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Speaker to share impact of nursing-engineering collaboration

Headshot of Jenna Marquard
Jenna Marquard

An engineer who has been working with the health care field for nearly two decades helping clinicians and patients fix problems and improve outcomes will share a message of collaboration on the South Dakota State University campus later this month.

Jenna Marquard, a professor and the Cora Meidl Siehl Chair in Nursing Research for Improved Patient Care in the School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota, will deliver the upcoming SDSU College of Nursing Dean’s Distinguished Lecture.

Titled “Driving Meaningful Innovation through Nursing-Engineering Collaboration,” the talk is set for 7 p.m. March 23 in the Volstorff Ballroom in the University Student Union. It is free and open to the public.

“It’s a talk outlining, from my experience and what I envision ideally in the future, how we can more dramatically impact health care and collaborate across disciplines. … It’s meant to motivate people to think about building these types of partnerships with examples of how we’ve done that,” Marquard said. “Clinical technology partnerships can be really powerful in bringing people together across disciplines. This is about people coming together to improve health care.”

On the following day, Marquard will give the keynote talk at the College of Nursing Research Day, an all-day event on campus in Brookings hosted by the College of Nursing Phi Chapter. Marquard’s talk then is “Capturing and Using Patient-Generated Health Data.” The research-focused talk will go into finer detail on some of the projects she’s been involved in.

Marquard also serves as chair of the Population Health and Systems Cooperative Unit in the UMN’s School of Nursing. She received her master’s degree and Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Iowa.

“We’re trying to design technologies that fit the end user,” Marquard explained of her field. “And in health care, that’s really important. Nurses are the largest end-users of technology in health care, and they’re often left out of the conversations related to technology design. I am really passionate about bringing together those two disciplines. Engineers are incredibly innovative, but they don’t have context, so by bringing those roles together, we can design tools and technologies that are useful to and usable by nurses.”

Marquard’s research lies at the intersection of human factors engineering and health informatics. The vision for her research is to help clinicians and patients make better decisions by providing these individuals with the right information, at the right time, in the right format. Her focus is typically on the use of health information technology (IT) as a key information resource for these individuals. More recently, she has focused on the use of health information visualizations to support decision making.

Most of her work is driven by conversations with clinician colleagues, regarding a clinical problem they have noticed. Marquard gave examples such as designing technology to help patients with high blood pressure or diabetes monitor readings at home and bring them into their official clinical record, or unobtrusively tracking whether HIV and AIDS patients are taking their medications as intended.

Industrial or systems engineers look for ways to eliminate wastefulness and create efficiencies—basically, figuring out how to do things better.

“We’re just trying to figure out how engineered technologies are the best that they can be,” Marquard said. “Our three outcomes that we focus on for human factors are safety, high performing and satisfying to use.”

Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the National Institutes of Health. Within NIH, her work has been supported by multiple institutes, including the National Institute of Nursing Research and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. This diversity in funding sources is attributable to longstanding collaborations across engineering, nursing, medicine, psychology and computer science.

The Deans’ Distinguished Lecture is made possible through gifts from Helen Grace, former vice president of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

For more information on the events, contact College of Nursing dean’s office at 605-688-5178 or