REU: Community-Engaged Training for Advancing Health Equity

Join Us In Essential, Interdisciplinary Research To Promote Health Equity and Eliminate Health Disparities Among Historically Excluded Populations

For information contact

Nova Gocchi Carrasco

MHD Program Coordinator

Funding Source

NSF 2150042

See Projects

Health Equity REU students at the end-of-summer banquet.
Health Equity REU students at the end-of-summer banquet.

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

This project takes place under the support of a Summer REU grant from the National Science Foundation. This program explores 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, students will develop hypotheses and learn about conducting health disparities related research in order to employ these skills where possible in their summer research projects. These trainings 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. During this time, students will work with faculty members, postdoctoral students, graduate students, and others on an individual research project using data that has already been collected. 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.  

Sexual Assault Among Sexual Minority Men

Sexual Assault Among Sexual Minority Men is a research project to better understand sexual assault experiences among sexual minority men in the U.S., including cis and trans men and transmasculine people, to inform affirming prevention and response efforts. Almost half of sexual minority men experience adult sexual assault victimization in their lifetime, and as many as 30% of sexual minority men report lifetime adult sexual assault perpetration. Although rates of victimization and perpetration among sexual minority men are alarmingly high, even when measured over short periods of time, little research has examined risk and protective factors for adult sexual assault victimization or perpetration.

Preventing Sex Trafficking Among Racially/Ethnically Diverse High School Students

The purpose of this project is to prevent sex trafficking among racially and ethnically diverse high school students in Des Moines, Iowa. Researchers and community partners will collaborate with Des Moines Public Schools to deliver the READY to Stand Curriculum™ to high school students and school personnel and evaluate its effectiveness. Multiple evaluation methods will be used to measure program impact.

Promoting Resilient Youth with Strong Hearts and Minds (PRYSHM) Project

The PRYSHM Project (Promoting Resilient Youth with Strong Hearts and Minds Project) seeks to develop and evaluate an online program for LGBTQIA2S+ teens, ages 15 to 18. The program aims to help LGBTQ+ teens feel acceptance and pride in their LGBTQIA2S+ identities, and to empower them to make healthy decisions consistent with their personal values, hopes and goals for the future.

Dr. Katie Edwards, Melissa Olson Educational Psychology

Culturally-Grounded Sexual Violence Prevention for Native Youth

This project will establish and evaluate an Indigenous-led sexual violence prevention center on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The expected impact is to reduce sexual violence among Indigenous persons throughout the U.S., and to provide all Indigenous K-12 youth with the opportunity to receive a culturally adapted version of IMpower by 2050. The collaborative effort is funded by a $3.2 million University of Nebraska–Lincoln Grand Challenges Catalyst Competition grant.

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, Eric Phillips 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.