UNMC INBRE Mentors-Munroe Meyer Institute

Joyoti Arikkath, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
E-mail: jyothi.arikkath@unmc.edu

Research Interests:  Dr. Arikkath aims to understand the molecular mechanisms that regulate neuronal structure and plasticity and elucidate how these mechanisms influence neural circuit formation and function. It is becoming increasingly clear that aberrant neural circuit formation and /or function underlies the pathology of a number of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. Thus, identifying core components of these pathways would provide better tools for therapeutic intervention in these devastating disorders.

For more information on Dr. Arikkath: Web Site

Kevin Luczynski, PhD
Assistant Professor, Applied Behavior Analysis Doctoral Program
Director of the Virtual Care Program                                 
Munroe-Meyer Institute
Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders
Email:  kevin.luczynski@unmc.edu

Dr. Luczynski specializes in leveraging web-based technologies to provide parent training and early intervention services to families who live in areas where there are few or no professionals trained in applied behavior analysis.  This research in applied behavior analysis is supported, in part, by a grant from the Department of Defense. Dr. Luczynski and colleagues partner with Autism Action Partnership, a Nebraska-based organization passionate about advocating and supporting families touched by autism.  Dr. Luczynski’s area of service delivery had led to several new lines of research: (a) comparing the accuracy, reliability, and efficiently of different measurement systems for scoring child-parent interactions in their home over extended observation periods; (b) determining the accuracy and reliability of infrared-capable cameras with motion-detection software for measuring children’s nighttime sleep disturbances; and (c) evaluating the extent that parent-training procedures promote generalization and maintenance of parents ability to teach functional-communication and delay-tolerance skills.

For more information on Dr. Luczynski: Web Site

William B. Rizzo, Ph.D.
E-mail: wrizzo@unmc.edu 

Research Interests:  Sjogren-Larsson syndrome (SLS) is a human disease affecting children.  It has a number of symptoms, including mental retardation.  SLS is caused by mutations in the fatty aldehyde dehydrogenase gene, which is involved in the metabolism of lipids.  We are interested in discovering and characterizing mutations in this gene and how they affect SLS development and how the enzyme functions.

For more information on Dr. Rizzo: Web Site

Nicole M. Rodriguez, PhD, BCBA-D
Assistant Professor, Applied Behavior Analysis Doctoral Program
Coordinator of Early Intervention Program
Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders
Munroe-Meyer Institute
Email: nicole.rodriguez@unmc.edu

Dr. Rodriguez’s research interests are largely guided by her clinical work in early intervention with children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.  Much of her research is applied in that it has a direct clinical impact on the children and families who serve as participants.  However, she is also interested in translational research that allows for a better understanding of the processes that underlie the efficacy of procedures.  Topics of interest include: verbal behavior, restricted and repetitive behavior, response variability, comparing efficiency of teaching procedures, parent training, and token reinforcement.

For more information on Dr. Rodriguez: Web SIte

Shelley D. Smith, Ph.D.
Professor and Interim Director
Hattie B. Munroe Molecular Genetics
E-mail: ssmith@unmc.edu

Research Interests:  Our research has focused on the identification of genes for neurodevelopmental disorders, specifically language/learning disorders and hearing loss.

For more information on Dr. Smith: Web Site