REU: Minority Health Disparities

Join us in essential, interdisciplinary research to help eliminate health disparities among minorities.

For information contact

Kim Gocchi Carrasco
MHD Program Coordinator
2015 Minority Health Disparities REU scholars
2015 Minority Health Disparities REU scholars

Application Dates

Nov 15 2015 App opens
February 1 Priority deadline
March 1 App closes
April 1 Decisions complete

Program Dates

June 5 2016 Arrival day
June 6 Program begins
August 10 Program ends
August 11 Departure day

Who should apply

Related fields

  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Communication Studies
  • Political Sciences
  • Anthropology
  • Child, Youth, and Family Studies
  • Educational Psychology
  • Ethnic Studies
  • Nutrition
  • Other health related fields

In this program, each project has unique prerequisites. See project descriptions below for details.


Participation in the Nebraska Summer Research Program is limited to students who meet the following criteria:
  • U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • Current undergraduate with at least one semester of coursework remaining before obtaining a bachelor's degree

See Eligibility for more information.

How to apply

Follow the application steps to submit the following materials.

About the Program

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Minority Health Disparities Initiative (MHDI) administers the Minority Health Disparities REU, which is an interdisciplinary program aimed at conducting cutting edge social and behavioral research into understanding and reducing health disparities and in diversifying minority health researchers.

This project takes place under support of a Summer REU grant from the National Science Foundation for research in social network analysis (SNA) and minority health. As part of that program, participating mentees/students will learn basic approaches to network science/SNA in order to employ these skills where possible in their summer research projects. SNA instruction will take place during a 2-week intensive class led by Kirk Dombrowski (Professor of Sociology, UNL), scheduled for the first two weeks of the program. Training will be used to enrich the students experience in their partner laboratories during the subsequent 8 weeks. The primary student outcome of this part of the summer research experience will be an introductory facility in social network terminology, visualization, and exploration.

The Minority Health Disparities students and faculty celebrate a successful summer at the research symposium.
The Minority Health Disparities students and faculty celebrate a successful summer at the research symposium.

Participating students work with faculty mentors in a variety of social and behavioral science disciplines to support health research.  All projects are on-going, but the work specific to the summer research program will be completed within the 10-week timeframe.  At the conclusion of the program, participants will present their research at the Summer Research Symposium poster session.


  • Competitive stipend: $5,000
  • Double-occupancy room and meal plan
  • Travel expenses to and from Lincoln
  • Campus parking and/or bus pass
  • Full access to the Campus Recreation Center and campus library system
  • Wireless internet access

Learn more about academic and financial benefits.


  • Department seminars and presentations
  • Professional development workshops (e.g., applying to graduate school, taking the GRE)
  • Welcome picnic
  • Day trip to Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo
  • Canoe and camping trip
  • Research symposium

Mentors and Projects

Dr. Virginia Chaidez Nutrition & Health Sciences

Development of a novel Community Health Assessment Tool

This project involves development of a community health assessment tool based on social networking science. This novel approach will be sensitive enough to measure the impact of when an intervention, such as a community health worker, is working at the intersections between the formal and informal community health care networks.

Dr. Kirk Dombrowski Sociology

Network Risk of HIV & HCV Infection in Rural Puerto Rico

Prerequisites: This project requires basic research methodology experience – in particular social statistics, familiarity with Excel, and locating scholarly journals through library databases.

This project investigates the social network contexts of HIV and HCV infection drawing on data from four rural communities in Puerto Rico collected in 2014-5. The emphasis of this project will be on the use of block modeling and network statistical analysis to isolate indicators of high risk that result from dyadic relationships among injectors and the injection “roles” that result from these interactions.In the process, the student will help document HIV and HCV prevalence and incidence for injecting drug users in the region, which in turn will be used by the research team to develop a framework for interventions aimed at these unique problems.

Dr. Kirk Dombrowski Sociology

The Nain Networks Project

Prerequisites: This project requires basic research methodology experience – in particular social statistics, and locating scholarly journals through library databases.

This project investigates eight social network domains of the residents of the Northern community of Nain, Labrador. Socio-demographic and network data were collected between January and June, 2010 from interviews with 330 adult residents. The emphasis of this project will be on the use of network descriptive techniques and statistical analysis to study the relationships between these network domains.

Dr. Bridget Goosby & Dr. Jacob Cheadle Sociology

High Frequency Social Stressors & Biological Markers of Health in Marginalized Populations

Prerequisites: Students with computer programming experience and interest in biometric data measurement and analysis. Interest in health physiology research is encouraged but not required.

This REU project incorporates dynamic high-frequency measurement of stressful life experiences coupled with cutting edge biometric instruments measuring moment-by-moment stress reactivity. The purpose of this project is to incorporate innovative technology with biological markers of stress to examine how stress gets under the skin to shape minority health outcomes and risk of stress related diseases. Students will help analyze data from both smart phone and wearable devices and may participate in data collection.

Dr. Dan Hoyt Sociology & Social and Behavioral Science Research Consortium

Support Networks among Homeless and Runaway Youth

Prerequisites: Basic research skills, including working with data and analyses. Good communication and writing skills.

This project examines how turnover and stability in support networks of homeless youth are related to risk and resilience over time. The primary focus of this project is the assessment of how the longitudinal patterns in support network turnover are related to risk exposure and pro-social outcomes over time. The student will also help examine potential variation in these processes related to the youth’s gender, race, and sexual orientation.

Dr. Jordan Soliz Communication Studies

Communication, Community, and Ethnic-Racial Identity: Implications for Mental Health and Well-Being

Prerequisites: Although not a requirement for involvement, please provide information on any research experience, proficiency with statistical software (e.g., SPSS), and familiarity with conducting literature reviews.

The purpose of this project is to investigate experiences of ethnic-racial minorities in various domains (e.g., family, friends, community) with an emphasis on communication processes associated with well-being and mental health. Working with a faculty mentor and advanced graduate students, the opportunities for students include locating and synthesizing literature, learning about data collection processes, and/or analyzing qualitative and quantitative data.

Dr. Cynthia Willis Esqueda Psychology and Institute for Ethnic Studies

Unique Social Stressors and Health Outcomes for Latinos

Prerequisites: This project will require experience in research methods, solid writing skills, and motivation to work with diverse populations.

Based on prior studies, Latinos have unique stressors that are linked to psychological distress and increased coping behaviors. The recruited REU participant will assist to identify the relationships between stress exposure (e.g., daily events, discrimination, and employment disparities), health behaviors (e.g., psychological dysfunction and coping skills), and mental and physical health outcomes in Latinos, based on acculturation and social support.