Researcher Profiles

Biobehavioral Nursing Department


Marlene Call, PhD, MPH, RN, BSN

Clinical Liaison for Prelicensure Programs - CONAT
Assistant BSN Program Director - CONAT
Assistant Professor, Department of Biobehavioral Nursing
College of Nursing

Dr. Marlene Call is interested in nursing education and clinical judgment assessment and cultivation. She is interested in alternative methodologies to assess and develop student levels of clinical judgment during a nursing program despite nursing faculty shortages, growing class sizes, and other educational obstacles. Dr. Call’s larger interest is to make positive changes in nursing education that can impact patient care and outcomes after nurses graduate.

Dr. Call has collaborated on various types of research. She has published on topics related to the diagnosis of mononucleosis, oseltamivir effectiveness in adults, and clinical practice questions of veterinarians. She also has worked with the CDC to track emerging rabies threats over the previous 20 years. In addition, she was invited to speak by GRACE Coalition to present her ideas related to concerns surrounding the health of children who were impacted by the Graniteville Chlorine spill. Furthermore, she has collaborated on a meta-analysis of online education.

Dr. Call’s dissertation research involves working with nursing students and assessment strategies to identify an alternative method to high-fidelity mannequin simulations that can be used with a validated nursing clinical judgment tool. Results from this research provide insight on how these two environments compare with regard to providing opportunities for students’ clinical judgment behaviors to be measured.

In the future, expanding upon her dissertation work, Dr. Call would like to further test assessment methods for clinical judgment and work with the national board of nursing to establish a clinical judgment benchmark that could be used with students prior to graduation.

Dr. Cromer

Pamela R. Cromer, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC

Professor, Department of Biobehavioral Nursing
College of Nursing and The Graduate School

Dr. Cromer’s research interests include cardiometabolic risks of Hispanic farmworkers and outcomes of substance abuse training on advanced practice nursing students. With over twenty years as an APRN healthcare provider, interprofessional training is an area Dr. Cromer emphasizes in her faculty practice and work. Dr. Cromer is Project Director for the College of Nursing’s Costa Layman Health Fair & Community Outreach Programs. She is a Co-investigator of the “Cardio-metabolic Risks of Hispanic Farmworkers in Southeastern USA” (CHARM) Study, funded by the Georgia Institute of Public and Preventive Health. This on-going longitudinal study is the first to study health behaviors and regional/local influences among the local Hispanic farm-workers and evaluate the potential for development of guidelines for individualized interventional strategies. Her collaborations and presentations include regional, national and international presentations and publications. Recognized for her outstanding work with the Costa layman Community Outreach Project(s), she received the prestigious 2016 AANP Nurse Practitioner State Award for Georgia.

Dr. Cromer is a sub-investigator on the Augusta University Interprofessional Substance Abuse Training for the Health Professions (SRISAT), a federally funded training grant to improve substance abuse screenings and interventions in primary care settings. In addition, she was a co-investigator for an African American Chronic Recurrent Bacterial Vaginosis study at the University of South Carolina.

Her future research interests include clinical applications of proactive participation in Hispanic outreach services and the effects of substance abuse and brief intervention training for APRN students.

Dr. Davis

Mary Lou LaComb Davis, PhD, APRN, CPNP-PC, PMHS-PC 
Coordinator, Pediatric Nurse Practioner Program
Director Healthy Grandparents Program
Assistant Professor, Department of Biobehavioral Nursing
College of Nursing

Dr. Davis’s primary interest is in engaging and promoting research that advances maternal-child health care practice and outcomes. She is Director of the Healthy Grandparents Program. Funded by state grants and an American Academy of Nursing Edge Runner award, the program is designed to support grandparents who are raising their grandchildren in parent-absent homes. The program has helped over 500 grandparents and 800 children with services that include support groups, nurse home visits, health and wellness promotion, summer and holiday events, child custody and adoption assistance, and referrals.

Dr. Davis serves as the primary care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) program track coordinator within the College of Nursing and The Graduate School. She provides education and advisement to PNP graduate and doctorate of nursing practice students. Dr. Davis fosters a student-centered environment that is built upon the foundation of collaborative relationships with students, staff, faculty, health professionals, and members of the community.

