In Memory of Cynthia Roller

Cynthia Roller, Ph.D., RN, CNP, CNM, was a passionate nurse practitioner and researcher who passed away suddenly on Feb. 28, 2016, after a tragic accident. Our academic community mourns the loss of an extraordinary colleague. We will miss her sharp mind, deep understanding of women’s health issues and commitment to transgender individuals’ access to healthcare. With gratitude and in her memory, we honor her as a person, educator, colleague and scholar.

As coordinator of the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner program in the College of Nursing, Cynthia Roller was a nurse educator for more than 20 years. Her program of research was influenced by her clinical practice as a midwife caring for women and their health. Her early work centered on women who experienced violence, specifically child sexual abuse, and their perinatal health.

Roller was dedicated to improving health knowledge and policies that promote access to healthcare

Most recently, her scholarship focused on understanding transgender health, particularly the psychosocial processes of how these individuals make decisions about, and access, healthcare. In one of her first studies, she found that transgender individuals talked about engaging in healthcare in terms of managing the conversation, navigating the system and “making it work.” Building on this work, she examined how lesbian and bisexual women reveal their sexual orientation to healthcare providers. Roller and her collaborators also explored bone health in transgender individuals that may be jeopardized as a result of cross-sex hormones.

Roller was dedicated to improving health knowledge and policies that promote access to healthcare with a view toward improving professional preparation of advanced practice nurses caring for marginalized and high-risk populations. Her work with transgender health created excitement among the scientific, educational and practice communities. She received funding from a variety of external sources, including the American Nurses Foundation, which named her as an American Nurses Foundation Scholar, a prestigious honor. Her enthusiasm for building scientific knowledge in transgender health was evident as she motivated a group of individuals to become a team of dedicated researchers and emerging scholars. She was invested in their success while achieving her aim to understand the healthcare of marginalized and stigmatized populations.

Roller had two research abstracts accepted for presentation at the Midwest Nursing Research Society Conference held in March. In her honor, members of Roller’s research team presented her work so her scientific contributions would continue to be recognized.

Roller received a Ph.D. from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University.


This article originally appeared as Scholar of the Month for April 2016 and was written by Dr. Mary Anthony.