Sharon G. Casavant

Ph.D., RN

Assistant Professor


Funded by the National Institutes of Health, Casavant’s research focuses on epigenetic alterations, such as gene expression and telomere length, in preterm infants that result from repeated painful procedures and may negatively influence neurodevelopment. She is currently broadening her research focus, investigating heritability of racial stress between parents and preterm infants via telomere length. As such, her long-term research interests involve the development of a comprehensive understanding of the interactions between genes and environment in Black mother-preterm infant dyads. 

Her enthusiasm for nursing science is grounded not only upon scientific research but also in teaching and mentoring. She hopes to impart that our knowledge of the living world is not a static list of facts to memorize but is made up of very crucial and intricate elements that keep us functional. As a teacher, she encourages future nurse scientists, health care providers, and policymakers to be excited, engaged, and motivated to learn more.

Committed to serving the nursing community both nationally and internationally, she serves as a research committee member for the National Association of Neonatal Nurses and the International Society of Nurses in Genetics. Casavant is an abstract reviewer for the Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science and Eastern Nursing Research Society. She is also a peer reviewer for the following scholarly journals: Acta Paediatrica, Journal of Neonatal Nursing, Frontiers in Psychology, Journal of Pediatric Nursing, Biological Research in Nursing, Psychoneuroendocrinology, and British Medical Journal, Pediatrics. 

Research/Scholarship Interests

  • Preterm infants
  • Epigenetics
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Health disparities
  • Social determinants of health


  • Ph.D., University of Connecticut School of Nursing, 2019
  • MS, University of Connecticut School of Nursing, 2018
  • BS, University of Connecticut School of Nursing, 2015

Honors & Awards

  • June 2019: NIH-NINR: Summer Genetics Institute
  • 2016-2019: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Future of Nursing Scholar
  • 2014-2015: University Scholar
  • 2012-2016: Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society
  • 2014-present: Sigma Theta Tau, Nursing Honor Society, Mu Chapter
  • 2012-2014: Diane Schmeizl Scholarship Awardee

Selected Publications

  • Casavant, S., Li, H., Reese, B., Chen, M.H., Cong, X. (in press). Pilot study of absolute telomere length in preterm infants. Nursing Research.
  • Casavant, S.G., Meegan, T., Fleming, M., Gork, S., Hussain, N., Cong, X. (in press). Integrated review of the assessment of newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing.
  • Casavant, S.G., Chen, J., Lainwala, S., Matson, A. Chen, M.H., Starkweather, A., Maas, K., Cong, X. (under review). Multi-omics analysis on neurodevelopment in preterm neonates: A protocol paper. Nursing Research.
  • Casavant, S. (2020). At the intersection of science and theory: How the Nurse Role Integration Model reconciles the conflict. International Journal of Nursing Sciences, 7(3): 378-381. PubMed PMID: 32817862.
  • Casavant, SG, Li H, Cong X, Starkweather A, Moore J, Rosenkrantz TS, Fitch RH. (2020). Behavioral and neuroanatomical outcomes following altered serotonin expression in a hypoxic-ischemic injury neonate rodent model. Journal of Neonatal Perinatal Med. doi: Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33164949.
  • Beck C.T., Casavant S. (2019). Vicarious posttraumatic growth in NICU nurses. Advances in Neonatal Care, PubMed PMID: 31895140.
  • Scatliffe, N., Casavant, S., Vittner, D., & Cong, X. (2019). Oxytocin and early parent-infant contact: a systematic review. International Journal of Nursing Sciences. DOI:
  • Beck C.T., Casavant S. (2019). Synthesis of mixed research on posttraumatic stress related to traumatic birth. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, 48(4): 385-397.
  • Casavant S, Cong X, Moore J, Starkweather A. (2019). Associations between preterm infant stress, epigenetic alteration, telomere length and neurodevelopmental outcomes: A systematic review. Early Human Development, 131: 63-74.
  • Casavant S, Cong X, Fitch R, Moore J, Rosenkrantz T, Starkweather A. (2019). Allostatic load and biomarkers of stress in the preterm infant: An integrative review. Biological Research for Nursing. 2019; 21(2): 210-223
  • Provenzi L, DeCarli P, Fumagalli M, Giorda R, Casavant S, Beri S, Citterio A, Morandi F, Mosca F, Borgatti R, Montirosso R. (2018). Very preterm birth is associated with PLAGL1 gene hypo-methylation at birth and discharge. Epigenomics, 10(8): 1121-1130.
  • Casavant S, Berniere K, Andrews S, Bourgoin. (2017). A. Noise in the NICU: What does the evidence tell us? Advances in Neonatal Care, 4:265-273. Doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000402
  • Casavant S, Judge M, McGrath J. Influence of anthropometric parameters on breastfeeding duration in very low birthweight infants. Applied Nursing Research, 2017; 38: 45-50
  • Judge M, Casavant S, Dias JAM, McGrath JM. (2016). Placental DHA transfer is reduced in diabetic pregnancies: exploring mechanistic underpinnings and long-term neurodevelopmental implications. Nutrition Reviews. 2016: 0(0):1-10.
  • Casavant S, McGrath, JM, Burke G, Briere, C. (2015). Caregiving factors affecting breastfeeding outcomes of very low birthweight premature infants within the NICU. Advances in Neonatal Care,15(6): 421-428.
  • Vittner D, Casavant S, McGrath JM. (2015). A meta-ethnography: Skin-to-skin holding from the caregiver’s perspective. Advances in Neonatal Care, 15(3): 191-200. 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000169
Contact Information
Office LocationSH 112C