Our Researchers & Scholars

Loretta Aller, Ph.D., RN

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Assistant Professor

Dr. Aller's reimagined theory of undergraduate nursing education centers on informed, evidence-based curricular and program decisions for better nurse preparation and patient safety. Her current research uses multi-platform virtual simulation to measure the experience of two concurrent processes for undergraduate nursing students: the movement from self-doubt and anxiety to self-efficacy and the development of safe patient care based on sound clinical judgment and decision making. Based on her findings, Dr. Aller and her research team are conducting feasibility testing for the Aller’s Development of Decision-Making and Self-Efficacy in Undergraduate Nursing Education model.

She and her research team received funding from the Health Foundation of Greater Massillon and the Austin-Bailey Health & Wellness Foundation, as well as internal funding awards through Kent State University and the University of Mount Union. Dr. Aller’s recent study findings were published in Nurse Educator, and she has authored several book chapters for Elsevier’s Fundamentals of Nursing. She has also embraced unique methods of knowledge dissemination through invitational podcasts and webinars, including participation in a recent podcast series by Nurse Educator.

Mary K. Anthony, Ph.D., RN

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Professor Emerita

Dr. Anthony’s research is on two complementary perspectives on health care delivery that share common features of high performing nursing organizations. Her work includes processes of nursing practice models such as delegation, teams, and interruptions and their effects on outcomes. Dr. Anthony has studied the impact of relational capital, as a strategic resource, to improve nurse and patient outcomes, particularly those related to discharge readiness. Her work includes examining aspects of nurses’ health such as physical activity, biomarkers, and performance in relation to shift rotations, and she is currently investigating the cognitive complexity and burden associated with interruptions. She serves as Co-Investigator on a study funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) investigating physical design, workflow, interruptions, and outcomes during trauma resuscitations at a Level I Trauma Center.

Kimberly Cleveland, Ph.D, JD, RN, C-MBC, C-MPC

Asssociate Professor
Dr. Cleveland is a solo practitioner of law admitted to practice in the State of a Ohio and The United States Supreme Court and teaches healthy policy, law, and economics. Dr. Cleveland holds many leadership positions in nursing organizations, including Chair of The Nurses on Boards Coalition, Recording Secretary of The American Association of Nurse Attorneys and  Public Policy Committee Member for the national League for Nursing.  She has been Co-Investigator and Primary Investigator for funded research on nursing student anxiety during COVID. Her research focuses on building inclusive nursing leadership through advocacy, accessible and affordable higher education and social justice.


Health Law & Economics
Organizational Leadership & Governance
Health Policy & Advocacy
Affordable & Open Educational Resources in Nursing
ECMO, VAD, & Cardiac Transplant ICU/OR Support
Adult Nurse Practitioner(ret.)
Professional Writing


Affordable & Open Educational Resources, Student Nurse Anxiety, Leadership Development, Health Policy, Health Law, Social Determinants of Health

Contact: kthoma43@kent.edu

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Tracey M. Dodson, Ph.D., RN

Associate Professor

Research Interests: Patient readiness for discharge and perceived ability to care for themselves post discharge; differences in learning types for nursing students and how to meet the needs of students with varying sets of study skills.

Contact: tdodson4@kent.edu


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Melissa Dyer, Ph.D, MBA, MSN, RN


Research Interests: Health Care Policy, Nursing Leadership

Contact: mbmcgowa@kent.edu


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Diana L. Fleming, Ph.D.,MSN, RN


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Professor and Director of the RN-to-BSN Program Director

Dr. Fleming’s research focused on using the Lupus Ohio mobile application, an app designed specifically for lupus patients, to assist them in managing their disease. The results of the study were obtained from two groups - those who had not used the app and those who had used the app in a mixed-methods study. App users valued the information provided through the app but would like it to be more engaging. These results are being dispersed to the Lupus Foundation of America, Greater Ohio Chapter, to assist them in improving the Lupus Ohio mobile application to better serve their constituents. Her goal is to continue to increase lupus awareness to healthcare providers the general population, as well as increase understanding of the uncertainty of this disease.

Dana M. Hansen, Ph.D., APRN, ACHPN, FPCN


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Associate Professor & Co-Director of the Ph.D. Program

Dr. Hansen’s research examines the dynamics of family interaction during advanced serious illness to enhance quality of life for patients, caregivers, and their families through improved communication. She studies contemporary approaches to communication, particularly social media illness stories or blogs, which may provide comfort, aid in creating meaning, and enrich family communication at the end of life. In past studies, she has found that social media illness stories mitigate caregiver burden and create opportunities for difficult conversations, improving feelings of well-being for patients and family caregivers and bringing a sense of meaning to difficult situations. Currently, Dr. Hansen serves as Principal Investigator for the CAREol Project (Catalyzing Relationships at the End of Life), funded by a Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation President’s Grant. This study investigates how education about final conversations empowers nursing and medical students and clinical faculty to engage dying patients and family members through critical conversations, allowing students and faculty to build resilience and catalyze important conversations to bring comfort at the end of life. 

