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Trainee Leadership Bios
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Trainee Network Advisory Board

Erika Litvin Bloom, Ph.D.
Dr. Bloom is Assistant Professor (Research) in the Departments of Psychiatry and Human Behavior and Medicine at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the Division of General Internal Medicine-Research at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, RI, USA. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of South Florida in 2011 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University in 2013. Dr. Bloom’s primary interest is in the development of behavioral treatments for tobacco dependence. She is currently testing interventions for women who are concerned about gaining weight after quitting smoking.


Meg E. Fluharty, MRes (Network Liaison to the Electronic Communications Committee)
Meg E. Fluharty is a Ph.D. student in Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group (TARG) at The University of Bristol. Meg has been at Bristol since completing her MRes in Psychology and BSc in Psychology with Biology at The University of St. Andrews. Her research focuses on the association of childhood social cognition with adolescent substance abuse and mental health.



Stephen J. Heishman, Ph.D.
Dr. Heishman leads the Office of Education and Career Development at the NIDA Intramural Research Program. He develops and presents workshops for postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, postbaccalaureate students, and summer interns on topics such as mentoring, science communication, leadership, and career exploration. For 25 years, he conducted research on the psychological and pharmacological determinants of tobacco addiction, focusing on the effects of tobacco withdrawal and nicotine administration on cognitive processes in smokers and nonsmokers.


Networking Subcommittee

Jennifer Dahne, M.S. (Co-chair)
Jennifer Dahne is a doctoral candidate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Maryland and is currently completing her predoctoral internship at the Medical University of South Carolina. Her research focuses on: 1) factors that contribute to the initiation and maintenance of cigarette smoking with a focus on the relationship between internalizing disorders and tobacco use and 2) the dissemination of evidence-based treatments for internalizing disorders and comorbidities (e.g., substance use) utilizing mobile health.


Elena Hoffman (Co-chair)
Elana Hoffman is a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park at the Center for Addictions, Personality, and Emotions Research. She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research focuses on cigarette smoking and comorbid psychopathology (substance use in particular) and behavioral interventions for smoking cessation among at risk populations including low income substance users and people living with HIV.



Communications Subcommittee

Lauren Pacek, Ph.D. (Co-chair)
Dr. Pacek is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center.  She completed her Ph.D. in Public Health in the Department of Mental Health at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and a postdoctoral fellowship in behavioral pharmacology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her current research focuses on investigating outcomes associated with very low nicotine content (VLNC) cigarettes among vulnerable populations and harm reduction strategies among smokers living with HIV.


Melissa Mercincavage, Ph.D. (Co-chair)
Dr. Mercincavage is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science and the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Nicotine Addiction at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Ph.D. in Biobehavioral Health from the Pennsylvania State University in 2015. Her current research focuses on understanding the impact of low nicotine content cigarettes on perceptions, use patterns, and harm exposure. Additional research interests include biobehavioral determinants of nicotine dependence, biomarkers of exposure, and marketing of tobacco products.


Olga Rass, Ph.D. (Network Liaison to the Electronic Communications Committee)
Dr. Rass is a scientist at the Food and Drug Administration. She completed her Ph.D. in Psychology and Neuroscience at Indiana University and her postdoctoral fellowship in Behavioral Pharmacology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her interests include using cognitive, behavioral, and electrophysiology (EEG/ERP) methods to learn about the brain in healthy populations and those with addiction and mental health issues. She is interested in applied and translational research that informs regulatory science, influences policy, and improves public health.


Emily L. Zale, M.S.
Emily Zale is a clinical psychology doctoral student at Syracuse University, where she studies with Dr. Joseph Ditre. Emily’s primary research interests include health psychology and addictive behaviors among persons with chronic medical conditions, with a focus on interrelations between the tobacco smoking and chronic pain. Additional research interests include associations between tobacco smoking and other addictive behaviors (e.g., alcohol use disorders, prescription opioid misuse) and psychiatric comorbidities among tobacco smokers.



Education Subcommittee

Paul T. Harrell, Ph.D. (Chair)
Dr. Harrell is an Early Stage Investigator at Eastern Virginia Medical School. He received his Ph.D. in Psychology at American University in 2010 and completed post-doctoral fellowships in Drug Dependence Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University in 2013 and in Behavioral Oncology at Moffit Cancer Center. He specializes in understanding health behavior decision-making, with a focus on the use of psychoactive substances. The goal of this research is to inform potential clinical and public health interventions by understanding how beliefs about substances emerge and change over time.


Laura Twyman
Laura Twyman is a Ph.D. Candidate within the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle, Australia where she studies with Associate Professor Billie Bonevski. Laura's research interests include tobacco use in socioeconomically disadvantaged groups, the co-occurrence of tobacco use and other drug use, and the ability to harness technology in addressing socioeconomic disparities in tobacco use. Additional research interests include the role of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) in tobacco cessation and the measurement of socioeconomic disadvantage.


Network Operations Coordinator


Jesse Kosiba
Jesse Kosiba is a clinical psychology doctoral student working with Dr. Joseph Ditre at Syracuse University. Jesse’s primary research interests are health psychology and addictive behaviors among persons with chronic medical conditions. A major aim of his research is to improve our understanding of cognitive-affective factors that contribute to the onset and maintenance of tobacco use and chronic pain. Additional research interests include relationships between tobacco use and other addictive behaviors (e.g., marijuana use).


Former Members

John Hughes, Ph.D.

Jessica Cook, Ph.D.

Melissa Blank, Ph.D.

Erika N. Peters, Ph.D.

Cendrine Robinson, B.S.

Mollie Patrick, Ph.D.

Amanda R. Mathew, Ph.D.

Patricia E. Bunney, Ph.D.

Adrienne L. Lidgard, B.S.

Bryan Heckman, Ph.D.


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