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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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 Program Manager

Lou Ann Grossberg is a Senior Research Program Manager, 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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Ashley LeMaistre

Sr. Program Outreach Coordinator

Ashley is a Senior Outreach Program Coordinator for the Tobacco Research & Evaluation Team. She works with healthcare systems across Texas to help integrate the electronic tobacco cessation referral tool (eTobacco protocol) into electronic medical records/electronic health records and connects them with the Texas Quitline. She also works on the Texas College Tobacco initiative, working with community/junior colleges and trade schools to incorporate Peers Against Tobacco programming on their campus. Ashley received her MPH from Texas A&M University, where she also worked on the Texas Youth Tobacco Awareness Program (TYTAP). She has extensive experience in tobacco policy work and chronic disease media campaigns at the local public health level. She has a passion for reaching populations experiencing a greater burden of tobacco.


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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 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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