Staff Spotlight – Liz Espinoza, ARNP

Liz is an ARNP in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

I have been a nurse practitioner in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit since December 2018. Prior to moving to Iowa City last year, I spent ten years at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago as a nurse in the PICU, Emergency Department, and on the Critical Care Transport Team.

My husband, Mike, is the Director of Admissions at Kirkwood College. We have two boys- Drew is 6 and a 1st grader, and Zachary is 5 and in Kindergarten.

My favorite thing to do is spend time with my family! We love to hike and do outdoor activities. My family has a home in Southwestern Michigan, so we spend as much time as we possibly can there as well. I also am currently working on my DNP at Vanderbilt University, so that takes up a lot of my free time! I also am a huge fan of true crime podcasts, though I don’t have as much time to listen here in Iowa as I did in Chicago because my commute is so much shorter!

I know it sounds crazy, but I am basically doing my dream job now! I have always wanted to have a split position doing clinical work, research, and teaching. I currently teach at the College of Nursing in the pediatric acute care nurse practitioner program in addition to my hours in the PICU.

I love Thai food! I have been missing it since we moved to Iowa since we used to have two Thai food restaurants within walking distance from our home in Chicago.

Favorite sports teams? Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears, Iowa Hawkeyes

If I had three wishes, I would only need one. I would love to be able to spend a few hours with my Dad again. He passed away in April after a long battle with cancer.

Fun fact: Prior to going to nursing school, I was a music therapist for 6 years. I completed my Masters in Music Therapy at the University of Iowa and actually completed many of my music therapy clinical hours with Kirstin Nelson here in the PICU here back in 2002! It was fun for me to come back and see how much it has changed!

Staff Spotlight – Kate Trump, MA

Kate is the Pediatric Echo Coordinator in the Cardiac Echo Lab in the Pediatric Specialty Clinic.

I was the Pediatric Cardiology Specialty MA before transitioning to the Pediatric Echo Coordinator role. My role in the clinic is to coordinate the flow of the Echo clinic, process outside echoes for interpretation by our providers. I also assist in obtaining outside records and imaging as needed for referrals as well as scheduling as needed. I have been in the clinic for 4 years.

My family consist of my husband of 9 years Thomas and a 24 year old son Dalton. I have 2 sisters and 3 brothers as well as 4 Nephews and 5 Nieces and am a great aunt to 2 great nephews and 1 great niece. We also have a cat named Mister.

In my free time I work at HyVee part time in customer service/aisle on line. I also enjoy camping with my family, watching my nieces/nephews play sports and musical events. I enjoy cooking and baking and relaxing with family.

My dream job would be to have a rescue ranch for animals and also to have a safe haven for children of all ages who are abandoned or abused or just need new surroundings to have a better life and to live long and happy.

Most fascinating place I’ve ever visited? Amsterdam, Holland.

Favorite restaurant? Texas Roadhouse.

Favorite sports teams? Cubs – Baseball; Rams/Steelers – Football

Favorite book or movie? Good Night Moon / Where the Wild Things are. Sound of Music / Pretty Woman.

If I had 3 wishes, they would be to find a cure for all cancers and illnesses so people can live long healthy lives. To have peace in the world for all I would wish to have a rescue ranch for animals with my family so all animals could live long and away from abuse.

Fun fact: I am the youngest of 6 children and also the youngest grandchild on my dad’s side of the family.

I was born and raised in West Branch and graduated from West Branch High School and Kirkwood Community College.

Staff Spotlight – Amanda Coulter, RN

Amanda is a Clinical Research Nurse Coordinator in the Division of Nephrology, Dialysis and Transplantation.

Since graduating nursing school in 2011 I have worked under the Department of Pediatrics at UIHC. From 2011-2013 I worked as a staff nurse on 3JCW which used to be inpatient pediatrics before the new children’s hospital was built. From 2013-May 2019 I worked as the Pediatric Kidney/Liver Transplant Coordinator. Just recently in May I switched to a new role working as a Clinical Research Nurse Coordinator running clinical drug trials for rare renal disease under Dr. Carla Nester in the Department of Pediatric Nephrology.

