Urmeka Jefferson, PhD, RN, associate professor, will receive the 2022 Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) Award for Excellence in Research at the organization’s annual conference in June. Her research seeks to improve breastfeeding among Black mothers through app-based technologies.
The award is presented to nurses who make extraordinary contributions that promote the health of women, newborns and families at the local, state, national and international levels. Jefferson was selected as the sole winner of the Award for Excellence in Research for her valuable work on breastfeeding.
Jefferson’s research focuses on reducing disparities in breastfeeding to decrease the level of morbidity for vulnerable infants. Her scholarly contributions have been in three main areas: 1) the association of infant feeding attitudes and exposure to breastfeeding intentions, 2) finding the determinants of breastfeeding behavior among Black and rural women, and 3) using technology to improve access to breastfeeding support services.
“We are excited to celebrate Dr. Jefferson’s contributions to research on women’s and children’s health,” says Christine Kennedy, PhD, RN, FAAN, the John L. and Helen Kellogg Dean of the College of Nursing. “Dr. Jefferson is uniquely deserving of this award. She is a tenacious, passionate nurse researcher whose work with a health equity lens is making an impact on our community and changing outcomes in the youngest of lives.”
Jefferson has been recognized with other recent awards for her contributions to nursing research, practice and innovation. In May 2021, she received the Betty Irene Moore Fellowship to expand her research into maternal-child health. Her research on breastfeeding interventions for Black and African American mothers has helped her refine an app she developed to streamline breastfeeding support and community services for women in the Chicago area.
“It is an honor to be recognized by my peers at the AWHONN,” Jefferson says. “I hope that I can serve as an inspiration to other nursing researchers working to improve health outcomes in underserved communities.”