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Trainee Leadership Bios
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2020 - 2021 Trainee Network Co-Chairs

Jesse D. Kosiba, M.S. is a clinical psychology doctoral candidate at Syracuse University working with Dr. Joseph Ditre. He received his B.A. in Psychology from the University of Vermont. His research focuses on tobacco use and health behavior change among persons with chronic medical conditions.



Maria Parker


 Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, Ph.D. (Senior Adviser) is a Professor of  Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine. Her research is focused on developing a bio-behavioral understanding of substance use behaviors in adult and  adolescent substance users, with the goal of developing optimal prevention and cessation interventions. In the area of adolescent tobacco use, she has conducted qualitative research including focus groups and surveys to understand patterns and perceptions of use of tobacco products, clinical trials to develop and test the use of novel behavioral and pharmacological cessation and prevention interventions, and experimental evaluations of behavioral and neural predictors of use and cessation behaviors. Because of her expertise in youth tobacco use behaviors, she has contributed to the Surgeon General’s report on “Preventing Tobacco Use among Young People” and also serves as a member of the FDA’s Tobacco Product Scientific Advisory Committee. Dr. Krishnan-Sarin is the Co-PI on the Yale Tobacco Centers Of Regulatory Science which is using a multidisciplinary approach to understand the role of flavors in tobacco and nicotine addiction.


Trainee Network Advisory Committee

Omar El Shahawy, Ph.D. is a post-doctoral fellow in New York  University School of Medicine, Population Health Department, Section on  Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Use. His current research interests include novel tobacco products with a focus on waterpipe smoking, tobacco use cessation, and patient-physician decision making.

Dr. El Shahawy received his undergraduate medical training at the University of  Ain Shams in Cairo, Egypt and obtained his MBBCh degree (MD equivalent in the US) and medical practice license in 2002. He later obtained his Master of Public Health in international health development from the Royal Tropical Institute and the Vrjie University in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in 2007. He was a Hubert Humphrey fellow supported by the U.S. Department of State and the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2010. During his Humphrey fellowship, Omar enhanced his experience in drug abuse policy and prevention, with a particular focus on gender issues in adolescent and marginalized groups. He also collaborated on several research projects with different universities and research institutions across the US. Omar later obtained his PhD degree from the Department of Health Behavior and Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2015.


Nancy Jao, M.S. is a doctoral candidate in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine working with Dr. Brian Hitsman in the Department of Preventive Medicine. Nancy's research interests include the utilization of biological and behavioral measures to study and quantify vulnerability and persistence of nicotine dependence and smoking behavior. Her current research interests lie in examining the influence of tobacco flavorings, especially menthol, and targeting the brain-behavior relationships and mechanisms to understand disparities in and vulnerabilities to sustained smoking. 


Asti Jackson, Ph.D. is a NIDA T32 Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry Division of Substance Abuse) at Yale School of Medicine. She received her PhD in Behavioral Pharmacology at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2017. During her doctoral studies she investigated the role of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in mouse models of nicotine dependence. Her current postdoctoral research focuses on adolescent e-cigarette use.




Carrie Rosario, DrPH, MPH, CHES focuses her research broadly to addressing tobacco-related health disparities as communities of color and low socioeconomic communities bear a disproportionate burden of tobacco-related morbidity and mortality. She has three main goals which guide her work toward health equity; preventing tobacco use improving tobacco cessation outcomes, and fostering health literacy. In congruence with these goals, she specifically examines institutional, community, and policy-level influences on tobacco product usage patterns within young adults and college students. Currently, Dr. Rosario is investigating the relationship between health literacy dimensions, alternative tobacco product and poly use to determine how it can inform tailored health communication interventions and tobacco regulatory policies. 


Rachel Rosen, B.S. is a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at Rutgers University, working with Dr. Marc Steinberg. She earned her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Rachel’s primary research interests are in understanding how risk and protective factors influence treatment engagement and outcome among adults with tobacco and other substance use. 



Maria A. Parker, Ph.D., M.S., M.P.H., is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Vermont Center on Behavior and Heath at the University of Vermont. She earned her Ph.D. in Epidemiology from Michigan State University. Dr. Parker's current research applies an epidemiologic perspective to tobacco product use among vulnerable populations. She is interested in health disparities, identifying risk factors associated with newly incident drug use, and exploring the intersection between opioid use and tobacco regulatory science research at the population level.



Viola Voncken-Brewster, PhD is a post-doctoral fellow in the Tobacco Research and Intervention Program. She received her PhD in Health Psychology from Maastricht University, focusing on the development and evaluation of a computer-tailored intervention to help COPD patients and people at risk for COPD to stop smoking and be more physically active. Her research interests include the development of smoking cessation interventions, technology-based intervention modalities, the use of low nicotine cigarettes for smoking cessation, and Marijuana and Tobacco Co-use.


Laurel Brockenberry, M.S. is a clinical psychology doctoral student in the Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology. She received her B.S. in Psychology and Governm ent from the College of William and Mary and her Master’s in Experimental Psychology from Old Dominion University. She works with Dr. Paul Harrell examining the relation, and possible racial differences, between emotion regulation, beliefs about tobacco products, and tobacco use.


JuHan (John) Lee is a doctoral student in Health Behavior at the University of Florida working with Dr. JeeWon Cheong and Dr. Ramzi Salloum. His research focuses on the statistical methodology (Structural Equation Modeling [SEM]) on youth tobacco use and smoking behavior among individuals with cancer.




Matthew Olonoff, M.A. is a clinical psychology doctoral student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, working with Dr. Brian Hitsman. He received his B.A. in Economics from Corn ell University and his M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Columbia Universtiy. Matthew's research focuses on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and their role in tobacco and nicotine dependence and hopes to shape future public policy and tobacco cessation treatments.


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