Communication and Ethnic-Racial Identity

Led by Dr. Jordan Soliz

Project Overview:

A series of interview and survey studies examining (a) identity development for individuals with mixed ethnic-racial backgrounds (e.g., biracial identity) to understand how communication with family, friends, and/or in professional domains are associated with secure identity and well-being, (b) socialization process related to identity and well-being for individuals from minoritized ethnic-racial groups including how these socialization processes buffer against effects of experiencing discrimination and bias, and (c) processes that reduce ethnic-racial bias. Students will have the opportunity to engage in data analysis, reporting findings, and drafting academic manuscripts. Depending on COVID-19 related guidelines, there may be opportunities for data collection via interviews and focus groups. Ideal assistants will have at least one class on quantitative data (i.e., statistical) analysis and familiarity with SPSS or SAS.



Heteroflexibility, Arousal and Substance use Habits (HASH)

Led by Dr. Tierney Lorenz

Project Overview:

This is a pilot study examining sexual arousal and reward processing among heterosexual and sexual minority women. RA duties include running participants through some experimental sessions including collection of heart rate variability via electrocardiography (ECG) and sexual arousal via vaginal photoplethysmography, and behavioral testing of reward processing.



Daily Experiences of LGBTQ+ Couples in Rural Nebraska Project

Led by Dr. Becca Brock & Dr. Katy Holland

Project Overview:

LGBTQ+ people have long been marginalized within society and encounter a range of stressors related to their minority status. One prevailing theory for understanding the origins and impact of these experiences is Meyers (2003) minority stress model, which holds that LGBTQ+ individuals endure a host of distal and proximal stressors including discrimination, harassment, and stigma. According to this model, these stressors perpetuate structural, systematic, and interpersonal disadvantage, resulting in dysfunction. As challenging as these experiences are more generally, stigma and related prejudices towards sexual minorities and gender non-conformity are higher in rural locations, which may expose rural LGBTQ+ persons to increased stress. The objective of this project is to understand the daily experiences of LGBQ+ individuals living in rural Nebraska, including forms of discrimination, stigmatization, and marginalization that cause distress and impairment. We also want to understand how those experiences contribute to health and wellbeing, emotions, and behaviors in intimate relationships among LGBTQ+ individuals living in rural Nebraska. This mixed methods pilot study involves three components: 1) a one-time survey upon entrance into the study 2) brief daily check-in surveys over 30 days 3) an in-depth qualitative interview at the end of participation. Students will assist with study recruitment efforts, facilitating and tracking participation, and payment processes.



Mindfulness-Based Compassion Program for Refugee and Immigrant Community Health Workers

Led by Dr. Holly Hatton-Bowers, Dr. Virginia Chaidez, and Dr. Julie Tippens

Project Overview:

Community health workers (CHWs), frontline health personnel, are at high risk for burnout, compassion fatigue, and emotional and psychological distress due to demanding workloads, low recognition of their efforts, and direct work with individuals who have experienced trauma. During the COVID-19 pandemic, CHWs with refugee and immigrant backgrounds have had to address significant physical and mental health needs in their communities with few resources. Supporting Nebraska’s frontline health workforce is critical to enhancing the health and wellbeing of diverse communities in the state. Strengthening the emotional health of CHWs may buffer against the negative effects of stress. We proposed to co-develop and pilot a culturally-responsive mindfulness-based compassion program (MBCP-CHWs) with 10 – 15 refugee and immigrant CHWs in Lincoln, NE. During this feasibility and acceptability study, we will assess CHWs’ stressors, cultural strengths, and meaningful coping strategies. The 8-week intervention will be delivered fully online in group settings and will focus on developing skills that increase awareness and compassion, enhancing culturally-salient coping strategies, and fostering cross-cultural peer support.



Cycle effects on mood, behaviors, and inflammation in trauma survivors (CyMBIoTS)

Led by Dr. Tierney Lorenz

Project Overview:

This is an study of changes in endocrine and immune response over the menstrual cycle in women with and without history of sexual trauma. RA dutiesTO include: managing recruitment and scheduling, running orientation sessions for participants, picking up saliva samples from participants’ homes, and data entry. You will also have the opportunity to observe and assist with assay of hormones and immune markers in the Salivary Bioscience Core.



COVID-19 in Meatpacking Areas

Led by Dr. Trey Andrews

Project Overview:

This study centers on interviews with Latinx populations in meatpacking areas in Nebraska. We ask them about exposure to COVID, loss of loved ones or fear of losing loved ones due to COVID, mental health, vaccine acceptance, and service access. Students will help assist with interviews and data organization.



Stress and substance use

Led by Dr. Trey Andrews

Project Overview:

This is an NIH-funded study that rigorously examines the role of stress and trauma exposure in substance use. It uses lab-based portions and mobile surveys to understand how physiological stress regulation impacts moment-to-moment experiences of stress. Students will assist with setting up the mobile surveys and responding to participant challenges with surveys.



Set Me Free

Led by Dr. Rochelle Dalla

Project Overview:

The mission of the Set Me Free Project is “To bring prevention education to youth and families to stop trafficking before it starts.” And they do this youth, parent, and community prevention education and training. For this project, the undergraduate assistant will work with Director of Set Me Free and Dr. Rochelle Dalla to develop a state-wide anti-trafficking coalition. This will involve outreach, program and curriculum evaluation development, & data analysis.



Immigration trauma

Led by Dr. Trey Andrews

Project Overview:

This study focuses on evaluating immigration itself as a traumatic event. Participants recount their immigration experience while wearing devices that assess heart rate and skin conductance (how sweaty they are). It will link these responses to mental health outcomes. Students will conduct these interviews and assist with data recording. This study will resume in summer 2021 (currently paused due to COVID).