WSU College of Nursing Continues to Shine: Second Consecutive AACN Award

Top row: Dr. Shawna Beese, Dr. Janessa Graves, and Dr. Sheila Hurst. Bottom row: Destiny Stanek-Bolles, Amelia Kohut, Macy Johnston, Bianca Gherghe

The Washington State University (WSU) College of Nursing is once again celebrating a remarkable achievement as they receive funding for the second year in a row from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). This year’s grant represents a significant step forward, evolving from a researcher dyad to establishing a cohort option for Honor’s students. The project, titled “Increasing the Impact of the All of Us Research Program through Focused Student Mentoring,” aims to mentor students through their honors theses using data from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) All of Us Research Program.

In the previous year, WSU College of Nursing Associate Professor Dr. Janessa Graves received the AACN award, with Dr. Shawna Beese, Research Assistant Professor (*see note), as her mentee. Their collaborative work laid the foundation for this year’s proposal, reflecting a commitment to advancing nursing research. Dr. Beese, now principal investigator (PI) expressed her interest in building on the prior year’s success. Drs. Graves and Hurst will act as co-investigators on this project as well.

Dean Dr. Mary Koithan played an integral role in envisioning a future where knowledge derived from the All of Us Research Program database could be disseminated widely and used to mentor early investigators, in this case, honor’s students, in research using existing data. The goal is to refine this year’s proposed project so that it can be replicated as an option for students in future years.

Dr. Sheila Hurst, Clinical Assistant Professor, the nursing honors advisor, played a pivotal role in identifying the initial cohort of students and bringing them on board for the proposal. The four honors students selected for this nine-month research experience are Amelia Kohut, Bianca Gherghe, Destiny Stanek-Bolles, and Macy Johnston. These students will have the opportunity to present their research findings at the Western Institute of Nursing conference in April 2024, showcasing their dedication and contributions to nursing research.

Moreover, Dr. Janessa Graves, who established the initial data agreement enabling access to the NIH All of Us databases for all WSU researchers, will generously support the kickoff of this project. Both Drs. Graves and Beese are committed to working with all College of Nursing students and faculty who wish to explore whether the NIH All of Us database is suitable for their research programs.

This achievement aligns with a broader initiative by AACN to support research in nursing schools across the nation. The AACN recently announced that six nursing schools, including WSU, have been selected to receive funding to promote awareness of the All of Us Research Program. Launched by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), this program seeks to create a national health database representing the diversity of the United States’ population. The collaboration between AACN and NIH aims to facilitate innovative and collaborative research, data dissemination, and the goals driving the All of Us Research Program.

This recognition is a testament to WSU’s commitment to advancing nursing research and fostering the development of the next generation of nurse researchers. It is a proud moment for the WSU College of Nursing and its dedicated faculty, mentors, and honor students.

To learn more about the All of Us Research Program, visit

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*Shawna Beese, PhD, RN is also an Assistant Professor for the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) at WSU.