Researchers

Meet the Researchers and Graduate StudentsThe Empowerment Initiative: Ending Bullying through Developmental, Neuroscience, & Translational Research



Susan M. Swearer, Ph.D.

Susan M. Swearer, Ph.D. FOUNDER, EMPOWERMENT INITIATIVE

BORN BRAVE EXPERIENCES STUDY
PARTICIPATORY ACTION RESEARCH STUDY
TARGET BULLYING INTERVENTION PROGRAM STUDY

Dr. Susan M. Swearer serves as professor of school psychology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and co-director of the Bullying Research Network. As principal investigator of the Target Bullying: Best Practices in Bullying Prevention and Intervention project, Swearer has a long-standing track record of working with schools and districts nationwide to reduce bullying behaviors. She received a bachelor's in psychology from Swarthmore College, a master's in special education from the Pennsylvania State University, and a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin.

For more than a decade, Swearer has developed and implemented a data-based decision-making model for responding to bullying among school-aged youth. She has conducted staff trainings in elementary, middle and high schools, with the goal of helping school personnel establish cost-effective and data-based strategies to reduce bullying behaviors. Swearer has authored more than 100 book chapters and articles on the topics of bullying, depression and anxiety in school-aged youth, co-authoring "Bullying Prevention and Intervention: Realistic Strategies for Schools" and co-editing "Bullying in North American Schools (2nd Edition)" and "Handbook of Bullying in Schools: An International Perspective."

Swearer's Target Bullying Intervention Program was featured on "CBS Sunday Morning" in February 2011, and she presented at the White House Bullying Prevention Conference in March 2011. In February 2012, she served as a panelist at Harvard University for the launch of Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation, appearing alongside Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelieus. Swearer also appeared as a featured bullying expert on Anderson Cooper's daytime show, "Anderson," in March 2012. Her work has been featured in numerous other print, radio and television outlets. Most recently, she has partnered with the Making Caring Common Project at Harvard University and Career Training Concepts to develop the H.E.A.R. presentation for the National Guard.

A licensed psychologist, Swearer serves as a supervising psychologist in the Child and Adolescent Therapy Clinic at UNL. She has devoted her career to the intersection of research and practice, serving as co-editor of the e-publication "Bullying @ School and Online" through Education.com. She chairs the research advisory board for the Born This Way Foundation and can be followed on Twitter (@DrSusanSwearer@Bully_Research) and Facebook via the Empowerment Initiative and Bullying Research Network pages.

Meredith Martin, Ph.D. CO-INVESTIGATOR,
THE EMPOWERMENT INITIATIVE

Dr. Meredith Martin joined the Empowerment Initiative in 2016. Her research is focused on individual differences in children's emotional, psychological, and behavioral functioning within developmentally salient social relationships. She is especially interested in the strategies children and adolescents use to cope with interpersonal threat (e.g., family conflict, peer aggression) and capitalize on social supports (e.g., close friendship, parent attachment). Integrating diverse perspectives from developmental psychopathology, human ethology, and family systems theory, Dr. Martin is currently involved in multiple projects aimed at: (a) developing novel methodological approaches for capturing these underlying interpersonal strategies in both family and per contexts; (b) improving the precision with which we identify organism-by-environment transactional processes that serve to calibrate the individual adjustment trajectories across development; and (c) identifying the underlying mechanisms mediating links between children's social experiences and their psychological adjustment. For more information about Dr. Martin's research, please visit her website, Security and Social Development Laboratory.



Hideo Suzuki, Ph.D.

Hideo Suzuki, Ph.D. CO-INVESTIGATOR,
THE EMPOWERMENT INITIATIVE

Hideo Suzuki's research interests include the interplay between stress and neurobiological mechanisms underlying emotional behavior in children, adolescents, and adults. Specifically, my work focuses on how stress, or other social factors, change the structure and function of brain regions involved in aggression/bully perpetration. My research also examines how peer victimization and bystander experience contribute to the development of emotional disturbance (e.g., anxiety or depression) via structural and functional brain changes. In addition, I study the social neuroscience of bully-victim-bystander interactions at multiple units of analysis, including neuroimaging techniques (e.g., EEG, sMRI, fMRI, DTI) and physiological measures (e.g., hormones, gene/protein expression levels).

More information coming soon.


Sara E. Gonzalez, B.S.

Sara E. Gonzalez, M.A., PLMHP T-BIP SPECIALIST, EMPOWERMENT INITIATIVE STUDENT REPRESENTATIVE

Sara is a sixth-year doctoral student in the School Psychology Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her interests focus on utilizing an interdisciplinary approach to assess bullying victimization and its impact on children's development. Additionally, Sara is interested in finding ways to increase communication between hospital and school settings when assisting children with special health care needs. She also serves as a qualitative interviewer for the Born Brave Experiences Mixed Methods Research Study.


Zach Myers, M.A.

Zachary Myers, M.A., PLMHP T-BIP SPECIALIST

Zach is a sixth-year doctoral student in the School Psychology Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His research interests include the relationship between victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying and their mental health outcomes. He is also interested in the effects of cyberbullying via Web-based social networking sites and online gaming. Zach serves as a qualitative interviewer for the Born Brave Experiences Mixed Methods Research Study.


Allen Garcia, B.A.

Allen Garcia, M.A. T-BIP SPECIALIST

Allen is a fifth-year doctoral student in the School Psychology Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His research interests include facilitating the translation of bullying prevention and intervention research to practice. Additionally, Allen is interested in emphasizing the use of social and emotional learning to reduce bullying and promote positive behaviors and skills among youth.


Ana M. Damme, M.A., PLMHP, BCBA

Ana M. Damme, M.A., PLMHP, BCBA T-BIP SPECIALIST

Ana is a fourth-year doctoral student in the School Psychology Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research interests include the related behavioral and mental health issues (e.g., anxiety, depression, academic concerns, poor parent-child and teacher-student relationships) of students involved in the bullying dynamic. Additionally, Ana is interested in program elevation and treatment adherence as well as providing clinical services through integrated behavioral health care.


Shir Palmon, M.A.

Shir Palmon, M.A. T-BIP SPECIALIST

Shir is a fourth-year Ed.S. student in the School Psychology Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research interests include age and gender differences in bullying, as well as, relational bullying.

Kaitlyn Mosher, B.A.T-BIP SPECIALIST

Kaitlyn is a third-year doctoral student in the School Psychology Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research interests include bullying prevention and interventions.

Raul Palacios

Raul Palacios, Ed.S.T-BIP SPECIALIST

Raul is a third-year doctoral student in the School Psychology Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He earned his Ed.S. in School Psychology from Seattle University. His research interests include bullying intervention and prevention, social justice, and the implementation of restorative practices in schools.


Guadalupe Gutierrez

Guadalupe Gutierrez, M.A.T-BIP SPECIALIST

Guadalupe is a second-year doctoral student in the School Psychology Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research interests include the development of prevention and intervention programs for underrepresented youths and college students from a strength-based perspective with a particular focus on protective factors and resilience. She also wants to explore the underlying relationships between early school experiences like bullying and the detrimental impact in children psychological well-being.

Cody Solesbee, B.S.T-BIP SPECIALIST

Cody is a second-year doctoral student in the School Psychology Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His research interests include the social neuroscience of aggression and bullying. He is collaborating with Dr. Hideo Suzuki on neuroimaging research related to structural and functional brain changes due to social factors.

Alia Noetzel

Alia Noetzel, B.A.T-BIP SPECIALIST

Alia is a second-year doctoral student in the School Psychology Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research interests include social justice, bullying intervention, and outcomes related to bullying behaviors.