The University of Massachusetts Amherst
Faculty & Staff

Rachel Walker

Associate Professor, PhD Program Director
Certifications: 
PhD, RN
Campus Address: 
Skinner Hall 122
Phone: 
413.545.0250

BS Nursing 2007, PhD in Nursing 2013, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland; Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.

Rachel Walker is the first nurse to be named an official Invention Ambassador for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Dr. Walker is an Associate Director of the UMass Center for Health and Human Performance: a multidisciplinary translational science center that specializes in developing sensors, wearables, and digital health technology. They earned their PhD in Nursing, Certificates in Health Disparities research and Nursing Education, and completed their Postdoctoral Fellowship in innovation for aging and translational science at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Their clinical background includes oncology nursing, patient navigation, and experience in rural emergency response, humanitarian disaster relief, wilderness search & rescue, and as a U.S. Peace Corps-Mali Volunteer.

Dr. Walker is an Associate Professor and Director of the PhD Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Nursing, where they teach across the undergraduate and doctoral curricula, with a special focus on innovation, measurement, and qualitative methods. Their team’s research focuses primarily on nursing invention, design justice, and the intersections of emergent technologies such as A.I./machine learning and community. Their research and innovations have been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the Oncology Nursing Foundation and Sigma Foundation for Nursing. Recent features about their activism and nurse inventions involving sensors such as computational eyeglasses, microfluidics, radar-based sensing, accelerometers and nanotechnology, have appeared in magazines such as Forbes and Scientific American, on NPR and Facebook Live, and in the journal Science.

Dr. Walker believes technology is just a tool that may be used to support but should never supplant attention to individual’s voices and lived experiences, human dignity, caring and healing touch, and the need to disrupt and transform structures of power and oppression that drive injustice and inequity. They advise the American Nurses Association on the Innovation Advisory Board andserve on the Steering Committee of the UMASS Center for Community Health Equity Research (CCHER) and is a member of the Design Justice Network (http://designjusticenetwork.org). Dr. Walker is an Associate Editor of the journal Oncology Nursing Forum, where they founded the Critical Perspectives department that addresses issues of equity and justice within the nursing profession and its scholarship through the lens of critical theory and lived experience. In 2020 they were recognized with the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Nursing Section’s Global Hero Award, for their efforts as co-founder of the collective, Nursing Mutual Aid (www.nursingmutualaid.squarespace.org). 

For more recent Media/Press highlights and to Learn About ongoing Research, visit Dr. Walker’s lab website:  http://www.inventRN.org

For more about Dr. Walker’s work with the AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassadors, visit: http://www.inventionamb.org/ambassadors/rachel-walker/

For more about Dr. Walker’s role on the ANA Innovation Advisory Board, visit: https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/innovation-evidence/

RECENT PRESS & MEDIA