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Meet KL2 Scholar Amanda Emerson

Oct 10, 2022

Connecting with people to make a difference in their lives.

That’s what is important to Amanda Emerson, Ph.D. (English, 2004), Ph.D. (Nursing, 2017), RN. It is what led her from the English department at the University of South Dakota to her current role as an assistant professor (tenure track) in the KU School of Nursing at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Emerson’s research focus combines the interests and skills she developed in nursing with her earlier teaching and research in the nation-forming literature of the early U.S.

For her dissertation in nursing, Emerson had the opportunity to join Megha Ramaswamy’s research team on the (S)HE: Sexual Health Education project with incarcerated women to increase cervical health literacy and up-to-date cervical cancer screening. Emerson helped lead the ethnographic portion of the (S)HE study. Her interviews with women after incarceration highlighted how they managed their health and health care in the community, often while coping with trauma and homelessness. In her current work, Emerson considers Ramaswamy, Kristine Williams (KU Medical Center) and Patricia Kelly (University of Missouri-Kansas City) as mentors.

Emerson’s KL2 research is focused on women as they age during and after incarceration. Her plans include working with women, families, and providers to develop creative, strengths-based programs to address women’s aging-related health services needs.

One of the things she enjoys the most about her research is elevating the stories of the women themselves. As she puts it, social empathy or bridging social difference drives change, and that only happens when we listen to each other.

While she’s only a few months into the KL2 program, she cites a few things that the program has helped her with, including giving time and structure for her research, meeting with other KL2 scholars and hearing about their studies, and mentoring support.

To anyone interested in applying to be a KL2 Scholar, Emerson offers this advice, “Definitely work on something that you are interested in and there is a need to learn more about through research. Find a mentor who can spend time with you throughout the entire process. And if you know someone who has been through a KL2 program, reach out to them!”

Emerson’s published research (and earlier scholarship) can be found at 

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Kelly Hale

Communications Coordinator

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