Rebecca Meehan, Ph.D. – Faculty Spotlight

Tell us a little bit about your professional background and areas of focus.

After earning my doctorate in medical sociology and gerontology from Case Western Reserve University, I spent many years conducting applied research in hospitals and long term care facilities sponsored by grants from the National Institute of Health.  I was part of teams looking at the influence of the social and physical environment for persons with dementia, the impact of a forced disruption in a doctor-patient relationship based on insurance changes, and the user experience of staff and residents of long term care facilities who were using a new motion sensor technology to prevent falls, get help when needed and to preserve resident privacy.  Throughout my work I always had an interest in technology and what it can mean to the end user.  So, I made a change, and took a job in industry. I met great people and learned so much here!  I worked in product management, user experience and usability research for an enterprise level software company serving a global market.  My focus areas now bring together my past worlds by exploring ways to improve usability in health information technology (e.g. electronic health records, mobile health), and measuring ways in which this improves patient safety outcomes and creates less burden on clinicians.  I am thrilled to have the opportunity to teach and continue my research here at Kent State in the iSchool!    

Describe recent projects or research that you’ve been working on.

I am evaluating the process of how both hospitals and electronic health record (EHR) developers work to improve the EHR, mitigating errors in order to improve patient safety outcomes.  I am also working with an interdisciplinary team here at Kent State to develop a digital language identifier, called STREAMTM (patent pending). The tool uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to listen to a speaker and determine what language is being spoken.  I am also working with the HIMSS Health App Guidelines Workgroup to improve usability of mobile health apps.   

What is your favorite part of teaching?

The students are amazing people!  Teaching also gives me an opportunity to learn more about the topic as it changes, or about new ways to look at the issues.  

Do you have a favorite teaching moment?

The “aha” moment when course material makes sense, and they get it!  I am energized by students who are curious and inspired by courses or certain course topics.  All of us get better in these moments! 

How have your professional experiences influenced your teaching?

This is a huge influence for me!  I often talk in class about how concepts in information science, health informatics and user experience design are actually used in the workplace whether it is in a hospital, home environment, or software company.  I talk about the “reality” of working in the job.  

What issues related to information interest you most?

I am most interested in using information to help people in need, to answer big questions, and to improve the quality of our lives.  I am also interested in making information more accessible, verifiable, and actionable by improving usability or the user experience.  

If you had one superpower:

Flying! 🙂

How do you like to spend time outside of work?

I love being with my family, cooking and walking in beautiful places.  

Do you have any advice for students?

Take advantage of all of the amazing courses, events and research going on in the iSchool here at Kent State!  Look at other iSchool courses you can take as an elective to try something new and allow you to learn more about other ways of managing and working with information.  

What class(es) are you teaching for Kent’s iSchool?

In Spring 2021, I am teaching UXD 60001 User Experience Design Principles and Concepts. In Fall 2021, I will be teaching HI 60414 Human Factors and Usability in Health Informatics. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Please know what an amazing community of talented students, faculty and staff you have here at the iSchool!  These extraordinary people here at Kent State University continue to impress me and inspire me. 

Christine Hudak, Ph.D., RN-BC, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, FAMIA – Faculty Spotlight

Tell us a little bit about your professional background and areas of focus.

My Bachelor’s degree was in nursing. I am a Registered Nurse that has used that background to move into Health Informatics. Both my M.Ed. and Ph.D. are in Education; the first in Adult Education & Instructional Design and the Ph.D. in Educational Administration. 

In my career, I’ve been a public health nurse, a staff development instructor and manager, as well as the first health informatics specialist at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. Also at Metro, I managed the first implementation of a hospital information system, managed the help desk and worked in computer security. 

I didn’t come to the Academy until 1995 when I became faculty at the CWRU Nursing School. I was there for 17 years and started the Master’s program in Nursing Informatics as well as NurseWeb (a website for Nursing Informatics) and was architect of the undergraduate courses in nursing informatics. 

My foci within health informatics are: organizational culture and its impact on system implementation, interoperability of health information systems, project management, and systems analysis and design. Obviously, education is an overarching concept.

Describe recent projects or research that you’ve been working on.

Most of my recent research has focused on the way clinicians respond to electronic medical record systems. What we’ve found is that they all see the value added from the systems, but they, to a person, dislike pull down menus, alarms, having to chart while patients are with them, and non-intuitive applications. We’ve also found that they are very frustrated when systems don’t talk to each other.

As far as projects, I’m working on setting up a dual degree with Public Health, program accreditation, and building up admissions. The program also sponsors, along with the local chapter of the Health Information & Management Systems Society, a monthly webinar series.

What is your favorite part of teaching?

First, let me tell you my mantra: without any of you, the students, there would be no need for us, the faculty. I never forget that. So, obviously, watching students grow and learn is an absolute joy. I love being a person who can help lead a student to understanding without giving them the answer. When you see that understanding occur, the ah-ha moment, that’s the real joy.

