Students interested in a particular field of research are encouraged to contact the following faculty members directly.
 
Carretta Dark Ennis Flynn
Gabriel Gerend Glueckauf Goldfarb Harman
Howren Jean-Pierre Luchetti Mills Naar
Nair-Collins Nowakowski Pickett Rust Saunders
Sheffler Sutin Turner    

Leslie Beitsch, M.D., J.D. 

Dr. Beitsch is a public health systems researcher.  His focus is on health policy and public health, examining how laws and policies influence health outcomes. Recent effort has centered on improving governmental public health system performance.

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Henry Carretta, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Carretta is a health services epidemiologist and research methodologist whose research focuses on using secondary data to assess access and quality of care.  His current interests are related to program evaluation for the Florida Medicaid program,   Alzheimer’s disease, autism spectrum disorder in adults and persons with multiple chronic conditions.

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Tyra Dark, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Dark is an epidemiologist and has a strong background in health services research.  Her work at the Center for Translational Behavioral Science involves interventions promoting behavior change is persons at risk for HIV transmission.  Her personal research interests relate to cardiometabolic syndrome and behavioral health outcomes.

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Nicole Ennis, Ph.D. 

Guided by a dissemination and implementation science framework, the goal of Dr. Ennis’ program of research is to improve patient care among medically underserved populations through evidence based behavioral interventions in the context of learning healthcare systems. Her current topics of interest include HIV and medical marijuana.

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Heather Flynn, Ph.D.

Dr. Flynn’s research is focused on improved identification and treatment of depression in women, especially around the time of childbearing.  Specific interests include mental health (mood disorders) and substance abuse interventions as integrated into primary care (especially obstetrics and pediatrics) and community settings; her research is realized through multiple community and agency partnerships across Florida. She is also exploring medical marijuana and pain/opioid use in a variety of settings.  

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Joseph Gabriel, Ph.D.

Dr. Gabriel studies the history of medicine in the United States. Much of his work focuses on the history of drugs and pharmaceuticals in the nineteenth and twentieth-centuries. He is also interested in the history of intellectual property, aesthetics, ethics, and the early modern circulation of healing goods. 

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Mary Gerend, Ph.D.

Dr. Gerend is a health psychologist.  Her research aims to understand and promote health and health behavior. Her primary lines of research focus on cancer prevention (human papillomavirus [HPV] vaccination, cancer screening, and tobacco use) and health communication. She also has interests in stigma and health. Her work aims to promote health equity and reduce health disparities in socially marginalized populations.

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Robert Glueckauf, Ph.D. 

Dr. Glueckauf is a clinical psychologist whose current interests lie in the development and evaluation of eHealth and community-based interventions for individuals with dementia and severe disabilities and their family caregivers, outcomes measurement, and spirituality and health.  He is the director of the ACTS 2 project.

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Samantha Goldfarb, Dr.PH., M.P.H.  

Dr. Goldfarb's background is in public health, with specialized training in health care policy research related to maternal and child health issues.  Her research is focused on these issues, analyzing risks (e.g., stress, perceived discrimination) and protective factors (e.g., education, mental health counseling) that impact individuals’ health throughout their life span. She is particularly interested in understanding the impact of state health and drug policies on maternal and perinatal populations.

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Jeffrey Harman, Ph.D. 

Dr. Harman is a health economist and health services researcher. His research focuses on the utilization and expenditures of health services, with an emphasis on the impact of health policies on services for vulnerable populations, such as Medicaid beneficiaries and individuals suffering from mental illness. Other research foci include implementation of patient-centered components and integration of behavioral health care in safety net physician practices. Current funded projects include an evaluation of Florida’s Family Medicaid Family Planning Waiver and Florida’s Medicaid Managed Medical Assistance Program.

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M. Bryant Howren, Ph.D., M.P.H. 

Dr. Howren is the Director of the Florida Blue Rural Health Research Center.  His current interests focus on improving the understanding of health-related challenges faced by rural-residing individuals, including the identification of disparities in health outcomes and development of evidence-based practices to enhance delivery of healthcare services to those in rural areas. Previous/current work includes several projects in behavioral health such as a tailored smoking cessation intervention for rural Veterans with concomitant mood, alcohol, and/or weight management issues, studies of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) uptake in rural areas, and issues related to cancer survivorship in rural areas.

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Pascal Jean-Pierre, Ph.D. M.P.H.  

