school of nursing research

Our faculty are recognized experts in their areas of interdisciplinary research. There are three main areas of research focus in the School of Nursing including: aging; symptom science; and health services research. The faculty have external funding from a variety of sources, including NIH, Veterans Administration, and various foundations

Featured Research


Susan Sheehy, PHD, RN, FAEN, FAAN
Jennifer Graber, EDD, PMHAPRN, CS, BC
Beatrice Gaynor, PHD, APRN, FNP-C

VCAT is a mixed methods pilot project at the University of Delaware. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness of a health and wellness program offered to Iraq and Afghanistan US Military Veterans to assist them in reintegration and health post deployment. Veterans are partnered with student athletes for 12 weeks. During this time, both the athletes and veterans attend 75-minute workout sessions and hour-long wellness classes twice a week. The volunteer student athletes serve as workout partners, accountability buddies, and a friendly connection to our University community. The wellness classes are presented by an interdisciplinary team of faculty members from across the university and subject experts from the community. Physiologic measures (body weight, percentage of body fat and lean muscle mass, BMI, and flexibility), psychosocial measures (resiliency, quality of life, and happiness) and qualitative descriptive data are collected pre-program, at six weeks and twelve weeks. In addition, qualitative descriptive data are collected pre-program and at twelve weeks from the college athlete volunteers.

VCAT educates the veterans about healthy behaviors and lifestyles while also inviting them to become a part of our extended UD community, an important aspect to their reintegration back into civilian life. The student athlete volunteers benefit from participating in the project through tutelage as well as gaining immense knowledge about the military, health and wellness, and the many sacrifices our veterans (and their families) make for our freedom and our country. We have recently received a grant from Highmark Blue Cross to continue our work. The long- term goal of the program is to validate the efficacy of VCAT so that VCAT becomes a regularly offered program at UD and that other universities around the country and the globe will offer VCAT to their community veterans as well.

UD brings wellness, fitness to Veterans and College Athletes Together:

Our Focus Areas

Experts in aging at the UD School of Nursing focus on physical function and mobility, cognitive function, cardiovascular health and chronic disease management. To measure mobility and function our experts utilize innovative methods in tracking technology to predict adverse events such as falls, urinary tract infections, and other adverse events across health care settings.

Faculty Researchers: 

Several resources exist with the SON that specifically support aging-related research.  The SON is fortunate enough to have a Jeanne K. Buxbaum Endowed chair in Aging.  Dr. Lorraine Phillips holds the Buxbaum Chair.

The SON is a member of The Multi-Professional Consortium on Gerontology, a group of professionals with expertise in gerontology, both applied and academic, with a passion for advancing the interests and welfare of older adults in our community through advocacy, activism, and scholarship.

In our Interdisciplinary labs in the STAR Tower there are shared laboratory spaces in the Aging in Place Translational Research Lab and Adaptive Living Apartment which focus on preventing poor outcomes and managing chronic conditions across multiple older adult populations.

Symptom science experts have research programs focused on the pain, sleep, mental health, disease self-management and medication adherence.

Within symptom science, experts at the UD School of Nursing focus on innovative methods and measures of pain, sleep quantity and quality across patient populations and diabetes self-management and life course transitions.



Additional Research:

Health services research in the UD School of Nursing is conducted by nationally-known experts on the nursing workforce, healthcare policy, mental health, women’s health, and health inequities and treatment disparities. Faculty use a variety of approaches, including primary data collection and secondary analyses of large data sets, to examine nursing workforce and patient outcomes within the contexts of an evolving healthcare system and policy reform.

Faculty Researchers: 

Additional Project Areas

Title: Sean's House will focus on free Mental Health care referrals
Collaborators: Rita Landgraf, Catherine Heilferty, Mari Fischer

Learn More ABOUT SL24: Sean's House


Title: VCAT: Veterans and College Athletes Together
CI: Beatrice Gaynor, Jennifer Graber
PI: Susan Sheehy

Learn More ABOUT V-CAT


Title: A Workforce Study of Delaware's Advanced Practice Healthcare Providers
Collaborators: Susan Conaty-Buck, Rebecca Gross, Katherine Collison


Title: An Examination of Cybersecurity Strategies Used by Small and Medium Healthcare Practices to Decrease Vulnerability Related to Theft of Patient
Collaborators: Susan Conaty-Buck, Andrew Novocin, Jacob Blackstein

Title: Hunger Strikes and Blanket Protests: Nurses' Work in England and Northern Ireland Prisons During the Troubles (1968-1998)
PI: Catherine Heilferty

Title: Decreasing Feelings of Anxiety Experienced by Nursing Students Engaged in High Stakes Testing with the Use of Virtual Reality-Delivered Mindfulness Practice
Collaborators: Susan Conaty-Buck, Jennifer Graber, Laurie, Ruggiero

Title: Specialized Student/Peer Certification Program for Mental Health
Collaborators: Rita Landgraf, Catherine Heilferty, Marimargaret Fischer

Title: College Student Grief and Resilience: A Pilot Study of Peer-Facilitator Support
CI: Marimargaret Fischer
PI: Catherine Heilferty