Assistant Professor

Department of Health Promotion, Social & Behavioral Health
University of Nebraska Medical Center
College of Public Health

Professional Summary 

  • 2012 – Present, Faculty Affiliate, Center for Health Policy
  • 2011 – Present, Faculty Associate, Center for Reducing Health Disparities
  • 2009 – Present,  Assistant Professor, Department of Health Promotion, Social & Behavioral Health
  • 2006-2009, NIDA National Research Service Award Pre-doctoral Fellow, Prevention Research Center, the Pennsylvania State University
  • 2004-2006, Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Human Development & Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University


  • 2009, PhD, Human Development & Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University
  • 2006, MS, Human Development & Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University
  • 2004, BA, Anthropology and Psychology, University of Tulsa

Research interests

Dr. Tibbits’ research focuses on understanding the reasons children and adolescents develop in healthy and unhealthy ways, and utilizing that information to inform the development of preventive interventions focused on outcomes such as substance abuse, sexual health, and obesity. Additionally, she enjoys collaborating with community partners to evaluate existing interventions. She currently serves as an evaluator for several interventions such as the School-Based Health Centers (in collaboration with Building Healthy Futures) and the Community Transformation Grant (in collaboration with the Douglas County Health Department).  

Selected Publications

  • Siahpush, M., Huang, T.T., Sikora, A., Tibbits, M., Shaikh, R.A., & Singh, G.K. (Accepted for Publication). Prolonged financial stress predicts subsequent obesity: Results from a prospective study of an Australian national sample.  Obesity.
  • Siahpush, M., Pinard, C., Singh, G., Tibbits, M., Shaikh, R., & Yaroch, A. (Accepted for Publication). Do lifestyle and socioeconomic factors explain why Black women have a substantially higher body mass index (BMI) than White women in the United States? Findings from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey. Health Disparities Research and Practice.
  • Wilson, F.A., Stimpson, J.P., & Tibbits, M.K. (Accepted for Publication). The role of alcohol use on recent trends in distracted driving. Accident Analysis & Prevention.
  • Islam, K.M., Vinson, L., Nared, S., Combs, I., Tibbits, M., Watanabe-Galloway, & Margalit, R. (2013). Combating STI epidemic: Community perspectives learned from mixed-gender focus group study. ISRN Infectious Diseases, 2013. 
  • Siahpush, M. Shaikh, R.A., Tibbits, M., Huang, T.T., & Singh, G.K. (2013). The association of lone motherhood with smoking cessation and relapse, and the mediating role of socioeconomic status, social support, and mental health: Prospective results from an Australian national study. International Journal of Environmental Research in Public Health, 10.
  • Siahpush, M., Singh, G.K., Tibbits, M., Pinard, C.A., Shaikh, R.A., Yaroch, A. (2013). It is better to be a fat ex-smoker than a thin smoker: Findings from the 1997-2004 National Health Interview Survey - National Death Index Linkage Study. Tobacco Control.
  • Tibbits, M.K., Smith, E.A., & Caldwell, L.L., & Flisher, A.J. (2011). Impact of HealthWise South Africa on polydrug use and high-risk sexual behavior. Health Education Research, 26, 653-663.
  • Tibbits, M.K., Bumbarger, B.K., Kyler, S. & Perkins, D.F. (2010) Sustaining evidence-based interventions under real-world conditions: Results of a large-scale diffusion project. Prevention Science, 11, 252-262.
  • Syvertsen, A.K., Cleveland, M., Gayles, J., Tibbits, M.K, & Faulk, M.T. (2010). Profiles of protection from substance use among adolescents. Prevention Science, 11, 185-196.
  • Tibbits, M.K., Caldwell, L.L., & Smith, E.A, Wegner, L. (2009). The relation between profiles of leisure activity participation and substance use among South African youth. World Leisure Journal, 51, 150-159.

Professional Affiliations

  • American Public Health Association
  • Society for Prevention Research
  • Society for Research on Adolescence

contact melissa tibbits
Melissa Tibbits, PhD

986365 Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, NE 68198-4365
Phone: 402-559-9447
Fax: 402-559-3773