Faculty Research Interests

Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden's award-winning faculty investigate topics within a framework of social justice, health promotion, and population health. They are recognized experts in their fields of study and clinical practice who explore topics including poverty, built environments, and vulnerable communities; disease prevention and health literacy; access to care; community-based research; and social determinants of health – to name a few. Our dedicated teacher-scholars translate findings into advanced nursing practice, bring their expertise into classrooms and communities, and are innovators who transform nursing knowledge into ideas that make an impact.

Rahshida Atkins, PhD, RN, APN-C
Assistant Professor
Dr. Rahshida Atkins works to understand the issues of diversity impacting healthcare and that contribute to health disparities in vulnerable Americans. Dr. Atkins' program of research addresses the mental health needs of vulnerable disadvantaged mothers and encourages them to adopt healthy behaviors, such as physical activity for those who live in underserved communities.
Robert Atkins, PhD, RN, FAAN
Associate Professor
Dr. Bob Atkins is a leader in shaping the policy and practice that influences the health and well-being of vulnerable populations living in high poverty neighborhoods. Dr. Atkins serves the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as National Program Director of its New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI) program. NJHI is the Foundation’s signature statewide grantmaking program.
Margaret Avallone, DNP, RN, CCRN
Assistant Professor
Dr. Margaret Avallone’s program of scholarship and research centers on patient safety and communication strategies and transitioning students to professional practice. Dr. Avallone holds more than 30 years of critical care nursing experience as a clinical bedside nurse and clinical specialist.
Cynthia Ayres, PhD, RN
Associate Professor
Dr. Cynthia Ayres investigates health promotion and disease prevention activities in children, adolescents, and young adults, as well as health disparities among diverse populations. Dr. Ayres is an associate editor for the Journal of Nursing Practice Applications & Reviews of Nursing Research, and serves as an editorial board member and peer-reviewer for numerous top-tier journals.
Claudia Beckmann, PhD, RN, WHNP, BC, CNM
Associate Dean, Graduate and Professional Programs
Professor
Dr. Claudia Beckmann has been instrumental in the development and implementation of Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs at Rutgers University College of Nursing-Newark and the Rutgers School of Nursing-Camden. Dr. Beckmann is a women’s health nurse practitioner and a certified nurse midwife.
Janice Beitz, PhD, RN, CS, CNOR,CWOCN-AP, CRNP, APNC,MAPWCA, ANEF, FAAN
Director, Wound Ostomy Continence Nursing (WOCNEP) Certificate Program
Professor
Dr. Janice Beitz researches the clinical practice and educational aspects of factors and issues affecting patient safety. For the former, she has conducted research on evidence-based algorithms such as Content Validation of Pressure Injury Prevention Algorithms and Prioritizing Management Approaches to Stomal and Peristomal Complications. Her latest research involves diabetes prevention. For the latter, she explores social bullying in nursing academia, metacognition, and effective teaching/learning strategies. Dr. Beitz is on the editorial and manuscript reviewer boards of multiple wound care and educational journals.
Lynne Borucki, PhD, RNC-OB
Clinical Associate Professor
Dr. Lynne Borucki has over 35 years of experience in nursing education as a faculty member and administrator. Dr. Borucki is nationally certified in obstetrical nursing and has published and presented nationally and internationally on topics related to nursing education and women’s health. Her research is focused on facilitating education of under-represented students; lactation; care of childbearing families; service learning; health care technologies; and post-partum care.
Renee E. Cantwell, DNP, RN, CNE, CPHQ
Director, Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program
Clinical Associate Professor
Dr. Cantwell’s passion is providing, through the Bridge to Nursing Success, a strong and seamless transition for students who are accepted into the accelerated bachelor of nursing program. Dr. Cantwell has more than 25 years of teaching experience as well as a strong clinical background in quality management, medical surgical and critical care nursing. Her research interest is primarily in the area of nursing education and in identifying and assisting victims of human trafficking.
