Navy Researchers Earn Top Honors in Publications and Professional Development

Jun 30, 2014 | 2:05:00 PM
SAN DIEGO (NNS) — Three Navy researchers received national recognitions this month, demonstrating Naval Health Research Center’s (NHRC) quality teamwork and expertise across the spectrum of research and development.

Dr. Rachel Markwald, a sleep research scientist, was awarded the 2014 Sleep Research Society’s Young Investigator Award. Cynthia A. LeardMann, a senior epidemiologist, was awarded the Charles E. Gibbs Leadership Prize from the George Washington University, and Capt. Jacqueline Rychnovsky, NHRC’s commanding officer, was selected to be a fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the largest professional membership organization for nurse practitioners.

“These awards are indicative of the quality of scientists that we are able to attract here at NHRC,” explained NHRC’s Director of Research Dr. Karl Van Orden. “This group represents diverse fields ranging from physiology to epidemiology to nursing practice.”

Markwald earned the Young Investigator Award for her work in 2013 studying the impact of insufficient sleep on energy expenditure, food intake and weight gain. Her study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found a direct impact of insufficient sleep on energy balance.

“These findings have fleet-wide implications since staying fit is a basic requirement and a necessity for readiness. Service members must often operate under periods of sleep loss while surrounded by quick and easy food options,” explained Markwald. “Snacking, especially at night, drove up weight gain in our study. If we are aware that not getting enough food may lead us to eat more than we need, then we can take measures to stop it from happening.”

For LeardMann, the editorial board of Women’s Health Issues, the academic journal produced by The George Washington University’s Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health recognized her work in the area of sexual harassment and sexual assault. The Gibbs Leadership Prize is the journal’s top honor for the best paper published in 2013.

LeardMann’s ultimate goal was to provide information that allowed policy makers to design interventions reducing sexual stressors in deployed environments. Her team found that women who deployed and reported combat experiences were significantly more likely to report sexual harassment or the combination of harassment and assault. An important finding, she noted, with the recent changes to open combat positions to women in the military.

Rounding out the team’s top honors, Rychnovsky was selected as a Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. The program recognizes contributions to clinical practice, research, education or policy. Rychnovsky’s selection was formalized during a ceremony at the AANP 29th National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, June 19.

As one of 76 nurse practitioner leaders selected to continue the tradition of influencing national and global health, Rychnovsky was specifically selected for her contributions to public policy and research.

While serving as Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) Health Policy Fellow, Rychnovsky drafted two pieces of legislation that were successfully integrated into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. She is also the first Navy Nurse Corps Officer to command a Navy Medicine research and development command, while continuing to contribute and advance the field of nursing research.

“We’re proud to offer Navy Medicine and the DoD such a diverse and well qualified team of research professionals,” noted Van Orden.

As the DoD’s premier deployment health research center, NHRC’s cutting-edge research and development is used to optimize the operational health and readiness of the nations armed forces. Within close proximity to more than 95,000 uniformed service members, world-class universities, and industry partners, NHRC’s expert team sets the standards in joint ventures, innovation, and practical application.

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