Mentoring, Engagement, and Outreach Workgroup

The Internal Mentoring, Engagement, and Outreach Workgroup (MEOW) is comprised of established investigators from aligned departments, colleges, and centers with expertise in RDAR’s thematic focus. The MEOW is a systematic way for RDAR Leadership to connect with mentors, department and unit leaders, and Center administration. Monthly MEOW meetings provide consistent feedback loops and allow mentors to share successful approaches to mentoring. These meetings also provide a forum to recognize and pursue synergistic opportunities for COBRE collaborations.

The Center transitioned from the Internal, Mentoring, and Advisory Committee (IMAC) to the MEOW for the COBRE Phase 2 funding period.

Photo of David DiLillo
David DiLillo

David DiLilloMentor

David DiLillo received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Oklahoma State University in 1997. Prior to joining the faculty in 2000, he served as a Research Assistant Professor and project coordinator of a federal grant at the University of Missouri-Columbia, which explored predictors of unintentional injury among children. His primary research interests are in the area of family violence, including child maltreatment and marital and couple violence. He has a particular interest in the long-term functioning of adults who have experienced various forms of childhood trauma and maltreatment (e.g., sexual abuse, physical abuse, exposure to violence). He is particularly interested in understanding revictimization occurring during childhood/adolescence and again in adulthood. His research has been funded by NIMH and NICHD. Recent projects in his research group have focused on the marital adjustment of childhood maltreatment survivors, psychosocial mediators of revictimization, emotional influences on intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration, and the development of a Web-based measure of child maltreatment. He is currently the Director of the Clinical Psychology Training Program. His teaching activities include psychotherapy, couples and family therapy, and supervision of clinical practicum.

Learn more about David DiLillo

Photo of Kimberly Tyler
Kimberly Tyler

Kimberly TylerMentor & LNC Co-Director

Dr. Kimberly Tyler, Willa Cather Professor of Sociology at UNL, will serve as co-Director for cohort development at LNC. Dr. Tyler has a Ph.D. in sociology with specific training, experience, and expertise in key research areas relevant to current core goals of facilitating RDAR projects, including research in substance use, rural populations, hard-to-sample populations (e.g., homeless and street youth and young adults), and HIV risk behavior (i.e., sexual and drug use). Dr. Tyler designed and successfully carried out three cohort-based NIH projects on hard to reach populations in the Great Plains region, including an NIMH-funded homeless young adult project (K01MH064897) and a NIDA-funded homeless youth R21 project (DA021079) on social networks and homeless youth and a NIDA-funded homeless youth and young adult project (DA036806) on alcohol and drug use, mental health, and social support using ecological momentary assessment (EMA) via short message service (SMS) surveying.

Learn more about Kimberly Tyler

Photo of Susan Sheridan
Susan Sheridan

Susan SheridanMentor

Susan Sheridan is the Director of the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS) and the Associate Dean for Research and Creative Activity for the College of Education and Human Sciences at UNL. Her research focuses on family engagement, family-school partnerships, social-behavioral intervention strategies, and early childhood education and development. Dr. Sheridan has received more than $65 million in federal, state, and local grants to support her research. She also has a track record in mentoring early career faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students through both formal (grant-funded) and informal means.

Learn more about Susan Sheridan Learn more about CYFS

Photo of Bilal Khan
Bilal Khan

Bilal KhanMentor & Senior Technology Advisor

Dr. Bilal Khan is a mathematician and computer scientist with expertise in modeling dynamic systems related to substance use. Dr. Khan is presently Professor of Data Science with joint appointments in the Departments of Global/Population Health and the Department of Computer Science at Lehigh University. Prior to 2022, he was a Professor of Sociology and Computer Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Previously, he has had a leadership role on large field projects involving collection and mathematical modeling of fine-grained behavioral data from at-risk populations: alcohol use and relapse (R21AA029231); people who inject drugs in rural Puerto Rico (R01DA037117); meth using populations in New York City (R21DA024357; NIJ 2007-IJ-CX-0110); health risks of commercially sexually exploited children (DOJ 2005-LX-FX-0001); commercial sex workers (NIJ 2010-IJ-CX-1674); and indigenous communities in Alaska (R34MH096884) and Labrador (NSF ARC-0908155). His prior work has resulted in developing new technologies for cellphone-based data collection (NSF SMA-1338485 and R01GM118427), platforms for simulation (RC1DA028476), and forecasting (R01DA034637) in the context of substance use. His research applies mathematical and computational expertise to social and behavioral science in the context of public health.

Learn more about Bilal Khan

Photo of Christopher Kratochvil
Christopher Kratochvil (UNMC)

Christopher KratochvilSenior Clinical and Translational Advisor

Dr. Kratochvil specializes in child-adolescent psychiatry. He is a Professor of psychiatry, with an adjunct appointment with the Department of Pediatrics and College of Public Health. Dr. Kratochvil has an interest in clinical trials for children and adolescents, with a focus on ADHD and depression. Much of his research focuses on medications, and, in 2011, he co-edited the book Pediatric Psychopharmacology: Principles and Practice, 2nd Edition. He has also authored or co-authored over 100 articles in medical journals. Dr. Kratochvil has been active in the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, previously serving as president of the Nebraska Regional Council as well as on the national board of directors. He serves as the Associate Vice-Chancellor for Clinical Research at UNMC, Vice President for Research at Nebraska Medicine, and Chief Medical Officer at UNeHealth. He is a Fellow in the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and a Fellow in the American Psychiatric Association.

