APIC Heroes Implementation Research Scholar Award Program

APIC’s Heroes Implementation Research Scholar Award Program provides career development opportunities for highly qualified individuals to plan, implement, and develop a written report for a research project demonstrating value and implications for infection prevention and quality efforts across clinical settings.

Consistent with the indicators of success for the implementation science goal included in APIC Strategic Plan 2020, it is expected that recipients will present the results of their findings at the APIC Annual Conference and prepare a manuscript for submission to APIC’s scholarly journal, the American Journal of Infection Control. The current program runs from January 2015 to December 2016.

The primary goals of APIC’s Heroes Implementation Research Scholar Award Program are to:

  • Promote research in implementation science. Implementation science is research that creates new knowledge about how best to design, implement, and evaluate quality improvement initiatives.
  • Improve patient outcomes by championing for systemic adoption of infection prevention and control programs in healthcare settings.
  • Highlight best practices derived from the proposed research.

Meet the 2015-16 Heroes Implementation Research Scholar Award recipients

Amanda Hessels, PhD, MPH, RN, CIC, CPHQ

Amanda Hessels, PhD, MPH, RN, CIC, CPHQ, has more than 19 years of extensive experience in adult critical care nursing, epidemiology, infection prevention, and healthcare quality in community and academic, urban, and suburban settings. She has contributed to clinical practice, public health, education, and research by conducting surveillance and response, providing operational oversight and leadership, driving organizational infection prevention and patient safety initiatives, conducting and promoting research, and as a hallmark of implementation science by fostering integration of knowledge into practice.

Dr. Hessels will use her APIC Heroes Implementation Research Scholar Award to advance the science of infection prevention practices, particularly the fundamentals of standard precautions. Her research proposal is entitled “Development, Psychometric and Pilot Testing of Standard Precautions Safety Climate and Observation Tools.”

An emerging nurse scientist, Dr. Hessels received an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) R36 award in 2012 for her dissertation work “Impact of Health Information Technology on the Delivery and Quality of Patient Care” and is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the National Institutes of Health-funded “Training in Interdisciplinary Research to Prevent Infections” (TIRI) program at Columbia University, School of Nursing. Dr. Hessels is an active member of several organizations. An APIC member for over a decade, she has served on the Board of Directors in numerous roles for the Northern New Jersey (NNJ) Chapter 21. She was the APIC-NNJ President in 2013 and under her leadership the chapter was awarded and successfully managed an APIC International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW) Education Grant.

Dr. Hessels is the recipient of numerous honors for her high levels of commitment and achievement in research and clinical practice. In 2014, she became the first Rutgers University College of Nursing Recipient of the Rutgers-University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s (UMDNJ) highest honor, the Stanley S. Bergen, Jr., MD, Medal of Excellence. She also received the New Jersey State Nurses Association, Institute for Nursing’s Diva and Don Award.

Amanda received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from the University of Rochester, Master of Science in Community Health Nursing (MSN) and Master of Public Health (MPH) from the City University of New York, Hunter College, and her Doctorate in Nursing (PhD) from Rutgers University, College of Nursing. She is certified in infection prevention and control (CIC) and is also a certified professional in healthcare quality (CPHQ).

JaHyun Kang, PhD, MPH, RN, CIC

JaHyun Kang, PhD, MPH, RN, CIC, is an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. She earned her PhD degree in nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). Her doctoral study was supported by a 5-year Royster Fellowship from the Graduate School of UNC-CH. Dr. Kang holds a Master of Public Health (Epidemiology) from the Seoul National University Graduate School of Public Health, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Korea University. Dr. Kang has been certified in infection prevention and control (CIC®) since 2005. She has abundant hospital infection control experience including the development of hospital infection control program in the electronic medical record (EMR) system at two Korean university-affiliated hospitals: the Seoul National University Bundang Hospital and the Korea University Medical Center Anam Hospital.

Dr. Kang will use her APIC Heroes Implementation Research Scholar Award to ensure safety for both the health care professionals and patients by providing a standardized best-practice protocol for the optimal use of PPE. Dr. Kang is the recipient of several honorable awards. At the 5th Decennial International Conference on Healthcare-Associated Infections in 2010, she received a SHEA travel award as the only RN with 9 MDs from across the world. Dr. Kang also received the Alice S. Hersh Scholarship for AcademyHealth's 2012 Annual Research Meeting in 2012.


2013-2014 Heroes Implementation Research Scholar Award recipients

Lillian S. Kao, MD, MS, FACS

Lillian S. Kao, MD, MS, FACS, is associate professor and vice-chair for quality in the Department of Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. She is the co-founder and co-director of the UT Health Center for Surgical Trials and Evidence-based Practice (C-STEP). Her research focuses on dissemination and implementation of evidence-based practices to reduce infectious complications, and she has been previously funded by career development awards from the NIH and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She and a team of investigators from the University of Texas-Memorial Hermann Center for Healthcare Quality and Safety (Drs. Jason Etchegaray and Eric Thomas) investigated the contextual factors and facilitation strategies used by the APIC Heroes of Infection Prevention Award winners to implement evidence-based patient safety practices to reduce healthcare-associated infections.

Kristy Woodman MS, MPH

Kristy Woodman MS, MPH, was an infection control coordinator at The University of Toledo Medical Center Department of Infection Prevention & Control since July 2011. She started her career in a research microbiology laboratory, receiving a Master of Science in Medical Sciences degree from the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. Following a few years “at the bench,” she pursued a second master’s degree from the Northwest Ohio Consortium for Public Health. With her Master of Public Health, Kristy dual majored in Epidemiology and Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety. It was through this program that she was first introduced to the field of infection control, completing a 9-month internship in the office which would subsequently hire her. Kristy has been involved with research projects throughout her educational and professional career involving the role of oral bacteria in HIV reactivation, MRSA contamination in the ICU environment, and environmental health and safety concerns, such as biosolid application and well water. As an infection control coordinator, Kristy conducts house-wide surveillance in a 200-bed urban hospital. She is an active member of several committees including the University Health Consortium’s (UHC) Partnership for Patient CAUTI reduction initiative, On the CUSP: Stop CAUTI Cohort 4; and Infections Due to Devices Improvement Collaborative VAP workgroup. She was also closely involved with National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) reporting. The Research Award Scholar Award was used to create a “spider-web” of infection preventionists at UTMC by inaugurating an infection prevention lecture series presenting relevant infection prevention topics to a wide variety of healthcare workers.



The 2015-2016 Heroes Implementation Research Scholar awards were made possible with support from an unrestricted education grant from BD, a long-standing APIC Strategic Partner.