Jeremy M. Jarzembak, Ph.D., RN

Senior Lecturer
Research Interests: 
Nursing Simulation, Nursing Informatics, Virtual Reality Simulation

Contact: jjarzemb@kent.edu


Jeremy Jarzembak

Versie Johnson-Mallard, PhD, RN, APRN, FAANP, FAAN


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Dean, Professor and Henderson Endowed Chair 

Dean Johnson-Mallard is a recognized national leader with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), National League for Nursing (NLN) and American Academy of Nursing (AAN) who works as an agent for collaborative opportunities for faculty, staff and students. Her strategic vision for the College of Nursing is to work collectively with other academic units on building research, scholarship and education initiatives.

Dean Johnson-Mallard led funding collaborations with NASEM and National Institutes of Health (NIH) and engaged academic institutions, such as the UF Health Cancer Center, in developing interprofessional scientific innovations on cancer technology, prevention and management. Her research focus is on first generation and underserved populations of health care professionals and health consumers in the field of reproductive health methodology, culturally specific interventions as well as identifying strategies which may be used to inhibit the oncogenic activity of high-risk HPV genotypes.

Karen L. Mascolo, DNP, RN

Karen Mascolo headshot

Associate Professor

Dr. Mascolo draws from her clinical background and leadership experience to investigate professionalism in nursing and advocate for effective nursing education to support professional nursing students. She is currently focusing on incivility and bullying in nursing and the detrimental effects of these behaviors on nursing students’ perceptions, well-being, job success, and retention, as well their provision of quality patient care. Her project, “Primary Prevention of Incivility and Bullying in Nursing,” addresses the prevalence of incivility encountered by nursing students and evaluates how targeted nursing education throughout the curriculum may foster professionalism and workplace civility. Dr. Mascolo served as a Kent State University Fellow in the Faculty Academy for Student Success in 2019 and a Kent State University Teaching Scholar in 2019-2020.   

  • Education:  DNP, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
  • Collaborate with Dr. Mascolo: kmascolo@kent.edu

Stacy Miner, Ph.D., RN, CCRP

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Assistant Professor

Dr. Miner's research interests involve evaluating and improving the symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other neurodevelopmental disorders.  Her most recent projects include a clinical trial evaluating how disturbed sleep impacts behavior in children with ASD and working with the CWRU Dept of Social Sciences to evaluate transitional services for young adults with ASD.  She has a long history of working with clinical trials at UH Cleveland Medical Center and Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital as a research nurse and a research study coordinator.  

Tracey M. Motter, DNP, RN


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Associate Dean of Academics , Associate Professor

Dr. Motter’s research addresses the diversity of the nursing student population and transition-to-practice for new graduates. She currently serves as Co-Investigator for an interdisciplinary study funded by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation to ensure the competencies of new healthcare providers to facilitate vital family communication at the end of life. She has also developed and served as the primary investigator for five national Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Careers in Nursing grants focused on increasing diversity in nursing. At the state level, Dr. Motter is involved with the Developing Seamless Transitions in Education and Practice and Developing Strong Leaders and Nurses on Boards task forces. She serves as the PI for the Linked-in to Practice program, funded through the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s Choose Ohio First initiative, at the College of Nursing (Kent and Stark campuses) in partnership with University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and Aultman Hospital. 

Lisa M. Onesko, DNP, APRN-BC


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Professor and Director of DNP Program

Dr. Onesko’s research currently investigates development of a prototypical haptic device for use in nursing simulation. Working with faculty from the Department of Computer Science at Kent State University, she is investigating how to improve physical exams during telehealth visits. Dr. Onesko has 18 years of practice as a nurse practitioner, and her previous research has examined the impact of home visits by advanced practice nurses on chronically ill, homebound older adults following a hospital or extended care facility stay. Her model for transitional care by APNs providing home visits for the chronically ill has investigated improved outcomes, including lower rates of recidivism for hospitalization and emergency department visits. This easily translatable model improves cost outcomes for this population and increases patient satisfaction with health providers and overall quality of life. 

