Meet the MiSPI Team

Dr. Zachary Neal (, 517-432-1811)

Associate Professor of Psychology & Global Urban Studies


Zachary holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Arizona. He serves as editor of Journal of Urban Affairs, associate editor of Global Networks, and edited of the Metropolis and Modern Life book series published by Routledge. His research focuses on using networks to understand urban phenomena at multiple scales, ranging from the social networks among city residents, to the coordination of educational services within cities, to the global economic networks between cities. This work has been featured by a range of local, national, and international organizations including Atlantic Cities, Miller McCune, National Public Radio, and the Royal Society of the Arts. When he is not researching cities and schools, he enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and brewing beer.






Dr. Jennifer Watling Neal (, 517-432-6708)

Associate Professor of Psychology


Jenna holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a B.S. in Psychology and B.A. in Sociology from the University of Arizona. Her research focuses on applying social networks in educational contexts. To this end, she has studied the role of children's classroom peer networks in shaping prosocial and aggressive behavior and the role of teacher advice networks in facilitating the adoption and use of educational programs and practices. Her work has been featured in several media outlets including WAMC's Academic Minute,, and the Daily Mail. When Jenna is not studying kids and schools, she enjoys spending time with her husband (see above) and two cats (Pomodoro and Cece), and listening to indiepop music.






Dr. Marc Atkins

Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, University of Illinios at Chicago

Director, Institute for Juvenile Research

Director, Dissemination and Implementation Research and Policy Program


Marc is an active researcher and recipient of several grants from the NIMH and private foundations in the areas of childhood ADHD and aggression, and community mental health services for children and families living in high poverty urban communities. He has a long-standing interest in the mental health needs of children living in high poverty urban communities, and is a frequent consultant to local and national policy boards, including the Chicago Public Schools, the Illinois Division of Mental Health and the Illinois State Board of Education on guidelines for school and community based mental health programs and practices. He has served on two national boards as Secretary of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science of the Association for Psychological Science and President of the Society for Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (Division 53) of the American Psychological Association.






Jenny Lawlor, M.A.

Graduate Student


Jenny is a graduate student in ecological-community psychology at Michigan State University. She came to Michigan State University after completing her bachelor's degree at DePaul University in 2012. Jenny's research interests focus around approaches to understanding complex systems in urban communities. Her recent work has examined stakeholder collaboration in regional food systems and early childhood service systems. When she's not researching with the MiSPI team, Jenny is passionate about baking cookies.









Kristen J. Mills, M.A.

Graduate Student


Kristen J. Mills is a doctoral student in Ecological-Community Psychology at Michigan State University. Her research interests are in racial and ethnic minority youth's resilience in school - specifically protective and promotive factors (e.g., hope and racial socialization) that influence resilience in education. She is also interested in the creation and maintenance of school-family-community partnerships. Most recently, her research has focused on racial microaggressions, perceived academic impacts, and resilience in African American college students attending a predominantly white institution. Kristen has a passion for working with underserved populations. Originally from Detroit, Michigan, she enjoys music, theater, arts and crafts, spending time with family, and traveling in her free time.






Katie McAlindon, M.A.

Graduate Student


Katie McAlindon is a doctoral student in Ecological/Community Psychology at Michigan State University. She received her B.S. in Clinical/Community Psychology from the University of Michigan-Flint in 2010. Her research interests involve the use of design and marketing principles to promote communication and social systems change in vulnerable communities. In her free time she likes adventuring, watching live music, designing clothes, and spending time with her four brothers.









Camren Wilson

Graduate Student


Cam is a graduate students at Michigan State University studying ecological-community psychology. He arrived at MSU you after completing his B.S. in Psychology at Central Michigan University. Camren is interested research on bullying prevention and school social climate programs. He is currently in progress on a Master's thesis with plans to study dissemination fidelity of evidence based programs using agent based modeling. When he is outside the office Camren enjoy's spending time with his dog Bronx, learning too cook, and preparing for approaching wedding.