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Graduate School Newsletter - February 2022

The Graduate School Office will be closed February 21.


Please join us February 6-8 via Zoom for a three part lecture series: The Impact of Data Sovereignty on American Indian Self-Determination: Bridging Federal Indian Law, Data Sovereignty and the Challenges of Developing Community AI Principles, presented by Dr. Joseph Robertson. Dr. Robertson is a SDSU alumnus, Wokini Scholar, enrolled member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation, and founder/Chief Data Scientist of Mato Ohitika Analytics LLC. This online event is part of the Wokini Initiative’s FY 2021 Challenge Grant Project: Preserving the Past, Protecting the Future: A Collaborative Approach to Data Sovereignty, Dr. Nicole Lounsbery, PI.

This first lecture explores tribal sovereignty in the context of Federal Indian Law with a discussion of the concepts of land acknowledgement and land grant university status.

The second lecture focuses on Dr. Robertson’s Data Sovereignty Initiative and the current landscape in understanding the key role data sovereignty has in developing shared governance strategies, data driven decision-making, and exploring the ethics of bridging science and culture through the use of applied data science techniques.

The third evening features an introduction to the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the ethical implications of designing AI systems in Indigenous communities. Part one will discuss how to develop community AI principles, followed by a demonstration of natural language processing using cosine similarity with the Dakota Language. Finally, part three will demonstrate how to train an algorithm using Word2Vec with R programming language and discuss the output. A packet will accompany the workshop for virtual participants to follow along and run the code themselves.

Lectures 1 and 2 will begin at 6pm and last approximately one hour. The third presentation will begin at 6pm and last approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Please note: 2 CETL points will be offered for each session.

Please click on this zoom link to join:

Questions regarding the event can be directed to

Student Spotlight

Graduate student excellence extends beyond the walls of the SDSU Brookings campus. Allison Hatcher, Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student with a specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner, is proof of that. Allison, who is in her final semester of her graduate program, is currently finishing her DNP project titled, “The Implementation of

Psychosocial Screening to Assess and Treat Distress in Hospitalized Oncology Patients.” The project follows national clinical practice guidelines that positively influence patient outcomes.

Allison Hatcher

Allison currently works as an oncology nurse at Avera in Sioux Falls, SD. She received her BSN from SDSU which later led her to pursing a DNP degree from SDSU as well. “Having graduated from SDSU with my BSN, I was familiar with the rigorous DNP program at SDSU,” stated Hatcher. “The DNP program is close to home and allows me to pursue further education to implement and deliver evidence-based care at an advanced practice level to patients across the lifespan to reduce various health disparities.”

As an oncology nurse, Allison has witnessed the struggles those grappling with cancer go through and the psychological distress a cancer diagnosis can cause. “I was inspired to delve into ways in which we, as the healthcare team, can assess and treat distress among oncology patients to optimize the care provided and promote quality outcomes,” Hatcher notes as the reason for selecting her project topic. As part of her project, Allison implemented a standardized assessment that allowed for precise identification of patients who would benefit from psychosocial resources to manage their distress. Of the identified patients, individualized referrals to various resources were implemented. Overall, there was a statistically significant decrease in the amount of distress these patients experienced. “Throughout my DNP project, I learned how effective evidence-based practice is towards delivering high-quality care and promoting optimal patient outcomes,” mentioned Allison. In addition, “the project is financially feasible to implement and can potentially have a long-term cost saving for the patient and organization,” states co-advisors Dr. Brandi Pravecek and Dr. Sarah Mollman.

Allison presented her findings at the Avera Evidence-Based Practice and Research Conference in October 2021. In addition to her research, Drs. Pravecek and Mollman noted that Allison “consistently receives positive feedback from her clinical preceptors regarding her patient bedside manner, level of compassion and empathy, and clinical skills. Her peers identify her as a leader.” Her supervisor on the hospital unit where her DNP Project was implemented shared that, "Allison has demonstrated compassion for our patients in recognizing the psychosocial needs of the inpatient acutely chronically ill transplant oncology patient population". Following graduation, Allison would like to obtain a Nurse Practitioner position within the Sioux Falls area and continue serving those patients within the community.

Allison resides in Sioux Falls with her husband Steven and two fur babies, Gunner and Tessa. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors, watching baseball, going camping, and playing with her dogs.

Scholarships and Awards


Congratulations to the Joseph F. Nelson Graduate Scholarship recipients:

Xiaoman Lu & Tahmina Hossain!!

Xiaoman Lu
Tahmina Hossain
Jody Rust


The Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching Award recipient this year is Jody Rust. We congratulate Jody on an outstanding job and commend her for her dedication to teaching.

Graduate Student Awards

Three Minute Thesis Competition

  • Interested students must register no later than Friday, February 4, 2022.
  • For more specific details about the competition, view the 3MT PowerPoint.

SDSU Distinguished Dissertation Award

Upcoming Events

June 15, 2022 - The Eastern South Dakota Research Symposium

Researchers from Sanford, SDSU, USD and Augustana will showcase current work and build collaborative relationships. Great networking opportunity for graduate students.

Event website:

If you have any questions, please contact Amber Letcher.


February 11, 2022 - Graduation Application Deadline

Students not meeting graduation requirements in the semester they apply will be assessed a $50 charge and a registration hold will be placed on their account by the Graduate School until the charge is paid. If the degree is not granted, a new graduation application is required for the subsequent semester. Students who apply and successfully graduate will not be charged. Graduation applications will be available on MyState.

Internships, Fellowship & Scholarship Opportunities

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