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Spotlight 3, 2015
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The SRNT Trainee Network highlights outstanding trainees in tobacco science, thereby providing visibility and networking opportunities.


Raina D. Pang, Ph.D.

Early Career Investigator


Dr. Pang completed her PhD in neuroscience at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles in 2012. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Research at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine. Dr. Pang’s recent accomplishments in tobacco science include receipt of a NIDA-funded K award that will support further development of her research program, which focuses on the effects of estrogen and progesterone on smoking behavior. 

Dr. Pang became interested in tobacco science because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease, which presents an optimal opportunity to conduct research with direct clinical applications. Dr. Pang’s favorite part of being an SRNT member is the opportunity to interact with a network of scientists dedicated to nicotine and tobacco research. Her training goal includes obtaining additional funding (e.g., R01) to support the development of an independent research program focused on understanding the role of mood, hormones, and conditions in nicotine/tobacco addition in women.

Ziyad Ben Taleb, M.D., D.O.M.H., M.P.H.

Graduate Student

Public Health 

Dr. Taleb is currently a Pre-Doctoral Candidate at Florida International University. He will graduate with a PhD in Epidemiology in 2016. Dr. Taleb’s recent accomplishments in tobacco science include publishing several articles in prominent public health and tobacco journals, including the first study to assess factors associated with pharmacological and behavioral treatment adherence among smokers in a low-income country setting.

Dr. Taleb became interested in tobacco science because of the tremendous health and economic toll associated with tobacco use. His favorite part of being an SRNT member is the number of resources SRNT affords its trainees, specifically networking and career development opportunities, and the interactive platform provided by the SRNT Listservs. Dr. Taleb’s training goals include expanding his knowledge of tobacco control as well as investigating patterns and trends of alternative tobacco products (e.g., e-cigarettes, waterpipe). He is currently applying for Post-Doctoral and Assistant Professor positions. 

Jennifer Ware, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Trainee


Dr. Ware completed her PhD in Integrative Neuroscience at Cardiff University in 2012. She is currently a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Bristol. Dr. Ware’s recent accomplishments in tobacco science include a collaboration with colleagues from the SRNT community that identified novel genetic determinants of cotinine levels (which suggest that biomarkers for tobacco exposure should be considered in the context of individual differences in metabolic pathways) and an investigation of the causal impact of coffee consumption on smoking heaviness and smoking cessation. She also received an SRNT Early Career Award in 2014, and is currently Co-Chair of the SRNT Genetics Network and a member of the SRNT Clinical Program Committee.

Dr. Ware became interested in tobacco science while obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in psychology, and honed her interests in addiction while working as a youth substance misuse counselor prior to attending graduate school. Dr. Ware’s favorite part of being an SRNT member is the openness to collaboration, ability to exchange ideas, and being part of a community that feels like an extended family. 

Jessica K. Pepper, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Trainee

Public Health 

Dr. Pepper completed her PhD in Health Behavior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014. She is currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the UNC Center for Regulatory Research on Tobacco Communication. Dr. Pepper’s recent accomplishments in tobacco science include publishing the first systematic review of e-cigarette awareness, use, and perceptions and publishing the first study of health care providers’ attitudes about adolescent e-cigarette use. She also received the 2015 Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Society of Behavioral Medicine and the 2015 New Investigator Best Abstract Award from SRNT.

Dr. Pepper became interested in tobacco science through her involvement with research projects related to graphic warning labels. Dr. Pepper’s favorite part of being an SRNT member is attending the annual meeting because it provides exposure to novel tobacco research and the opportunity to network with field experts. Her future training goals include expanding her knowledge of tobacco policy, learning new methodological approaches, and providing the field with a richer understanding of dual/poly use of e-cigarettes with conventional cigarettes and other tobacco products.



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