Additionally, Dr. Davis is engaged in promoting advanced practice nursing specifically within the PNP program. She is focused on communicating with consumers of care and health care professionals about how PNPs provide expert quality care for the unique health care needs of children and adolescents.


Shena Gazaway, PhD, MSN, RN 
Assistant BSN Program Director-CONAT
Instructor, Department of Physiological and Technological Nursing
College of Nursing 

Dr. Shena Gazaway’s research interests involve nurses’ education and professional socialization upon entry to professional practice. She is interested in mentoring as an option to improve the socialization experience for newly licensed registered nurses during their vital first months of practice. Her current research focuses on the effects of mentoring relationships on the professional socialization of Clinical Nurse Leader graduates in their first 6-9 months of professional nursing practice. This research fits within Dr. Gazaway’s larger interest of advocating for organizational changes through educational partnerships that focus on new graduate transition and strategies to decrease new graduates’ anxiety and frustration.

Dr. Gazaway also has collaborated on research involving rural healthcare, integrating culturally congruent care principles into nursing practice, and simulation education efficacy. Also of interest to Dr. Gazaway is how to integrate professional organization involvement into undergraduate curriculum to impact future professional growth and career development. Her future research goals include understanding how dealing with a personal healthcare crisis impacts the care that nurses provide for their patients.

Dr. Hillism

Stephen Gilliam, PhD, FNP-BC, RN 
Assistant Professor, Department of Biobehavioral Nursing
College of Nursing

Dr. Gilliam’s research focus is on influences of physical activity and nutrition on metabolism in acute and chronic disease.

Dr. Gilliam believes defining human systems in a broad sense reveals the chaotic nature of these systems and leads to an understanding that nursing must look at the whole picture.   Consequently, he has used a variety of methods in his research interests, from simple survey methods when assessing nutrition knowledge in nurses to time series analysis and meta-analysis techniques when considering patterns of psychosocial issues in adolescent pregnancy.

Dr. Gilliam is most interested in primary care settings and translating and applying research findings to optimize patient care.  Accordingly, he has an interest in practical statistical tests, inference procedures, and research methods that summarize the state of knowledge on a given issue or topic.

Dr. InglettSandra Burton Inglett, PhD, RN 
Associate Professor, Department of Biobehavioral Nursing
College of Nursing and The Graduate School

Dr. Inglett's primary research interests include community health and women's health care. She has over 30 years of maternal/child nursing experience with special emphasis on neonatal nursing. Dr. Inglett is the Project Director for Enterprise Community Healthy Start (ECHS) one of 100 Healthy Start projects across the country. ECHS is a HRSA funded grant that case manages, through home visitation, primarily low-income pregnant women and their children up to 2 years of age.  

Dr. Inglett's secondary research interest is in tobacco cessation. Her dissertation research involved paring Clinical Nurse Leader students with tobacco dependent mothers. She has served as Sub-Investigator on several NIH-funded tobacco cessation studies such as A Pharmacogenetic Smoking Cessation Study and The Impact of Tobacco Control Interventions in African American Families. Dr. Inglett has also been a Sub-Investigator on the NIH-funded study, Fit Body, and Soul: A Lifestyle Intervention for Diabetes Prevention Conducted through African American Churches.

Dr. Inglett's future work will continue with the HRSA-funded Enterprise Healthy Start Program in Georgia and include the topics of increasing breastfeeding among ECHS clients and reducing gestational weight gain among ECHS clients.

Dr. Marion

Lucy Marion, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAANP 
Professor and Dean Emerita, Department of Biobehavioral Nursing
College of Nursing and The Graduate School

Dr. Marion's research focuses on clinical and community health behavior change interventions, with emphasis on reducing health disparities. Much of her National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded research is designed to understand and prevent sexually transmitted infections (STI) among high-risk women and teens.

Dr. Marion helped develop best practices for managing diabetes in persons with major mental illness and currently is a Co-Investigator on an NIH-funded project testing a clinical preventive diabetes program translated for an African American faith-based delivery model. Other projects include healthcare access and utilization of emergency departments and faith-based community clinics through the Greater Augusta Healthcare Network (GAHN). From 2005-2009 she served on the US Preventive Services Task force which develops screening, behavioral change counseling, and chemo-prevention recommendations for primary care clinicians. From 2010-2012, she was on the Healthcare Effectiveness Stakeholder Group for the Agency on Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Dr. Marion mentors doctoral students and novice faculty on developing collaborative programs of research. 

