2021 Annual Quality Congress

AAP/VON Scholar Awards

AAP/VON Scholar Awards are awarded to five fellows and early career neonatologists in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Neonatal Perinatal Medicine (SoNPM). The award recognizes future leaders in newborn care who exemplify dedication to data-driven quality improvement in the care of infants and families.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Annual Quality Congress will not be held in-person in 2021. However, in the interest of continuing to encourage and support our neonatal fellows and early career neonatologists interested in a career in quality improvement, the AAP/VON Scholar Awards will still be selected and recognized with plans to create virtual opportunities for learning and networking for the awardees!

Award recipients will be encouraged to give a brief presentation on a topic of interest in quality improvement as part of the 2021 Annual Quality Congress (presentations from 2020 are linked below).

The Vermont Oxford Network has also offered to cover the 2022 Annual Quality Congress registration fees for the five 2021 AAP/VON Scholar Awardees.


  • Recognition as an AAP/VON Scholar for the recipient and their institution.
  • Attendance to the VON 2021 Annual Quality Congress.
  • Opportunity to present on QI work during the VON 2021 Annual Quality Congress.
  • Complimentary registration to the 2022 Annual Quality Congress.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must be a member of the AAP SONPM Trainee and Early Career Neonatology (TECaN) group to qualify for this award.

Previous AAP/VON Scholars are not eligible to apply for the award; however, they are welcome and encouraged to attend the Annual Quality Congress and submit a poster for the Improvement Science Expo.

To Apply

  • Develop a one page (maximum) personal statement indicating your interest in quality improvement, long-term aspirations in this field, as well as why/how attending the VON Annual Quality Congress would be important to advance your training and career goals.
  • Provide an up-to-date Curriculum Vitae.
  • Complete a brief online application, including describing your role and lessons you learned in a recent quality improvement project.
  • Application deadline:  May 24th, 2021

For conceptual questions about the application and/or support for fellows and early career neonatologists at VON, contact Colby Day, VON Fellows Liaison, colby.lauren@gmail.com.

For technical assistance, please contact Phil Bieber at pbieber@vtoxford.org.

2020 AAP/VON Scholars

Julia Johnson, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Neonatology
Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Neonatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She graduated from the College of William & Mary with majors in biology and international relations. Dr. Johnson is an Alpha Omega Alpha graduate of Eastern Virginia Medical School. She completed pediatric residency and a fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Johnson joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins in 2017. Her research interests include neonatal global health and infection prevention in low resource settings. Dr. Johnson has conducted CDC-supported research in Pune, India, describing the epidemiology of bloodstream infections in the NICU, identifying reservoirs of transmission for resistant Gram-negative bacteria for neonatal infections, and performing an interventional study to improve healthcare worker adherence to evidence-based infection prevention and control practices. She completed a PhD in Clinical Investigation at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2020. Her thesis, “Healthcare-associated Bloodstream Infections in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Pune, India: Epidemiology and Reduction of Risk”, focused on quality improvement and patient safety interventions in four Indian NICUs. She was awarded a K23 mentored career development award by the National Institutes of Health in July 2020, which will support her continued work on epidemiology of healthcare-associated bloodstream infections and infection prevention and control in the NICU in low resource settings.

View Julia Johnson’s presentation.


Katelin Kramer, MD
University of California
San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital

Katelin Kramer is a Neonatal-Perinatal fellow at UCSF Children’s Hospital in San Francisco. After growing up in the Bay Area, she received her undergraduate degree from UCLA and her M.S. in Physiology and M.D. at Georgetown University. She returned to California to complete her residency in pediatrics at UCSF where she stayed for fellowship training. Thanks to excellent mentorship, she has developed a passion for data-driven quality improvement. She has led several projects in her unit, with a primary focus on improving neurodevelopmental outcomes in infants after consistent implementation of evidence-based best practices. For example, she was a project leader in a multidisciplinary initiative to reduce the time to treatment of neonatal seizures after implementation of an innovative seizure rescue process. Her current interest is in improving outcomes for extremely preterm infants with quality improvement efforts in the UCSF small baby unit and by working closely with her obstetrics colleagues to increase the rate of delayed cord clamping. As she transitions beyond fellowship, Katelin plans to continue to develop her skills in quality improvement methodology with a goal to find new and creative ways to improve the care of newborns.

View Katelin Kramer’s presentation.


Ashraf Kharrat, MD, MSc(HQ), FRCPC
Staff Neonatologist, Mount Sinai Hospital
Assistant Professor, University of Toronto

Dr. Kharrat is a Staff Neonatologist in the NICU. She has a clinical and academic interest in bridging cardiopulmonary physiology with quality improvement and is currently undertaking research in neonatal hemodynamics in sepsis and septic shock.

View Ashraf Kharrat’s presentation.


Adrienne Pahl, MD
Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellow
University of Vermont Children’s Hospital

Adrienne Pahl is a Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellow at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital (UVMCH). She received her undergraduate degree from Carleton College, then completed both her medical degree and Pediatrics Residency at the University of Vermont. She worked as a primary care pediatrician in rural Vermont for three years before pursuing fellowship training. She has an academic interest in improving systems of care with a particular focus on work involving care of opioid exposed newborns. During fellowship she planned, implemented, and now continues a quality improvement initiative to improve care of opioid exposed newborns. As an element of this project, she helped to introduce the Eat, Sleep, Console Care Tool at UVMCH. Adrienne hopes to continue to use quality improvement methodology to improve care both in the NICU and in the neonatal follow up clinic as she completes fellowship and begins her career as an attending neonatologist.

View Adrienne Pahl’s presentation.


Michelle-Marie Pena, MD
Neonatology Fellow
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Dr. Michelle-Marie Peña is a third year fellow in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Originally from Miami, FL, Dr. Peña received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami and medical degree from Harvard Medical School. She completed her Pediatrics Residency and Chief Residency at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Health Policy Research with a concentration in health care quality and safety through the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Healthcare Improvement & Patient Safety. Her primary interests include health equity research with a focus on quality of perinatal and neonatal care and equity-focused quality improvement.

View Michelle-Marie Peña’s presentation.