Our Goal: Evidence-Based Research

The Tobacco Research Team

The goals of the Tobacco Research and Evaluation Team at The University of Texas at Austin are to conduct research on youth and young adult tobacco use, and develop effective tobacco prevention programs and intervention tools that are easily accessible for various populations. The team is involved in three broad categories of initiatives on tobacco prevention and control: Research, Community Coalition and College Initiatives, and Healthcare Systems Change Initiatives.

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Our Team

Alexandra Loukas

Alexandra Loukas, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Alex is the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Education and a Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education in the Department of Kinesiology & Health Education. Her research focuses on adolescent and young adult health, particularly tobacco use in disparate populations. Alex has a special interest in examining how factors from multiple ecological levels (e.g., family, school, culture) interact to protect adolescents and young adults from negative health outcomes. In addition to the projects described on the website, she is funded by the National Cancer Institute to examine tobacco and nicotine use in adolescents and young adults.

Research and Publications

Shelley Karn

Shelley Karn, Ed.D.

Program Director

Shelley is the Project Director for the Tobacco Research & Evaluation Team with the University of Texas at Austin, Kinesiology and Health Education Department. The projects include community coalition evaluation as well as clinical interventions for systems change for tobacco cessation. Shelley also directs the development and implementation for a statewide college initiative focused on reducing life-long initiation for tobacco use. She has more than 15 years of experience in prevention initiatives including tobacco cessation, cancer control initiatives, comprehensive pregnancy prevention programs, nutrition education, and school health projects. Shelley is a Certified Healthcare Reform Specialist and works to incorporate simple solutions to adhere to the requirements of the new reform policy.

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Andrea Arana

Graduate Research Assistant

Andrea is a Graduate Research Assistant for Dr. Alexandra Loukas and a Masters candidate in Health Behavior and Health Education at The University of Texas at Austin. As a graduate research assistant, she assists on development, implementation, & social media projects surrounding college student tobacco/nicotine use behaviors. Her research interests entail identifying how social media consumption increases vaping and affects mental health symptoms.


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Srishty Arora, MPH

Graduate Research Assistant

Srishty is a Graduate Research Assistant with Dr Alexandra Loukas and a doctoral student in Health Behavior and Health Education. Srishty earned her Master’s in Public Health (MPH) in Epidemiology and Biostatistics and worked as an Epidemiologist in the Emergent and Infectious Disease branch and the Immunization branch at the Texas Department of State Health Services in Austin. Her main research focus is looking at the longitudinal patterns of tobacco use among college students and young adults, and how different ecological factors are linked to the various types of substance use (tobacco, marijuana etc.). She also holds a Dental degree and practiced as a Dentist in India before coming to the US for her MPH.

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Sherman Chow M.P.H., M.A

Project Manager

Sherman is a Project Manager at the Tobacco Research & Evaluation Team. He oversees the evaluation of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s EndTobacco Program, and provides program support for the College Tobacco Initiative (Peers Against Tobacco). He also provides management and administrative support across all team projects. From 2014-2019, he coordinated the Project M-PACT study, a rapid response surveillance study funded by the Food and Drug Administration/National Cancer Institute. Before joining the team in 2014, Sherman coordinated numerous research studies on childhood obesity prevention with elementary and middle school-aged children in Central Texas. Sherman specializes in qualitative methods and mixed-methods research.

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Lou Ann Grossberg, Ph.D.

Sr. Research Coordinator

Lou Ann Grossberg is a Senior Research Coordinator, and conducts the cross-community evaluation for the Tobacco Prevention and Control Coalition program for the state of Texas. She joined the Tobacco Research and Evaluation Team at the University of Texas at Austin in September of 2013. Prior to working with the University of Texas, she was responsible for managing a federal primary and preventive healthcare grant for 14 county health departments. Lou Ann has over twenty years of experience working in public health planning, program development and evaluation, management and research.

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Ann Marie Newman, B.A.

Senior Outreach Coordinator

Ann Marie is a Sr. Outreach Coordinator with the Tobacco Research & Evaluation Team at the University of Texas at Austin. Her primary focus is to coordinate with health care systems across Texas in implementing the electronic tobacco cessation referral tool (eTobacco Protocol). Her responsibilities include community outreach in English and Spanish, training and demonstrating the value of the eTobacco Protocol, working with electronic medical records companies, and collaborating with other statewide entities with an interest in tobacco cessation. Ann Marie’s background is in diversity and inclusion that includes work experience with the Cancer Prevention Study-3, international non-profit organizations, and legal aid.

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Hien Nguyen Ph.D., M.Ed.

Sr. Research Coordinator

Hien is the research program coordinator for the Texas College Tobacco Initiative, or Peers Against Tobacco project. She received her PhD in Educational Psychology and her MEd in Quantitative Methods from The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to transitioning to fulltime staff, Hien worked as a graduate research assistant with the TRE team for several years across multiple quantitative and qualitative projects. In her research coordinator role, she is passionate about health justice for marginalized and vulnerable populations, especially for sexual and gender diverse populations. She is passionate about public health initiatives and interventions at the systems level and for preventative care for youth and young people. She especially enjoys working with college-aged populations.

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Caroline North, MA

Graduate Research Assistant

Caroline is a Graduate Research Assistant for Dr. Alexandra Loukas and a doctoral student in Health Behavior and Health Education. As a graduate research assistant, she works on a variety of projects surrounding college student tobacco use behaviors. Her research interests entail identifying how social environment and intrapersonal factors (e.g., mental health and beliefs/perceptions) interact to increase risk for tobacco use in young adulthood.

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Trina Robertson, M.A.

Senior Outreach Coordinator

Trina is a Sr. Outreach Coordinator across projects for the Tobacco Research & Evaluation Team. She has worked in a variety of research and evaluation programs focused on health promotion and educational projects since 1991, including tobacco control, breast cancer screening outreach, health disparities, comprehensive cancer control, school-based pregnancy and parenting education, literacy, and violence prevention programs. Much of her work has involved coordinating collaboration projects between educational institutions, social service agencies, with state and/or federal agencies.

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Daniele White, B.S.

Outreach Coordinator

Daniele is the Outreach Coordinator on the College Tobacco Initiative (Peers Against Tobacco) with the Tobacco Research & Evaluation Team at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to becoming the Outreach Coodinator she worked as an undergraduate research assistant for Peers Against Tobacco. Daniele received her B.S. in Health Promotion and Behavioral Science and is planning on pursuing an M.S. in social work. Her goal is to provide mental health and substance abuse counseling to incarcerated individuals.

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