Susan Connor

Susan Connor, Ph.D.

Drawn to the U in part by the disaster research of School of Nursing faculty member Dr. Carol O'Boyle, Connor says her own research interests are “a result of blending my passion for the profession of nursing, my compassion for mothers and infants, and the honor that comes with serving this wonderful country.”

Originally from Colorado, Connor received her bachelor's in nursing from the University of Colorado and her master's in nursing from the University of California in San Francisco.  She worked as a registered nurse, clinical specialist and nurse practitioner in maternal child nursing before entering the Air Force, where she expanded on her nursing experience to include staff education, flight nursing, flight and squadron commander, and operational readiness inspector.

Connor's dissertation research, "Factors Associated with Health Care Personnel Intentions to Respond to a Public Health Event," focused on the willingness of health care personnel to work during emergencies and has been accepted for publication.

Before she even completed her Ph.D. in Nursing Sciences in 2013, Connor was offered a position as a nurse scientist in the Strategic Aeromedical Evacuation/Critical Care Air Transport Research Department for the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, located at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.  Connor's role is to enhance and maintain the physical and mental health and performance of airmen in the aerospace environment.

When Connor was asked during her first week at the Air Force base to take over a multi-methods study that had stagnated, she was "very thankful for the well-rounded education I received at the University of Minnesota.”  While getting the projects back on track, Connor became involved in research and education related to disaster response and recovery.

Connor has often found herself involved in disaster response or humanitarian missions, such as airline crashes, floods, fires and hurricanes. "It was these experiences and my nursing background that made me realize how deeply disasters affect everyone involved," she said.  "There are stories that need to be told and lessons learned from every point of view when a disaster occurs.”

-- Lyra Fontaine