  • Education: DNP, Rush University, Chicago, IL 
  • Collaborate with Dr. Onesko: lechever@kent.edu

Amy Petrinec, Ph.D., RN


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Interim Associate Dean, Research & Associate Professor

Dr. Petrinec’s research is focused on physical and psychological symptoms in caregiver, family member, and older adult populations, examining factors that influence quality of life. Her initial longitudinal work included post-intensive care syndrome (PICS) and health-related quality of life for patients and family decision-makers in the intensive care unit (ICU) and long-term acute care settings and has expanded to include caregivers across the spectrum of illness. Her goal is to develop interventions that can be implemented broadly across the illness trajectory to address untoward outcomes experienced by caregivers and family members.

Denice K. Sheehan, Ph.D., RN, FPCN

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Dr. Sheehan’s research focuses on the end of life, hospice, and coping skills of adolescents experiencing the life-limiting illness of a parent. In NIH-funded work, her team identified processes adolescents use to manage their lives while a parent is in hospice and after the parent's death and found a lack of support from health care professionals for adolescents’ involvement in care provision. Within her research team, Dr. Sheehan has incorporated a layered mentoring program with nursing students across academic programs and clinicians to advance the science and practice of end-of-life care. Dr. Sheehan currently serves as Principal Investigator for the study, “Interactions Among Adolescents with a Parent in Hospice and the Hospice Care Team,” funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR). In collaboration with the hospice team, Dr. Sheehan and her Co-Investigators will test models to encourage open communication in a supportive environment so adolescents are better informed and less stressed with improved coping skills.

Pamela L. Stephenson, Ph.D., RN

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Associate Professor

Dr. Stephenson’s research is on spirituality and spiritual uncertainty at the end of life. She is currently working to develop, refine, and test the theoretical and empirical basis for a newly identified construct of spiritual uncertainty as it relates to persons facing a serious, life-limiting illness. Dr. Stephenson is developing two instruments for spiritual uncertainty. The State of Spirituality scale (SOS) is a bedside screening tool for providers working with patients with life-limiting disease and their families, and the Spirituality Uncertainty-Providers (SU-P) is a survey to assess spiritual uncertainty for providers of end-of-life care. Her goal is to provide health professionals with needed language and tools that will ease spiritual conversations with patients nearing the end of life and their families. She also seeks to build a better understanding of how uncertainties, worries, questions, and doubts about spirituality influence spiritual dialogue, distress, and decision making. 

James Tudhope, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC, NPD-BC


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Assistant Professor

Dr. Tudhope’s research focuses on professional development for nurses and the development and design of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) fellowship programs. Specifically, he investigates better alignment for early entry APRNs in community mental health with patients who have established complex integrative needs. To accomplish this goal, Dr. Tudhope examines development, design, and measurement of APRN fellowship programs to help ensure successful transition to practice. Dr. Tudhope serves as Principal Investigator on a study funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to prepare and increase the number of new behavioral health nurse practitioners in northeast Ohio to work in integrated, community-based settings.

Ya-Fen Wang, Ph.D., RN

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Associate Professor

Dr. Wang’s research examines eating styles among children and their families and how they relate to overweight and obese children in order to make appropriate inferences to address health disparities. She is particularly interested in understanding how resourcefulness, which includes cognitive-behavioral self-control skills, is related to stress, overeating styles, and activity in underserved populations. Her interest in this area includes parents since they have the greatest influence on a child’s life. Therefore, she is examining the impact of parents’ resourcefulness on framing their children’s coping skills, eating behaviors, and resourcefulness. 

Andrea Warner Stidham, Ph.D., MSN, RN

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Assistant Professor

Dr. Stidham’s research interests include psychiatric and/or mental health issues, as well as children, adolescents, and adults with posttraumatic growth. Her research examines posttraumatic growth in people who have experienced traumatic life events, including sexual violence, spousal deployment, foster care, and HIV. Dr. Stidham’s research experience and expertise includes participating in mixed methods studies and analyzing qualitative data using multiple approaches. 

Tina Saunders, Ph.D., MSN, RN, CNE, GCNS-BC

Nurse Educator Coordinator & Professor

Research Interests: Perinatal Loss, Miscarriage, Stillbirth, Neonatal Grief, Grief, Grounded Theory, Gerontology, Gerontological Nursing, Older Adults, Elders

Contact: tsaunder@kent.edu


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Cindy Wilk, Ph.D., RN, CNS, CCRN, CNE


Research Interests: Family participation in care in the ICU, interventions for decreasing PICS-F

Dissertation Topic: Development of a Family Willingness to Provide Care Scale

Contact: cwilk@kent.edu


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Jennifer Biggs, MSN, RNc, CHSE

Ph.D. Candidate in Nursing


Research Interests: Simulation with focus on use of actors

Contact: jbiggs4@kent.edu

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