REU: Community-Engaged Training for Advancing Health Equity

Join Us In Essential, Interdisciplinary Research To Promote Health Equity and Eliminate Health Disparities Among Underserved Populations
Pending funding approval.

For information contact

Kim Gocchi Carrasco

MHD Program Coordinator

See Projects
2019 Minority Health Disparities REU students at the welcome picnic.
2019 Minority Health Disparities REU students at the welcome picnic.

Who should apply

Related fields

  • Anthropology
  • Child, Youth, and Family Studies
  • Communication Studies
  • Educational Psychology
  • Ethnic Studies
  • Nutrition
  • Political Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Public Health
  • Sociology
  • 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’s Minority Health Disparities Initiative (MHDI) administers the Health Equity REU, which is an interdisciplinary program aimed at conducting research into understanding and reducing health disparities and in increasing and diversifying health researchers from minoritized and underserved populations. This project takes place under support of a pending Summer REU grant from the National Science Foundation for research community- engaged methods for conducting health equity research. As part of that program, participating students will receive training in multiple community-engaged research approaches, including community-based participatory research (CBPR), social network and other decentralized community methods, community-engaged research in clinical settings, and community-engaged approaches with children. 

Based on these trainings, participants will learn how to design and conduct health disparities related research studies in order to employ these skills where possible in their summer research projects. Instruction will take place during the first week of the program and will be led by MHDI Core Faculty. Training will be used to enrich the students' experience during the subsequent 9 weeks. At the conclusion of the program, participants will present their research at the Summer Research Symposium poster session.


  • Competitive stipend: $6,000
  • Suite-style 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 and Aquarium
  • Outdoor adventures
  • Research symposium

Mentors and Projects

Dr. Arthur “Trey” Andrews Department of Psychology

Inequities in Chronic Disease, Mental Health, and Service Access

These data come from 12 years of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Dr. Andrews has compiled several NHANES datasets to examine inequities across chronic diseases such as diabetes, cholesterol, and other cardiovascular disease. The compiled dataset also contains information about depression, alcohol use, substance use, and health insurance.  An example project from prior undergraduate theses examined how rates of routine healthcare utilization changed for Latinx populations following the implementation of the ACA by comparing utilization across data collection periods. 

Dr. Arthur “Trey” Andrews Department of Psychology

COVID-19 as a traumatic event among Latinxs in Nebraska

This study currently has approximately 150 participants with multiple waves of data collection (most participants did not complete all waves).  The study examines exposure to COVID-19, loss of loved ones due to the disease, traumatic event exposure, a novel assessment of whether COVID-19 is traumatic, social support, vaccination status, vaccination hesitancy, barriers to vaccination, and mental health symptoms.

Dr. Arthur “Trey” Andrews Department of Psychology

Disaster-focused mobile mental health

This study tested a mobile mental health intervention with victims of the 2017 hurricane outbreak. It utilized a large-scale randomized control trial design to test the effectiveness and use of the application. The app was designed to treatment depression, PTSD, sleep difficulties, and anxiety. The app represents a collaborative effort across multiple universities and potential projects would need approval from other members of the research team, but multiple avenues of data analyses are possible.  

Dr. Katie Edwards Educational Psychology

Evaluating Transitional Living Facilities

The purpose of this study is to understand features of sober living homes that promote recovery among women with histories of addiction and trauma. In the current OVW/DOJ-funded study, we are focusing on a unique gender-responsive and trauma-informed recovery community in Phoenix, Arizona—Support, Education, Empowerment, and Directions (SEEDs) program. Participants complete surveys within a few days of entry to the SEEDs program and then again 6 and 12 months later. Participants complete a wide range of surveys focusing on psychological, social, and physical well-being as well as substance use, victimization, and engagement with the SEEDs program.

Dr. Katie Edwards Educational Psychology

Student Health Adjustment & Relationship Experiences (SHARE) Study

This NSF-funded study is being conducted on 20 campuses across the United States with students, faculty, staff and campus administrators. As part of this project, researchers are seeking to better understand the role of stigma in partner violence among sexual minority (LGBQ+) individuals. This research project evaluates a new sexual stigma model for intimate partner violence and examines the relation between LGBQ+ students’ experiences of stigma along with social, emotional, psychological, and behavioral factors that may increase risk for intimate partner violence. Students (both sexual minority and heterosexual students complete surveys at two time points, one in the fall semester and one in the spring semester). 

Dr. Katie Edwards Educational Psychology

Youth Voices in Prevention (Youth VIP)

The teen years are an exciting time for creativity, growth, and change. It is also a time that can be challenging. Some challenges that teens face are peer-to-peer aggression and risky situations. These things can harm teens. The good news is that we can keep these things from happening. In fact, youth are safer when they feel they matter to their community, have skills to cope with tough situations, and are involved in taking action to make a difference. In this study we examined the impact of a youth-led sexual violence prevention program where middle and high school students (both those who participated in Youth VIP and those who did not) at 5 time points over three academic years. 

Dr. Patrick Habecker Rural Drug Addiction Research Center, Sociology

Rural Substance Use in Puerto Rico and Nebraska

In the United States, substance use and its associated health risks have traditionally been considered an urban problem. However, rural areas have seen a recent increase of HIV, hepatitis C, and deaths from overdoses. In response we have developed several research projects to examine rural substance use.

Social and Cultural Determinants of Mental and Sexual Health

Dr. Lorenz has three projects that students can choose from, depending on their interests. Each project includes measures of social and cultural determinants of mental and sexual health that could support student interests in health disparities that systematically impact women and gender minority people.

Dr. Timothy Nelson Department of Psychology

Executive Control and Adolescent Health Trajectories

This project examines the interplay between specific aspects of cognitive development (particularly executive control), key health behaviors (e.g., diet, sleep, physical activity, substance use), and health outcomes (including mental and physical health) in a longitudinal study design. The project involves a community longitudinal sample that was originally recruited in preschool and followed throughout childhood and adolescence, with rich repeated measures of cognitive abilities, select health behaviors, home and neighborhood environments, mental health, and physical health. The cohort was oversampled for sociodemographic risk, creating an ideal context for exploring health disparities. 

Dr. Lorey Wheeler Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools

Sociocultural Influences on Youth’s Health and Educational Outcomes

Health and educational disparities result in serious public health problems for large and growing subgroups of families in the U.S. Dr. Wheeler’s research primarily focuses on immigrant and Latinx subgroups in the U.S., who are at risk for exposure to systemic marginalization and resulting stressors (e.g., discrimination, acculturative stress), in addition to economic hardship, poverty, school dropout, and work that requires little formal education, all of which further threaten health and well-being. There is a need to understand resilience-based mechanisms that may help promote and support positive health and developmental outcomes, which are key for developing successful programming that supports health and educational equity for marginalized populations.