As a bedside nurse in a Level III NICU, I witnessed the importance of breast milk and also noticed great variation in both volumes and characteristics between new mothers. This led to my dissertation work at the University of Pittsburgh, which examined maternal interleukin polymorphisms and subsequent milk variability and infant outcomes. Specifically, milk interleukin variability was associated with fecal calprotectin, a biomarker of intestinal inflammation that has been tied to necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). This work culminated in my postdoctoral fellowship, which tied maternal lifestyle (sleep and stress) with breast milk volume.
My current program of research at the University of South Florida College of Nursing leverages my molecular and sleep expertise to understand if and how breast milk circadian rhythms predict milk composition and subsequent infant outcomes.