By TODD GOTTULA
KEARNEY – Krista Fritson is a superstar.
The University of Nebraska at Kearney professor of psychology was recently named Collaborator of the Year by the Great Plains Institutional Development Award for Clinical and Translational Research.
Honored Oct. 24 during a ceremony at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Fritson was recognized for collaborating with community organizations to increase understanding of psychology and promote wellness – work that often involves UNK students and research.
“It was really a recognition of UNK and Kearney community agencies and members’ willingness to collaborate to improve the mental and behavioral health of our community and its members,” Fritson said.
Her current work includes exploring, with UNK faculty and student collaborators, the impact of “mindful meditation using mobile applications on the mental and physical wellness of many area citizens.”
Referred to as the “Superstar Competition,” the goal of the Collaborator of the Year Award is to raise awareness of clinical and translational research conducted by scholars who are developing innovative tools and methods for medical research.
Fritson has teamed with area elementary schools to explore using fitness balls as chairs in classrooms, two clergy and students to study societal perceptions of clergy with or without their collars, and with multiple departments to sponsor a research conference on the use of comics in health care.
Fritson continues to collaborate with the UNK Psychology Department and UNK professors of many disciplines. Additionally, she has mentored and collaborated with more than 40 students in research projects and over 250 students in community practicum experiences.
Her work includes partnerships with the city of Kearney, Kearney Public Schools, UNK graduate counseling programs, Kearney and Grand Island assisted living facilities and many regional mental health treatment facilities. Her collaboration also includes work with UNK Greek Life, UNK Theatre and UNK fine arts and business programs, among others.
“UNK and the Kearney community have a strong and progressive commitment to collaborations that promote wellness. This results in win-win relationships that create successful and innovative experiences for students,” said Fritson, citing collaborations with Buffalo County Community Partners, Central Nebraska Local Outreach for Suicide Survivors and Region 3 Behavioral Health Services.
“I am thankful to have many positive supervisors and mentors since I started at UNK 15 years ago, such as former and current psychology department chairs Richard Miller and Krista Forrest, as well as to have grown up in such a supportive community. I am committed to carrying on that mentality.”
Fritson was chosen for the award over other nominees from nine regional institutions that included UNK, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Boys Town National Research Hospital, University of Kansas Medical Center, North Dakota State University, University of South Dakota, University of North Dakota, University of Nebraska Medical Center and University of Nebraska at Omaha.