Research Training Institute Faculty

The Research Training Institute (RTI) faculty are recognized experts in a wide range of research areas. They will help librarians use, create, and apply research-based evidence to enhance decision-making, address evolving user needs, communicate library value, and support quality health care. The RTI peer coaches are selected from previous RTI graduates and support participants by sharing experiences and encouragement throughout the year-long research process and enrich the RTI experience for all participants. The RTI leadership team provides oversight of the RTI training program and IMLS grant activities. The training, learning experiences, and strong support offered by the expert faculty, supportive peer coaches, and dedicated leadership team will lay the foundations of evidence-based practice for the next generation of health sciences librarians.

RTI ’24 Faculty and Staff

Emily Vardell, PhD, AHIP, Co-Faculty Lead,, is associate professor in the School of Library and Information Management at Emporia State University, Emporia, KS. Vardell is an expert instructor and researcher, specializing in qualitative research and health information behavior. She teaches graduate courses on the foundations of library and information science, reference services, research methods, health sciences librarianship, and disaster preparedness in libraries. Vardell’s research interests are in the area of health information behavior with a focus on health insurance literacy and how people make health insurance decisions. She has received numerous research and teaching awards, including MLA’s Lucretia W. McClure Excellence in Education Award (2023), MLA’s Ida and George Eliot Prize (2019), the Beta Phi Mu Eugene Garfield Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (2017), the MLA Thomson Reuters/MLA Doctoral Fellowship (2016 to 2017), the University of North Carolina (UNC)–Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science Deborah Barreau Award for Teaching Excellence (2016), and a Fulbright Award (2005 to 2006). Vardell is also co-editor of the book Health Literacy and Libraries (Rowman & Littlefield; 2024) and editor of the book The Medical Library Association Guide to Answering Questions about the Affordable Care Act (Rowman & Littlefield; 2015). She has authored articles published in the Journal of the Medical Library Association, Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, Journal of Documentation, Information Research, and Medical Reference Services Quarterly. Prior to receiving her doctorate in information science from the School of Information and Library Science at UNC–Chapel Hill, she was the Director for Reference, Education, and Community Engagement at the Calder Memorial Library at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. She is active in MLA, including serving as Co-Chair of the 2024 National Program Committee, on the Nominating Committee (2018-19), and as a member of the Educational Steering Committee.

Mark MacEachern, MLIS, Co-Faculty Lead,, is an informationist at the Taubman Health Sciences Library, University of Michigan (UM)–Ann Arbor. As an informationist, MacEachern works closely with health students and professionals on education and research projects. MacEachern teaches systematic review methods and evidence-based practice skills as part of the curricula in several of the UM health sciences schools. He has extensive experience consulting on systematic review projects and leads the Taubman Library’s flipped continuing education course Systematic Reviews: Opportunities for Librarians. MacEachern was the 2019 recipient of the Estelle Brodman Award for the Academic Medical Librarian of the Year. MacEachern received his master of library and information science (MLIS) degree from the University of Western Ontario. Prior to joining the Taubman Health Sciences Library in 2007, MacEachern interned at Mills Memorial Library at McMaster University.

Nina Exner, PhD, MLS, MA,, is the research data librarian at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her research interests include data categorization critique and research skills development. She has a PhD from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science, an MA in liberal and global studies from UNC-Greensboro, and an MLS from North Carolina Central University (Eagle Pride). Recently she has been speaking extensively on NIH data sharing policies. She is also a co-chair of the Empirical Librarians conference and serves on the editorial board of Hypothesis: Journal of the Medical Library Association Research Caucus.

Caitlin Bakker, MLIS, AHIP-D,, is the Discovery Technologies Librarian at the University of Regina’s Dr. John Archer Library and Archives. Her portfolio includes a range of library systems and technologies, including the library services platform and authentication services, as well as data collection and analysis work to meet institutional data needs. She has taught extensively on data management, computational research methods, and data visualization. Caitlin holds at MLIS from McGill University and is currently a PhD candidate at Maastricht University. She has previously held positions at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, the University of Northern British Columbia, and Wilfrid Laurier University. She is an Assistant Editor of the Journal of the Medical Library Association and serves on the editorial board of Hypothesis: Journal of the Medical Library Association Research Caucus.

Ann Medaille, PhD, MSLS, MA,, is the Director of Research and Instructional Services at the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Evidence Based Library and Information Practice. She previously worked as an editor at Elsevier and as a high school teacher. She holds a PhD in education from the University of Nevada, Reno, an MSLS from the University of North Texas, and an MA in theatre from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her research areas include learning theory, pedagogical methods, workplace learning, and assessment strategies. She has published over 20 peer-reviewed journal articles. She is the author of the book The Librarian’s Guide to Learning Theory: Practical Applications in Library Settings and co-author of Visual Literacy for Libraries: A Practical, Standards-Based Guide, both of which were published by ALA Editions.

