NEWS | September 21, 2009

Three postdoctoral fellows join Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis


Three postdoctoral fellows join the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing team this month. The scholars — along with fellow Tara Sharpp, who came to the school in fall 2008 — will develop as independent researchers and bring fresh ideas and energy as the school develops its interdisciplinary research environment.

“This team of four postdoctoral fellows will play a vital role in the launch of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis,” said Heather M. Young, associate vice chancellor for nursing at UC Davis Health System and founding dean of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. “By filling these positions now, the School of Nursing will begin the important work of advancing scholarship and visibility through published works while simultaneously moving the school closer toward the goal of developing new nursing faculty.”

Young said that postdoctoral positions are an important step to launching an independent research career and fulfilling the full academic role of faculty at research-intensive universities. By adding the fellows to the school’s launch team now, the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing is immediately establishing a pipeline for the development of future nursing faculty.

Two of the three new fellows, Debra Bakerjian and Dian Baker, specialize in health policy and system change under the mentorship of Debbie Ward, associate clinical professor and founding faculty member for the nursing school.

Bakerjian, who recently completed a John A. Hartford Foundation, Claire M. Fagin Postdoctoral Fellowship at UC San Francisco in Social and Behavioral Sciences, earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Policy and Gerontology in 2006 and a Master in Science of Nursing in 1992, both from UC San Francisco School of Nursing. Her research is primarily focused on wound care and quality improvement issues in Northern California nursing homes; the transitions between health-care facilities, home and assisted living centers; chronic disease management; quality of care and life; and teaching.

Baker earned a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Nursing in fall 2009.  During the span of her 30-year nursing career, Baker’s work supported highly vulnerable and underserved populations, such as children and families experiencing developmental disabilities, victims of hate crimes, communities experiencing significant gang violence, and rural communities lacking access to health care. At the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, Baker will work to translate her research and experience into health policy.

Samira Jones specializes in gerontology under the mentorship of Young. Jones’ research is based on population health with an emphasis in nutrition, an interest area developed while working toward a Doctor of Philosophy in Nutritional Biology at UC Davis in 2009. Her dissertation research was directed toward the development and evaluation of an educational program that promotes eating more foods with omega-3 fatty acids such as fish among African-American women.

All three new fellows are funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation grant to launch the school.

Sharpp, who also works under the mentorship of Young and came to school following Young’s appointment in 2008, is funded for two years as a Claire M. Fagin Postdoctoral Fellow by the John A. Hartford Foundation.

“It is an incredible opportunity to help build the school from the ground up,” Sharpp said. “I’m thrilled to welcome the new researchers and look forward to the synergy that comes with their exciting projects.”

The postdoctoral fellows join the other launch team members at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing office suite in the Education Building. To learn more about the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing and the four new postdoctoral fellows, visit online at

For 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matters to California and to transform the world. The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis was established in March 2009, UC Davis' first major initiative to address society's most pressing health-care problems. The school was launched 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. Through nursing leadership, the school will discover knowledge to advance health, improve quality of care and health outcomes, and inform health policy. The school anticipates accepting its first class for the Master of Science and the Doctor of Philosophy degree programs in fall 2010. Additional students and programs will be phased in over the next decade. The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing is part of the UC Davis Health System, an integrated, academic health system encompassing UC Davis School of Medicine, the 613-bed-acute-care hospital and clinical services of UC Davis Medical Center and the 800-member physician group known as the UC Davis Medical Group. For more information, visit