Timothy Nelson

Associate Professor Psychology

Lab site: Pediatric Health Lab

Dr. Nelson received his Ph.D. in clinical child psychology from the University of Kansas in 2008 following a clinical internship at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. He subsequently completed his post-doctoral fellowship in pediatric psychology in the Stanford University School of Medicine before joining the UNL faculty in 2009. He has served as the Associate Director of Clinical Training at UNL since 2012.

Research Interests:

Dr. Nelson's research interests are in pediatric psychology. Specifically, his work focuses on the intersection between health and behavior with an emphasis on health promotion in children and adolescents. He is interested in understanding the factors that influence pediatric health and key health behaviors (e.g., sleep, diet, physical activity) as well as interventions to improve health through behavior change. In his current work, he is pursuing these interests by studying a variety of pediatric populations (e.g., children who are overweight, low-income families, youth in residential treatment, adolescents with chronic daily headache, infants with congenital heart disease and their caregivers, rural adolescents) using a variety of methods (e.g., electronic daily diaries, momentary assessment using smart phones, actigraphy, performance-based cognitive tasks, medical record review, blood analysis, surveys). Below is a brief description of projects currently underway or in preparation in Dr. Nelson's lab.

Executive Control and Adolescent Health. Project examining the role of executive control across development on adolescent health (e.g., weight status) and health behaviors (e.g., diet, sleep), with an emphasis on the environmental context in which executive control and health interact. Collaboration with Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at UNL.

Pediatric Sleep and Psychopathology Project. Exploring relationships between children’s sleep and mental health symptoms. Specific studies include daily-level investigations of bidirectional effects between sleep and psychopathology, sleep intervention development, and evaluation of a brief sleep protocol for children presenting with disruptive behavior problems. Collaboration with Boys Town.

Stress, Sleep, and Minority Health Disparities. Project focusing on the effects of stress on critical health behaviors (e.g., sleep) and, ultimately, health outcomes among racial/ethnic minority families. Collaboration with Sociology faculty at UNL.

Residential Care and Health. Examining the physical health of youth in residential care settings and the interaction between physical and mental health. Collaboration with the Center for At-Risk Children's Services at UNL and the Boys Town National Research Institute.

Pediatric Dentistry Project. Project examining the role of pediatric dentists in healthy weight promotion of 3-5 year olds. Also focuses on explicating longitudinal relationships between temperament, parental feeding styles, and child weight outcomes. Collaboration with Lincoln Pediatric Dentistry.

Pediatric Health Technology and Telehealth. Developing and evaluating novel technology applications and telehealth intervention for pediatric health problems (e.g., chronic migraine, congenital heart disease). Collaborations with Emory School of Medicine and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital faculty.

Teaching Interests:

Dr. Nelson's teaching interests are in clinical and clinical child psychology. He teaches courses in clinical assessment, child psychopathology, abnormal psychology, and child treatment.

