Distinguished Scientist: Hongying Daisy Dai, PhD

Daisy Dai, PhD

Daisy Dai, PhD

This profile is part of a series to highlight the researchers who will be honored at a ceremony on Nov. 9 for UNMC’s Scientist Laureate, Research Leadership, Distinguished Scientist, New Investigator and Community Service to Research Award recipients.

Distinguished Scientist

The Distinguished Scientist Award — which is sponsored by the chancellor — recognizes researchers who have been among the most productive scientists at UNMC during the past five years.

  • Name: Hongying Daisy Dai, PhD
  • Title: Professor, Department of Biostatistics, UNMC College of Public Health
  • Joined UNMC: 2018
  • Hometown: Fuzhou, China

Please describe your research focus in three words or less: 

  • Statistical epidemiology
  • Health disparities
  • Substance use and prevention

Why is research important in the world today? 

Health disparities remain a significant and pressing issue in the United States. Substance use is particularly high among racial minorities, individuals with low socioeconomic status and residents of rural areas due to a range of contributing factors. Understanding substance use patterns and mechanisms underlying these disparities can inform public health officials on how to mitigate the addiction crisis and protect vulnerable populations.

My research will make a difference because: 

My research has been focusing on integrating multiple interdisciplinary areas from public policies, statistical modeling and community engagement to prevent and reduce substance use among vulnerable subpopulations such as youth, racial minorities and rural residents.

The best advice I’ve ever received is: 

Be persistent and never give up.

Three things you may not know about me are:

  • Every summer, we embark on a 10-day road adventure from the Midwest to various destinations like Yellowstone and the Great Smoky Mountains, exploring incredible natural wonders.
  • Gardening is one of my favorite hobbies. I grow tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers and eggplants.
  • My family has visited the Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota State Fairs. 


  1. Ken Zoucha says:

    Well deserved recognition. Dr. Dai, thanks for your work with adolescent substance use! This is key to our understanding of effective prevention and treatment strategies for this devastating disorder.

  2. Alex Dworak says:

    Congratulations on your recognition and thank you for your important public health equity work, Dr. Dai!

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