Melissa J. Zielinski, Ph.D. – HEALS Lab Director
Melissa J. Zielinski is an associate professor and clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, where she directs the Health and the Legal System (HEALS) Research, Practice, and Policy Lab. She focuses her work on interventions to reduce the burden of traumatic stress exposure and sequelae on individuals and communities—particularly for people who use drugs, have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and/or are incarcerated. She has worked extensively with legal settings (e.g., prisons, drug treatment courts, jails, reentry centers) on implementation of evidence-based therapies for trauma and PTSD.
Education: Dr. Zielinski received her master’s in psychology and doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship in clinical psychology as a National Institute of Drug Abuse-sponsored T32 trainee in the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute (PRI) Brain Imaging Research Center.
2023, July – Present
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, COM (Primary appointment)
Department of Health Behavior & Health Education, COPH (Secondary appointment)
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR
2018, Aug. – Present
Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychological Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Mollee Smith, Ph.D., (she/her) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and a member of the HEALS Lab. Dr. Smith joined the HEALS lab as a Project Coordinator in 2020 and received her doctoral degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2021. She is involved in studies exploring prenatal, labor and delivery, and post-partum outcomes and experiences of formerly incarcerated women and the implementation of therapy interventions targeting traumatic stress sequelae among incarcerated people with a history of drug use. Her additional research interests include sex offending and victimization, healthcare in institutional corrections, and adherence to evidence-based practices in correctional programming. Email: email@example.com
Steely Smith M. K., Zielinski M. J., Sufrin C., Kramer, C. T., Benning, S. J., Laine, R., & Shlafer, R. J. (2023). “State laws on substance use treatment for incarcerated pregnant and postpartum people.” Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, 17, 1-5. https://doi.org/10.1177/11782218231195556
Chelsey Bull, Ph.D., (she/her) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and a member of the HEALS Lab, working primarily on the E4P, Growing Together, and STRIDES studies. Her role mainly consists of leading group therapy, administering CAPS assessments, and partaking in dissemination. Chelsey’s research interests include access to effective mental health treatment for justice-involved populations and increasing mental health literacy among community members and professions working with individuals who are justice-involved. She received her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Central Arkansas in 2022. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dinesha Darrough, LMSW, (she/her) Dinesha serves as the Community Follow-Up Coordinator for the STRIDES Project. Dinesha received a Bachelor of Social Work with a minor in Criminal Justice in 2018 at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. She continued her education at UALR and received a Master of Social Work – Management and Community Practice in 2020. Dinesha is also a Licensed Master Social Worker. Dinesha has worked as a Mental Health Professional and Therapist since 2020 and continued her work with HEALS Lab in May 2023. Her research interest includes minority health and women’s health, along with suicide and primary prevention. Email: email@example.com
Cassandra McLaughlan, B.A., (she/they) is a Research Technologist in the HEALS Lab. She is the coordinator of the Arkansas Crisis Stabilization (ARCS) study, and they also provide study support for the Arkansas Building Capacity for Women’s Justice-Health PCOR/CER, STRIDES, and CBPR studies. Broadly, Cass is interested in bettering the lives of justice-involved individuals and decentering detention as the often-immediate avenue for people in need of rehabilitative assistance. She graduated from Hendrix College in May 2023 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minor in Social Justice. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura Rohm, Psy.D., (she/her) is a Post-Doctoral Fellow in trauma psychology. She earned her Psy.D. after completing her pre-doctoral internship here at UAMS. She is currently a member of the HEALS lab as a fellow and is involved with STRIDES. After fellowship, she plans to continue working with marginalized populations and with populations who experience high levels of trauma. Email: email@example.com
Justin Stanley, B.S., (he/him) is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. He is interested in psychiatry and studying the intersection of mental health and the legal system, as well as how community-based mental health programs benefit individuals living with addiction and other mental illnesses. He joined the HEALS lab as a part of an addiction studies summer internship after receiving the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award and has provided assistance on the Arkansas Crisis Stabilization (ARCS) study. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Arkansas in May 2017, where he was also a Norbert O. Schedler honors scholar.
Alleigh Stahman, B.S., (she/her) is a medical student at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She is involved with the Growing Together study, along with a quality improvement project that focuses on restrictions experienced by women who give birth in correctional custody. Overall, Alleigh is interested in bettering the lives of Arkansans by providing medical care to rural communities throughout Arkansas. She is planning to match into a Family Medicine residency that will allow her to also obtain training in obstetrics since she is interested in Labor and Delivery. She graduated from the University of Arkansas in May 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a minor in Biology.
Julia Hooper (she/her) is a current Research Assistant in the HEALS Lab for the Summer and Fall of 2023, working primarily on the ARCS, STRIDES, and Growing Together Studies. Her main roles include qualitative transcription and coding, lay dissemination work, and lab recorder duties. Julia is passionate about improving access to equitable mental health care for underserved communities and hopes to pursue a career in clinical work. She will be graduating from Hendrix College in December 2023 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
Eryn Rowell is a current Research Assistant in the HEALS Lab for the Fall of 2023 and Spring of 2024, working primarily on CBPR. Her main roles include transcript quality checking and coding. Eryn is passionate about institution reform for incarcerated individuals, especially among juveniles, and hopes to pursue a career in forensic psychology. She will be graduating from the University of Central Arkansas in May 2024 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Psychology.
Eden Hotchkiss is a member of the HEALS Lab, working as a Research Assistant. She is interested in research focused on the outcomes of minority groups and the neuropsychological implications of being in a minority group, particularly for people of color and the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as finding ways to support these communities through a psychosocial lens. Eden is set to graduate from Hendrix College in May 2025 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
Recently Departed Lab Members: Where are they now?
Marley Fradley is now a doctoral student at University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program working in Dr. Ana Bridges’ DREAM Lab.
Katy Allison, Ph.D., MPH is now an Assistant Professor in the College of Public Health at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Emily Allen is now a doctoral student at University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program working in Dr. Ana Bridges’ DREAM Lab.
Brooke Scarborough Kamath, M.D., is now a Psychiatry Resident Physician at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Hannah Henderson is now a member of Dr. Veilleux’s TEMPT Lab at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
Zoe Evans-Funk is now an undergraduate student at the University of Colorado at Denver pursing a degree in Public Policy.
Manasa Veluvolu is now a general surgery resident at University of Kentucky Medical Center