Dr. McCallAmber McCall, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, RN 
Assistant Professor, Department of Physiological and Technological Nursing
College of Nursing

Dr. McCall’s current research focuses on mental health and epigenetics. She is presently studying the relationship between MTHFR polymorphisms and mental health (specifically depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia) in populations across the globe.

Her other research interests include innovations in nursing education, health decision-making, community-based participatory research, and lifestyle risk reduction interventions.

Her future research goals include analyzing how nutritional interventions designed to modulate methylation-associated inflammatory pathways may decrease negative health outcomes.

 CarolineCaroline McKinnon, PhD, PMH/CNS-BC 
Assistant Professor, Department of Biobehavioral Nursing
College of Nursing

Dr. McKinnon’s research interests include parental participation in child mental health services and outcomes of substance abuse training on advanced practice nursing students. Her research interests come from many years of practice within child mental health settings. 
Her dissertation research used a quantitative content analysis methodology and focused how mothers of children with serious mental health conditions discussed their role in their child’s care during an electronic support group conversation.

Dr. McKinnon is a sub-investigator on the Augusta University Interprofessional Substance Abuse Training for the Health Professions (GRISAT), a federally-funded training grant to improve substance abuse screening and interventions in primary care settings. Dr. McKinnon has also collaborated with Dr. Jane Garvin on presentations related to prevalence rates and outcome effects associated with mental health diagnosis among veterans enrolled in weight management programs.

Future research interests include theoretical and clinical applications of proactive participation in child mental health services.

Dr. Pawl

Jean Pawl, PhD, RN, OCN, CNE 
Chair and Professor, Department of Biobehavioral Nursing
College of Nursing and The Graduate School

The effects of sleep loss on caregiver health in caregivers of individuals with primary malignant brain tumors (PMBTs) was the focus of Dr. Pawl’s doctoral work in which she conducted a secondary data analysis using objective and subjective measures (actigraphy, biomarkers, questionnaires). Dr. Pawl is conducting another secondary data analysis to explore her initial findings longitudinally with data that spans two + years. Other areas of research include meta-analysis work in gastric cancer and the MTHFR gene. 

Physiological and Technological Nursing Department 

Dr. Chernecky

Cynthia Chernecky, PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN 
Professor, Department of Physiological and Technological Nursing
College of Nursing and The Graduate School

Dr. Chernecky's areas of research focus on physiological and psychological factors associated with lung cancer, outcomes and education associated with venous access devices in cancer patients and caregivers, and best educational formats for student learning through book publication.

In lung cancer, her research focuses on respiratory factors as part of the symptom experience with specific emphasis on coughing, wheezing, dyspnea and allergies or hypersensitivities.
Dr. Chernecky is part of a national multi-site nursing research team, supported by internal and external funding; that is investigating the experience of patients who have non-small cell lung cancer. The long-range goal of her collaboration is to develop effective strategies to promote quality of life and effectively control respiratory symptoms.

Her area of research associated with venous access devices has been supported by NIH, NINR funding and includes health care disparities research in cancer patients and caregivers.
Her nursing research on educational formats includes the development of a clinical format for ease of use regarding information on laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures. A new pedagogy to enhance clinical care plans called the ABCDE pedagogy, and a new model for nursing research called Healthcare And Technology Synergy (HATS) model, which was co-invented by Dr. Chernecky.

These areas of research are complemented by her clinical expertise and as the founder of critical care oncology. Dr. Chernecky has published 30 textbooks, 4 winning prestigious awards, and has influenced with her writings about 1:8 registered nurses in North America and thousands internationally.

Dr. Johns

Robin Johns, PhD, RN 
Associate Professor, Department of Physiological and Technological Nursing
Affiliate Faculty, Section of Experimental Medicine
College of Nursing and The Graduate School

Dr. Johns' current research focuses on epigenetics and the development of cardiovascular disease. Using big data analytics, she is presently studying the relationship between NOS3 polymorphisms and CVD risk in populations worldwide.

