Ungaretti and Anderson Share in Discovery Awards

By Andrew Myers

Two faculty members in the School of Education have been named as part of two separate multidisciplinary research teams that will receive as much as $100,000 each to study important issues facing society.

Toni Ungaretti will lead a team tackling the intriguingly titled study, “Jedi Knight to Jedi Master: Discovering the New Master of Health Professions Educator Leader,” that will look at the many ways post-graduate-degree health professions educators emerged as effective and confident interprofessional leaders in response to COVID-19 across the health professions. Ungaretti heads a team that includes experts from the schools of medicine, nursing, public health, and business.

Their initial objective will be to identify characteristics these leaders have in common as a first step to inform the development of transformational leaders for tomorrow’s health care environment.

“The pandemic has proved to be a complex problem and we need a complex solution,” Ungaretti says. “We want to learn what are the characteristics leaders demonstrate and then modify education programs to focus on and build those strengths in future classes of doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, and other health professionals.”

In the second study, Annette Anderson will join colleagues from medicine, public health, and the Berman Institute for Bioethics to look at the effect school closings, reopenings, and the shift to online learning have had on the mental, social, and economic outcomes for students and their families, which are known to be more adverse for families of color than other demographic groups.

As part of Johns Hopkins eSchool+ Initiative, Anderson and her colleagues will survey school communities about their experiences adapting to the pandemic and what impact it has had on their lives. That data will be compared against baseline data collected and curated over recent years prior to the pandemic to paint a before-and-after picture of the pandemic and its effect on families.

Studies like this are important, Anderson says, because there has been a lot of conjecture about whether closings and reopenings are being conducted with student well-being in mind. “Some students are thriving, while other families are at their wit’s end,” she says. “This study will give an opportunity to know with evidence what mental health effects the pandemic has had on students and it will help us forge a path forward that is best for them.”