Jeanann Sousou Coppola, DNP, RN, CNM, CNE
Clinical Assistant Professor
Dr. Jeanann Coppola is interested in women’s healthcare, peer mentoring, global health nursing, and human trafficking. Dr. Coppola is a Board-Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) and Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) with experience teaching across academic programs using a variety of traditional and digital instructional formats. She is keenly interested in global health nursing and leads allied health students on a three-week health care immersion and civic engagement trip to Bolivia.
Nancy Cresse, DNP, MSN, RN, APRN-BC
Clinical Assistant Professor
Dr. Nancy Cresse studies frailty and care of the older adult.
Kevin Emmons, DrNP, RN, APN, AGPCNP-BC, CWCN
Clinical Associate Professor
Dr. Kevin Emmons is a clinical expert in wound care with a particular focus on quality of life and symptom management among persons with complex wounds. As a clinical scholar, he has numerous publications and presentations that predominantly focus on integrating concepts of palliative wound care into everyday practice. Outside of wound care, Dr. Emmons’ clinical practice is varied and has included emergency/trauma nursing and military nursing. He is an Officer in the United States Army Reserves Nurse Corps and has served in Kuwait and Iraq.
Kathleen Jackson, DNP, APRN, BC-ADM
Clinical Assistant Professor
Dr. Kathleen Jackson holds years of expertise and experience in family primary healthcare, facilitating transformation and leading interprofessional care of patients and community engagement, as well as teaching in graduate and interprofessional education. She has a broad background as a family nurse practitioner in primary care, with specific knowledge and experience in prevention and management of chronic disease.  Dr. Jackson delivers healthcare to vulnerable populations, working with communities to improve health and cross-sector partners in low-income neighborhoods across Camden, N.J., such as Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, founder of the Camden Coalition of Health Care Providers.
Bonnie Jerome-D'Emilia, PhD, MPH, RN
Associate Professor
Dr. Bonnie Jerome-D'Emilia targets her program of research on breast cancer screening and treatment, with a focus on disparities. Dr. Jerome-D'Emilia has conducted a number of community-based participatory research studies in Camden looking at women’s decision-making in terms of breast cancer screening as well as validating cancer related scales in African American and Hispanic communities.
Angela Kelly, DNP, RNC-OB, WHNP-BC, APN
Clinical Assistant Professor
Dr. Angela Kelly’s academic interests involve the improvement of adolescent health and risk reduction in this population. Dr. Kelly is a Board Certified Nurse practitioner with clinical expertise in the field of women’s health, health promotion, and community health. She has a special interest in projects that improve health outcomes for adolescent populations and pregnant teens.
Terri-Ann Kelly, PhD, RN, CPT
Assistant Professor
Dr. Terri-Ann Kelly, a nurse scientist with expertise in health disparities, pursues a program of research focused on strategies to encourage African Americans to adhere to a healthful diet, and engage in appropriate aerobic and muscle strengthening activities to protect their health. Specifically, Dr. Kelly seeks to develop theoretically grounded interventions, which are culturally competent, sustainable, and tailored to address relevant environmental and socio-cultural contexts in which individuals make decisions.
Sheila Linz, PhD, RN, PMHNP-NP, RN
Assistant Professor
Dr. Sheila Linz is a psychiatric nurse practitioner with extensive experience working in underserved communities with people who have serious mental illness. Dr. Linz has worked on outreach teams, shelters for the mentally ill, community clinics, nurse practitioner run mental health clinics, youth shelters, and with individuals with AIDS, substance abuse issues, and mental illness. She researches the needs of underserved communities and addresses issues of coping, stigma, isolation, exclusion, and building communication between diverse groups.
