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, children and adolescents with chronic medical conditions, 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-related factors (e.g., weight status, diet, physical activity, sleep, stress reactivity, substance use, psychopathology), with an emphasis on the environmental context in which executive control and health interact. Collaboration with Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at UNL and Boys Town National Research Institute.

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.

Pediatric Obesity Treatment. Project focusing on developing, refining, and evaluating evidence-based interventions for families presenting to an interdisciplinary pediatric obesity clinic. Collaboration with Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.

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.

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 child psychopathology and assessment, abnormal psychology, and child treatment.

Selected Publications
Peer Reviewed Journal Articles
  • Kidwell, K.M., Hankey, M., Nelson, J.M., Espy, K.A., & Nelson, T.D. (2017). Child executive control as a moderator of the longitudinal association between sleep problems and subsequent attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms.  Journal of Pediatric Psychology. Online first published April 6, 2017.
  • Nelson, T.D., Nelson, J.M., James, T.D., Clark, C.A., Kidwell, K.M., & Espy, K.A. (2017). Executive control goes to school: Implications of preschool executive performance for observed elementary classroom learning engagement. Developmental Psychology. Online first published March 30, 2017.
  • Hankey, M., Kidwell, K.M., Nelson, J.M., Espy, K.A., & Nelson, T.D. (2017). Weight status as a mediator of the association between preschool extraversion and adolescent restrained eating. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. Online first published March 21, 2017.
  • Kidwell, K.M., Nelson, T. D., Nelson, J.M., & Espy, K.A. (2017). A longitudinal study of maternal andchild internalizing symptoms predicting early adolescent emotional eating. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 42(4), 445-456.
  • Nelson, T.D., Kidwell, K. M., Hankey, M., Nelson, J. M., & Espy, K. A. (2016). Preschool executivecontrol and sleep problems in early adolescence. Behavioral Sleep Medicine. Online first published October 11, 2016.
  • Nelson, T.D., James, T.D., Hankey, M., Nelson, J.M., Lundahl, A., & Espy, K.A. (2016). Early executive control and risk for overweight and obesity in elementary school. Child Neuropsychology. Online first published May 17, 2016.
  • Lundahl, A., & Nelson, T.D. (2016). ADHD symptomatology and pediatric obesity: Psychopathology or sleep deprivation? Journal of Health Psychology, 21, 1055-1065.
  • Nelson, T.D., Van Dyk, T.R., McGinnis, J.C., Nguyen, A.V., & Long, S.K. (2016). Brief sleep intervention to enhance behavioral parent training for noncompliance: Preliminary findings from a practice-based study. Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology, 4(2), 176-187.
  • Van Dyk, T.R., Thompson, R.W., & Nelson, T.D. (2016). Daily bidirectional relationships between sleep and mental health symptoms in youth with emotional and behavioral problems. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 41, 983-992.
  • Kidwell, K.M., Nelson, T.D., & Van Dyk, T.R. (2015). Parenting stress and child physical health among a low-income sample: The moderating role of child anxiety. Journal of Health Psychology, 20, 1377-1387.
  • Kidwell, K.M., Van Dyk, T.R., Lundahl, A., & Nelson, T.D. (2015). Stimulant medications and sleep for youth with ADHD: A meta-analysis. Pediatrics, 136, 1145-1153.
  • 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, 40, 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., 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 overestimations of children’s underweight status: A meta-analysis. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 48, 184-193.
  • Lundahl, A., Kidwell, K.M., & Nelson, T.D. (2014). Parental underestimates of child weight: A meta-analysis. Pediatrics, 133, e689-703.
  • Nelson, T.D., Lundahl, A., Molfese, D.L., Waford, R., Roman, A., Gozal, D., Molfese, V.J., & Ferguson, M. (2014). Estimating child sleep from parent report of time in bed: Development and evaluation of adjustment approaches. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 39, 624-632.
  • Nelson, T.D., Kidwell, K.M., Armenta, B.E., Crockett, L.J., Carlo, G., & Whitbeck, L. B. (2014). RuralLatino adolescent health: Preliminary examination of health status and cultural correlates. Journal of Health Psychology, 19, 802-809.
  • Van Dyk, T.R., & Nelson, T.D. (2014). Peer victimization and child physical health: The moderating role of pessimism. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 39, 469-480.
  • 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., 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.
Books Or Chapters Published
  • Nelson, T.D., & Hankey, M. (2017). Evidence-based practice in pediatric psychology. In M.C. Roberts & R.G. Steele (Eds.), Handbook of pediatric psychology, 5th ed. (pp.92-104). 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.
  • 1R01DA041738, Role of executive control in adolescent substance use and co-occurring problems. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)/National Institutes of Health (NIH), February 2017 - November 2021. Role: Site PI/Co-I
  • Community Research Grant, Research Program Development for an Interdisciplinary Pediatric Obesity Clinic. Children's Hospital & Medical Center, Omaha. April 2017-March 2018. Role: PI
  • Bridge Funding Award, Early executive control and adolescent physical health, mental health, and substance use. Office of Research, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. October 2014-December 2017. Role: PI
  • Research Grant, Statewide pilot project: Cost-savings of behavioral health trained community health workers. Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN). February 2016-October 2016. Role: Co-I
  • Salivary Bioscience Seed Grant, Sleep, stress reactivity, executive control, and adolescent health risk: Integrating salivary bioscience within a longitudinal sample. Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior (CB3), Office of Research, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. January 2016-June 2016. Role: PI
  • Minority Health Grant, Stress exposure, sleep, and minority health disparities. Social and Behavioral Science Research Consortium (SBSRC), University of Nebraska-Lincoln. June 2015-June 2016. Role: PI
  • Visionary Grant, Pediatric sleep and psychopathology project. American Psychological Foundation. November 2013-April 2015. Role: PI
  • Scholars Award, 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. July 2014-June 2015. Role: Site PI/Co-I