Whether it’s solving the world’s biggest problems or investigating the potential of novel discoveries, researchers at UCF are on the edge scientific breakthroughs that aim to make an impact. Through the Research in 60 Seconds series, student and faculty researchers condense their complex studies into bite-sized summaries so you can know how and why Knights plan to improve our world.

Name: Jean Davis ’19PhD
Assistant professor of nursing

Why are you interested in this research? Why is this research important?
There are huge disparities in health between non-Hispanic Black pregnant people and their infants in the U.S. Black people are three times more likely to die from pregnancy than white people in the U.S. Black people also have the most pregnancy complications called severe maternal morbidities. Pregnancy complications can lead to infants born too soon (premature)— the No. 1 cause of infant deaths. Many pregnancy complications and most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. One thing that lowers the chances of pregnancy and infant complications and deaths is physical activity, like adequate exercise. Adding about 30 minutes of an exercise like walking, swimming, or dancing five days each week is something almost all Black pregnant people can do to help themselves have a healthy pregnancy, an easier labor and give birth to a healthy baby. That’s why I am passionate about promoting physical activity for Black pregnant people. It’s easy, it can be fun and it can help Black moms have easier pregnancies and healthier babies.

Who inspires you to conduct your research?
The pregnancy death of one mom shapes the course of her infant and family’s lives forever. The Black pregnant people I work with now, and all the tiny babies I took care of when I worked in newborn intensive care who did not need to be born too early and suffer the consequences, inspire me every day.

How does UCF empower you to do your research?
UCF has been so supportive of this research. UCF provided seed funding, support for grant applications and grant administration. The most instrumental person has been my research mentor Dr. Carmen Giurgescu, professor, Chatlos Foundation Endowed Chair, and associate dean of Research at the UCF College of Nursing. She shares my passion and drive for this important research.

What major grants and honors have you earned to support your research?
Dr. Giurgescu and I started our exercise program research with Black pregnant patients at Orlando Health with seed funding from UCF Office of Research and the College of Nursing. We started to study the exercise program last year and already have grants under review at the National Institutes of Health for our work to promote physical activity among Black pregnant people. Moreover, the Central Florida Foundation has provided a grant for our Black Pregnant People’s Advisory Council, a group of Black people who have receive(d) care at the prenatal clinics. The council is at the center of our team. Members allow us to listen to their voices and let us know what works best to promote exercise for Black pregnant people. We take their advice on everything from the exercise program research processes to communication on fliers, emails and text messages.