Donna M. Nickitas, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, CNE, FNAP, FAAN
Dean and Professor
Dr. Donna M. Nickitas is an exceptional administrator, a noted health policy scholar, and an energetic visionary regarding the future of health care and nursing education in America. Dr. Nickitas is the author, co-author, or co-editor of peer-reviewed books related to the nursing profession such as Public Policy and Politics for Nurses and Other Health Professionals, second edition (2016, Jones and Bartlett) and Reviews & Rationales: Nursing Leadership & Management (2009, Prentice Hall Health). Her research consistently appears in peer-reviewed journals that include Nursing Education PerspectivesResearch in Gerontological Nursing, and the Journal of Nursing Education. She has received research grant support from agencies such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National League for Nursing, Jonas Philanthropies, and Sigma Theta Tau International. Since 2008, Dr. Nickitas has served as the editor of Nursing Economic$, a journal dedicated to advancing nursing leadership and innovation. A retired major in the U.S. Air Force Nurse Reserve Corps, Dr. Nickitas previously served as assistant director of maternal child health nursing at Bellevue Medical Center in New York and as a staff nurse in the labor and delivery unit at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. 
Susan Norris, PhD, RN
Assistant Professor
Dr. Susan Norris specializes in the study, practice and teaching of transcultural nursing and population health. Dr. Norris' research uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to understand health determinants and practices among diverse populations locally and globally. Her work aims to address health inequities by implementing a transcultural nursing process to identify, understand and bridge cultural differences.
Marie O'Toole, EdD, RN, FAAN
Senior Associate Dean, Academic and Faculty Affairs Professor
Dr. Marie O’Toole’s primary program of research is academic lexicography.  Dr. O'Toole has served as the editor of multiple editions of dictionaries and encyclopedias, including the award winning Mosby Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions. Dr. O’Toole has been involved in international outreach related to rehabilitation and curriculum development. Her work has been funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Health Resource Services Administration (HRSA), the Fund for Improvement of Secondary Education (FIPSE) program of the United States Department of Education and the Erasmus+ program of the European Commission on Higher Education.  In 2017 she served as a Fulbright Specialist in Jordan.
Staci Pacetti, PharmD
Clinical Assistant Professor
Dr. Staci Pacetti holds a unique position as the lone pharmacist on faculty at the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden. Dr. Pacetti is an infectious diseases specialty pharmacist by trade, who for more than 10 years has enjoyed teaching across all levels of nursing scholarship: undergraduate, RN to BSN, and graduate. She is a champion for the inclusion of interprofessional experiences into the nursing curriculum and works to advance projects across the disciplines of nursing, pharmacy, and social work.
Nancy M. H. Pontes, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, FNAP
Assistant Professor
Dr. Nancy Pontes is interested in improving population health trans-nationally. As a family nurse practitioner (FNP), Dr. Pontes has worked in a variety of roles and leadership positions. Her research explores social determinants of health and well-being among vulnerable youth and families. Two primary research streams are 1) Secondary analysis of the nationally representative Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) to explore victimization, psychological distress and related variables among high school students, and 2) Qualitative phenomenological inquiry of mothers’ experiences with time famine, the chronic perceived shortage of time and its impact upon health and wellbeing.
Katherine Prihoda, DNP, PPCNP-BC
Clinical Assistant Professor
Dr. Katherine Prihoda holds years of experience as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner which has provided her with the background and skills necessary to teach nursing students across all levels of scholarship. Dr. Prihoda scholarship involves nursing education, adolescent health, pediatric primary care, and underserved pediatric populations.
Tyshaneka Saffold, MSN, RN
Clinical Instructor
Tyshaneka Saffold studies health disparities in urban populations; impact of poverty on health; HIV treatment and management; and teenage pregnancy prevention. Ms. Saffold has been a nurse for 18 years, with clinical expertise in the area of cardiac care of patients, community health, and leadership. She is a PhD candidate whose program of research centers on adolescent health, particularly prevention of both teen pregnancy and HIV in poverty stricken neighborhoods.