My husband Mike and I met in college. We got married and bought our first home in 2013. In 2014 we welcomed our first fur baby into our family when we got our dog Jack. In October 2017 we had our first child who recently had a birthday and turned two.

In my free time I like to exercise, spend time with my family and friends, and read. I enjoy spending time outdoors and traveling to experience new places.

I have a passion for caring for children which is why I have always worked in pediatrics. My dream job would be serving and helping underprivileged children. Being their advocates through life when they don’t have anyone to advocate for them. Children are so vulnerable and they all need and deserve someone to advocate for them and teach them how to navigate life.

The most fascinating place I have ever visited was Ireland. It is a beautiful country and the people are so kind and welcoming.

My favorite meal would have to be any pasta dish. I am a lover of all things pasta.

I don’t follow sports much but would have to pick the Hawkeyes as a favorite team of course.

Favorite book or movie? I am always up for a good chick flick or romance novel.

If I had three wishes, they would be for peace and kindness across the world. Health and prosperity for friends and family More funding and programs to help serve the underprivileged.

Garton Receives “You Make a Difference” Award

Congratulations to Seth Garton, MS, RCEP, an Exercise Physiologist in pediatric cardiology for a recent You Make a Difference award as nominated by a patient’s family. From the nomination:

“On Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, I had a scare at home with [our daughter] as we didn’t know her pacemaker was malfunctioning. We called UIHC and cardiology dept to see what needed to do and got all our answers. Mark Olsen told us to get [her] out here ASAP. So I did. I was so scared. But when I got here, they took her back and were so good to her even when she was scared. They comforted me and [our daughter] the whole time. But the really scary part was in the elevator coming back from the chest x‐ray when she had a spell and he was right there and comforted [our daughter] and made sure she was ok and not scared. He walked slowly beside her as I pushed the wheelchair she was in and made sure he had his hands ready to catch her while walking backwards. He’s an amazing young man that will do Great and Amazing things for this hospital and any adventures he pursues! [We] thank you so very much!”

Dr. Fischer Authors Two Publications

Congratulations to Dr. Tony Fischer (Pulmonary Medicine) on two publications – one as lead author and one as senior author. The articles were published in Genes and Pediatric Pulmonology, respective.

Dr. Ferguson Awarded Distinguished Service Award

Dr. Polly Ferguson (Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology) was awarded with the American College of Rheumatology’s (ACR) Distinguished Service Award during the 2019 ACR/ARP Annual Meeting in Atlanta. The award reflects her outstanding contributions to the advancement of rheumatology.

The ACR recognizes leading researchers, clinicians, mentors, and other professionals exhibiting superior commitment to the advancement of the field of rheumatology with the Awards of Distinction honors. The Distinguished Service Award is awarded to an ACR member for outstanding and sustained service to the ACR.

The ACR Distinguished Service Award is presented to Polly Ferguson, MD, the Marjorie K. Lamb Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Iowa (UIowa).

Dr. Ferguson strongly believes in the ACR’s mission for a multitude of reasons. She says the organization provides those in academic medicine with opportunities to advance their career, advocates for patients and providers on a governmental level to ensure needed care is delivered, and leads clinicians, researchers, and practitioners in the rheumatology field. That’s why it was easy, she says, to volunteer for numerous committees over the years.

She has served on at least eight different committees, including the Pediatric Rheumatology Section Executive Committee, the Committee on Research, the Abstract Review Committee, the Abstract Oversight Committee, a research sub-committee of the Government Affairs Committee, the Committee on Nominations and Appointments (ACR), the Committee on Membership and Nominations, the JIA Treatment Guideline Development Group, and chaired the Pediatric Rheumatology Special Committee.

Not to mention her current service as a member of the NIH/NIAID Board of Scientific Counselors, the Arthritis Foundation Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee, and the American Board of Pediatrics Rheumatology sub-board.

