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Spotlight 4, 2016
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The SRNT Trainee Network highlights outstanding trainees in tobacco science, thereby providing visibility and networking opportunities.

This year, we've expanded the Spotlight to also recognize an SRNT member who displays exemplary mentorship in tobacco science, which is essential for the development of the emerging generation of tobacco scientists and our collective capacity to reduce the public health burden caused by tobacco use.


Jessica Barrington-Trimis, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Trainee

Public Health

Dr. Barrington-Trimis completed her Ph.D. in Epidemiology at the University of Southern California in 2014. She is currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University Of Southern California Tobacco, Center of Regulatory Science. Her recent accomplishments include publishing a study in Pediatrics that suggests e-cigarette use is occurring among adolescents who would not otherwise have used tobacco products. This work has important implications for evaluating the overall public health impact of e-cigarettes. 

Dr. Barrington-Trimis became interested in tobacco science because of tobacco’s large disease burden and the potential for prevention research to improve overall public health, specifically with prevention of tobacco product initiation among adolescents. Her favorite part of being an SRNT member is the networking opportunities membership provides, which have enabled her to receive great mentorship and develop a number of collaborations with outstanding researchers. Her current training goals include obtaining a faculty position and continuing to conduct research to better understand the behavioral consequences of adolescent tobacco and alternative tobacco product use.

Tory Spindle, B.S.

Pre-Doctoral Trainee


Mr. Spindle is currently a Doctoral Candidate in Health Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. His recent accomplishments include receiving a National Research Service (F31) Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to examine the effects of e-cigarette liquid solvents on nicotine delivery, subjective effects, and puff topography. He also recently published the first study to examine e-cigarette users' nicotine delivery and puff topography under directed and ad libitum use conditions using their preferred device and liquid combination.

Mr. Spindle became interested in tobacco science because of an overall fascination with understanding the mechanisms through which individuals abuse drugs despite known health consequences. His favorite part of being an SRNT member is attending the annual meeting, which provides opportunities to learn about recent advances in tobacco research and to network with renowned tobacco science experts and fellow trainees. His current training goals include continuing to inform the regulation of novel tobacco products by gaining a better understanding of factors that may influence their acute effects and learning new methodological and statistical approaches. 

Erika Pinsker, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Post-Doctoral Trainee

Public Health

Dr. Pinsker completed her Ph.D. in Social/Behavioral Epidemiology at the University of Minnesota in 2016. She is currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System. Her recent accomplishments include: completing her dissertation work on tobacco cessation and cancer screening among the homeless, publishing a paper on a Somali youth–targeted tobacco prevention intervention, becoming Communications Chair for the SRNT Global Health Network, and starting her post-doctoral fellowship in clinical and health services research at the Minneapolis VA.

Dr. Pinsker became interested in tobacco science when she worked as a research assistant on a tobacco study while pursuing her M.P.H. Her favorite part of being an SRNT member is attending the annual meeting because of its opportunities for presenting her work, networking with other researchers, and hearing about recent advancements in tobacco science. Following completion of her current research fellowship, her future training goal is to complete a career development award. 

Michael Amato, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Trainee

Public Health 

Dr. Amato completed his Ph.D. in Psychology and Environment & Resources from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2014. He is currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at Truth Initiative. His recent accomplishments include using novel methodologies and complementary data sets to publish several papers on the population impact of the largest U.S. state tobacco tax increase in recent history. His current research focuses on improving the effectiveness of online cessation services for smokers trying to quit.

Dr. Amato became interested in tobacco science because of the diversity of topics within the field, connected through the common goal of improving public health. His favorite parts of being an SRNT member are the exposure to other members and the creative work they are doing, and the sense of contributing to an important mission. His current training goal is learning new analytic approaches, particularly methods for drawing causal inference from observational studies, because these challenging methods are increasingly necessary for taking advantage of new data sources to answer complex research questions.



Wallace Pickworth, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator


Dr. Pickworth completed his Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Tennessee in 1974. He is currently a Research Leader at Battelle Memorial Institute. In his career, he has mentored graduate and undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds and helped them to pursue successful careers in tobacco science. He currently provides mentorship to senior pharmacy and other allied health students to broaden their career opportunities and direct their focus to pursuits that will ultimately diminish the health consequences of tobacco use.

Dr. Pickworth’s career began at NIDA; his research originally focused on mechanisms of actions of abused drugs, but shifted to tobacco science after his laboratory relocated to Baltimore. He began working with Dr. Jack Henningfield, applying animal study approaches (e.g., electrophysiology, sleep, EEG, behavior) to human subjects in studies of tobacco withdrawal, acute administration of nicotine, and nicotine antagonists. He values his SRNT membership for the collaborations and interactions with a diverse (age, gender, race) group of dedicated researchers seeking to understand the health and social consequences of tobacco use. He recognizes the importance of SRNT as an inclusive organization that encourages the development of the field and the training of new scientists. His future goals for providing mentorship to trainees in the field of tobacco science include the development and exposure of students to transdisciplinary research, given that tobacco dependence is a complex phenomenon that encompasses multiple disciplines.

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