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Daniel W. McNeil - June 2015

Daniel W. McNeil, Ph.D., is professor of psychology (with tenure) and a clinical professor of dental practice & rural health at West Virginia University (WVU). There he is also Distinguished Eberly Family Professor of public service. He earned his B.S., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. 

As director of his Anxiety, Psychophysiology and Pain (APP) Research Laboratory, he is involved in the training of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as dental students, and chairs dissertation and thesis committees, mentoring trainees at all levels and across disciplines. He is a supervising psychologist in the WVU Department of Psychology’s training clinic, the Quin Curtis Center.  With a particular focus on behavioral dentistry and other clinic-based studies in health care settings, his APP lab encompasses basic laboratory studies on human behavior related to pain and emotion, including such constructs as emotional pain.

As a licensed and practicing clinical psychologist, McNeil is a clinical researcher with interdisciplinary interests in health psychology, including behavioral dentistry, studying the experience and expression of emotion, particularly anxiety and pain. Working broadly within a clinical health psychology framework, and including a specific focus on behavioral dentistry, he is involved with several externally funded research projects as a principal or co-principal investigator at WVU, examining factors contributing to oral health disparities in Appalachia (2R01 DE014899; grant from the National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research/National Institutes of Health) and enhancing exposure therapy for dental phobia using d-Cycloserine (grant from the WVU/University of Indiana Clinical and Translational Science Institutes Partnership). He also serves as a mentor and co-investigator on a project investigating the assessment of negativity bias in depression, and changes in that bias as a result of behavioral activation therapy (NARSAD grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation). As a Fulbright Senior Scholar in New Zealand in 2010, McNeil also is interested in psychological implications of cross-cultural interactions, including groups for whom health disparities exist, including Appalachian populations and indigenous peoples, particularly including American Indians and Alaska Natives. 

McNeil has been funded by the National Institutes of Health for more than 10 years for behavioral dentistry and other oral health research. Currently, he is on the executive committee with the Center for Oral Health Research in Appalachia (COHRA), working collaboratively with the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan to address oral health disparities. 

McNeil joined AADR in 1993 and is involved in the IADR Behavioral, Epidemiological, and Health Services Research (BEHSR) Scientific Group. He currently serves as the Group’s secretary/treasurer and recently was elected to be president-elect.  

How did you first get involved in AADR?
When I joined the faculty at West Virginia University, colleagues here encouraged me to become involved in AADR. It made sense because it was consistent with my research. I attended my first meeting shortly after joining AADR and was very impressed with it and in interacting with colleagues from other disciplines. After attending my first meeting I was inspired to become even more involved.

What is your favorite AADR membership benefit? 
One of my favorite benefits is the networking opportunities AADR and IADR provide. In my area of dental fear and anxiety, and oral health care utilization, the opportunity to interact with colleagues from across the country and North America is very helpful. Another valuable benefit of being an AADR member is that it has propelled me into international interactions through my participation in the BEHSR Scientific Group and through the IADR/AADR combined meetings. That is extraordinarily helpful in terms of advancing science, public policy initiatives and interventions. 

How has being in an IADR Scientific Group helped to further your research?
Being active in the BEHSR has been incredibly important for me because of the opportunities to interact with colleagues. The Scientific Groups bring together people from various disciplines from across the world and allow us an opportunity to interact and discuss joint research ventures. The BEHSR has crystalized everything in AADR and IADR for me to gain benefits for myself and my students, and to make a contribution through professional service as an officer. The experience is very rewarding and I encourage my students to also be involved because being a member of a Scientific Group gives you another professional home. 

What advice do you offer to your students to encourage them to pursue careers in research?
I try to share my enthusiasm and passion for research with my students, and I hope my excitement is infectious. I also encourage them to be active in research by reminding them of the opportunities to attend AADR meetings and present their work. Doing this allows the students and I to have input from fellow researchers from outside of our campus. Consistently students are rewarded and have positive experiences from attending the meetings, and those experiences prove to them how a career in research is rewarding. 

What would you say to a nonmember to motivate them to join AADR?
There are many reasons why nonmembers should join AADR but one specific reason is the chance to continue to grow professionally, scientifically and clinically. Being part of AADR will help them stay abreast of the latest developments in the field to understand where the field is heading, and it’s a very stimulating and enriching environment. Through being a member, there’s also the opportunity to make a contribution toward how the field is moving forward. AADR provides that ongoing professional growth that is needed to further research.


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