Learn more about Christopher Kratochvil

Photo of Sophia Perdikaris
Sophia Perdikaris

Sophia PerdikarisMember

Dr. Perdikaris is a professor for the Department of Anthropology, and an environmental archaeologist with a specialty in animal bones from archaeological sites-zooarchaeology. She is interested in people – environment interactions through time and the response of both to big climatic events. She has worked in Northern Norway and Iceland concentrating on the transition from the Viking Age to medieval times and how the early commercialization of the cod fisheries (AD 1200) affected the people and economy of the area. The last few years she has been focusing on the island of Barbuda in the Caribbean where she explored how heritage work can inform sustainability questions for the future.

Learn more about Sophia Perdikaris

Photo of Mario Scalora
Mario Scalora

Mario ScaloraMember

Dr. Mario Scalora is the director of the Public Policy Center and professor of psychology with the Clinical Training and Law-Psychology Programs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, as well as coordinating an active academic research program engaging in collaborative research in targeted violence. He received his B.S. in psychology from St. Joseph’s University and his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His research interests address various types of targeted violence issues including threats to public institutions and infrastructure/threat assessment, sexual offending, stalking, and workplace violence. This research continues to involve collaboration with state and federal agencies dealing with threat management and counterterrorism issues. Dr. Scalora has extensive relationships with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies related to threat assessment research and consultation assessing predictive risk factors and management strategies concerning targeted threatening, and violent activity. In addition to his role as director, Dr. Scalora also serves as a consulting psychologist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Police regarding campus safety, threat management, and emergency preparedness.

Learn more about Mario Scalora

Photo of Cary Savage
Cary Savage

Cary SavageMember & Former Mentor

Dr. Savage received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Oklahoma State University. He completed an internship in clinical psychology and postdoctoral fellowships in neuropsychology and functional neuroimaging at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)/Harvard Medical School. He previously served as Director of the Center for Health Behavior Neuroscience at the University of Kansas Medical Center and Director of Imaging Research at the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute. He is currently the Director of the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior, and the Mildred Francis Thompson Professor of Social Sciences, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has published over 140 research papers and review articles and serves on editorial boards and numerous study sections and expert panels. Dr. Savage’s research uses functional neuroimaging techniques to investigate how the brain contributes to self-regulatory behaviors and to identify biomarkers that predict responses to interventions and progression or recovery from neurologic illness. In addition to his own research, Dr. Savage mentored numerous training grants with predoctoral, postdoctoral students and junior faculty.

Learn more about Cary Savage

Photo of Katie Edwards
Katie Edwards

Katie EdwardsMember

Dr. Katie Edwards, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln where she directs the Interpersonal Violence Research (IVR) Laboratory. Using community-based participatory action research, Dr. Edwards seeks to answer two questions in her work: (1) How do we prevent sexual and related forms of violence? and (2) How do we most effectively support survivors in the aftermath of violent victimization? Much of Dr. Edwards work focuses on minoritized populations, specifically Native American/Indigenous youth and families as well as LGBTQ+ youth. Dr. Edwards highly values community leadership in developing and evaluating (including the use of decolonized research approaches) strengths-focused, culturally grounded initiatives to prevent and respond to sexual and related forms of violence. To date, she has published more than 160 peer reviewed journal articles, and over the past 10 years has accrued over 10 million dollars in federal funding from the CDC, NIH, NIJ, OVW, and NSF. In her free time, Dr. Edwards enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her partner and their three rescue cats.

Learn more about the IVR Laboratory

Photo of Patrick Habecker
Patrick Habecker

Patrick HabeckerMember & LNC Co-Director

Dr. Habecker is a Research Assistant Professor with the RDAR center and is the Co-Director of the Longitudinal Networks Center. His current work is focused on substance use in Nebraska. Specifically on use, access, stigma, harm reduction, and public policy. He has training in survey research and methodology, experience with training recruiters and interviewers in peer-referral projects, programming and utilizing remote survey software, developing and managing Respondent Driven Sampling techniques, and working with network data.

Learn more about Patrick Habecker

Photo of Janos Zempleni
Janos Zempleni

Janos ZempleniMember

Dr. Janos Zempleni is Willa Cather Professor of Molecular Nutrition and Director of the Nebraska Obesity Prevention Center in the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He received a B.S. and a Ph.D. in nutrition science from the University of Giessen in Germany. Dr. Zempleni trained as a postdoctoral associate in the laboratories of Drs. Donald B. McCormick (Emory University School of Medicine) and Donald M. Mock (Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences). He has been continuously funded by NIH, NIFA/USDA, NSF, foundations (Bill & Melinda Gates, Gerber, SynGAP Research Fund) and industry for a total of more than $50 million in external funding since 2000. Dr. Zempleni has mentored more than 100 undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral associates and visiting scientists, published more than 130 research papers and delivered 200 invited seminars and meeting presentations in the United States, Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Germany, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, and New Zealand. He is listed among the top 2% of most heavily cited researchers worldwide. Dr. Zempleni has pioneered a new field of research by demonstrating that natural nanoparticles (exosomes) and their RNA cargos from milk are bioavailable and regulate genes and metabolism within and across species boundaries. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences for his discoveries in the field of dietary exosomes and their RNA cargos.

