College of Nursing Research Office

The College of Nursing at Montana State University is dedicated to supporting the endeavors of the faculty and students engaging in research and scholarly projects. To facilitate research endeavors the Office of Research & Scholarship, provides comprehensive pre- and post-award services.

Faculty Research Profiles

The College of Nursing is a national leader in rural nursing research and is responsive to the evolving health needs of the people of Montana and the nation. Faculty members in the college contribute, through their research, to a variety of important health and health care topics. We invite you to review the information below, which is presented as an introduction to the breadth of the exciting research opportunities available in our college. Please feel free to contact any of our researchers for more information about their research activities.



Sandra Benavides-Vaello, PhD, RN

Dr. Benavides-Vaello’s research interests are oriented towards ethnic minorities (Latinas of low socioeconomic status) and issues related to self-care of chronic health conditions (food practices, health status monitoring, cultural values and norms, behavioral health concerns).



Peter Buerhaus, PhD, RN, FAAN

Dr. Buerhaus focuses on the nursing workforce and involves studies on the economics of the nursing workforce, forecasting nurse and physician supply, developing and testing measures of hospital quality of care, determining public and provider opinions on issues involving the delivery of health care, and assessing the quantity and quality of health care provided by nurse practitioners.



Yoshiko Colclough, PhD, RN

Dr. Colclough’s research centers on generational and cultural differences in end-of-life decision making, especially minority populations, in particular Japanese Americans and American Indians.  More broadly, her interests include nursing ethics, qualitative methods, the community-based participatory research approach, gerontology, mixed methods, and family caregiver topics.



Tracy Hellem, PhD, RN

Dr. Hellem’s research interests include exploring novel treatment approaches to manage mood symptoms among individuals with substance use disorders. She specifically focuses on comorbid depression and anxiety and methamphetamine dependence, as there currently are no effective pharmacological treatments for methamphetamine dependence, and comorbid mood symptoms that confound treatment outcomes.



Wade Hill, PhD, APRN-BC

Dr. Hill is a public health clinician and researcher who investigates ecological determinants of human environmental exposures.



Sandra Kuntz, PhD, APRN, PHCNS-BC

Dr. Kuntz is a community/public health clinical nurse specialist with a research focus in environmental health, disaster, health disparities and community-based participatory approaches in rural and Native American communities. Dr. Kuntz is a co-project director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Academic Progression in Nursing, MT BSN Education Initiative.



Laura Larsson, PhD, MPH, RN

Dr. Larsson is interested in community-based risk communication research with vulnerable groups. Dr. Larsson utilizes techniques such as digital signage technology and motivational interviewing in novel settings to expand the reach of traditional public health communication approaches to settings where priority populations access services.



Susan Luparell, PhD, CNS-BC, CNE

Dr. Luparell has a long standing interest in incivility in nursing and nursing education. More recently she has begun to explore the role of simulation in nursing education.



Dorothy Mayer, PhD, RN

Dr. Mayer is a clinical nurse specialist with research interests focused on the universal human experiences of grief, loss, and bereavement, which occur both at times of death and when facing a serious illness.  Recent work includes a study of family bereavement experiences and a study of critical incidents experienced by healthcare providers. Dr. Mayer has a particular interest in rural health issues, including how rural health care professionals work with limited fiscal and human resources associated with caring for individuals and their families living with serious illnesses in rural settings. 



Sally Moyce, PhD, RN

Dr. Moyce focuses on the occupational health of migrant and seasonal farm workers and the various risk factors for this vulnerable population. She is particularly interested in how farm work affects the health of the kidneys.



Polly Petersen, PhD, RN

Dr. Petersen’s research focuses on the characteristics of advanced practice nurses that support independent practice and primary care for patients, especially patients in rural Montana.



Julie Ruff, EdD, CNS, CPNP-PC

Dr. Ruff’s scholarly identity is centered on issues of nursing education, the nursing care of children and their families, and transcultural nursing. Recent work attempts to link the immersion of nursing students into an environment where significant health disparities exist, the students’ recognition of health care disparities, and evidence of cultural consciousness. 



Alice Running, PhD, APRN-BC

Dr. Running is a nurse practitioner whose research centers on the utilization of complementary/integrative therapies to treat the body’s response to stress.  More specifically, Dr. Running uses a bio-energy nursing intervention to study stress responses across different populations.  Dr. Running has also studied the use of acupuncture for women’s health.



Sarah Shannon, PhD, RN, FAAN

Dr. Sarah E. Shannon’s research has focused on improving communication among and between healthcare teams and patients and families around ethically-challenging issues including end-of-life decision-making in the intensive care setting, disclosure of healthcare errors, and conflict within the healthcare team.



Jean Shreffler-Grant, PhD, RN

Dr. Shreffler-Grant’s program of research focuses on access to and quality of formal (allopathic) and informal (complementary) health care services for people living in sparsely populated rural areas. Her recent research activities concern health literacy about complementary care among rural residents.



Stacy StellflugPhD, APRN, FNP

Dr. Stellflug's program of research focuses on improving pediatric patient morbidity and mortality in rural areas like Montana. Her recent research activities involved integration of simulation-based technology into advanced life support courses to identify the potential effect on participants’ ability to recall knowledge learned in the course and apply skills.



Charlene Winters, PhD, APRN-BC

Dr. Winters is a clinical nurse specialist with research interests in two areas: chronic illness (individual responses, adaptation, illness self-management) and rural health issues (rural nursing practice, health disparities, rural nursing theory development).  She has a particular interest in asbestos-related disease and heart failure.