The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Meet a PhD Graduate: Mohammad Alkhawaldeh

Oct 12, 2017
Mohammad Alkhawaldeh

Q: Why did you choose UMass Amherst to complete our PhD in Nursing?


A: When I decided to pursue my PhD in Nursing, I identified a list of 35 universities across 30 states that offered this program.  After careful consideration, I chose UMass Amherst for five reasons: First, UMass Amherst has a great reputation and is a well-known and respected university not only on a state level but also on national and international levels. Second, the PhD program at UMass Amherst is a research-intensive program and provides a tremendous amount of research support services (e.g., research facilities, great research mentors, and grant proposal review supports) for graduate students to meet their research goals. Third, UMass Amherst provides its PhD students with an excellent opportunity to gain real-world experience in teaching and scientific research. Through this opportunity, students not only graduate with a PhD degree but with real-world experience in teaching and scientific research. Fourth, I came to UMass Amherst from an international background and I found that this institution supports equality and diversity in education and job opportunities. Fifth, who does not want to live and get his/her education in the Happy Valley?  UMass is located in Amherst, MA which is a charming town with gorgeous nature surrounding it. It was a lovely location that I fell in love with immediately.


Q: What was the focus of your research here at UMass?


A: I focused my research on clinical and consumer informatics pertaining to the older population, with a particular interest in technological interventions to support self-management in patients with chronic illnesses. For my dissertation research, I tested a technological aid for managing type 2 diabetes. The title of my dissertation study was “Tablet-based Self-Management Intervention for Diabetes Mellitus Type II Patients: Usability and Efficacy of the ASSISTwell Application."


Q: How did you find the facilities, resources, and faculty supported you and your research?


A: I am extremely satisfied with the opportunity that I had at this university.  UMass Amherst provided me with the best resources, facilities, and faculty support during my three years there. In my first year I was introduced to a tremendous amount of resources available for PhD students at the UMass Amherst campus. Those resources included and are not limited to professional development resources, research and grants, teaching and research assistant opportunities, and mentoring undergraduate students. In the second semester, PhD students were financially supported to attend a professional nursing conference to engage in a higher level of learning and professional networking. During the second and third years, there was enormous support for PhD students regarding learning, research, and professional development.

I had the pleasure of working with a multi-disciplinary team from various backgrounds including biostatisticians, engineering experts, nursing and nursing informatics, and self-management experts. I was very fortunate to have a great faculty mentor to guide me through my coursework and dissertation phases. I acknowledge the amazing support that I received from those great minds.


Q: Since graduation, what have you been working on? What is your current position?

A: Since graduation, I have been working on preparing three manuscripts out of my dissertation for publication. Additionally, I began a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University on September 1. I am also working on managing a few research projects at Boston Children’s Hospital.


My current positions are:

  • Postdoctoral fellow, Johns Hopkins University, Center for Cardiovascular Disease and Chronic Care
  • Clinical Research Director/Coordinator, Spina Bifida Center, Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Quality Improvement Consultant, Vascular Anomalies, Boston Children’s Hospital


Q: Are you continuing the research you began here in any way?

A: Yes, I am building on the research that I began at UMass Amherst. In fact, I am in the process of applying for grant funding to continue what I started but on a larger scale. Additionally, I am currently involved in research projects similar to what I did at UMass Amherst in conjunction with the University of Philadelphia, Boston Children’s Hospital, Johns Hopkins University, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Children’s Mercy of Kansas City.


Q: What are your plans for the future?


A: I am currently enrolled in a two-year postdoctoral research program at Johns Hopkins University and am also still managing research projects at Boston Children’s Hospital. My future plan consists of two paths: the first is to complete this program and apply for a faculty position at a research-intensive institution. Second, I was asked to establish my own self-management and transition to adult care research center at Boston Children’s Hospital and potentially create research opportunities for future research scientists.