Learn more about Janos Zempleni

Photo of Gurudutt Pendyala
Gurudutt Pendyala

Gurudutt PendyalaMember & Former Project Leader

The main focus of Dr. Pendyala’s lab is understanding how chronic drug addiction (cf. opioids, psychostimulants) leads to synaptic alterations and subsequent behavioral changes. While one arm focuses on understanding sex differences with drug relapse, another area is elucidating how drug abuse during and after pregnancy impacts neurodevelopment in the exposed offspring using in vivo model systems. The lab also employs state of the art ‘omics’ technologies to identify potential biomarkers in both tissue and biofluids (plasma, CSF) including decoding their associated mechanisms in vitro. Research in his lab is supported by funding from the NIH, Dept. of Defense, State of Nebraska, Children’s Hospital, Lieberman Foundation, and startup funds from the Dept. of Anesthesiology.

Learn more about Gurudutt Pendyala

Photo of Jolene Smyth
Jolene Smyth

Jolene SmythMember

Jolene Smyth is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from Washington State University in 2007 and joined the Sociology Department at UNL in 2008. She served as the Director of the Bureau of Sociological Research from 2012 to 2020. Her research focuses on improving survey data collection processes through the reduction of measurement and nonresponse error. In her work she examines how questionnaire design impacts interviewer/respondent interactions and responses in telephone surveys, how various questionnaire design features (e.g., question wording, visual emphasis, response scales, etc.) impact responses in both interviewer and self-administered surveys, and mobile web survey design. She is a co-author of the fourth edition (2014) of Internet, Phone, Mail, and Mixed-Mode Surveys: The Tailored Design Method (with Don A. Dillman and Leah Melani Christian). She has also published a number of journal articles and book chapters on such topics as the effectiveness of web surveys, multiple-answer questions, open-ended questions, scalar questions, visual design, Internet surveys, context effects in web surveys, mode preference, within-household selection in self-administered surveys, survey sponsorship, and mixed-mode surveys.

Learn more about Jolene Smyth

Photo of W. Alex Mason
W. Alex Mason

W. Alex MasonMember

W. Alex Mason’s research focuses on the developmental etiology and prevention of adolescent substance misuse and co-occurring psychopathology. He is particularly interested in understanding the early childhood precursors of adolescent problem and positive development, and the translation of knowledge into the development and dissemination of effective preventive interventions. He also has expertise in longitudinal methods and program evaluation. Dr. Mason received his doctorate in social psychology from the University of Nevada-Reno.

Learn more about Alex Mason

Photo of Trey Andrews
Trey Andrews

Trey AndrewsMember

Dr. Andrews focuses his research on mental and behavioral health equity for Latine populations. He received his PhD in clinical psychology in 2014 from the University of Arkansas. He completed his clinical internship and postdoctoral fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina where he specialized in traumatic stress. Through his research, he seeks to improve equity in the mental health resource access and outcomes.

Learn more about Trey Andrews

Photo of Anna Dunaevsky
Anna Dunaevsky

Anna DunaevskyMember

Dr. Dunaevsky is a professor in the Department of Neurological Sciences in the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the Director of Cognitive Neuroscience of Development and Aging COBRE. She received her B.S and M.A from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and her PhD from University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She trained as a postdoctoral associate in the laboratories of Drs. Carol Mason and Rafael Yuste at Columbia University. Her lab studies how developmental defects in synaptic and glial function in the cerebral cortex result in symptoms of autism and intellectual dysfunction. Specifically, they study impairments in motor learning, sensory hypersensitivity and sleep in mouse models of fragile X syndrome by combining in vivo two-photon calcium imaging, electrophysiology and behavior. They also examine the function of neural cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells from FXS patients, to validate findings from the mouse models.

Learn more about Anna Dunaevsky

Photo of Mark Riley
Mark Riley

Mark RileyMember

Mark R. Riley, Ph.D., is Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln after having served as Professor and Department Head of Biological Systems Engineering from 2012-2017. Previously he was at The University of Arizona (1997-2012) serving on the faculty and Department Head in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (2009-2012). His education includes a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan and an M.S. and Ph.D. in chemical and biochemical engineering from Rutgers University. Riley’s research focuses on biological engineering and instrumentation. Riley was the founding Editor-in-chief of the Journal of Biological Engineering, (2007). In 2010 he was the President of the Institute of Biological Engineering. He was inducted as a Fellow into AAAS in 2016 and as a Fellow in AIMBE in 2018 and as a Fellow in IBE in 2023. He currently serves as the inaugural chair of ASABE’s committee on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA).

Learn more about Mark Riley