University of Nebraska Medical Center

Core Faculty


Howard Liu, MD, Chair

Dr. Liu is a nationally recognized educator, behavioral health workforce expert, and practicing child psychiatrist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). He serves as Chair of the UNMC Department of Psychiatry. Previously, he served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Faculty Development. Clinically, Dr. Liu maintains an active child psychiatry practice as a Professor of Psychiatry.



Daniel Gih, MD, Program Director

Dr. Gih is Professor and Director of Education in the UNMC Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Gih came to UNMC in June 2016. He currently serves on the UNMC College of Medicine Curriculum Committee, and he is founding director of the new psychiatry residency program, which started in 2020.



Jeana Benton, MD, Associate Program Director

Dr. Benton is a dedicated medical educator who practices adult psychiatry at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). Dr. Benton has a longstanding interest in medical student and resident education. She provides both didactic instruction and clinical supervision for trainees, and she has been actively involved in curriculum design and implementation at both the medical student and the resident level. Dr. Benton is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.



Steven Wengel, MD, Professor

Dr. Wengel is a native of Omaha and has spent his academic career within the University of Nebraska system. His clinical interests include treatment of older adults with depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and dementia, and he initiated the UNMC Geriatric Psychiatry Nursing Home Consultation Service over 20 years ago. He has actively participated in numerous clinical trials of pharmacologic agents in the treatment of dementia syndromes and has initiated independent clinical research trials.


meyer karre

VaKara Meyer Karre, MD, Associate Professor

Dr. Meyer Karre is a board-certified general adult psychiatrist who is also fellowship-trained in the area of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry. She received her medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) before completing a residency in Adult Psychiatry and fellowship in Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Dr. Meyer Karre specializes in the treatment of psychiatric disorders in the medically ill.



Rebecca Wysoske, MD, Assistant Professor

Dr. Wysoske practiced Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease for 10 years, in both academic and private practice settings. She was Associate Program Director for an Internal Medicine/Pediatrics residency at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Odessa, Texas, and still enjoys teaching residents and students. During her years of treating acute and chronic medical conditions, she recognized the role that mental health plays in the lives of patients with medical issues. She returned to the Omaha area and completed a second residency, this time in psychiatry, in order to be able to address these needs.

RIley Machal

Riley Machal, MD, Assistant Professor

Dr. Machal joined the department of psychiatry at the University of Nebraska Medical Center/Nebraska Medicine in July 2020 as Co-Director of the Active Support for Psychosis in Recovery (ASPIRE) Clinic – a multi-disciplinary clinic providing wrap-around physical and mental health care to those in the Omaha area living with SPMI. She recently took on the role of Associate Director for Medical Education with the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN) to expand the number of rotations exposing psychiatry residents to work within urban and rural underserved communities as well as supplying psychiatry focused CME opportunities to primary care providers in rural Nebraska.

Non-Faculty Instructors

Justin Weeks, PhD, Psychotherapy Training Program, Co-Chair

Dr. Weeks completed his graduate work at Temple University, under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Heimberg; he completed his predoctoral internship and postdoctoral fellowship at the Stress & Anxiety Disorders Clinic and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders Clinic at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Weeks has authored 64 publications in peer-reviewed journals, 3 book chapters, and 72 conference presentations and posters.

Meagan Kankovsky, LICSW, Psychotherapy Training Program, Co-Chair

Kankovsky completed her undergraduate degree in Family Sciences from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and her graduate degree in Social Work at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She is an independently licensed clinician and has extensive experience working with diverse populations and an interest in treating depression and anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and working with persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. She is proficient in multiple treatment modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.