NEWS | April 18, 2014

Nursing graduate student wins poster award at western regional conference


Sarah Brown Blake, a master’s-degree student at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, recently won the 2014 Best Poster in the Research and Information Exchange category at the 47th annual Western Institute of Nursing conference in Seattle.

Sarah Blake Brown Sarah Blake Brown

Blake’s research focuses on the relationship between dairy farms, nitrate levels in drinking water and low birth weight in the San Joaquin Valley. Her poster, “Dairy Farms, Drinking Water Quality and Maternal-Child Health Outcomes: A Spatial Relationship,” received top honors from more than 200 entries in the Research and Information Exchange category. Four additional poster authors received honorable mentions in that division.

For her study, Blake conducted a secondary analysis of existing information from various sources, including U.S. Census data, California Department of Public Health birth data and the California Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment program to compare the relationship between cow numbers, nitrate levels and low birth weight.

Her study revealed zip codes with dairy farms were more likely to have higher nitrate levels, zip codes with dairies had significantly higher percentages of Hispanic births and that 66 percent of dairy farms in the region are in urban areas.

Blake, whose research interest is environmental health disparities, said her findings indicate the need for future research in the Central Valley region, especially of communities using private and small community wells, which she was unable to assess. She also believes the information contributes to current nursing research of rural areas and could lead to the development of new nursing school curricula that address environmental health issues in rural areas.

A student in the Master of Science — Leadership Degree offered by the interprofessional Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate Degree Program, Blake anticipates graduating this June. The poster represented her thesis work, which is required of all master’s-degree programs at the School of Nursing.

The Western Institute of Nursing is one of four U.S. regional nursing research organizations. Its mission is to embrace nursing education, practice and research leading to improved patient care. New and emerging nursing knowledge is featured at the annual research conference, which is the oldest conference of its kind in the United States. The institute has continuously offered the event since 1968. More than two dozen UC Davis School of Nursing students and faculty participated in poster and podium presentation at the 2014 conference this month.

About the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis

The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis was established in March 2009 through a $100 million commitment from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the nation's largest grant for nursing education. The vision of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing is to transform health care through nursing education and research. The school’s first programs, doctoral and master’s degrees, opened in fall 2010. Master’s degree programs for nurse practitioners and physician assistants, with a focus on preparing primary-care providers for rural and underserved communities, opened in summer 2013. The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing is part of UC Davis Health System, an integrated, academic health system encompassing the UC Davis School of Medicine, UC Davis Medical Center and the UC Davis Medical Group. For more information, visit