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The BEAT is our blog page for reactions, thoughts, comments, research-based policy considerations, and community interaction. Our goal is to catch the beat of the communities we work with, to walk the beat as a social science reporter, and where necessary, police the beat of social science fact and fiction.

The spirit of these blog posts is “jazz science”–and they can be read as riffs on the events and projects found elsewhere on this site. They are designed to provoke thought and opinion, and to unsettle thought and opinion. In a less grand sense, they are also designed to provide insight into the life of a highly interdisciplinary, highly engaged social and behavioral science lab. Thoughts, questions, comments can be addressed to the our lab email address: reach at unl dot edu.


REACH lab suggests Nebraska policymakers pass legislation to end the ban on SNAP and TANF eligibility for individuals previously convicted of drug-related offenses. Read the new REACH policy brief "Removing Counterproductive Public Assistance Bans for Formerly Incarcerated Nebraskans" below.   According to Feeding America, approximately one in every nine individuals and one in every six children in Nebraska are food insecure. The challenges of food insecurity are

The abuse of opioids has become one of the most defining crises of the current era in American history. Over the past couple of decades, the abuse of opioids and overdose deaths have risen dramatically—especially in economically struggling areas like Appalachia—and interventions targeted at reducing the opiate crisis have struggled to make a significant impact. Researchers at REACH have dedicated years of work to understanding

The Santee Sioux Nation Society of Care has two open positions in Lincoln, Nebraska!   Director, Healthy Transitions (youth & young adult behavioral health): Lead efforts to improve access to treatment and support services for youth and young adults, ages 16-25, in the Santee Sioux Nation and Omaha Tribe of Nebraska who have a serious emotional disturbance or a serious mental illness. Position information here. Director,

REACH Lab Publishes First Policy Brief "Investing in the Safety and Health of Nebraska Communities Through the Authorization and Implementation of Syringe Services Programs"   The spread of hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pose a great risk to rural and urban Nebraska communities. Between 2011 and 2015, Nebraska witnessed a 300% increase in reported hepatitis C cases. According to research done by experts at

Graduate Research Assistant Maia Behrendt entered the lab with a B.A. in Anthropology and will be graduating next month with her M.A. in Sociology. She recently defended her master’s thesis “Drinking Behaviors, Relationships, and Recovery: A Relational Sociological Examination of Addiction” and sat down with us to share a couple of thoughts about her thesis and her work in the REACH Lab. [caption id="attachment_7832" align="alignright" width="300"]

REU Student Darien McElwee Wins Award at NSF Emerging Researchers National Conference in STEM In February, former MHDI REU Student Darien (Penny) McElwee presented at the NSF Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in STEM in Washington, D.C. At the conference, McElwee presented a poster entitled "The Effects of Social, Cultural, and Economic Capital on Helping Behaviors in Nain, Labrador: A Social Network Analysis," the abstract for which

Food Deserts and the Farm-to-Fork Movement Nebraska is known for its crop, and for its stature in the agricultural economy. Land of the cornfields and home of the Cornhuskers. Perhaps, then, it comes as no surprise that Nebraska embraces the Farm-to-Fork movement. Loosely understood to be an effort to get locally sourced food into restaurants, cafeterias, and homes through farmer’s markets, the concept was recently lauded

REACH researcher Roberto Abadie recently led a new publication on establishing trust among people who inject drugs when researching HIV and hepatitis C. The paper was published in PLoS ONE in December of 2018 and focuses on how trust forms between researchers and participants. Findings suggest that although research participants in this context face a number of barriers to developing research-related trust, there are approaches that

The REACH Lab would like to congratulate Luke Novak on winning the College of Arts and Sciences’ Ovation Award for October. The Ovation Award recognizes students who consistently go above and beyond in their work on campus, and Luke was nominated for his reliability, the enthusiasm he brings to his work, and his willingness to help with tasks in the lab ranging from the mundane

Analysis from the REACH Lab’s work in Puerto Rico analyzing perceptions of financial compensation in work with PWID with was recently published the journal Ethics and Behavior. The purpose of the study was to examine participants’ perceptions of financial compensation and how these findings speak to the larger literature on concerns associated with financial compensation and research involving human subjects, particularly epidemiological or behavioral studies of substance

How does the occurrence of a natural disaster impact the treatment plans and resources available to people who inject drugs (PWID) in rural communities? This is the overarching research question guiding Roberto Abadie and Patrick Habecker’s project that was recently funded by an R21 grant from the National Institute of Health. Their project, “Assessing the effects of Hurricane Maria on Opioid Agonist Treatment Access among PWID

“Find the people who are doing what you want to do, the people who share your passion, and join that program.”   This is what initially brought Jerreed to the REACH lab, and the most important advice he hopes to pass on to future scholars. As a graduate student in the lab, Jerreed has focused on research with Artic and Indigenous populations as part of the Bii-Zin-Da-De-Dah

Tourism is Nebraska’s third largest source of revenue–after agriculture and manufacturing–yet it ranks 50thin the list of states people would like to visit. It is in this context that the Nebraska Tourism Commission recently revealed the state’s new slogan: Honestly, It’s Not for Everyone. A witty campaign that juxtaposes assumptive phrases about Nebraska with images in direct contradiction to the sentiment. While locals may lament,

Memory Manda came to the University of Nebraska in January 2018 as a recipient of the National Institute of Health (NIH) Fogarty grant for HIV Research Training. In Manda's native country of Zambia, the Nebraska Center for Virology researchers have found that those with HIV and HIV-related diseases are seeking medical help late into their diseases as they near dire consequences of their conditions. In

Since 2014, REACH researchers have been working on ground-breaking investigations into rural injection drug use in Puerto Rico. With the lab's community partners, El Punto en la Montaña, REACH's findings regarding people who use injection drugs (PWID) in rural Puerto Rico and their risk behaviors, social networks, and the specific sociocultural contexts in which they live has helped create more intelligent, practical substance abuse prevention and treatment.