Faculty

Photo of Adam Leventhal

Adam Leventhal, Ph.D.

Director and Professor of Preventive Medicine and Psychology
adam.leventhal@usc.edu
323-442-8222
Soto Street Building 302C

Adam Leventhal, Ph.D., Professor of Preventive Medicine and Psychology at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, is an addiction psychologist and public health scientist. Dr. Leventhal is the Founding Director of the USC Health, Emotion, & Addiction Laboratory (USC-HEAL; heal.usc.edu ), a group of five faculty investigators and 30 staff and trainees who study the causes, consequences, treatment, and prevention of addiction and mental illness across the lifespan. Having been awarded more than $40M in grant funding from the NIH and other agencies, USC-HEAL’s current areas of focus are: (1) adolescent and young adult use of tobacco, cannabis, and opioids; (2) the co-occurrence of addiction and mental illness; (3) the development of new medications to promote smoking cessation; (4) science to inform public policies for regulating tobacco and other consumer products; and (5) cancer and cardiovascular disease prevention.

Dr. Leventhal is also the Founding Director of the USC Institute for Addiction Science (USC-IAS; ias.usc.edu ), a university-wide initiative that supports transdisciplinary science and education for a network of 50+ faculty members across 8 schools and 16 departments. IAS focuses on research in the areas of health disparities, drug policy, adolescents and young adults, and translational psychobiology.

Dr. Leventhal has authored over 200 peer-reviewed scientific articles, including publications in JAMA, New England Journal of Medicine, and other journals. His work has been covered by the Associated Press, NBC Nightly News, New York Times, and other media outlets. Dr. Leventhal is active in policy arenas, having served on expert panels on the health effects of e-cigarettes and tobacco products for the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the US Surgeon General. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Health Behavior and American Psychological Association and recipient of awards for early and mid-career contributions to science and mentoring. His personal interests include running, playing guitar, watching football, and spending time with friends and family.


Photo of Matthew Kirkpatrick

Matthew Kirkpatrick, Ph.D.

Associate Director and Assistant Professor of Research
mgkirkpa@usc.edu
323-442-2786
Soto Street Building 302B

Matt Kirkpatrick, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Research in the Department of Preventive Medicine in the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. He is associate director of the USC-Health, Emotion, & Addiction Laboratory (USC-HEAL), which conducts interdisciplinary research at the intersection between drug abuse, emotion, and health-related behaviors. He earned his B.A. in Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Ph.D. in Psychology at Columbia University. Dr. Kirkpatrick completed postdoctoral training in neuropsychopharmacology at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Kirkpatrick’s research utilizes human behavioral pharmacology methods to investigate how interactions between drugs and environmental contexts alter mood, cognition, behavior, and physiological function. His work examines the acute and residual effects of a range of psychoactive drugs (including alcohol, nicotine, and amphetamines) in ethnically diverse populations of both current drug abusers and healthy normal volunteers, and under various laboratory conditions (for example, a model of rotating shift work; and social versus socially-isolated environments). His current interests focus on the complex bi-directional interactions between acute drug effects and social settings, and how these interactions contribute to the rewarding effects of drugs. Overall, this multidisciplinary approach carries direct clinical relevance as it will improve our understanding of drug addiction, and also bears translational relevance to animal studies of the neurobiology of behavior. Dr. Kirkpatrick’s ultimate goal is to provide a better understanding of why – and under what circumstances – humans use and abuse psychoactive drugs.


Photo of Jessica Barrington-Trimis

Jessica Barrington-Trimis, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine
jtrimis@usc.edu
323-442-8248
Soto Street Building 312G

Dr. Barrington-Trimis is an epidemiologist and Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California, and faculty member in the USC Health, Emotion, and Addiction Laboratory, the USC Institute for Addiction Science, the USC Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research, and the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. After receiving her BA in Philosophy and English (creative writing) from Bucknell University (2007), Dr. Barrington-Trimis joined Teach for America, earning an MA in Education (2009), while teaching high school chemistry in Los Angeles. Dr. Barrington-Trimis left her teaching position to earn an MS in Global Medicine (2010), and her PhD in Epidemiology (2014). From 2014-2016, Dr. Barrington-Trimis completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the FDA and NIH-supported USC Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS), and in January 2017 accepted a faculty position at USC.

Dr. Barrington-Trimis’ research focuses on investigation of the rapidly changing tobacco, alternative tobacco, and cannabis landscape. Her work aims to identify intra-individual psychological, behavioral, and social processes associated with nicotine and cannabis product use in adolescence and early adulthood, and to elucidate the behavioral consequences (e.g., transition to more harmful patterns of substance use) and physiological consequences (e.g., adverse respiratory health effects of e-cigarette use) of varying patterns of cannabis and nicotine product use in adolescence.



Photo of Lorraine Kelley-Quon

Lorraine Kelley-Quon, M.D., M.S.H.S.