Her other research interests include mechanisms of acute stress and its influence on clinically relevant cardiovascular diseases;  including the mechanistic pathways by which acute behavioral stress-induced increases in the vascular peptide endothelin (ET-1) result in the release of reactive oxygen species and lead to enhanced pressor response and an increase in pro-inflammatory mediators. In addition to her basic science background, Dr. Johns is an experienced clinical researcher whose work also includes interventional studies designed to decrease the effect of acute stress on physiological markers in patients hospitalized with acute cardiac events. 

Her future research goals include translating her current epigenetic findings to human populations through interventional studies using nutritional strategies designed to modulate methylation-associated inflammatory pathways to decrease cardiovascular risk.
In addition to her basic science research, Dr. Johns is an experienced clinical researcher whose next goal is to translate her findings to the patient care setting

Dr. Marin

Terri Marin, PhD, NNP-BC, FAANP 
Assistant Professor, Department of Physiological & Technical Nursing
College of Nursing

Dr. Marin’s primary program of research focuses on developing diagnostic strategies to identify risk factors for ischemic disease in premature infants using near infrared spectroscopy technology. In collaboration with a multidisciplinary research team, Dr. Marin’s work has led to practice change in neonatology associated with packed red blood cell administration to very low birthweight infants. Her exploratory research has identified elements related to mesenteric hypoperfusion during blood transfusions that potentially increase the risk for necrotizing enterocolitis development, a disease associated with significant mortality of prematurity. In 2015, Dr. Marin was named a Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners for her internationally recognized research in this area.

Dr. Marin’s future research trajectory is focused on further exploration of risk factors associated with the development of mesenteric, cerebral and renal ischemia in preterm infants. Specifically, she will investigate the role of epigenetics and inflammatory processes that may increase susceptibility to vascular and perfusion compromise in this vulnerable population. Utilizing near-infrared spectroscopy technology, Dr. Marin aims to increase understanding of physiologic mechanisms that lead to tissue ischemia, and to develop intervention strategies to improve prediction and prevention of associated diseases. 

Dr. NeSmith

Elizabeth (Beth) G. NeSmith, PhD, ACNP-BC 
Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Physiological and Technological Nursing
College of Nursing and The Graduate School

Dr. NeSmith's research program focuses on clinical and translational work which aims to uncover and eliminate health disparities in acute outcomes of life-threatening injury. This work was inspired by Dr. NeSmith's clinical experience with vulnerable populations in emergency, trauma, and critical care settings. Among Dr. NeSmith's publications is research which shows only 2% of injury investigations have focused on this important issue. Dr. NeSmith's work is based on the theoretical relationships proposed in the Psychoneuroimmunology and Vulnerable Populations Conceptual Frameworks. Utilizing translational research models in collaboration with a multidisciplinary research team, Dr. NeSmith's work has been funded by the National Institute for Drug Abuse and National Institute for Nursing Research. It focuses on the effects of lifetime chronic stress on inflammatory function, and how these effects impact vulnerability to sepsis and multiple organ failure. More recently, Dr. NeSmith’s work is focused on the role epigenetics plays in inflammatory processes in injury, illness, and disease. 

Her research trajectory includes investigations that will add to increasing evidence supporting her theory that chronic stress creates sub-clinical physiologic changes which, when impacted by multiple life-threatening injuries, predispose clients to differences in vulnerability and response to treatment for sepsis and multiple organ failure. Her research objectives are to contribute to the development of advances in tailoring individual treatments to prevent illness and poor outcomes related to inflammatory processes and the epigenetic changes which may influence these outcomes.


Lufei Young, PhD, RN, APRN-NP 
Associate Professor, Department of Physiological and Technological Nursing
College of Nursing and The Graduate School

Dr. Young’s primary research interest focuses on identifying and developing effective and personalized self-management strategies to promote cardiovascular health and reduce risk factors in populations living with multiple chronic and complex conditions.

Her secondary research interest is to develop a team-based system and data sharing network in a rural healthcare setting to support self-management of populations with chronic conditions. Dr. Young has extensive training and expertise at the following research methodologies: cost-effective analysis, meta-analysis, systematic review and structure equation modeling.

Her future research goal is to develop program research in discovering interactions between genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors, leading to the implementation of effective self-management strategies to promote cardiovascular health and healthy aging.