We are a collective of innovators and thinkers dedicated to the idea that research and community well-being go hand-in-hand.


We come from diverse backgrounds, but together make a strong team.


As a team, we are united by a common interest in research on community and public health.  We use methods like ethnography, assessment, and network analysis to better understand and serve our research hosts and the public policy makers that shape their lives. Our work has been funded by the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, the US Centers for Disease Control, the National Institute of Justice, and others. We specialize in research on “hard-to-reach” populations in both the social and geographical senses of the term. This work has taken us from the Arctic to the Caribbean, and from the East Coast to the West. Interested students can reach us via email (kdombrowski2@unl.edu) or via the Sociology Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (www.soc.unl.edu). Past members of our group now serve as faculty and researchers at the University of Minnesota, Oklahoma University, Haverford College, Pennsylvania State University, and many others.


Principal Investigator

Kirk Dombrowski

Kirk Dombrowski is the John G. Bruhn Professor of Sociology and co-Director of the REACH Lab. Originally trained as an anthropologist, for the last decade he has worked in the area of social networks and health. This includes a focus on social inequalities and community health in Native/ aboriginal / Inuit Labrador and Alaska, and HIV / HepC transmission among rural drug users in Puerto Rico. 


Principal Investigator

Bilal Khan

Bilal Khan is Happold Professor of Sociology at UNL and co-Director at the REACH Lab. Originally trained as a mathematician and a former Professor of Computer Science at the City University of NY, Bilal directs the computational social science work at REACH. He is the primary developer of a range of social science related data collection and modeling software platforms including MABUSE, ODIN, and SNAPT.


Director of Research Strategy

Devan Crawford

Devan Crawford is a senior Director at the REACH Lab.  She grew up in Lincoln and graduated from UNL in 2006 with a M.A. in Sociology.  She has worked as a project manager and later project director since 2002. She now directs research strategy for the REACH Lab and oversees all operations.


Project Coordinator

Kim Gocchi Carrasco

Kim GC serves as REACH’s Minority Health Disparities Coordinator. In this role she manages two annual conferences, a book series, a speaker series, as well as the communication and publication responsibilities for MHDI. In addition, she directs our projects in Puerto Rico and our NSF-funded REU and undergraduate research programs, which trains as many as 15 students each year in health disparities research. She is also the Network Science Activities and UNL NE STEM 4U Director for the Worlds of Connections project which is funded by NIH’s Science Education Partnership Award.


Project Coordinator

Emily Shultz

Emily Shultz is a project coordinator at the REACH Lab. Her past experience includes business development and marketing. Her current area of focus is in project and field management as well as assisting with collaborative efforts in substance abuse prevention and treatment research.


Faculty Affiliate

Colleen Syron

Colleen Syron is an Assistant Professor in the School of Art, Art History & Design in the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts. Before coming to UNL she ran her own design firm in New York, and worked as art director and senior designer at a number of large firms. At REACH, Colleen directs our translation and data visualization efforts, lending her expertise across a range of projects.


Faculty Affiliate

Les B. Whitbeck

Les Whitbeck, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He was principal investigator for the Midwest Longitudinal Study of Homeless Adolescents and is best known for his longitudinal diagnostic study of American Indian children aged 10-12 years (Healing Pathways).


Faculty Affiliate

Roberto Abadie

Roberto Abadie is an anthropologist who received his Ph.D. from the CUNY Graduate Center. He has conducted extensive research on HIV, Injecting Drug Users, and the ethics of clinical trials research. He is currently Research Assistant Professor in Sociology at UNL, and directs the field team in Puerto Rico.


Research Assistant Professor

Patrick Habecker

Patrick received his PhD in Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2017 prior to moving into the REACH Lab full time. He specializes in survey research and methodology, network analysis, simulation, and quantitative analysis. In his current role, he oversees graduate student research on projects from Puerto Rico and Alaska, as well as pursuing his own network science-related research here in Nebraska.

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Field Staff

Joe Caldwell

Joe Caldwell serves as a member of the Field Staff team through the Rural Health Cohort. Prior to joining the team at the Rural Drug Addiction Research Center, Joe worked extensively in the provision of harm reduction services to people who use drugs and sex workers in Iowa and Washington, D.C. While at the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), Joe worked with state and territorial health departments to bolster policies and programming on issues related to health equity, harm reduction, HIV and HCV prevention and care, and structural determinants of health. Immediately preceding his time in Nebraska, Joe worked as Iowa’s first Drug User Health Coordinator with the Iowa Department of Public Health where he led projects to determine county-level vulnerability for HIV/HCV and opioid overdose outbreaks, coordinated cross-sector steering committees to examine health care access among people who use drugs, and facilitated integrated testing projects with infectious disease and substance use disorder treatment providers.

Memory Manda

Graduate Research Assistant

Memory Manda

Memory Manda is a graduate student under the Fogarty Aids Malignancies Training and Research International Program (AMTRIP). At the REACH Lab, Dr. Kirk Dombrowski is training her in social network analyses, network-based study design and instrument development for a research project on barriers to service utilization among Kaposi’s sarcoma infected individuals in Zambia.


Graduate Research Assistant

Maia Behrendt

Maia Behrendt is a graduate research assistant with interests in substance use and prevention methods. Her current research focuses on the language of individuals who currently use alcohol and those who are in recovery programs. Through examination of addiction from a systems theory and relational sociological perspective, she hopes to contribute to research supporting prevention methods focused on understanding social relationships.