Karen Gutzman, MSLS, MA,, serves as Head of Research Assessment and Communications at Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center at Northwestern University. She develops, supports, and implements programs that increase awareness about digital scholarship and issues in the digital environment among faculty, researchers, and students at Feinberg School of Medicine. She works with library colleagues on preservation and access to scholarly outputs through a digital repository and other digital means, and she provides expertise for campus-wide digital preservation activities. Karen also supports individuals and groups in their understanding, assessment, visualization, and reporting of impactful outcomes of research and clinical care efforts. One of her major areas of interest is using information visualization to facilitate stronger comprehension of data in the assessment process. She keeps an updated collection of her works in DigitalHub, the institutional repository for Northwestern Medicine. Karen is a former U.S. National Library of Medicine Associate Fellow where she completed the second year of the fellowship program through her work with the Bernard Becker Medical Library at Washington University in St. Louis.

Academic Coordinator

Ana D. Cleveland, PhD, AHIP, FMLA, is a Regents Professor, Sarah Law Kennerly Endowed Professor, and Director of the Health Informatics Program at the University of North Texas. She is a recognized educator in medical librarianship and health informatics. Under her leadership, UNT’s Medical Librarianship/Health Informatics Program is ranked 7th in the nation by US News and World Report. Her research interests are in curriculum development, health information-seeking behavior of underserved populations, indexing of medical information, and health information and social media. She has received the highest awards given by the Medical Library Association, including the Lucretia W. McClure Excellence in Education Award, Janet Doe Lectureship, Marcia C. Noyes Award, and Fellow of the Medical Library Association. The South Central Chapter of the Medical Library Association recognized her contributions with the Distinguished Service Award, the Librarian of the Year, and several Elizabeth K. Eaton Research awards. In addition, Dr. Cleveland was honored with the President’s Award from the American Medical Informatics Association. She has an extensive list of publications, including two textbooks co-authored with Dr. Donald Cleveland, one on indexing and abstracting and the other on health informatics for medical librarians. She has served as a consultant to numerous national agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Library of Medicine, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She worked with the National Library of Medicine and the Medical Library Association on developing the Disaster Information Specialization. She served as a consultant with international organizations in Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Australia, and Africa.

Peer Coaches

Helen-Ann Brown Epstein MLS, MS, AHIP-D, FMLA,, is the Informationist at the Virtua Health Sciences Library at Virtua Health, a 5-hospital health system in Marlton, New Jersey. At Virtua Health, she is a solo librarian with a totally digital library that allows daily clinical rounding. For her RTI project, Helen-Ann conducted an interprofessional online journal club using a variety of formats. Helen-Ann Brown Epstein is a Fellow of the 2018 MLA Research Training Institute. She was the first hospital librarian to attend the RTI.

Rachel Hinrichs MS, MSLS, AHIP,, is a health sciences librarian at the University Library, Indiana University Indianapolis. In this role, she serves as the liaison to public health, occupational therapy, physical therapy, kinesiology, nutrition, and general health sciences. She also served as the Production Editor for the Evidence Based Library and Information Practice journal from 2018-2024. She received a Master of Library Science degree from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill in 2016, and a Master of Science in Nutrition from Meredith College in 2014. Her current research interests include research engagement within the library science profession, equity in academic library hiring, and the open dissemination of scholarships.

Colleen Foy, MLIS, AHIP,, is a Research and Instruction Librarian for Health Sciences at the Zachary Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a Master of Library and Information Science. Her current research includes health literacy instruction for academic and community populations as well as evidence synthesis instruction and service development. Colleen is a Fellow of the 2022 MLA Research Training Institute. Her project explored the impacts of health literacy framework-based instruction on information seeking behaviors and attitudes of participants in employee wellness programs.

Annie “Nicky” Nickum, BSN, MLIS, AHIP,, is an assistant professor and library liaison to the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois Chicago’s Library of Health Sciences. She received her master’s in library and information science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2013, and previously worked as a nursing and biomedical sciences librarian at the University of North Dakota. Prior to becoming a librarian, she worked as a bachelor’s prepared registered nurse in a community hospital and as pharmacy technician in the US Army. Her research interests include patient health literacy as well as the information needs and searching behaviors of practicing nurses. Nicky is a Fellow of the 2020 MLA Research Training Institute and her project focused on point-of-care tools for nurses.

Kearin Reid, AHIP,, is a Medical Librarian and owner of Reid Research & Information Services, LLC (RRIS). She supports the research and publication initiatives for associations and researchers by providing literature search and evidence synthesis services. Prior to creating RRIS, Kearin was employed as a Medical Librarian at College of American Pathologists (CAP) and has 10 years’ experience as a Medical Technologist in clinical laboratories. She has expertise in performing systematic literature reviews, answering copyright questions, developing instructional materials and tutorials, providing webinar training, and helping to guide the development of clinical guidelines. Kearin is a Fellow of the 2020 MLA Research Training Institute, and her project explored the use of AI in systematic reviews for guideline development.

For questions regarding the institute, please contact Susan Lessick, AHIP, FMLA, Research Training Institute project director.