CHEN Lab Members

Lab Director

Kuan-Hua Chen, PHD

Principal Investigator

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Kuan-Hua Chen, PHD

Dr. Chen is an Assistant Professor (Tenure-Track) in the Department of Neurological Sciences, College of Medicine, the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He earned his PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Iowa. He completed a postdoc training in Affective Science, Dementia, and Family Caregiving at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Francisco. Before graduate school, he received an MS in Experimental Psychology and a BEd in Special Education in Taiwan.

Dr. Chen's research examines the brain, emotions, and social functioning in normal and clinical aging, and how changes in these processes influence health and well-being in their families/caregivers. His current work focuses on understanding how couples' brains, physiology, and behaviors are interpersonally connected to each other's and how these processes change with age and health. In collaboration with tech companies, Dr. Chen also develops innovative technologies that use GPS, wearables, and embedded sensors to objectively, unobtrusively, and longitudinally monitor real-world emotions and social interactions in aging couples who live in urban and rural regions of the United States. 

Dr. Chen grew up in Taiwan (first in a small rural town in central Taiwan, then moved to Taipei, the capital of the country). He moved to the US in 2009 as an international scholar and first-generation immigrant.  When not doing research, Dr. Chen enjoys cooking, listening to classical and Jazz music, playing music (flute) with his wife (piano), and being the "silly hero" of his two daughters. 


Lab Staff

Kat Moss

Lab Coordinator

Kathryn attended the University of Houston where she received her BS and MA in Anthropology. She has conducted research examining the American Indian healthcare system; caregivers of parents with Alzheimer’s Disease; and stress in caregivers and patients with non-small cell lung and glioma cancers.  She also spent many years conducting her own research in forensic taphonomy and later applying her knowledge to the identification of recovered American military personnel listed as prisoners of war or missing in action from designated past conflicts. She now joins the CHEN lab to apply her experience helping individuals with cognitive impairments. While caring for her father, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, she knows firsthand the stress of being a caregiver and wants to help others while they navigate that role. She is a Charter Member and founding donor to the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and an Associate Member of the American Academy of Forensic Science.  In her free time, she enjoys stargazing, hikes in the woods, and endless hugs from the many fur babies that call her house home.


Ahria Dominguez

Clinical Research Associate

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Ahria is from McCook, Nebraska and is currently in a Master of Science in Data Science program at Bellevue University. She graduated from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs in 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Cognitive Studies and received the Spring 2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Psychology award. Her academic interests include cognitive and behavioral neuropsychology and machine learning approaches to various psychopathologies. In her free time, Ahria enjoys spending quality time with her family, including her two dogs, playing board games and card games, and watching movies.

Claire Xia

Clinical Research Associate

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Claire is from China and attended Sun Yat-sen University, where she received her M.D. and completed her residency training in Anesthesiology. To obtain a comprehensive scientific training in research, she pursued her doctoral study at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, graduating with a PhD in Physiology. In 2024 she joined CHEN lab to explore her research interests in neuroscience and clinical study and apply her experience in physiology. In her free time, she enjoys working out, hiking, cooking, and watching crime documentaries.

Research Assistants

Ninotchka Román

Graduate Research Assistant

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Ninotchka is from San Juan, Puerto Rico (PR). She is a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Ponce Health Sciences University in Ponce, PR. She is currently completing her doctoral internship at the Nebraska Internship Consortium in Professional Psychology (NICPP) - Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). She also serves as a revisor for the journal "Revista Salud y Conducta Humana" (Health and Human Conduct Journal). 

Ninotchka's research and clinical interests revolve around social and cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychology, neurodevelopmental disorders, caregivers of individuals with disabilities, neuroimaging, and instrument validation and translation. Ninotchka joined the CHEN Lab at UNMC as a graduate research assistant in August 2023. With her psychology background, she collaborates with the team on brain synchrony neuroimaging research concerning dementia patients and their caregivers, studies related to developing social technological markers using wearables in children with autism, and more. 

Ninotchka aims to specialize in clinical neuropsychology, providing comprehensive assessments and conducting research on patients with neurological disorders and their caregivers. During her free time, she enjoys listening to music, trying new foods, embarking on adventures with friends and family and watching movies on Netflix.



Jagadeesh Vadapalli

Graduate Research Assistant

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Jagadeesh is from India, pursuing a Master of Science in Management and Information Systems at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University Hyderabad and has professional experience as a Quality Specialist at Amazon. His academic pursuits focus on data analysis, visualization, machine learning, and AI. Currently, he is engaged in a project that involves data visualization and analysis of individuals with dementia to comprehend their behavioral patterns and alleviate the caregiving burden. In his leisure time, Jagadeesh enjoys playing chess, badminton, Cricket and listening to music.