PhD in Nursing Science Program

2020 - 2021 Cohort

Francesca Blanchard

Research Interests: Provider-patient communication in pediatric palliative care 

Francesca Blanchard graduated from the University of Miami in 2009 with a BSN. While completing her undergraduate nursing program, she received the Baptist Health South Florida Service Excellence Award and was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. In 2013, she completed an MSN specializing in Pediatric Primary Care at Florida International University (FIU). In the course of her studies at FIU, she had the opportunity to do a research practicum in the area of child bereavement. For several years, she has enjoyed volunteering with the Dr. Moises Simpser’s Ventilation Assisted Children’s Center Camp for children with chronic conditions. More recently, she has provided care to children in several villages in Ghana and supported the training of local nurses. As she joins Vanderbilt University’s PhD in Nursing Science program, it is her intent to study communication between nurses and children with life-limiting conditions and their families as a way to improve palliative care training for nurses. 

Faculty Advisors: Drs. Deonni Stolldorf and Terrah Foster Akard


Amy Campbell

Research Interests: Autism and abnormal feeding behaviors in pediatric patients

Amy Campbell earned her BSN from Purdue University (2001), graduating with honors. Early in her career as a staff RN at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana, she became passionate about pediatrics and caring for children with special needs. These interests led her to obtain her MSN from Indiana University (2007) with a specialization as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. For several years, Amy has worked as a PNP in a private pediatric primary care setting in Denver, Colorado, providing care to children of all ages and including children with special needs. Amy gained valuable research experience in her MSN program, participating in pediatric diabetes research, as well as being involved in several studies when she worked as a PNP at the University of Colorado Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center. Both her research experience and extensive experience in pediatrics inspired her to pursue her PhD in Nursing Science. Amy’s research interests focus on autism and abnormal feeding behaviors as an early indicator of autism. Her research goals are to help identify additional signs of autism in infants and young children to start interventions earlier and help with their overall long-term prognosis. 

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Sharon Karp


Stacey Carter

Research Interests: Disparities for Hispanic women in breast and cervical cancer screening 

Stacey Carter earned her BA in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2010, followed by her BS in Nursing from the University of Texas at Houston (UTH) in 2013. During her time at UTH, she was accepted into the honors program, inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, and won multiple research awards. Her many awards included receiving the Undergraduate Research Award as a senior at UTH’s Research Symposium. This research was conducted at The Methodist Hospital in Houston and focused on assessing and implementing patient centered communication. Its aim was to improve communication between providers and patients to help bridge the gap between medical necessity and patient understanding. After graduation, she took a job at St. Luke’s Emergency Department in the greater Houston area. This unearthed her passion for working with underserved, minority populations. Soon after, Stacey enrolled in Georgetown University’s Master of Nursing Program, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2016. Stacey then began working as a nurse practitioner in Chicago at ACCESS Community Network, a Federally Qualified Health Center. She worked primarily with Chicago’s underserved Hispanic population and began witnessing firsthand, the discrepancies in breast and cervical cancer screenings between the United States’ population (as a whole) versus Hispanic women. This realization drove Stacey to discover new ways to increase access to breast and cervical cancer screenings among Hispanic women. To further her knowledge about this subject, she is bringing her talents to Vanderbilt University’s Nursing Science program. She looks forward to continuing the work that she did in Chicago and addressing disparities in Tennessee’s health system and implementing programs to help Hispanic women increase their access, quality, and affordability to breast and cervical cancer screening programs. 

Faculty Advisors: Drs. Kate Clouse and Jana Lauderdale


Emma V. Clark

Research Interests: Maternal health and human resources for health 

Emma V. Clark graduated from Smith College cum laude with a BA in Economics in 2006. Following a Fulbright Fellowship to Botswana, where she studied adherence to AIDS medications, she completed a master’s degree in global disease epidemiology and control at Johns Hopkins University in 2008 and worked on humanitarian health programs in Jordan and Iraq. In 2010, she received her BSN from New York University and returned to international work, first in South Sudan, then with Somali refugees in Kenya, and finally managing humanitarian health programs in Somalia itself. During her time in Africa, she also pursued an MSN from Frontier Nursing University. After receiving her degree in 2013, she became a full-time Certified Nurse Midwife at a federally-funded health care center in Washington, DC. Though she continues to serve there on a per diem basis, she returned to global work four years ago and is currently a Senior Maternal Health Advisor at the United States Agency for International Development. She was a 2016-2017 Duke University-Johnson & Johnson Nurse Leadership Fellow. She is Chair of the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition’s Maternal Health Supplies Caucus and Chair of the American College of Nurse-Midwives Division of Global Engagement Networking Committee. She also teaches in the nurse-midwifery program at Georgetown University. Emma’s research in maternal health and human resources for health will specifically build the evidence base for investments in midwives in low-income countries, particularly fragile settings, to improve maternal and newborn health outcomes. 

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jeremy Neal


Rachel Hilton

Research Interests: Implementation research relating to utilizing technology to increase healthcare access 

Rachel Hilton graduated with her BS with honors in Movement Science from Texas Christian University in 2011. She then developed wellness grant-sponsored programs for oncology patients before returning to study at Vanderbilt University, obtaining her MSN as a Hillard and Nancy Travis scholarship recipient. She is a board certified Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. During her master’s education, Rachel had the incredible opportunity to work with Vanderbilt University’s Dr. Leanne Boehm, as a research assistant examining the role of telehealth in ICU recovery care. During this work, Rachel’s passion for implementation science and technology innovation bloomed. She has recently presented posters on topics such as utilizing behavior change and social marketing principles in global health quality improvement and has submitted work regarding post-traumatic growth for publication. She is a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. During her doctoral training at Vanderbilt, Rachel hopes to pursue implementation research relating to utilizing technology to increase healthcare access. 

Faculty Advisors: Drs. Lori Schirle and Bethany Rhoten