Dr. Ferguson received her medical degree from the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine at UIowa in 1990. During the next decade, she completed her training at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville, which included her pediatric residency, pediatric rheumatology and immunology fellowship, and a postdoctoral research fellowship.

Then in 2000, she served for two years as an assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. But in 2002, she returned to UIowa where she now serves as the director of Pediatric Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology at the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics at UIowa.

Her current NIH-funded research focuses on uncovering the genetic and immunologic basis of autoinflammatory disease, particularly those that affect the bone, and understanding the role of inflammation in neurologic disease.  She has identified several genes that cause sterile osteomyelitis and has translated findings into effective treatment. Her work has been cited in medical journals more than 5,000 times.

Meanwhile, she has mentored many undergraduate, graduate, post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty from UIowa and other schools. She also serves as the training director of the school’s Department of Pediatrics K12 Child Health Research Career Development Award (CHRCDA) Program.

 “What means the most to me about this award is that that my peers thought to nominate me when there are so many other outstanding volunteers, and that they value what I’ve done,” says Dr. Ferguson. “It’s a very humbling experience.”

Clinical Research Nurse Coordinator Opportunity

The Stead Family Department of Pediatrics is seeking a Clinical Research Nurse Coordinator to assist in programmatic development to support clinical investigations in Pediatrics and serve as a clinical coordinator for a subset of clinical research studies in multiple disciplines within the department. The coordinator will be involved in all aspects of research including patient recruitment and enrollment, patient education and assessment, data collection and monitoring, regulatory documentation, and coordination of research visits with all appropriate disciplines. The coordinator will independently manage multiple research trials, and work collaboratively with other coordinators throughout the Department. Programmatic activities will include serving as primary contact for a national pediatric clinical trials group, assisting in monitoring department-wide compliance, and providing creative input regarding optimization of pediatric clinical research. Minimum qualifications include a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, a valid Iowa Nursing License and 3 or more years of clinical experience.

Interested candidates can review or apply for this position here. Additionally, please assist in our recruitment efforts by sharing this information with those who may be interested and meet the required qualifications! Questions? Please contact

Staff Spotlight – Ana Cary, MD

Dr. Ana Cary is Clinical Assistant Professor in the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and works primarily at the North Liberty clinic.

I have been married to Chris Cary for 16 wonderful years. We have a very spunky 7 year old daughter who keeps us busy going to her swim classes and voice classes. I am 100% Mexican and like to think I bring some much needed spice to my husbands life and because of me my daughter is pretty spicy as well.

We enjoy family fun nights-we order pizza and allow everyone to eat while watching a movie together. Of course popcorn is eaten as well during these nights. We also enjoy the beach which is the one of the main things I miss about not living in California anymore. 1-2 times a year we vacation to a sunny beach location. We like Cancun a lot and Hawaii.

My dream job? I would say something not far off from what I do now. I very much enjoy walking beside parents through all the ups and downs of child-rearing. After a while you start to feel like part of the family and routine well checks begin to feel like a visit catching up with old friends. It’s a job that does not feel like work at all which has always been what I’ve considered “just livin the dream”.

Most fascinating place I’ve ever visited? Probably visiting my mothers childhood home in Hidalgo, Mexico. It was a shack with only 3 walls. She said that’s how it was when she was growing up as well…..3 walls? What?

Favorite meal or restaurant? Anything my mother makes, she is amazing and the smells from her kitchen can make anyone’s worries and stresses fade away. She visits every Summer and makes anything I want-tortillas, enchiladas, arroz, frijoles, guacamole, tamales. And no, I have not found a restaurant anywhere in Iowa that comes anywhere close to her cooking.

Favorite sports team? The Raiders. I know-not a popular choice but that’s been my team since I was in grade school. I even have a Raiders jacket! I went to the super bowl to watch them play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003. I did not wear my jacket to that game because my brother in law was playing for the Bucs so I had to switch teams just that once.