Do you have a favorite teaching moment?

There are so many but here’s the funniest one. I was teaching a group of sophomore nursing students epidemiology. I was waxing rhapsodic about the first incidence of Ebola virus, about 1980 or so. I kept saying, it was in the news, you should have read about it. They all looked at me as if I had grown a second head or third arm. Finally, one of them sheepishly raised their hand and quietly said, Dr. Hudak, we weren’t even born in 1980! Huge wake up call, but tremendously funny.

How have your professional experiences influenced your teaching?

Since I didn’t come to the Academy until I’d been working for almost 25 years, my teaching is very practical. I tend to look at the real world and apply that to theories. Hence, I use a ton of examples from the real world in my teaching. It helps make what we do as informaticians in our classes make sense when students go out into practice.

What issues related to information interest you most?

Computer security for one. With the price for a purloined medical record going for over $1,000 on the dark web, it behooves hospitals to have the most robust systems they can. Unfortunately, as fast as we develop security measures, a black-hatted hacker finds a back door to steal records. Additionally, I’m interested in how hospitals respond to ransom attacks. Do you or do you not pay the ransom when your hospital’s system is shut down until you pay the ransom? Interesting conundrum. 

I’m also interested in the interoperability of different systems. If we are ever to have a truly complete health record, then every system has to be able to share information with every other system and now, they don’t. 

Women in Health IT is another issue. When I first started in IT, it was primarily men. Now, women are becoming more influential and we are no longer an oddity.

Are there any websites, apps, podcasts or other resources you’d recommend students explore?

There are so many but those with the most reliable and current information are the Health Information & Management Systems Society, the American Medical Informatics Association, and the Office of the National Coordinator of Health Informatics

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our HI Listserv. We have lots of information about HI, job opportunities, free conferences and webinars as well as student information. Anyone can join it – just email me and ask. 

I will be posting, within the next week or so, a list of free HI-related newsletters. This is the best way to keep up with what’s been happening in HI.

If you had one superpower:

I’d like to be invisible. I’d like to be able to go unnoticed into hospital board rooms and see how they make decisions about which system to buy.

How do you like to spend time outside of work?

I like to garden. I’m a certified Master Gardener through Ohio State Extension. I volunteer at the Cleveland Botanical Garden and do online diagnostics around the state.

 I also do needlework, mostly counted cross stitch and Assisi stitch.

I love music and my husband and I have subscriptions to the Cleveland Orchestra, Apollo’s Fire, and the Cleveland Chamber Music Society. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has moved most of those subscriptions online; acceptable but not the same as the live experience. I volunteer on political campaigns. And I love, love the Cleveland Browns! I also collect Teddy Bears!

Do you have any advice for students?

Never, ever, preface a question with,  “This is a dumb question”. There are no dumb questions. Seriously, if you have a question, you are asking it for a reason.

Also, don’t be afraid to explore opportunities out of your major area. Sometimes, what seems to be in the outfield, is a perfect fit. Look at me, nursing to Program Coordinator for Health Informatics. 

Learn to use social media intelligently. Utilize LinkedIn to network like crazy; read your posts on Twitter before you send them; stay safe on Facebook and Instagram.

Find a mentor and use them. I identified my mentor in graduate school and I still communicate with him. In fact, he’s writing a chapter in my book! 

What class(es) are you teaching for Kent’s iSchool?

HI 60401 Health Informatics Management 

HI 60403 Health Information Systems 

HI 60417 Public Health Informatics 

Also Individual Investigations and Culminating Experiences.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I know this is self-serving but it makes me proud: in 2019, I was chosen as one of the Most Influential Women in Health IT by HIMSS. This year, I was named a Fellow of the American Medical Informatics Association. In 2013, I was named a Fellow of HIMSS. When you’re recognized by your peers, it’s very special. 

Don P. Jason III, M.L.I.S. – Alumni Spotlight

iSchool Graduation Date


Professional Organizations/Affiliations

Medical Library Association (MLA), African American Medical Library Alliance (AAMLA)

Current responsibilities/How are you using your information skills?

I serve as the Health Informationist for the University of Cincinnati’s Donald C. Harrison Health Sciences Library. In my role, I assist clinical care staff with grant writing, literature searching, systematic reviews and outcomes-based projects. I also provide library instruction on clinical data capture tools, library databases and citation management software. The Health Informationist role is filled with dynamic challenges and there is a constant need to gain new technical skills. My job responsibilities recently expanded.  I was appointed to UC Libraries’ Research & Data Services Unit (R&DS). In this unit, I work with a committed team to plan events that teach the UC research community about data science.  The two events that I frequently assist with are the Data and Computational Science Series (DCSS) and Data Day. Both events feature innovative workshops, panel discussions and lectures given by distinguished speakers. The events cover topics such as high-performance computing, cloud computing, data visualization, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. R&DS also teaches skill-building workshops on Python, R, and GIS software. It also provides individual consultations with researchers and their teams. In the consultations, R&DS team members develop data management plans and help researchers deposit their data into institutional repositories.

