School of Nursing

Meet Our Ph.D. Students

Current Ph.D. Student Profiles

Kayla Tabari House, RN, MBE

Kayla Tabari House, RN, MBE

Current Phase in Program: 1st Year 

Research Interests: Childbirth, Racialized Healthcare Disparities, and Stillbirth

Current Advisors: Dr. Dena Hassouneh and Dr. Elise Erickson

Originally from San Francisco, I earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of San Francisco and began my career as a nurse. After having the honor of attending countless births in the Labor and Delivery setting, I decided to put away my clogs and pursue a childhood dream of studying medical ethics. I went on to earn a Master in Bioethics at Harvard Medical School. My time at Harvard, particularly with Dr. Aimee Milliken, illuminated my interest in research and education. This led me to pursue a Ph.D. at OHSU, where I am honored to be guided by Dr. Hassouneh and Dr. Erickson. My passions lie in conducting research and supporting people in the spaces of life's most powerful transitions, particularly childbirth and stillbirth care. My focus is on childbirth, ethics, and healthcare disparities in the United States.

Contact email: tabari@ohsu.edu

Christopher Kahle, MA

Christopher Kahle, MA

Current Phase in Program: 2nd year

Research Interests: Civility in nursing education

Dissertation Chair: Dr. Ellen Tilden

I’m a geographer and the first social scientist accepted to OHSU’s Nursing PhD program. For decades, I was a geographer. Ten years ago, I shifted my educator and technical strengths into clinical simulation, eventually leading experiential learning for two pre-licensure nursing programs.

Observations and experiences of nursing faculty behaving badly towards learners and towards me as a non-nurse simulationist sparked my research curiosity. My early investigations, however, have revealed “civility” as problematic and colonialist. I am investigating concept/s that may better describe respectful social interactions in professional education that hold space for advocacy and share power. My aim is to improve education cultures and student outcomes and, thereby, improve patient outcomes.

I’m refining my benchmark literature review for publication and conducting a concept analysis of civility within and beyond nursing education literature. While other researchers have attended to incivility, my research examines its positive converse.

Contact Email: kahlec@ohsu.edu

Andrew Kualaau, RN, BSN

Andrew Kualaau, RN, BSN

Current Phase in Program: 1st Year 

Research Interests: My focus as a PhD student is on Social Determinants of Health as they relate to health outcomes in vulnerable populations. I am especially interested in the associations between low socioeconomic status, housing, and health in Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders (NHOPI).

Current Advisor: Dr. Dena Hassouneh

I am 41 years old and started my journey to becoming a nurse five years ago. I completed my AS at Portland Community College in July 2017 and ADN at Mt. Hood Community College in March 2019. I received my licensure and began working as an RN in May 2019. During this time, I entered into OHSU’s online RNBS program in April 2019 and received my BSN in July 2020. I began the PhD program in September 2020.

As a Registered Nurse, I have worked in long term, surgical, and addiction treatment settings. I am a mixed Native Hawaiian and White male who grew up in a modest community in Maui. I view OHSU’s SON PhD program as an opportunity to serve NHOPI and other vulnerable populations through nursing, research, and education. Additionally, as a PhD prepared RN, I hope to increase the representation of marginalized communities.

Robin Tarter RN, BSN, MS, PhD Candidate

Robin Tarter RN, BSN, MS, PhD Candidate

Current Phase in Program: Dissertation Phase

Dissertation Title: Unpaid care labor for dying parents: Gendered agency, constraint, and health

Dissertation Chair: Dr. Dena Hassouneh

My background is in evolutionary biology, social justice activism, and hospice nursing.  As a PhD student at the OHSU, I’ve begun my program of research focused on the empowerment of marginalized elders and those on whom they depend for care.  My primary mentors at OHSU have been Dr. Dena Hassouneh, Dr. Martha Driessnack, and Dr. Allison Lindauer.  For my dissertation, I am examining the experience of choice in unpaid family eldercare, exploring the ways in which oppressive social norms and structures, trauma, and gender shape the experience and health impact of providing care to older adult parents with life limiting illnesses.  My central goals as a researcher and nurse are to amplify the voices of persons who are often silenced or ignored in mainstream discourses in gerontology, and to develop community-based, trauma-informed interventions to support women who care for family members at the end-of-life.

Contact Email: tarter@ohsu.edu

Kalisha Bonds

Kalisha Bonds

By Christi Richardson-Zboralski
Kalisha Bonds, Ph.D. student and geriatric nursing advocate, hails from Trezevant –a small town (population 850) in West Tennessee.Bonds was raised by her grandmother and always liked hearing about other people's life experiences. She developed a strong curiosity about the way people related to each other and their environments as they grew older.

When she got a terrible burn on her leg as an undergraduate student at the University of Tennessee at Martin she was introduced to nursing as a patient. She bonded with one nurse at the Student Health center where she was treated twice a week for over a month, even attending the nurse's wedding. Those interactions and that relationship stuck with her. After receiving her Master's at Vanderbilt University as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner she worked with adolescents who had mental health issues.

Eventually she began working full-time at a nursing home, which she found to be one of the best decisions she made. "Soon after graduation, I started working with older adults in long-term care facilities providing medication management and therapy. This experience influenced my research topic."

