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Kurt Ribisl, PhD, Jo Anna Earp Distinguished Professor and Department Chair, Department of Health Behavior, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

Dr. Ribisl is chair and Jo Anne Earp Distinguished Professor in the Department of Health Behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ribisl is also the program leader for Cancer Prevention and Control at UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. He served as a member of the congressionally-mandated Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) for the United States Food and Drug Administration Center for Tobacco Products from 2012 to 2016.Professor Ribisl’s primary research interest is evaluating and improving the reach of population-level efforts to reduce tobacco use with a particular emphasis on policy and information technology. He specializes in studying policy issues related to the sales and marketing of tobacco products at the point of sale and on the Internet. He has researched tobacco product marketing, pricing, promotions and youth access as well as use of geographic information systems in tobacco control.

Dr. Ribisl’s Website


Noel Brewer, PhD, Professor of Health Behavior, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

Dr. Brewer’s research explores why people engage in vaccination, vaping and other health behaviors that prevent cancer. He has published over 300 papers on these topics including behaviors related to HPV vaccination and vaping warnings. He was one of the most cited researchers in the world (top 1%) from 2017-2019. He has advised on vaccination for the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the President’s Cancer Panel under two presidents, and the National Vaccine Advisory Committee.

Dr. Brewer’s Website


Marissa Hall, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Behavior, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

Dr. Hall’s research focuses on health communication strategies and policy solutions that encourage people to make healthier choices and ultimately reduce the global burden of cancer and other chronic diseases. Her research program includes 1) designing and evaluating policies to reduce tobacco use, 2) designing and evaluating policies to prevent obesity, and 3) examining the impact of health policies on Latinx health disparities. Her research is currently supported by a K01 Career Development Award from NIH and grants from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Dr. Hall’s Website


Nisha Gottfredson, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Behavior, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

Dr. Gottfredson extends and applies quantitative methods to study problems related to health and health behavior. Her primary interest is in the use of longitudinal data analysis techniques to study how developmental processes unfold over time with applications to substance use and dependence, eating behaviors and eating disorders, and other psychological and behavioral outcomes.

Dr. Gottfredson’s Website


Erin Sutfin, PhD, Professor, Social Sciences and Health Policy, Wake Forest School of Medicine

Dr. Sutfin is a developmental psychologist with over 15 years of experience conducting NIH-funded research in tobacco prevention and control. She is also Associate Director of the Wake Forest Tobacco Control Center of Excellence and Co-Director of the Wake Forest Qualitative and Patient-Reported Outcomes Shared Resource. The goal of her program of study is to decrease morbidity and mortality related to tobacco use. Her expertise in adolescent and young adult tobacco prevention and control focuses on non-cigarette tobacco products, including waterpipe tobacco, electronic cigarettes, and cigar products. Her research aims to impact tobacco use through environmental interventions, including policy, health communication, and system-level changes.

Dr. Sutfin’s Website


Paschal Sheeran, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, UNC College of Arts & Sciences, Adjunct Professor, Department of Health Behavior, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

Dr.  Sheeran is a social psychologist whose research concerns self-regulation – how people direct their thoughts, feelings and actions to achieve their goals. His particular interests are health behavior change and emotion regulation with research on:

1) The intention-behavior ‘gap.’ His research shows that people successfully translate intentions into action only about 50 percent of the time, and pinpoints factors that determine consistencies between intentions and behavior.2) The use of implementation intentions to reduce the intention-behavior ‘gap’ and improve rates of performance of health behaviors.3) Using meta-analysis to assess how much change in health-related intentions and behavior accrues from interventions that change the key predictors specified by health behavior theories.4) His recent work has begun to examine nonconscious routes to action and the self-regulation of implicit influence.

Dr. Sheeran’s Website


Ilona Jaspers, PhD, Professor, Departments of Pediatrics, Microbiology & Immunology and Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Director of the Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma, and Lung Biology, Director for the Curriculum in Toxicology and Environmental Medicine Training program

Dr. Jaspers is a professor with more than 20 years of experience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who specializes in the effects of ambient air pollutants and tobacco products on respiratory immune disfunction. She has established several human in vitro and clinical in vivo models to determine the adverse health effects induced by inhaled toxicant exposures. As the Director of the Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology, Jaspers collaborates extensively with investigators from UNC and the U.S. Environmental Protection agency to conduct translational studies related to air pollution health effects. She is also the director of the Curriculum in Toxicology, overseeing the training and mentoring of masters and doctoral students as well as postdoctoral fellows.

Dr. Jaspers’ Website


Sarah Kowitt, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UNC School of Medicine

Dr. Kowitt’s research focuses on tobacco prevention and control and chronic disease management. Within those two fields, she is most interested in examining how policies and neighborhood characteristics affect behaviors and health outcomes, particularly among youth and young adults. She has published more than 45 peer-reviewed papers in journals including Health Affairs, PLoS One, Journal of Adolescent Health, Health & Place, Tobacco Control, and Nicotine and Tobacco Research. In 2020, she served as an expert panel member on a SAMSHA evidence-based guide on reducing youth and young adult vaping. Dr. Kowitt’s additional research interests include health communication, alcohol and tobacco co-use, and marijuana use.

Dr. Kowitt’s Website


Jennifer Cornacchione Ross, PhD, Assistant Professor,  Social Sciences and Health Policy, Wake Forest School of Medicine

After earning her PhD in Communication from Michigan State University in 2014, she began a postdoctoral research fellowship at Wake Forest School of Medicine to conduct communication-focused tobacco regulatory science research through the UNC-Wake Forest Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science. Dr. Cornacchione Ross uses persuasion and health communication theory to develop and test effective messages to discourage use of tobacco products as well as understand perceptions of messaging that may influence harm beliefs among adolescents and young adults. Her work is focused on tobacco policy and regulation (especially cigar products) among priority populations, including adolescents, young adults, and those identifying as Black or African American. Ultimately, through her work, Dr. Cornacchione Ross seeks to reduce tobacco disparities. She is the Principal Investigator for a National Cancer Institute-funded study to test the impact of pictorial cigarillo warnings on behavior, and was also funded by NCI to develop and test the effectiveness of pictorial cigarillo warnings. Her research utilizes a unique combination of communication theories and methods, such as theories of emotional responses and message processing, and methods of content analysis and iterative message testing, applied to tobacco prevention and control. Her work has been published in multiple peer-reviewed journals, including Health Communication, Journal of Health Communication, and Tobacco Control.

Dr. Cornacchione Ross’ Website