Selected Publications
Peer Reviewed Journal Articles
  • Lundahl, A., Kidwell, K.M., Van Dyk, T.R., & Nelson, T.D. (2015). A meta-analysis of the effect of experimental sleep restriction on youth’s attention and hyperactivity. Developmental Neuropsychology, 104-121.
  • Lundahl, A., & Nelson, T.D. (2015). Sleep and food intake: A multisystem review of mechanisms in children and adults. Journal of Health Psychology, 20, 794-805.
  • Nelson, T.D. (2015). Pediatric sleep: Associations with executive functioning, ADHD, and beyond. Developmental Neuropsychology, 40, 101-103.
  • Nelson, T.D., Haugen, K.A., Resetar Volz, J.L., Zhe, E., Axelrod, M.I., Filigno, S.S. Stevens, A.L., & Lundahl, A. (2015). Overweight and obesity among youth entering residential care: Prevalence and correlates. Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, 32, 99-112.
  • Nelson, T.D., Nelson, J.M., Kidwell, K.M., James, T.D., & Espy, K.A. (2015). Preschool sleep problems and differential associations with specific aspects of executive control in elementary school. Developmental Neuropsychology, 40, 167-180.
  • Lundahl, A., Kidwell, K.M., & Nelson, T.D. (2014). Parental underestimates of child weight: A meta-analysis. Pediatrics, 133, e689-703.
  • Lundahl, A., & Nelson, T.D. (2014). ADHD symptomatology and pediatric obesity: Psychopathology or sleep deprivation? Journal of Health Psychology. Online first published August 19, 2014.
  • Nelson, T.D., Kidwell, K.M., Armenta, B.E., Crockett, L.J., Carlo, G., & Whitbeck, L. B. (2014). Rural Latino health: Preliminary examination of health status and cultural correlates. Journal of Health Psychology, 19, 802-809.
  • Van Dyk, T.R., & Nelson, T.D. (2014). Pessimism as a moderator of the relationship between involvement in peer victimization and physical health in children. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 39, 469-480.
  • Van Dyk, T.R., Nelson, T.D., Epstein, M.H., & Thompson, R.W. (2014). Physical health status as a predictor of treatment outcomes among youth in residential treatment. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 22, 237-248.
  • Kidwell, K.M., Nelson, T.D., & Van Dyk, T.R. (2013). Parenting stress and child physical health among a low-income sample: The moderating role of child anxiety. Journal of Health Psychology. Online first published on December 11, 2013.
  • Lundahl, A., Nelson, T.D., Smith, T.R., & West, T. (2013). Psychosocial stressors and health behaviors: Examining sleep, sedentary behaviors, and physical activity in a low-income pediatric sample. Clinical Pediatrics, 52(8), 721-729.
  • Nelson, T.D., Smith, T.R., Duppong Hurley, K., Epstein, M.H., Thompson, R.W., & Tonniges, T.F. (2013). Association between psychopathology and physical health problems among youth in residential treatment. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 21, 150-161.
  • Nelson, T.D., Smith, T.R., Pick, R., Epstein, M.H., Thompson, R.W., & Tonniges, T.F. (2013). Psychopathology as a predictor of medical service utilization for youth residential treatment. Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 40, 36-45.
  • Nelson, T.D., Van Dyk, T.R., Lundahl, A., Huefner, J., Thompson, R.W., & Epstein, M.H. (2013). Patterns and correlates of adolescent weight change in residential treatment. Children and Youth Services Review, 35, 960-965.
  • Nelson, T.D., Aylward, B. S., & Rausch, J. R. (2011). Dynamic p-technique for modeling patterns of data: Applications to pediatric psychology research. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 36, 959-968.
  • Nelson, T.D., Jensen, C. D., & Steele, R. G. (2011). Weight-related criticism and self-perceptions among preadolescents. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 36, 106-115.
  • Nelson, T.D., Smith, T.R., Thompson, R.W., Epstein, M.H., Griffith, A.K., Duppong Hurley, K., & Tonniges, T.F. (2011). Prevalence of physical health problems among youth entering residential treatment. Pediatrics, 128, e1226-1232.
  • Vernberg, E. M., Nelson, T.D., Fonagy, P., & Twemlow, S. W. (2011). Victimization, aggression, and visits to school nurse for somatic complaints, illnesses, and physical injuries. Pediatrics, 127, 842-848.
  • Nelson, T.D., Benson, E. R., & Jensen, C. D. (2010). Negative attitudes toward physical activity: Measurement and role in predicting physical activity among preadolescents. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 35, 89-98.
  • Boles, R. E., Nelson, T. D., Chamberlin, L. A., Valenzuela, J. M., Sherman, S. N., Johnson, S. L., & Powers, S. W. (2010). Confirmatory factor analysis of the child feeding questionnaire among low-income African American families of preschool children. Appetite, 54, 402-405.
  • Hershey, A. D., Powers, S. W., Nelson, T.D., Kabbouche, M. A., Winner, P., Linder, S., et al. (2009). Obesity in the pediatric headache population: A multi-center study. Headache, 49, 170-177.
  • Steele, R. G., Legerski, J. P., Nelson, T.D., & Phipps, S. (2009). The anger expression scale for children: Initial validation among healthy children and children with cancer. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 34, 51-62.
  • Nelson, T.D., Aylward, B. S., & Steele, R. G. (2008). Structural equation modeling in pediatric psychology: Overview and review of applications. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 33, 679-687.
Books Or Chapters Published
  • Nelson, T.D., & Hankey, M. (in press). Evidence-based practice in pediatric psychology. In M.C. Roberts & R.G. Steele (Eds.), Handbook of pediatric psychology (5th ed.). New York: Guilford.
  • Aylward, B.S., Cushing, C.C., & Nelson, T.D. (2014). The use of technology in pediatric psychology practice. In M.C. Roberts, B.S. Aylward, & Wu, Y.P. (Eds.), Clinical Practice of Pediatric Psychology: Cases and Service Delivery. (pp. 139-149). New York: Guilford.
  • Nelson, T. D., & Aylward, B. S. (2010). Pediatric feeding disorders. In R. J. Shaw & D. R. DeMaso (Eds.), Textbook of pediatric psychosomatic medicine. (pp.173-184). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
  • Steele, R.G., Nelson, T.D., & Jelalian, E. (2008). Child and adolescent obesity in context: Trends and epidemiology. In E. Jelalian & R. G. Steele (Eds.), Handbook of childhood and adolescent obesity (pp. 3-10). New York: Springer.
  • Smith-Boydston, J. M., & Nelson, T. D. (2008). Adoption of evidence-based treatments in community settings: Obstacles and opportunities. In R.G. Steele, D. Elkin, & M.C. Roberts (Eds.), Handbook of evidence-based therapies for children and adolescents: Bridging science and practice (pp. 521-535). New York: Springer.
  • Steele, R. G., Nelson, J. M., & Nelson, T. D. (2008). Methodological issues in the evaluation of evidence-based therapies. In R.G. Steele, D. Elkin, & M.C. Roberts (Eds.), Handbook of evidence- based therapies for children and adolescents: Bridging science and practice (pp. 25-43). New York: Springer.

Pediatric sleep and psychopathology project.
American Psychological Foundation
November 2013-April 2015
Role: PI

An initial study of MyHeartBaby: A mobile application to provide remote care support for caregivers of infants with congenital heart disease.
Pediatric Heart Network/NHLBI/NIH
June 2014-November 2015
Role: Co-I/Site PI

Early executive control and adolescent health.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
October 2014-March 2016
Role: PI

Stress exposure, sleep, and minority health disparities.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
June 2015-June 2016
Role: PI