Graduate Research Assistant

Ian Duncan

Ian Duncan is a graduate research assistant working on issues of health and inequality, with a particular interest in network modeling and agent-based simulation. His dissertation will focus on the social determinants of health among people who inject drugs in Puerto Rico–from a network perspective.


Graduate Research Assistant

Alice MillerMacPhee

Alice MillerMacPhee is a graduate research assistant who examines intersecting inequalities with special attention to gender, sexuality, and the oft ignored role of the state. With an eye toward the rural, Alice considers how governing ideology has changed with respect to power and capital and the resultant impact on local communities, most specifically in Nebraska. This focus, coupled with an intense interest in the intricacies of the English language, bring an incisive and inquiring eye to understanding inequalities in Nebraska.


Graduate Research Assistant

Josey VanOrsdale

Josey VanOrsdale is a graduate research assistant with interests in biosociology and health, as well as both quantitative and computational methods. Her research is contributing to the project on Injection Risk Networks in Rural Puerto Rico. She uses R with quantitative and computation methods, such as social network analysis and topic modeling, to evaluate novel data with the aim of furthering our understanding of international health concerns.

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Undergraduate Research Assistant

Elizabeth Byrnes

Elizabeth Byrnes is a junior double majoring in Sociology and Communication Studies with minors in Humanities in Medicine and Business. Her research interest is primarily in health communication and understanding the factors of how communication and society affect health outcomes. She is working on building a repertoire in statistical analysis and quantitative research methods. Elizabeth is currently working on a REACH Lab collaborative project related to the barriers to early screening, diagnosis, and treatment of Kaposi’s Sarcoma in Zambia.


Undergraduate Research Assistant

Nestor Hernandez

Nestor Hernandez is junior Sociology major whose interests primarily include race and media, but is furthering his knowledge on other areas of sociology. Nestor is currently working on Bii-Zin-Da-De-Dah (BZDDD) (Listening to One Another), which focuses on substance abuse prevention for pre-adolescents in American Indian communities.

Maizie Humm

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Maizie Humm

Maizie is a senior undergraduate research assistant double majoring in Sociology and Community Health & Wellness with a minor in Environmental Studies. She is particularly interested in studying the connection between human health and environmental health and how the structure of society promotes or hinders health and wellness in regards to both human health and environmental health. She is currently working on a project involving a systematic review of HIV/AIDS among Native American and Alaska Natives.

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Undergraduate Research Assistant

Alyssa Kobza

Alyssa Kobza is a junior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln double majoring in Sociology and Fine Arts, with an emphasis in Printmaking, and is minoring in Gender Studies. She is interested in how printmaking can be used to spread ideas to a broad audience. Her studio work includes ideas of gender and body acceptance. Currently she is working on an artist book based on the experiences of immigrants in the Lincoln community. Alyssa primarily works with MHDI to create and disseminate informative publications to academic and local communities.

Quants and Engineers


We are a living bridge between the social sciences, mathematics, computer science, and engineering.


We are the Quants and Engineers of the REACH Labs and SNRG. We are skilled statisticians, software engineers, databases architects, data scientists, mathematical modelers, and simulation scientists.  We build enterprise systems and technologies that enable collecting social data at scale.  We develop new mathematical techniques to discover structure in spatial, temporal and network data from social systems.  We program it, model it, visualize it, and interpret it—within theoretical frameworks of sociology, anthropology, and epidemiology.  We are a living bridge between the social sciences, mathematics, computer science, and engineering–and we aim to impact all these disciplines.



Kin Pi

Kin Pi is an Android Developer at the REACH lab. He is in charge of the development and test automation of ODIN’s Android application. Kin obtained his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy at Fordham University and his master’s degree in Computer Science at Queens College, City University of New York. Prior to joining the team at REACH, he lived in New York City, where he worked as a Software Engineer in Test.
Gisela Font Sayeras


Gisela Font Sayeras

My name is Gisela Font Sayeras and I have primarily worked on the lab’s ODIN and MABUSE projects. More specifically, I have been working on Testing for ODIN using SOAPUI, Postman, Jenkins, and JUnit. I have also been working on Frontend for ODIN and MABUSE using MVC ASP.net, and created wireframes for MABUSE using Balsamiq. I graduated from Augusta University in May 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and minor in Mathematics. As an undergraduate, I was working as a Research Assistant building a website using JavaScript, PHP, HTML, and CSS. Looking forward, I am eager to start school in August 2018 in pursuit of a master’s degree in Computer Science. Outside of my work for REACH, I love playing tennis in my free time. I was a student-athlete in college during which I was a tennis player at Northwest Missouri State University for one year and three years at Augusta University, and have enjoyed continuing my passion.

Daniel Schaefer


Daniel Schaefer

Daniel Schaefer is a software developer at the REACH lab. He graduated from University of Nebraska – Lincoln with an BA in Sociology in 2017. Daniel specializes in social network analysis and agent-based social simulations, mainly assisting the MABUSE and Puerto Rico projects. A primary focus of his has been to extend the MABUSE simulation platform to include newer, more powerful social interaction semantics in addition to his work as an administrator for the lab’s high performance distributed computing cluster. He also assists the lab’s computing power with use of C#, .NET, R, d3, and python. Eventually, Daniel would like to pursue a PhD in Sociology.