Favorite book or movie? This depends on my mood. I really like romantic comedies (surprise surprise) but I also enjoy all action films. For a favorite book…I feel like I should say something smart, The Red Book….obviously.

I wouldn’t say this is a fun fact but I grew up on a grape farm in central California. My parents still live there in the same house. I grew up completely despising any and all school vacations because that meant I had to work more in the grape field my father owned. It was always his dream to have his own farm because growing up he was a migrant farm worker and he always told himself he would one day have his own farm. Every Summer break I would pick grapes, roll the trays, shake and box them and we sold that to Sun-Maid. We worked from sun up to sun down. Every Winter break I would prune and tie the grape vines. It was NOTHING like A Walk In The Clouds. Also, my mother is one of 13 children and my father is one of 8. I have a whole lot of cousins.

Staff Spotlight – Amy Beckmann, RN, BSN, CNN

Amy is Assistant Nurse Manager for the Pediatric Dialysis & Non-Oncology Infusion Units.

I have worked at UIHC for the last 6 years. I started working part time in pediatric dialysis after a move from Minnesota in 2013. I have worked in pediatric nursing for 18 years and it is my passion! The last 3 years I have been in the role of Assistant Nurse Manager for L2 of the Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

My husband, Michael, and I have been married for almost 17 years. We have two children, Hannah 14yrs and Caden 12 yrs. Michael works in Youth Ministry at First Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids. The kids attend Linn Mar Schools as 9th and 7th graders.

As a parent of young teens, I spend a lot of time at their activities in my free time! This fall I enjoyed watching my daughter participate in many marching band competitions and activities. As a family we enjoy being outdoors and camping. Our favorite camping stops are state parks. We have covered many of the Minnesota State Parks and enjoy discovering Iowa State Parks. I also enjoy reading, baking, and puzzling.

This last summer we visited Alaska as a family. This was my second visit to Alaska and I cannot get enough of its beauty. I am grateful for the vast wilderness and ability to explore its diversity. A few favorite memories were kayaking on a glacial lake, watching a glacier calve, hiking in the mountains where rivers run clear, watching wildlife, and long summer days full of sunlight.

Favorite food? I love a good margarita pizza!

As a Minnesota native my favorite sports teams are the Minnesota Vikings and Twins.

Favorite book or movie? This is a hard question! I love to read and don’t think I could pick a favorite. As for movies, I would have to say Pride and Prejudice from 2005. It’s a movie I could watch over and over.

Fun fact: I grew up in a very small farming community in southern Minnesota where I had only 9 kids in my elementary class.

Staff Spotlight – Mariko Sato, MD, PhD

Dr. Mariko Sato is Clinical Associate Professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology.

Pediatric Hematology Oncology, since 2014. I am a neuro-oncologist, specialized in brain and spine tumors, neuroblastoma and retinoblastoma. I serve as a site PI for Children Oncology Group clinical trials, conducting over 40 clinical trials at any given time.

I have my family in Utah, going back to Salt Lake City, Utah every month. My 12 yo son spends every summer in Iowa. Most recently I just came back from Utah yesterday, spending time with my family visiting a Haunted house. We have total of 4 cats in both houses.

In my free time I playing tennis, and sew – currently cross stitches and crocheting, playing music- piano, cello and ukulele. I like to cook and bake sometimes. I wish I could have talent to have a creating job, such as an artist, painter, or musician. It is so admiring to move people’s emotion or sometimes move their lives.

Most fascinating place ever visited/lived? Antelope Canyon, AZ.

Favorite meal or restaurant? Tofu Chige Soup at Korean restaurant.

Favorite book or movie? Book: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom Movie: Hunt for Red October.

If I had 3 wishes, they would be: Win lottery 🙂 Win lottery 🙂 Win lottery:).

Fun fact: I do host my house at Airbnb. It is fun making friends from all over the world. I love being here, even though lonely, but supported by great friends, coworkers and community. Thanks for being great place for me.