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Research Nurse Initiative

The Research Nurse Initiative (RNI) is a collaborative of clinical nursing faculty from twelve Penn State campuses who have been trained as research nurses. These professional nurses are engaged with numerous clinical and community agencies through their clinical and teaching experiences.

RNI scholars have completed training in research skills and ethics (including CITI and GCP training). The cohort of RNI scholars offers a wide range of clinical specialties combined with the research competencies necessary to engage in research on projects targeting their communities.

For more information, please contact Janice Penrod (814-863-9734 or or Nikki Hill (814-867-3265 or

RNI Members

Marianne Adam

Specialty: Family practice, health assessment, professional role transition, global nursing
Research Interests: Diabetes, chronic illness, patient education/learning, community based health promotion and programming, qualitative research

Ashley Clark
University Park

Specialties: Gerontology, medical/surgical
Research Interest: Hip fracture outcomes, simulation, nursing education

Darlene Clark
University Park

Specialties: Pharmacology, geriatric nursing, genetics, ethics, nursing workforce issues
Research Interests: Nursing workforce issues

Elizabeth Cutezo
University Park

Specialties: Family and community diversity, health planning, epidemiology
Research Interests: Epidemiology, community-based interventions, diversity, life-change stress and exacerbations of rheumatoid arthritis

Julie Decker

Specialties: Critical care nursing, veterans’ health care
Research Interests: Veterans’ health care issues, especially women; second-degree nursing programs; clinical and classroom education

Cathleen Dillen

Specialties: Oncology, mental health
Research Interests: Psychosocial oncology, mental health

Diane Ebken
University Park

Specialties: Mental health, drugs of abuse, addictions
Research Interests: Issues related to mental health and drug use

Milton Evans
Worthington Scranton

Specialties: Community health, pediatrics
Research Interest: Public health

Justina Ferguson
Worthington Scranton

Specialties: Critical care, nursing administration
Research Interests: Palliative care team and support in the ICU, nurses’ perceptions of bedside reporting, retention and mentoring programs for new nurse hires, stroke and community education

Christopher Garrison
University Park

Specialties: Gerontology, simulation, medical/surgical
Research Interests: Gerontology, simulation, nursing education

Sherry Goertz
Mont Alto

Specialty: Psychiatric mental health
Research Interests: Teen suicide, religious coping in persons with mental illness

Gwen Holderman
University Park

Specialty: Women’s health
Research Interests: Maternity, breastfeeding, newborns, women’s health

Brenda Holtzer

Specialties: Pediatric nursing, care coordination for children with special needs, evidence-based practice utilization in clinical practice, outcomes in nursing education
Research Interests: Coordination of care for at-risk populations, nursing education models and outcome studies

Jill Kargo

Specialties: Fundamentals, medical/surgical, community health
Research Interests: Adult learning, curriculum development and leadership

Margo Kertis

Specialties: Maternity, women’s health, education
Research Interests: Adult learners, nursing interventions for positive birth outcomes

Erin Kitt-Lewis
University Park

Specialties: Long-term care, critical care
Research Interests: End of life, family caregiving

Tracey Kleinmeyer

Specialties: Adult medical/surgical, emergency, trauma, post-anesthesia care, ambulatory surgery, endoscopy
Research Interests: Complimentary/alternative therapies for reducing stress and test anxiety, sleep hygiene

Janet Knott
New Kensington

Specialties: Technology use in classrooms, simulation, adult and pediatric cardiovascular and pulmonary care
Research Interests: Use/effectiveness of educational modalities, simulation as an educational modality

Suzanne Kuhn

Specialties: Dying and death, Home Health, Ethics
Research Interests: Animal Therapy in Healthcare, End of Life Issues, Nursing Education

Sharon Lacue

Specialties: Nursing simulation, gerontology, health assessment
Research Interests: Simulation in nursing (standardized patients, deliberate practice)

Dede McCreary

Specialties: Community health nursing, leadership/management
Research Interests: Patient experience, patient satisfaction, patient safety, quality, leadership, health care innovations, nursing job satisfaction, shared governance

Sarah McVeigh
University Park

Specialties: Adult/gerontology, medical/surgical
Research Interests: Nursing education, simulation, process improvement initiatives

Marcia Satryan

Specialties: Oncology, medical/surgical, leadership, hospice, palliative care, nursing education
Research Interests: Oncology, palliative care, hospice, nursing education/learning

Deborah Strickland
New Kensington

Specialties: Geriatrics, palliative care, community
Research Interests: Palliative care for chronic disease in the elderly

Mary Anne Ventura
University Park

Specialties: Physical assessment, fundamentals, medical/surgical, family practice
Research Interests: Clinically based research; changing skills, techniques, procedures, and equipment for better patient outcomes

Donna Volpe
Worthington Scranton

Specialties: Obstetrics, fundamentals, mental health, case management, informatics, nursing leadership
Research Interests: Flipped classroom, improving nursing through evidence-based practice