PhD in Nursing Science Program

2015 - 2016 Cohort

Amy Garee

Research Interests: Pediatric palliative care, including coping in parents with medically complex children

amy garee

Amy Garee graduated with her MSN from Wright State University. She began her career in pediatric oncology and bone marrow transplant, then later transitioned to palliative care. Witnessing the difficulties parents faced when caring for children with chronic, life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses inspired her research to investigate how parents deal with these stressors. Specifically, she is focusing on parent and child characteristics that may predispose parents to certain coping strategies. Amy’s membership in organizations such as the Palliative Care Research Cooperative, and serving as membership chair for the Central Ohio Chapter of Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association, has broadened her area of research to include palliative care. Amy’s selection of Vanderbilt University’s doctoral program was based on their impeccable reputation and rankings in combination with the innovative learning approach. Additionally, the program included support for conferences, writing workshops, and an exceptional faculty mentorship experience. Amy was selected as a Jonas Nurse Leader Scholar which allowed opportunities for further personal growth. Amy feels that her experience in the PhD in Nursing Science program has been a gratifying journey. Establishing a strong basis of knowledge for future research and developing rewarding relationships with faculty and fellow students will be counted among lifelong achievements.  

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Mary Jo Gilmer 


Michelle Dorsey Graf

Research Interests: Maternal child interactions, pediatric obesity prevention, and complementary feeding practices

michelle dorsey graf

Michelle Dorsey Graf received a BSN from the University of Virginia in 2010, earning the award of highest distinction. She then received her MSN from George Mason University in 2014. Michelle is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International and the Southern Nursing Research Society. While attending Vanderbilt University, Michelle received the Jonas Nurse Scholar Award and the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research Award to fund her dissertation. Michelle’s research interests are focused on better understanding early risk factors for childhood obesity. Specifically, her dissertation explores the relationships among maternal perceptions, psychosocial and sociodemographic characteristics with complementary feeding transition strategies. 

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Sharon Karp