Featured Grantees

The researchers highlighted below have been awarded at least one Behavioral Research Program-funded NIH grant. Read on to learn about their experiences as grantees.

Note: The views expressed here are those of the grantees only and do not represent any official position of the National Cancer Institute.

Tobacco Control Research Branch

Steffani R. Bailey, PhD

Tobacco Treatment and Health Services Researcher
  • Oregon Health & Science University

While working on explanatory smoking cessation trials as a postdoctoral fellow, we had to exclude people with certain comorbidities that are quite common among those who smoke. I realized that I wanted my own research career to focus on real-world patients in real-world clinical settings. My goal is to increase access to, and utilization of, effective smoking cessation interventions in health care settings that serve populations disproportionately affected by tobacco use. ”

Jennifer J. Cornacchione Ross, PhD

Communication and Tobacco Regulatory Scientist/Researcher
  • Wake Forest University Health Sciences

During graduate school, I became passionate about doing research to inform policy and regulations to improve people's health and well-being; doing this work within tobacco prevention and control, specifically, is both personally relevant and scientifically interesting and challenging. ”

Ana-Paula Cupertino, PhD

Social Behavioral Researcher focused on addressing cancer disparities faced by Latinos by developing mobile health tools to be implemented in the context of community-based infrastructure
  • University of Kansas Medical Center

I have been fascinated with the opportunity to translate my smoking cessation mobile research interventions into business models to increase access to Latino smokers in the U.S., Mexico and Brazil. ”

Michael S. Dunbar, PhD

Behavioral Scientist
  • RAND Corporation

In the past decade, we've seen dramatic changes in the policy and retail landscapes for both nicotine and cannabis products. Understanding how people are using specific types of products separately and in combination in daily life has critical implications for gauging potential risks and for informing new approaches to protect public health in a world where people have ready access to a staggering array of different products. ”

Amanda Fallin-Bennett, PhD, RN

Nurse Researcher
  • University of Kentucky

After growing up in rural Kentucky, I moved to California and was struck by the stark geographic disparity in tobacco control policies, and became passionate about closing the gap in rural, southern states. ”

Nancy Fleischer, PhD, MPH

Social Epidemiologist
  • University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

As a Peace Corps Volunteer many years ago, I served in two vastly different countries: the Solomon Islands and Kazakhstan. By living in these two disparate places I became keenly aware of how place affects health - through culture, environmental conditions, and policies. I have carried these concepts with me into my research career, trying to understand ways that the social and policy environments affect health and health disparities. ”

Darla E. Kendzor, PhD

Behavioral Scientist
  • University of Oklahoma - Health Sciences Center

I had a realization that countless factors adversely impact the health of those living in poverty, and this has compelled me to work towards achieving health equity through behavior change. ”

Caryn Lerman, PhD

  • University of Southern California

I am passionate about transdisciplinary research to enhance our understanding about how the brain supports or constrains changes in habitual behaviors that contribute to cancer risk. ”

Erin A. McClure, PhD

Behavioral Psychologist and Assistant Professor
  • Medical University of South Carolina

Quitting smoking will never be easy, but I hope my work will help to maximize the likelihood that an individual will successfully quit the first time. ”

Andrew D. Plunk, PhD

Ethicist and Social Epidemiologist
  • Eastern Virginia Medical School

I've done interesting and scientifically important work with large datasets that never involved having to talk to a real person, but it wasn't until I started to use mixed methods and partnering with a community advisory board that I felt like my work could actually matter. I remember feeling completely humbled the first time a lay community member's feedback helped me understand what the data were trying to tell me, but which I had been unable to see. ”

Alana M. Rojewski, PhD

Psychologist and Tobacco Treatment Researcher
  • Medical University of South Carolina

The first time I saw a patient with an IV pole smoking on the sidewalk outside of the hospital, it stopped me in my tracks. Here was a person who was facing significant health challenges from their smoking and still could not quit. If this health event was not enough of a motivation, then I would make it my mission to design interventions to help them successfully quit. ”

Shyanika W. Rose, PhD, MA

Tobacco Control and Health Equity Researcher
  • University of Kentucky

I believe that it is not enough to study a problem or even to identify a solution. I am motivated to develop the evidence base that will support communities in developing policies and programs to meet their own needs and that center equitable outcomes for those most burdened by tobacco-related morbidity and mortality. ”

Rajani S. Sadasivam, PhD

Digital Heath and Population Health Scientist/Researcher
  • University of Massachusetts Medical School

I tested computer-tailored health communication (CTHC) techniques I learned in a 2007 workshop in a nationwide randomized control trial with 900 smokers. The system worked, and I realized the power of CTHC to help patients. During this time, companies like Amazon were using big data methods to adapt to users' continuous feedback (their collective intelligence) to tailor content. I realized that these methods could make CTHC even more powerful, and I have pursued this line of research since then. ”

Claire A. Spears, PhD

Psychologist and Health Disparities Researcher
  • Georgia State University

Practicing mindfulness has made a real difference in my life. Unfortunately, most of the research on mindfulness has not included very diverse populations, and I am committed to making mindfulness training more widely available to people from all walks of life. Using mobile technology could be one way to provide mindfulness training to low-income smokers who are interested in quitting smoking. ”

Johannes Thrul, PhD

Addiction and Mobile Health Researcher
  • Johns Hopkins University

I am excited about the potential of mobile health methods to test mechanisms of action and "active ingredients" of behavioral interventions. ”

Olivia A. Wackowski, PhD, MPH

Public Health and Health Behavior Scientist/Researcher
  • Rutgers University - School of Public Health and Cancer Institute of New Jersey

As a college student I remember being moved and inspired by the new, innovative and hard-hitting visuals and messages from the first wave of the national anti-smoking "Truth" campaign - I knew then that public health and tobacco control was something I wanted to focus on and be a part of. ”