NIDA recognizes that researchers who are American Indian/Alaska Native are underrepresented in the fields of substance abuse (drugs and alcohol) research.  Research with American Indian communities is also underrepresented in the NIH portfolios.  One approach to remedy the need for American Indian Researchers is to support a Native-to-Native Mentorship program.  However, junior faculty and graduate students, like estabished American Indian faculty, are rare and scattered across numerous universities nationally.

Given the absence of a "critical mass" of advanced students, the NIDA Workgroup on American Indians made the decision to identify promising American Indians at the graduate through junior faculty level for Mentorship positions. Thus, the current Mentee list reflects a range of academic interests and levels of readiness for active research applications and careers.

Mentee List for 2010 – 2012

Current mentees, along with a brief bio and a link to their program.

Jami Bartgis, PhD (Cherokee) earned a Clinical Psychology degree from Oklahoma State University. She holds the position of Director of Technical Assistance and Research, National Council on Urban Indian Health, where she also served as Interim Executive Director. Her interests are Eliminating Health Disparities and promoting Cultural Competence and quality services for American Indian Children.
Web link:

Lana Beasley, PhD, (Choctaw)

Michelle Begay, MS (Navajo)

Melissa Deer, MD

Dickerson_DanDaniel Dickerson, DO, MPH (Inupiaq) received his DO degree from Western University of Health Sciences at Pomona, CA, completed a residency in Psychiatry at Loma Linda University and an Addictions Psychiatry Fellowship at Yale University. He is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and Addictions Psychiatry and an Assistant Research Psychiatrist at U.C.L.A. Los Angeles, California. He is currently at work on his first grant – a National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) funded R-21 study of Drum-Assisted Recovery Therapy for Native Americans (DARTNA). This study focuses on the final development of a culturally-relevant treatment approach utilizing drumming and a follow-up pilot study of this treatment.
Web link:

Caleb Dunlap, BS (Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe)

Jared Dunlap, BS (Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe)

gray_jacque_EditedJacqueline Gray, PhD, (Choctaw/Cherokee), earned her doctorate in Counseling Psychology at Oklahoma State University (OSU). Following a rural mental health internship at the University of Wyoming she completed two Post-Doc Fellowships – one at OSU and one at the US Department of Agriculture. Currently an Associate Professor at the Center for Rural Health, University of North Dakota, she is interested in Research, Program Development, Disaster Mental Health, Suicide Prevention, Epidemiology of Substance Abuse, Interpersonal Violence, and Native Health Research Teams. She is President of the Society of Indian Psychologists of the American Psychological Associaton. Dr. Gray was awarded a $3.5 million, 5-year HRSA Bureau of Health Professions Center of Excellence grant in 2012.
Web link:

Jeanene McCoy Bengoa, BS, BA (Eastern Cherokee) in Biology, Marine Biology and Graphic Illustration, University of Miami, FL, is enrolled in a Geographic Information Systems Master’s Program at the University of Southern California. Her primarily focus is substance abuse and underserved populations and mapping data. She is a Research Assistant at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. Her interests are in 1) Understanding and Eliminating Health Disparities, 2) Early American Indian history prior to and immediately after colonization, and 3) Promoting understanding of and pride in American Indian culture by American youth. She has a deep love of all things data – collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, visual display and public dissemination.
Web link:

Kimberly Miller, PhD, (Eastern Cherokee) 

Sandra-Momper_EditedSandra L. Momper, MSW, PhD, (Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians) completed her PhD and MSW at the University of Pittsburgh.and is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan . She received a two year NIDA Research Fellowship via the University of Michigan Substance Abuse Research Center and subsequently obtained a NIDA Diversity Supplement to continue her work on substance abuse. Dr. Momper’s research interests include co-morbidity of gambling, smoking, alcohol, and other substance abuse; the impact of gambling and substance abuse on American Indian families; the prevention and treatment of gambling and substance abuse; policies that impact the availability and appropriateness of gambling, smoking, alcohol and substance abuse interventions for American Indian families; and, culturally sensitive research on substance abuse, PTSD, mental health, and health disparities among rural and urban American Indians. She has received funding from the Newberry Library (Frances C. Allen Fellowship), the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the University of Michigan Tobacco Research Network, the University of Michigan Substance Abuse Research Center, the Curtis Research Center.
Web Link:

Kimberly-Johnson Kimberly Morales Johnson, BA (San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians, Gabrieleno/Tongva) earned her degree in Liberal Studies from the University of La Verne, La Verne, CA. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health (Public Health, Management and Leadership Track) at Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA, she has been accepted into the PhD program in Health Promotion Sciences.  She has served on various boards through-out Los Angeles County, including the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission. She is a traditional artist, dedicated to the preservation and continuance of Native American culture, currently serving as Tribal Secretary for The San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians. Her research interests are tobacco, the increasing use of prescription drugs and Methamphetamine.

Kelsey-MotanicKelsey Motanic, BS, (Umatilla)  earned her degree in Biochemistry, with a minor in Anthropology, at Western Washington University (WWU), Bellingham, WA. She is a Post-Bac IRTA Fellow, at NIH/section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, MD., where she works on a viral immunology project. In the fall of 2010, she also held an internship at the NIH Office of Extramural Research-Protection of Human Subjects through the Washington Internship for Native Students program at American University. She completed the MCAT medical school admission exam and is applying to medical schools.  Her longer term goals include research on substance abuse in American Indian communities.

DaniellePhoto_EditedDanielle Tsingine, BA, (Navajo and Hopi) received her degree in Human Biology, with an area of concentration of “Public Health of Underserved Communities,” from Stanford University, CA. She is currently the Training Coordinator for the Center for American Indian Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Baltimore, MD. She is the lead coordinator of activities such as the Winter and Summer Institutes, the Native Scholars Scholarship program, and the Training of Field Staff (TOFS) program. She hopes to learn more about Native American health issues and policy, as well as connect with other Native scholars. She joins the 2012 Medical School class at the University of New Mexico. Her long range goals also include an MPH and research on addiction and health policy in American Indian communities. Danielle is from the small community of St. Michaels, AZ, on the Navajo Reservation.

Walls_MelissaMelissa L Walls, PhD, (Ojibwe), in Sociology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, NE is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biobehavioral Sciences and Population Studies at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, School of Medicine. Her current research is on mental health and Type 2 diabetes in Native American adults. Other research interests include understanding indigenous youth suicide and mental health.

James-Wood_editedJames Wood, MS, PhD,
(Abenaki) Applied Social Psychology from the Department of Psychology at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO. His dissertation was on Adolescent Inhalant Abuse Across Ethnic Groups. He is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at
Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development,
Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. His goals include an academic position and collaboration on further research work with American Indian communities, as well as continued work on large-scale grant projects.
Web Link:

Julie Yaekel Black Elk, PhD