HomeOur Team

Our Team

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 Director

Melissa Welch Lazoritz

Melissa Welch-Lazoritz is the senior Project Director for the REACH Lab. In the last few years she has served as project director for a national survey of homeless youth, and currently serves as director of all REACH Projects outside of Nebraska.


MHDI Coordinator

Kim Gocchi Carrasco

Kim GC serves as REACH’s Minority Health Disparities Coordinator. In this role she organizes two annual conferences, a book series, a speaker series, as well as the communication and publication responsibilities for MHDI. She also directs our NSF-funded REU and undergraduate research programs, which train as many as 15 students each year in health disparities research.


MHDI Research Specialist

Kim Matthews

Kim Matthews is the Community Impact & Research Specialist for the Minority Health Disparities Initiative charged with creating sustainable community collaborations that result in capacity building initiatives, that address minority health disparities, in rural Nebraska. 


Faculty Affiliate

Les Whitbeck

Les B. 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 know 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.

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

Robin Gauthier

Robin Gauthier is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at UNL who received her PhD from Duke University in 2014.  She works on research problems related to familial relationships, cross-national inequality measured by homogamy patterns, adolescent sexuality, and gender differences in friendship structure.


Faculty Affiliate

Deadric Williams

Deadric is a former MHDI post-doctoral scholar and is now an Assistant Professor at UNL who maintains an affiliation with the REACH Lab. His research interests include inequality, families, stress & health, and family functioning using quantitative methods.


Post Doctoral Scholar


Hsuan-Wei (Wayne) Lee is a postdoctoral fellow at REACH who received his PhD in mathematics from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2016.  At REACH, he is working on formal and applied mathematical models of dynamic social networks, and how simulated versions of these models can be analyzed and understood.

Post Doctoral Scholar

Dane Hautala

Dane Hautala is a post-doc at the REACH Lab specializing in crime, deviance, and mental health. In the past he has worked as research assistant on projects related to mental health and type 2 diabetes management among American Indian adults and the relationship between stress exposure and delinquency among North American Indigenous (i.e., American Indian and Canadian First Nations) adolescents.


Post Doctoral Scholar

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.


Graduate 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 Assistant

Jerreed Ivanich

Jerreed Ivanich is graduate research assistant on the Healing Pathways: “Bi-Zin-Da-De-Dah: Listening to One Another”  project with Les Whitbeck. His primary focus has been on Alaskan Native and American Indian populations, working with techniques drawn from social network analysis and mental health research.

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Software Developer

Daniel Schaefer

Daniel Schaefer is a software developer at the REACH lab. He graduated from UNL with an BA in Sociology in 2017. Daniel specializes in social network analysis and agent-based social simulations. Daniel works on extending the MABUSE simulation platform to include new, more powerful social interaction semantics, and is also an administrator for the lab’s high performance distributed computing cluster.

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Research Assistant

Marco Gullickson

Marco Gullickson is a 3rd year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Nebraska. Marco works on a variety of projects as a research assistant at the REACH lab.

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Undergraduate Research Assistant

Miranda Melson

Miranda Melson is a senior undergraduate research assistant working on community detection and network visualization of the data collected from the Inuit/Inupiat Social Networks and Health and Puerto Rico projects. Miranda’s thesis will examine the ego networks of risky behaviors among rural drug users in Puerto Rico.

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Undergraduate Research Assistant

Lauren Falconer

Lauren Falconer is an Undergraduate Research Assistant majoring in women and gender studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is currently working on research concerning HIV/AIDS among Native American and Alaska Native Communities. Lauren also works on research projects with the Minority Health Disparities Initiative.

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Undergraduate Research Assistant

Jacob Delley

Jacob Delley is a undergraduate research assistant working on a research surrounding HIV and AIDS among Native American and Alaska Native Communities. He also works on a wide variety of projects with the Minority Health Disparities Initiative.