Research and Creative Activity
The Office of Research and Creative Activity (ORCA) supports faculty, staff, and students in their ongoing scholarly activities at UNO by providing leadership in the development of future research programs, creative collaborations, efforts in community engagement, and securing grants and partnerships that will advance knowledge, help realize economic and human potential, and serve the interests of society.
Learn how ORCA can help you identify funding opportunities, access forms and other resources designed specifically for faculty. Faculty click here.
Learn about the research and creative activity opportunities available for students and how you can participate in the annual Student Research and Creative Activity Fair. Students click here.
Current Research Projects
Dr. Heerten Rodriguez's research involves sexuality and stigmatized bodies. Experiences of weight stigma and anti-fat bias are common and occur across all life domains. However, there is little research documenting and exploring these within the domain of sexuality. Based on in-depth interviews with 60 participants who self-identified as having larger body sizes, this research seeks to document lived experiences of sexualized oppression and responses to oppression.
Working in collaboration with Midlands Sexual Health Research Collaborative LBGTQ+ program, a survey was created to capture a snapshot of the experiences and needs of Nebraska’s LGBTQ+ communities. The survey explores LGBTQ+ communities’ needs and experiences in multiple domains, including physical, mental and sexual health, healthcare access, discrimination and violence, and social wellbeing.
Dr. Heerten Rodriguez, along with the NE DHHS Drug Overdose Prevention Program, has contracted with STEPs to evaluate trends in drug use behaviors in Nebraska. Using interviews with substance use treatment providers and those with lived experience misusing substances, these evaluation projects explore the needs and opportunities for drug overdose prevention work in Nebraska.
Dr. Reay is involved in social work regulation, examination, and ethics initiatives to include representing the profession of social work on the Nebraska Board of Mental Health Practice. In 2021 Dr. Reay will conclude her 13-year term on the Board, where she works collaboratively with other behavioral health professions on developing macro policies and regulations for mental health practice. As a regulator, she provides an expert opinion on discipline for mental health practitioners. Globally, Dr. Reay is actively involved with the International Association of Social Work Boards and is the Nebraska voting member on social work model practice. She has been a participant in both the practice analysis process of ensuring that the social work boards exam content is relevant to the current professional practice experience and the exam cut score process, which assists in determining the passing rate of the exam. Twice a year, Dr. Reay provides free workshops for students and community members on regulation, ethics, and licensure, which over 100 participants consistently attend. Dr. Reay is an item writer for the International Association of Social Work Boards examination. She is currently writing a manuscript regarding lessons learned from her service on a regulatory board and researching community and social worker perceptions of licensure. Dr. Reay frequently speaks on the overlay of licensure, examination, and ethics.
Dr. Reay’s research interests include implementation science specifically related to teaching social work students clinical treatment modalities and the factors that influence implementing evidence-based clinical treatment strategies after students graduate. She currently has a manuscript in review based on her longitudinal study of social worker knowledge of evidence-based practice before graduation and up to five years after graduation. Dr. Reay’s current research initiatives include the study of knowledge acquisition for mental health practitioners in evidence-based approaches to treat youth with co-occurring developmental disabilities and mental health conditions. This research is based on her role as the Nebraska System of Care Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator, a SAMHSA and state-funded initiative. She is currently working on two manuscripts based on her research of differing training modalities to teach mental health practitioners evidence-based treatment approaches in providing clinical services to youth who experience problematic behaviors.
Dr. Zhang’s primary research focus is child well-being. Her interest in this area began with a co-authored paper on the development of multidimensional child well-being indicators for China. Inspired by the rights-based perspective, she became particularly interested in studying children’s subjective well-being, which is how children evaluate their own lives. Her research aims to highlight children’s voices in matters that affect them and examine how different aspects of the ecological system affect children’s well-being.
Dr. Zhang is also interested in the well-being of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their parents. She has been working on studies that examine the mental health profile of parents with children with ADS and its relationships with their attachment style and the severity of their children’s ASD. Her next research project in an interdisciplinary research team aims to address the role of parents in providing effective intervention and treatments to their children with ASD.