What is the best professional advice you can give?

I have three pieces of professional advice. One, I would encourage everyone to ask questions. Asking questions allows you to learn and grow as a professional. Seeking clarification gives you a deeper understanding of why your library functions in a specific way or why a policy or protocol is in place.  Two, I would encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and take calculated risks. For example, you may attend a conference that is slightly ‘out of scope’ for your job or decide to push yourself to take on a leadership role at your library.  Three, I would encourage information professionals to collaborate with researchers outside of their field. I have been fortunate enough to do this during my career.  In 2017, my library was awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) / National Library of Medicine (NLM) Informationist Supplement Grant. This grant program encourages NIH-funded researchers to add librarians to their research teams. In my case, the research team was studying manganese exposure in Appalachian communities. Three librarians were added to the team to update the study’s website with consumer health information. We also created data visualizations to illustrate the team’s research findings. Finally, we helped the research team deposit data into the UC institutional repository. This interdisciplinary experience helped me grow as an information professional.

How do you encourage innovative ideas?

I encourage innovative ideas by listening more than I speak. Whether it is in a meeting or simply while I am in the public areas of my library, my ears are always open. I believe that I can learn something from everyone I meet. I am a lifelong learner and I look at each person I interact with as my teacher. In academia we oftentimes overlook life experience and assign value based on the number of degrees attained, the number of publications written, and the number of awards accumulated. However, innovation cannot thrive in an environment where success has such as narrow definition. Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone brings life experience to the table and adds value to the conversation.

Do you have a mentor? How have they influenced you?

Yes, I am a strong believer in mentors. I have mentors that work in medical libraries, government libraries, and in higher education. I would recommend that everybody has a mentoring team that they go to for support and guidance. You may include someone who serves as a life coach/ personal advisor on your mentoring team. You may have a mentor that is a midcareer librarian and another mentor that is in a senior level management role.  Overall, your mentoring team’s roster is totally up to you. However, I would recommend including diversity on your team. Including people of different genders, ages, and ethnic backgrounds broadens the perspective of your mentoring team. Finally, I would also encourage you to mentor someone else. Even someone fresh out of library school has a story to tell and knowledge to share. All it takes to serve as a mentor is a willingness to give your time, an ability to listen, and an open mind.  

To what values are you committed?

I am committed to the values of equity, inclusion, and cultural competency. I believe in approaching every situation with a growth mindset. I believe we can learn from our mistakes and use them to learn and grow as professionals and as people.  

How do you balance your work and home life?

I balance work and home life by finding hobbies that I enjoy. I have started embracing health and fitness. I work out for one hour per day. I turn my cell phone and email off and consider this to be my ‘me time.’ Workouts include lifting weights at the gym or just going for a walk in my neighborhood. I find it refreshing to be alone with my thoughts. I generate my best ideas during my workouts.  

What are some challenges that today’s information professionals will face? And tomorrow’s?

Information professionals of today and tomorrow face several challenges. The first challenge is visibility. Librarians are very good at doing behind the scenes work. They conduct literature searches for faculty. They manage citations for research teams. They catalog and index resources, etc. These tasks are vitally important to institutions’ academic missions, but the decision-makers and higher-ups do not see them.  Librarians must step into the forefront and show that they add value to their institutions. They will need to move from introverts to extroverts and become their own cheerleaders. They can do this by advocating for co-authorship on articles and grant applications. They can join high-profile committees at their universities. Librarians can also find ways to lead initiatives and serve as project managers. Second, librarians will need to learn technical skills at a rapid pace.  Professional development funds are few and far between in most libraries, so learning new skills in traditional ways may not be possible. Librarians must explore creative ways to gain skills. They may choose to attend free local training events, take Coursera classes, or watch training videos on YouTube or LinkedIn Learning.  

How can the library remain important to the community?

Libraries can remain important to the community by embracing the concept of outreach. I work in a health sciences library that does a lot of consumer health outreach. Our outreach team distributes consumer health information at local health fairs. We staff health information tables at local nursing homes and at public libraries. We even give presentations to K-12 students. We have also expanded our outreach efforts to increase regional impact. In the summer of 2019, my library teamed up with the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to bring the All of Us Research Program to the UC campus and to the Cincinnati community. All of Us sent their mobile exhibit called the ‘Journey’ to visit us for two days.  As a result of this visit, we taught 120 community members about precision medicine. In 2018, my library received Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) funding to install health information kiosks and blood pressure kiosks in a community housing development and in a branch of the public library.  We also used the funding to create a consumer health website and to coordinate healthy cooking demonstrations for the community.  In conclusion, libraries must do outreach to remain relevant and visible in their communities.

Special thanks to the Kent State University iSchool Alumni Network for coordinating these profiles. Learn more about the Alumni Network on their Facebook page and group. Students are welcome to join and participate.