Jackie Dziewior

Jackie Dziewior, PhD student, health and human physiology

Safeguards maternal heart health

Jackie is a wonderful student to work with – she accepts and incorporates feedback, learns quickly, and is passionate about her research. She is also a first-generation college student and has overcome many barriers to get where she is today.” -Kara Whitaker, associate professor

Hanover Park, Illinois

Faculty mentor/advisor:
Kara Whitaker, PhD, associate professor, health and human physiology

What is your degree program and anticipated graduation date?
Health and Human Physiology; May 2024

Please describe your research:
The goal of my research is to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity in the US through the promotion of cardiovascular health and reproductive justice. Current ongoing work includes the development and testing of a postpartum physical activity intervention to reduce the risk of future cardiovascular disease in individuals with a prior pregnancy complicated by hypertensive disorders (e.g., preeclampsia, eclampsia, gestational hypertension, etc.). In addition, we are also conducting a study looking at how pregnancy discrimination in the workplace affects the health and wellbeing of pregnant persons and their children.

In simple terms, why does this research matter?
Although hypertensive disorders of pregnancy were first described in 5th century BC by Hippocrates, 16% of all pregnancies are still affected, with rates still on the rise. Limited research on cardiovascular health in females since this time has proven detrimental, with cardiovascular disease the leading cause of death in the US. Research pursing further understanding and effective strategies to promote cardiovascular health both during and after pregnancy is critical to the improvement of cardiovascular health in America. In addition, with striking maternal health disparities continuing to worsen, equitable and intersectional research is critical to the promotion and protection of health for all individuals.

How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research?
Immediately after starting the graduate program.

How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa?
Research at Iowa has opened the door for collaboration, innovation, and fueling my passion for promoting reproductive and cardiovascular health. My mentor, Dr. Whitaker, and the Department of Health and Human Physiology at UI have been incredible in fostering an environment for which I could take an interdisciplinary approach to my education and collaborate with individuals who had different expertise from my own. I am extremely grateful to be able to pursue my passion and start building the foundation for a career dedicated to improving maternal health and well-being through research at UI.

What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation?
Immediately after graduation, my goal is to complete a post-doctoral fellowship and subsequently become an independent investigator dedicated to promoting maternal health and cardiovascular health throughout the lifespan.

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