Rick BevinsDr. Rick Bevins

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Room 238, Burnett Hall [Map]

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0308
email: rbevins1@unl.edu
Office phone: (402) 472-3721

Follow on X (formerly Twitter) @RBevins


ACADEMIC HISTORY: As an undergraduate student, I studied such topics as reinforcement schedules and timing under the direction of Dr. William Palya at Jacksonville State University. In 1989, I completed my B.S. in Psychology, packed the moving truck, and headed to the Ph.D. program in Neuroscience and Behavior at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst to work with Dr. John Ayres. My research as a graduate student focused on associative learning processes—especially Pavlovian fear conditioning. In the latter part of my graduate training, I became interested in pharmacology as a tool for understanding learning processes. To follow this interest, upon receiving my Ph.D. in 1993, I took a post-doctoral position at the University of Kentucky to work with Dr. Michael Bardo. In those 3 years, I received further training in drug use, misuse, and neuropharmacology. Perhaps more importantly, I learned that associative processes involving drugs of abuse were in and of themselves an important and intellectually challenging area of research. With this perspective, I joined the Psychology Department faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1996 and established the Behavioral Neuropharmacology Laboratory.  I am currently Chancellor's Professor of Psychology and have the privilege of serving as Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Director of the Rural Drug Addiction Research Center.   


RESEARCH OVERVIEW: My research program bridges areas of neuroscience, pharmacology, animal learning and behavior, and biopsychology. We use preclinical animal models to understand the behavioral, neural, and pharmacological factors contributing to drug use and misuse liability. One arm of this research program investigates how behavioral and neuropharmacological processes involved in the perceptibility of a drug stimulus and the behavior it controls change with learning history. For nicotine, recent research implicates β2-containing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and the dorsal medial striatum in acquired appetitive behaviors controlled by the nicotine stimulus. Other empirical efforts focus on neuro-inflammation, extracellular vesicles, and novel pharmacotherapy approaches for treating nicotine and methamphetamine use, understanding the reward-enhancing effects of drugs using behavioral economics, and developing more translationally relevant animal models to inform FDA tobacco regulation policy. We are extending these arms of the research program to include sex differences and nicotine-alcohol interaction. Research across the years has been funded by grants from NIH (current: R01 DA046109, R01 DA046852, R01 DA057208, P20 GM130461), DoD (current: U2-20-F0090), Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and University of Nebraska -Lincoln (NE Tobacco Settlement Funds). 

Half a dozen or so of the 165+ papers from my research team (myNCBI can be found here)

  • Bardo MT & Bevins RA (2000) Conditioned place preference: What does it add to our preclinical understanding of drug reward? Psychopharmacology, 153, 31-43.  

  • Bevins RA & Besheer J (2006) Object recognition in rats and mice: A one-trial non-matching to sample learning task to study “recognition memory”. Nature Protocols, 1, 1306-1311.

  • Murray JE & Bevins RA (2010) Cannabinoid conditioned reward and aversion: behavioral and neural processes. Chemical Neuroscience, 1, 265-278. 

  • Bevins RA & Besheer J (2014) Interoception and learning: Import to understanding and treating diseases and psychopathologies. ACS: Chemical Neuroscience, 5, 624-631. 
  • Bevins RA, Barrett ST, Huynh YW, Thompson BM, Kwan DA, & Murray JE (2018) Experimental analysis of behavior and tobacco regulatory research on nicotine reduction. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 110, 1-10. 
  • Barrett ST, Thompson BM, Emory JR, Larsen CE, Pittenger ST, Harris EN, & Bevins RA (2020) Sex differences in the reward enhancing effects of nicotine on ethanol reinforcement: A reinforcer demand analysis. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 22, 238-247.

  • McNealy KR, Weyrich L, & Bevins RA (2023) The co-use of nicotine and prescription psychostimulants: A systematic review of their behavioral and neuropharmacological interactions. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 248, 109906.

Find my recent CV here

For something a little different, check out the YouTube Video of my Graduate Commencement Speech at UNL

Fishing and the outdoors in Nebraska -- check out Nebraska Game and Parks Commission