student representative at Nursing Research Interest Group for 2019.