Specialty: Social epidemiology, social determinants of health, program evaluation, statistics
My primary research interests are in quantitative research methodologies, including multivariate statistical modeling, causal modeling, survey design, and program evaluation. I am also extremely interested in the dynamics of race & equity in health, immigrant health, and urban community health systems.
As a quantitative researcher and academician, my passions include health disparity research and the provision of high quality health care to underserved urban communities.
Since joining the Rutgers School of Nursing in June of 2013, I have been heavily involved with numerous research projects at the Jordan & Harris Community Health Center and the New Jersey Children’s Health Project, two health care initiatives founded by Dr. Cindy Sickora and the Rutgers School of Nursing. Both have become strong, popular resources for building healthier communities in the city of Newark, NJ.
My current role as a statistician and health care researcher is built on a wealth of prior experience. Previous to my faculty appointment, I was a research associate at the Newark Schools Research Collaborative, which spearheaded multiple projects. I worked on the design, implementation, and evaluation of a new school model within the Newark Public Schools system, using hierarchical linear modeling and fixed-effect models to investigate neighborhood and school-related factors affecting the academic performance of over 4,000 immigrant students. I also wrote a formal analysis of these research findings for the Spencer Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. All of these opportunities allowed me the satisfaction of contributing to projects that have helped change school cultures, positively impact their surrounding communities, and produce strong school reform.
Many of the projects I was involved in at the Newark Schools Collaborative received funding from local, state, and national foundations, while additional projects have been funded by both state and federal agencies including HSRA, NIH and CMS.
Using these experiences as my foundation, I’ve been able to expand my research focus at the School of Nursing. Since my arrival, I’ve worked with several different research teams, all of which have produced well-received papers in noted publications.
As a result of my expertise in formulating experimental research designs and assessing project evaluation plans and results, I’ve also been recruited to serve as a peer reviewer for U.S. Department of Education grants.
As a research scientist who has taught at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in both statistics and epidemiology, and as an academic who believes strongly in the power of positive mentorship, I enjoy working closely with both Ph.D. and DNP students. I specialize in statistical consulting and in helping students identify and gain mastery over the frameworks they need to conduct high-quality research. In this way, I am able to promote the use of powerful and elegant research designs in healthcare.
Walczyk, J.J., Ramsey, L., & Zha, P. (2007). Obstacles to Instructional Innovation According to College Science and Mathematics Faculty. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 44(1), 85-106.
Walczyk, J. J., Wei, M., Grifith-Ross, D. A., Goubert, S. E., & Zha, P. (2007). Development of the interplay between automatic processes and cognitive resources in reading. Journal of Educational Psychology 99(4), 867-887.
Zha, P., Walczyk, J.J., Griffith-Ross, D.A., Tobacky, J.J., & Walczyk, F.D. (2006). The Impact of Culture and Individualism-Collectivism on the Creativity and Achievement of American and Chinese Adults. Creativity Research Journal 18(30), 355-366.
Walczyk, J.J., Schwartz, J.P., Clifton, R., Adams, B., & Zha, P.(2005). Response time: A cognitive cue to deception. Journal of Applied Psychology, 17(7), 755-774.
Walczyk, J.J., Zha, P., Griffith-Ross, D.A. (2005). The interaction of automatic processes and cognitive resources in reading: A Compensatory Framework. Advances in Educational Psychology Research. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishing.
Zha, P. (2012). Assessing Newark, New Jersey’s Public School Teacher Workforce. Research Report for Ford Foundation. (with Bruce, B. et. al.).
Zha, P. (2010). Governance and Urban School Improvement: Lessons for New Jersey from Nine Cities. Research Report for Institute on Education Law and Policy, Rutgers University; 132pp. (with Sadovnick, A. et. al.).
Works in Progress
Zha, P., Chase, S. & Sickora, C. “Developing an Innovative Tool to Measure Trust in the Urban Community Health Centers”
Zha, P., & Sickora, C. “Can the history of nursing give us direction for cost effective care for the underserved?”
Zha, P. “The Effects of Change in Neighborhood and School Factors on Immigrant Children’s Academic Performance”
Zha, P. “The Impact of Immigration on Newark Schools in the Nineteenth Century”
Zha, P. & Panlilio, C. “The Effect of Remediation and Student Support Programs on the Academic Outcomes of Underprepared College Students”
Zha, P.Ph.D. Dissertation: “A Structural Analysis of Neighborhood and School Effects on Immigrant Children’s Academic Performance.”
Zha, P.M.A. Thesis: “A Comparative Study of Creativity and Culture among American and Chinese Graduate students.”
“Reuse and Remix of Government and Public Sector Data” paper presented at the annual meeting of International Association for Social Science Information Services & Technology. Washington D.C. June, 2012
“The Development of a Teacher-run School: The Case of BRICK Avon Academy in Newark” paper presented at the Urban Systems Conference: Urban Change through Education, Health and Environment. Newark, New Jersey., June 2012.
“Building Responsible, Intelligent, Creative Kids (BRICK): A case study of a teacher-initiated public school reform model in Newark, New Jersey” paper presented at the Annual Meeting of American Educational Researcher Association. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada., April 2012.
“Perceptions of Working Conditions: How New Jersey’s prospective teachers’ perceptions serve as a deterrence to teach in Urban Districts” paper presented at the Annual Meeting of American Educational Researcher Association. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada., April 2012.
“Perceptions of Safety and the Reality of Violence: How New Jersey’s prospective teachers’ perceptions of safety is a deterrence to teach in Newark” paper presented at the Annual Meeting of American Educational Researcher Association. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada., April 2012.
“The Impact of Immigration on Newark Schools in the Nineteenth Century,” paper presented at the 30th Session of the International Standing Conference for the History of Education. Newark, NJ., July 2008.
“The Interaction of Automatic Processes and Cognitive Resources in Reading” paper presented at the Annual Meeting of American Educational Researcher Association. Chicago, IL., April 2003.
Research and Urban Health Program Projects
I am currently collaborating with Dr. Sabrina Chase and Dr. Cindy Sickora to run two new research projects at the Jordan and Harris Community Health Center and the FOCUS Wellness Center in Newark, NJ. Our research team includes graduate students Patricia Hoff , Jennifer Bucalo, and Phoebe del Boccio.
Recent and Upcoming Conferences
“The Effect of Remediation and Student Support Programs on the Academic Outcomes of Underprepared College Students” was presented at the Annual Meeting of American Educational Researcher Association in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in April of 2014.
URBU 6007 (Introductory Epidemiology) – Core graduate course offered as part of the Joint Urban Systems Ph.D. Program. Rutgers 28:300:390 (Understanding Educational Evaluation); Core undergraduate course offered to Urban Teacher Education Program – Teaching evaluation score: 4.83/5.0
Rutgers (Elements of Algebra) – Core undergraduate course offered to freshman and sophomore undergraduates – Teaching evaluation score: 4.3/5.0
American Public Health Association American Education Research Association American Psychological Association