Dr. Jean Pierre is a clinical psychologist.  His research focuses on: 1) understanding underlying neural and neuropsychological mechanisms involved in cancer-related neurocognitive dysfunction (CRND), and in chronic diseases; 2) developing and testing reliable methods to facilitate diagnosis, optimal care, and successful neurocognitive rehabilitation; 3) understanding brain plasticity; and 4) developing and testing interventions. Dr. Jean-Pierre is currently collaborating with community cancer centers and primary care clinics to assess, characterize, and monitor neurocognitive impairments and the effects of intervention to mitigate this condition in patients with non-central nervous system cancer, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension.

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Martina Luchetti, Ph.D. 

Dr. Luchetti’s program of research focuses on examining the dynamic relationship between psychosocial factors and health adopting a developmental life-span perspective. Specific topics include:
•    Personality development and change
•    Health behaviors, particularly alcohol consumption
•    Biomarkers of health
•    Cognitive aging and risk for dementia, and
•    Caregiving

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Jon Mills, Ph.D. M.B.A. 

My research objective is to reduce health inequities among vulnerable populations with a particular emphasis on people with HIV suffering from psychiatric comorbidities. Dr. Mills has a strong grounding in Big Data, design, theory and advanced quantitative methodology (causal inference with observational data) from the fields of epidemiology and health services research. His future research agenda will utilize “Big Data” in conjunction with state of the art analytic methods to assess the uptake of evidence based practices in the treatment of trauma related psychiatric comorbidity in real world settings among people with HIV.

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Sylvie Naar, Ph.D. 

Dr. Naar is the Director of the Center for Behavioral Health Translation.  She is a clinical psychologist and is PI on several major grants focused on behavioral interventions for adolescents at risk of HIV transmission.   Her research interests are self-management interventions in youth for HIV and risk behaviors, with an emphasis on translational aspects of research promoting rapid uptake into clinical practice.  Her work includes studies across the translation spectrum including T1 behavioral translation research (basic behavioral science to intervention development), as well as T1, T2, and T3 translation (efficacy to implementation). She is lead on a center grant for the Adolescent Trials Network for HIV/AIDS.

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Michael Nair-Collins, Ph.D. 

A philosopher by training, Dr. Nair-Collins studies death, the mind, and morality, with a particular focus on brain death.  His research consists of a systematic philosophical examination of the nature of death and the ethics of killing, particularly with respect to brain death, organ transplantation, and medical futility. He is currently engaged in a book-length project critiquing the scientific and moral foundations of brain death practices.

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Xan Nowakowski, Ph.D. M.P.H. 

My research focuses on health equity in aging with chronic disease. Any topic related to the development and/or management of chronic conditions in aging populations—especially marginalized ones—would be fair game for working with me. This includes both work with older people themselves and work with younger adults in the context of lifelong maturation.

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Scott M. Pickett, Ph.D. C.B.S.M. 

Scott Pickett is a licensed Clinical Psychologist with board certification in Behavioral Sleep Medicine from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.  His research examines the influence and interaction of vulnerabilities, such as maladaptive emotion regulation and sleep disruption, on mental and physical health outcomes. Primary vulnerabilities of interest are those associated with psychological trauma.  He is currently exploring interventions related to stress from natural disasters such as Hurricane Michael in the Panhandle.

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George Rust, M.D., M.P.H. 

Dr. Rust is the Director of the Center for Medicine and Public Health.  His research has consistently focused on primary health care and community health for those in greatest need, and on the elimination of health disparities and charting a path to health equity.  He has examined health equity in cancer and chronic disease, and conducted micro-simulations for clinical interventions.

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Charles Saunders, Ph.D.  

Dr. Saunders is a health services researcher who utilizes econometrics and other statistical tools to examine large data sets.  He has research interests in health systems, evidence based medicine, biostatistics, cancer evaluation, and youth tobacco use.

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Julia Sheffler, Ph.D. 

The Integrative Science for Healthy Aging Program, led by Dr. Julia Sheffler, broadly involves the development and assessment of interventions for mental-health problems and neurocognitive disorders in older adults. Current projects involve the assessment of adverse childhood experiences on health and neurocognitive outcomes across the lifespan, implementing an intervention for emotion dysregulation in older age, and assessment of the implementation of dietary interventions and preventions for neurocognitive disorders.

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Angelina Sutin, Ph.D.  

Dr. Sutin’s research addresses the role of psychological and social factors in cognition across the lifespan. Specifically, this work aims to identify (1) how personality traits and cognitive function co-develop across childhood and into young adulthood, (2) midlife psychological and social factors that promote healthier cognitive aging and factors that increase risk for cognitive impairment, and (3) the mechanisms through which these factors lead to better/worse outcomes in older adulthood.

