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New Hluchyj Fellows Chosen for 2013-2014

Doctoral students Cheryl Ann Nicholas of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department and Jordon D. Bosse from the College of Nursing have been named the 2013-2014 Hluchyj Fellows at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The Hluchyj Graduate Fellowship was started by Dr. Michael Hluchyj, a 1979 alumnus of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, and his wife, Theresa “Terry” Hluchyj, a 1977 alumna from the College of Nursing. The fellowship supports two graduate students per year in the College of Engineering and the College of Nursing so they can do interdisciplinary research in the area of clinical healthcare.

Since the Hluchyj Fellowship was created in 2008, 12 scholars have been spawned by this collaboration between the College of Engineering and College of Nursing. The Hluchyjs designed the fellowship to combine their backgrounds and personal priorities in engineering and nursing.

“Fellows will work on research projects from both disciplines,” the fellowship stipulates, “seeking solutions to real problems in the clinical setting using engineering-based approaches.”

Nicholas earned her master’s degree in industrial engineering and operations research from UMass Amherst. She has four professional certifications from the American Society for Quality and a professional certification from the Institute of Industrial Engineers as a Master Lean Practitioner. Her graduate work in Quality Engineering and Process Improvement has led to groundbreaking work in both the public and private sectors.

Nicholas led and managed the introduction and implementation of the ISO 9001 Quality System in two businesses. The system is designed to help organizations ensure they meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders while meeting statutory and regulatory requirements related to the product. She later introduced “Lean” into a Federal Agency. Lean is a methodology applied to increase the quality, efficiency, and responsiveness of manufacturing, business, and service processes.

Nicholas will be conducting research with Professor Donald L. Fisher, head of the MIE department, on the widespread issue of hospital “alarm fatigue” and related problems which involve decision making. Problems with alarms in hospitals are estimated to have led to at least 216 deaths across the United States between June 2005 and June 2010. In some cases the problem is a broken device or a threshold set too low. But most problems with alarms have been traced to alarm fatigue: either the healthcare providers did not react with the urgency required, or they did not notice the alarm.

“Cher is well positioned to contribute to improving the safety of patients and adding value to the healthcare system by combining a program of research in engineering and nursing targeted at reducing alarm fatigue,” said Fisher. “Moreover, someone with her track record in the world of work is especially well-suited to move her findings from the bench to the bed.”

Bosse is interested in teaching nursing and finding ways that technology can best support healthcare services. He will be researching the prevention and spread of HIV and HCV in people with high risk or in recovery from substance abuse and addiction. Bosse’s faculty mentor is Professor Donna M. Zucker in the College of Nursing.

Bosse comes to UMass Amherst as a high achieving post-master's student from the University of Southern Maine with a bachelor's degree from Goddard College. His nursing background is in psychiatric mental health with a specialization in substance abuse and addiction work.

“As my mentee, we share a common interest in risk factors for preventing the spread of HIV and viral hepatitis, and consequences of substance abuse and addiction,” said Zucker. “Mr. Bosse's interests will fit well with my program of research, which is currently looking at development and testing of an application for streamlined point of care screening for hard to reach persons at risk for HIV and HCV, as well as those who are actively in recovery from substance abuse.”

Dr. and Mrs. Hluchyj, who live in Wellesley, Mass., funded their fellowship with key healthcare issues in mind. “We are excited to be funding these new fellowships to support cross-disciplinary research in clinical healthcare,” said Theresa Hluchyj when the fellowship was established. “Quality healthcare ranks among the most important issues our society faces, and the collaborative research initiatives between nursing and engineering at UMass Amherst can make a real difference.” (August 2013)