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College of Nursing

Faculty and Staff

Core Faculty

Dr. Corbett’s research activities focus on strategies to improve health outcomes for adults with chronic conditions. Her research involves both self-management and health system interventions. She is currently collecting preliminary data about the feasibility of using virtual home assistants to promote older adults’ abilities to manage chronic conditions and to age in place.

 Elizabeth is The ACORN Center’s project coordinator. She has a background in psychology and counseling education. She earned her 2014 from The University of South Carolina in Experimental Psychology and her M.A. in 2018 from Western Carolina University in Clinical Psychology. Her research interests include chronic conditions such as Substance Use Disorders, PTSD, Anxiety/Depression, Cognitive disorders such as Dementia, and mental health/well-being of underrepresented groups such as the LGBTQIA+ population.

Dr. Dawson’s research focuses on communication processes in vulnerable and underserved populations, and how those processes may contribute to health disparities. Her research interests include rural health, childhood asthma, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and healthcare for individuals with limited English proficiency.

Dr. Donevant’s research includes mobile health apps for patients with chronic health conditions. She is currently an investigator on two funded research projects: Development and Usability Testing of STORY + App to Improve Treatment Adherence to Endocrine Therapy, and Healthcare Professionals’ Perception of mHealth Features that Promote Positive Patient Outcomes.

Dr. Hughes is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Center for Nursing Leadership. Formerly, she had nearly two decades of service in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, primarily at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Health Resources and Services Administration. Her research interests involve harnessing data science to improve patient care and outcomes. Her research has been funded by the American Nurse Credentialing Center, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Dr. Jenerette’s program of research is aimed at enhancing self-care and family management in vulnerable populations such as individuals with sickle cell disease. Specifically, she uses both qualitative and quantitative methods to identify vulnerability factors in order to intervene by enhancing self-care and family management resources with the goal of improved health outcomes. Dr. Jenerette is currently developing SIPP©, a simulation in PhD Programs to enhance knowledge on social determinants of health and interprofessional education as a Macy Faculty Scholar.

Dr. Raynor is an early career public health nurse scientist focusing on research, prevention, public advocacy, and health promotion initiatives for families affected by substance use disorders (SUD). Ultimately, improvements in the health of families affected by substance use come from being in long-term recovery. Her dissertation research was focused on the development of self-care interventions for parents recovering from SUD with a goal of improving their long-term recovery outcomes and the health outcomes of their children. She desires to continue this work in providing quality mental health services, as well as local, state and national advocacy through SAMHSA MFP initiatives, education and research on behalf of this vulnerable population at large. Dr. Raynor is currently working on using smart phone technology to improve parenting skills as well as substance use treatment outcomes in parents with opioid and alcohol addiction who have young children.

Dr. Vick is a Clinical Assistant Professor. Her research interests are related to improving self-management and health outcomes for patients with chronic conditions. She participated in the Programs to Increase Diversity Among Individuals Engaged in Health-Related Research (PRIDE) Georgia Cancer Center - Augusta University, and received a PRIDE-NHLBI Certificate in July 2018. Dr. Vick is specifically interested in promoting medication adherence among people with Sickle Cell Disease.

Associate Faculty 

Professor O'Kane's research is in planning algorithms for robotics and autonomous systems. As robot technology becomes more practical, it becomes increasingly important to design robots that are suitable for domains that are unpredictable and inhospitable, while ensuring that the resulting systems are robust and inexpensive. Because sensing and uncertainty are central issues in robotics, it is essential to understand how to solve robotics problems when sensing is limited and uncertainty is great. Professor O'Kane's interests span sensor-based algorithmic robotics and related areas, including planning under uncertainty, artificial intelligence, computational geometry, sensor networks, and motion planning. Dr. O’Kane is currently developing a skill for the Amazon Alexa, Medbuddy, with the goal of improving medication adherence.

Owens’ research interests are health and cancer communications with diverse populations, technology for health promotion and informed decision making in aging adults, and smart and connected health. Owens serves as Co-PI on a Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation project which is testing the efficacy of a computer-based decision aid to promote shared lung cancer screening decisions. In addition, Owens is co-investigator on a Department of Defense funded study to explore the effects of prostate cancer treatment on long-term work ability.

Dr. Dezhi Wu is an associate professor at the Department of Integrated Information Technology, University of South Carolina. Her primary research interest focuses on human-computer interaction that applies to artificial intelligence, health IT/health informatics, cybersecurity, and cyberlearning domains. Her research explores the design, implementation, and evaluation of novel user interfaces and applications for transformative user experiences to bridge the gaps between users and today’s evolving smart technologies. She was the recipient of the global technology award “AIS Technology Challenge Award,” and she is the former Chair for AIS Special Interest Group on Human-Computer Interaction (SIGHCI).

Dr. Sudha Xirasagar is a professor at the department of Health Services Policy and Management in the Arnold School of Public Health. Her research and teaching interests include: colorectal cancer screening and cancer prevention outcomes, colorectal cancer screening and treatment; stroke care and outcomes, racial disparities in care and outcomes, global health services research on health systems strengthening, costs, provider behavior, and clinical outcomes. Dr. Xirasagar has published nearly 100 research papers in leading peer-reviewed journals and received grants from federal, state and other institutions to support her research.


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