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Gregory Turner, Ed.D., M.B.A., M.P.H. 

Dr. Turner’s areas of expertise and interest include teaching and learning theory, curriculum design, academic program evaluation, and professional development in higher education.  

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Funded Research and Projects:

Dr. Angelina Sutin received a $450,000 grant from the NIH to study the environmental risks and determinants of obesity in Mexican-origin youth. Obesity is among the leading preventable causes of death in the US and Mexican Americans suffer disproportionately from obesity compared to the general population. Interventions aimed at decreasing obesity through changes in diet and exercise have been only mildly effective. This research will examine the complex interworking causes of obesity that will lead to new prevention and intervention methods for Mexican-American youth.


Dr. Henry Carretta received a $100,000 grant from HRSA to examine patterns of health-care utilization and expenditures in young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Children with ASD have increased utilization and costs for services compared to other children with special needs. This research will find whether or not these disparities continue into young adulthood.


Dr. Les Beitsch received a $1,800,000 contract to evaluate the MEDS-AD Waiver Program. The program aims to improve the quality of pharmacological treatment in the elderly and disabled with low-financial resources. The evaluation of the program includes mining data for fraud detection, quantitative analyses, and qualitative analyses.


Dr. Les Beitsch received a $500,000 contract to evaluate the Florida Long-Term Care (LTC) Managed Care Program. This new program implements a system through which Medicaid recipients receive long-term care services throughout the state of Florida. The evaluation team studies the patient access to the program’s services, quality of the services, and cost of the services using quantitative and qualitative approaches.


Dr. Gail Bellamy received a $100,000 grant from the Florida Blue Foundation to engage stakeholders in the identification and prioritization of research questions. Social and behavioral research has traditionally been driven by researchers and the national trend has shifted towards a patient-centered research focus. This project unites researchers with patients and the community to discuss the development of research activities.


Dr. Xan Nowakowski receives approximately $75,000 annually from the Florida Department of Health to evaluate the Florida Asthma Program. The Program coordinates statewide efforts to improve asthma outcomes and reduce disparities. As part of the evaluation, the principal investigator engages stakeholders and submits evaluation reports for the project.


Dr. Robert Glueckauf received a $50,000 commitment from Mr. Dave Groves and the Valic Financial Advisors, Inc. to support the African-American caregiver Training and Support Project 2 (ACTS 2). The African-American community is disproportionately affected by dementia. This project develops and evaluates a pastoral care, volunteer-led, skills building and support program for distressed African-American family caregivers of older adults with dementia.


Karen Geletko received a planning grant to survey healthcare providers to assess what they know about e-cigarettes and their interactions with patients over the use of e-cigarettes. While e-cigarettes have become popular among patients, little is known about their use or long-term health effects. This study will provide insight into physician knowledge of e-cigarettes that will impact medical schools, graduate medical education programs, and community medical providers to stay educated on the health effects of the e-cigarrete.


Other Research:


Dr. Nair-Collins researches ethical issues and public policies at the end of life, particularly brain death and disorders of consciousness, the just allocation of resources for profoundly neurologically injured patients, and medical futility. Additionally, he studies the philosophical foundations of cognitive science, particularly the nature and implementation of representation in biological systems.


Dr. Heather Flynn researches the identification and treatment of depression in women, especially around the time of childbearing. Her studies are specifically aimed at developing and testing psychotherapeutic treatments for depression around the time of pregnancy, and on examining the impact of depression remission on obstetrical and infant outcomes.


Dr. Xan Nowakowski conducts research on the experience and management of chronic health conditions and their ramifications in biopsychosocial context. Her independent research focuses on the experience and management of chronic illness, whereas my team-based research spans a wider breadth of topics within sociomedical research on chronic conditions.


Dr. Samantha Goldfarb researches maternal and child health policy. She looks to expand the academic literature in the impact of parental mental health on perinatal and early childhood outcomes.


Dr. Robert Glueckauf researches the development and evaluation of eHealth and community-based interventions for individuals with severe disability and their family caregivers.


Dr. Angelina Sutin researches how personality traits are associated with physical and mental health across adulthood and how personality shapes the psychological understanding of personally-meaningful experiences.


Dr. Suzanne Johnson studies pediatric obesity since the epidemic levels of pediatric obesity in the U.S. have led to an unprecedented rise in incidence of type 2 diabetes in children.