Patricia Sayers, DNP, RN
Director, RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program
Assistant Professor
Dr. Patricia A. Sayers specializes in global health policy. As the elected United Nations NGO Representative of The International Catholic Committee of Nurses and Medico-Social Assistant, Vatican City, Dr. Sayers has addressed UN member nations regarding the following topics: population issues and the sustainable development agenda, sustainable cities, human mobility, and international migration. In addition, Dr. Sayers studies nursing care delivery associated with climate and weather-health dynamics.
Robert Scoloveno, PhD, RN, CCRN
Director, Simulation Laboratory
Assistant Professor
Dr. Robert Scoloveno has studied health outcomes of resilience in underserved adolescents and has spoken at many national and international conferences as an expert on the concept of resilience. Dr. Scoloveno's research interests lie in the area of adolescent health, specifically health outcomes of resilience in adolescents. He has published several articles on the concept of resilience, and developed a theoretical model of health outcomes of resilience.
Patricia Suplee, PhD, RNC-OB
Associate Professor
Dr. Patricia D. Suplee seeks to advance knowledge that can ultimately be translated into practice in order to improve maternal health during transitions from the hospital to community during the postpartum period. Dr. Suplee has a long history of collaboration with perinatal and breast cancer scientists on research endeavors; she was a member of the pioneering interdisciplinary clinical team that helped transition obstetrical care into what we now know as modern day high-risk perinatal acute care. Her areas of expertise include: improving maternal morbidity and mortality outcomes and tailoring culturally appropriate interventions in socio-economically disadvantaged urban areas.
Carol Wallinger, JD, BSN, RN
Clinical Professor, Rutgers Law School, Camden Campus
Clinical Professor, School of Nursing–Camden
Carol L. Wallinger is an expert in Workers Compensation, insurance, estate planning and elder law and teaches legal writing to first-year and upper-level students. She worked as an attorney in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey and is a founding member of the board of directors of the American Association of Law Schools “Balance in Legal Education” section. Wallinger joined the Rutgers-Camden Law faculty in 2001, and since then has taught legal writing to both first-year and upper-level law students. She also has taught Workers' Compensation Law. Before joining the faculty, she taught Legal Writing at Temple University.
Melanie Wassel, DNP, RN, NP-C, GNP-BC
Clinical Assistant Professor
Dr. Melanie Wassel is a board certified Adult and Geriatric Nurse Practitioner with extensive geriatric and advanced practice nursing experience. She has worked to increase geriatric knowledge and skills with pre and post licensure nurses and healthcare professionals for over a decade. She is a skilled clinician and dedicated teacher who brings her adult and geriatric expertise to the classroom to enhance learning. She continues to practice as a nurse practitioner with a focus on complex management of adult and geriatric patients in a primary care setting. Dr. Wassel's scholarship interests include improving patient outcomes for those with chronic disease.
Wanda Williams, PhD, RN, WHNP-BC, APN
Assistant Professor
Dr. Wanda Williams's research is focused on improving health outcomes for women across the lifespan through an interdisciplinary approach that promotes physical activity. Dr. Williams believes that promoting better health habits (lifestyle behavior modification) in adolescence will lead to better health outcomes in adulthood. Her goal is to design theory-driven behavioral interventions aimed at improving physical activity in minority females to reduce their incidences of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Other research interests include: physical activity measurement, health inequities and disparities, and obesity prevention in minority youth. She has a clinical interest in the implementation of Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC) methods in adolescent girls.
Mary Wunnenberg, EdD, MSN, RN, CNE
Clinical Assistant Professor
Dr. Mary Wunnenberg has an extensive clinical background in diverse acute care settings with over 14 years of experience teaching in classroom and clinical settings. Dr. Wunnenberg's research explores integrating feminist care ethics with colleagues, students, and vulnerable patient populations. She works collaboratively with nurse leaders in acute care psychiatric facilities to develop staff development initiatives to enhance patient care outcomes. She works to integrate diverse teaching and evaluation methodologies to enhance student learning, in the classroom and in clinical settings, and faculty mentoring.