Bonds was recently awarded the Jonas Veterans Healthcare Scholarship for2016-2018, In addition to being grateful for the financial support for her education,she looks forward to the leadership development and networking that will occur in this program.

Bonds hopes to focus on dementia care, to improve the quality of life for patients, and to more deeply understand the disease while expanding knowledge of clients and their care givers.

Her advice, "Never give up on your dream.There will be a way. Trust your mentors and the guidance they give you."

-From the winter 2016 Connections Newsletter

Robin Tarter- Ph.D. Student

Robin Tarter- Ph.D. Student

OHSU SON: What is your background? Where are you from?

Robin Tarter: I grew up in Berkeley, Ca in a family of academically and artistically minded immigrants.  My first degree was in Biology at UC Berkeley, followed by a Master’s in Bioacoustics for which I spent 4 years researching social learning and communication in birds and teaching comparative physiology.  I decided I wanted to touch people, and to explore existential questions in the context of the human health, so I changed careers and became a hospice nurse.

OHSU SON: If you would like to share, did you receive any funding or scholarships?

Robin Tarter: I am thankful to have received the Dean’s Scholarship.

OHSU SON: Why did you choose OHSU?

Robin Tarter: In searching for a graduate program, I looked for collegiality, creativity and a humanistic attitude.  Studying the work of the OHSU graduate faculty, I was impressed by the depth of questions being considered and diversity of rigorous methodology.  Everyone I have met in the OHSU school of nursing is deeply compassionate and committed to enriching the lives of patients and communities through scholarship and the application of scientific knowledge to practice.

OHSU SON: What is your research focus and what got you interested in it?

Robin Tarter: Since before I started working in health care, I have been drawn to older people and curious about how nearing the end of life changes the experience of being human.  I’m also interested in how care partnership can occur across barriers of language, cognitive capability and experience.  This interest has been shaped by my clinical and personal connection to families facing terminal illness who report a disconnection between their values and the supports offered by our healthcare system.  My research focus is on community based palliative care at end-of-life with attention to subjective symptom experience and interpersonal dynamics.

OHSU SON: Who inspires you in your research work and why?

Robin Tarter: Oliver Sacks, Albert Camus and Cicely Saunders are my greatest inspirations as a researcher and nurse.  In more proximate terms, I am inspired by the work of Prof. Betty Ferrell on end of life nursing, Dr. Eric Cassell on the nature of suffering and Dr. Thomas Kitwood on personhood and dementia.  The researchers at OHSU who have had the greatest influence on my research goals thus far are Dr. Karen Lyons, whose work in dyads with chronic illness calls into question the individualistic nature of most healthcare interventions and Dr. Martha Driessnack who has developed novel ways to communicate about fear with children.

OHSU SON: What do you hope to accomplish once you receive your PhD?

Robin Tarter: After finishing my PhD, I hope to teach, do research, see patients and do public outreach.  My central goals are collaboratively creating and disseminating knowledge about the process of dying because I believe that our culture’s denial of death and marginalization of community care partners is detrimental to the health and well-being of all members of our society.

Molly Campbell - Ph.D. Student

Molly Campbell - Ph.D. Student

OHSU SON:  What is your background? Where are you from?

Molly Campbell: I grew up in a small town in Alaska, living off salmon and homegrown vegetables. In 2009, I completed my associate degree in nursing at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon and have worked primarily in hospitals as a cardiac nurse. I completed by Bachelor of Science in nursing in 2016 at OHSU. I also teach wilderness medicine, leadership and decision-making on 30-day trips for National Outdoor Leadership School and host a country-music show on community radio.

OHSU SON:  If you would like to share, did you receive any funding or scholarships?

Molly Campbell: I am the fortunate recipient of the Dean's Scholarship which fully funds my tuition and fees.

OHSU SON: Why did you choose OHSU?

Molly Campbell: OHSU is on the cutting edge of nursing research. The science happening at the OHSU School of Nursing is diverse in scope and inspired in design. The newly-designed Ph.D. curriculum prepares nurse scientists to contribute substantially to our understanding of health and the human experience.

Students are encouraged to explore more radical theories to inform research into the experience of marginalized groups. OHSU promotes a caring and rigorous atmosphere inspiring students to put all of their brain, heart and soul into their work. Also, the amenities like a membership to the fitness center and access to the student health clinic make it easy to stay healthy while in school.

OHSU SON: What is your research focus and what got you interested in it?

Molly Campbell: I study how people with serious illness make decisions about treatment. My interest in this topic grew from my work as a hospital nurse where I watched patients and families struggle to make sense of their medical choices and their own personal priorities. I see a need to improve how the medical system and patients communicate with each other.

OHSU SON: Who inspires you in your research work and why?

Molly Campbell: My mentor, Lissi Hansen, inspires me with her passion and commitment to understanding the experiences of her study participants.

OHSU SON: What do you hope to accomplish once you receive your PhD?

Molly Campbell: One of my goals is to give back to the field of nursing by teaching at the undergraduate level. I also plan to continue scientific inquiry into palliative care and decision-making.