Assistant Professor of Surgery and Preventive Medicine
lkquon@chla.usc.edu
323-361-1628
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Dr. Lorraine Kelley-Quon is an Assistant Professor of Surgery and Preventive Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and the University of Southern California. She obtained her B.S. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology at the University of California, San Diego and completed her M.D. and General Surgery training at the University of California, Los Angeles followed by a fellowship in Pediatric Surgery at Nationwide Children’s Hospital at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. During residency, she completed the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program and obtained a Master’s in Health Services Research from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

Dr. Kelley-Quon’s research interests include identifying and eliminating health care disparities for children, optimizing pediatric surgical health care delivery and translating health services research into health policy. In partnership with HEAL, she is developing a pilot project to explore postoperative opioid use in adolescents and identify predictors of use, abuse, diversion, and conversion to chronic use. Her goal is to create physician decision support tools to optimize opioid prescribing for children and to inform policy makers of prudent initiatives regarding pediatric opioid legislation.


Photo of Alayna Tackett

Alayna Tackett, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine
alaynata@usc.edu

Dr. Tackett is a pediatric psychologist and Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California, and faculty member in the USC Health, Emotion, and Addiction Laboratory and the USC Institute for Addiction Science. She is also a current Pediatric Research NIH Loan Repayment recipient. After receiving her BA in Honor’s Studies and Psychology from Northern Kentucky University (2009), Dr. Tackett worked as a research coordinator at the Center for Adherence and Self-Management at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (2008-2012). Dr. Tackett received her MS and PhD in Clinical Psychology from Oklahoma State University (2012-2017) under the mentorship of Drs. Larry L. Mullins and Theodore L. Wagener. Dr. Tackett completed her clinical psychology internship/residency and postdoctoral fellowship training (2016-2018) in pediatric asthma and allergic disorders under the primary mentorship of Elizabeth L. McQuaid, PhD, ABPP at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Dr. Tackett’s research follows a team-science model to examine the respiratory effects of e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine/cannabis delivery devices (e.g., heat not burn, cannabis) among youth and young adults. Dr. Tackett is also interested in developing and testing novel methods to a) incorporate objective measurements of respiratory health and symptoms; b) reduce children’s exposure to secondhand aerosol from non-combustible tobacco products; and c) contribute scientific evidence to regulate tobacco products to protect public health.


Methodology and Statistics Core

Photo of Junhan Cho

Junhan Cho, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Research
junhan.cho@usc.edu
323-442-8239
Soto Street Building 302X

Dr. Junhan Cho is an Assistant Professor of Research in the Department of Preventive Medicine in the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. He is the Director of Methodology and Statistics for the USC-Health, Emotion, & Addiction Laboratory (USC-HEAL). After receiving his BA in Housing and Interior Design, Dr. Cho earned his MA in Child and Family Studies from Yonsei University, South Korea, and PhD in Human Development and Family Science from the University of Georgia (UGA). Dr. Cho completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the NIDA and NIH-funded Center for Family Research at UGA (2016) and in the USC-HEAL (2017-2018), and in 2019 accepted a faculty position at USC. With a strong interest to develop advanced research methodologies, Dr. Cho’s research aims to investigate complex developmental patterns of conjoint multiple substance use behaviors and related risk factors. His studies incorporate both theoretical and methodological frameworks necessary to conducting longitudinal and prevention studies on youth health risk behaviors with a focus on the psychosocial processes influenced by family and community contexts.


Photo of Yi Zhang

Yi Zhang, M.S.

Statistician I
zhan039@usc.edu
323-442-2598
Soto Street Building

Yi graduated from the University of Southern California with a MS in Biostatistics. After her graduation from the medical school with a BS in Clinical Medicine in China, she realized that she is interested in the statistical analysis and wants to promote health research with quantitative skills. As a graduate at USC, she gained intensive statistical training and research experience in human health studies. Her graduate thesis focused on the greenness distribution and change in Southern California, which is a pilot study for the environmental effects on children’s health. She enjoyed learning new skills here and would like to apply them to real-life research. In her role as the statistician for the USC HEAL, Yi is responsible for data analysis for several projects. Outside of doing science, Yi likes to cook, work out, and listen to music in her free time.


Postdoctoral Scholars

Photo of Jessica Braymiller

Jessica Braymiller, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Scholar
braymill@usc.edu
323-442-2598
Soto Street Building

Dr. Jessica Braymiller is a Postdoctoral Scholar with USC Health, Emotion, and Addiction Laboratory (HEAL) and the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California. Before joining HEAL, she received her B.A. in Psychology from Mercyhurst University (2014) and her MS and PhD in Biobehavioral Health from Penn State University (2016, 2019). Dr. Braymiller’s research focuses identifying and explaining population-level patterns of nicotine and cannabis product use during adolescence and early adulthood, with a specific focus on the use of novel delivery systems and alternative tobacco products (e.g., vaping). She is interested in understanding transitions in patterns of nicotine and cannabis use as individuals age, as well as differences in patterns of use across historical time. Dr. Braymiller is also interested in the integration of advanced statistical methodology (e.g., Latent Class Analysis, Latent Transition Analysis, Time-Varying Effect Modeling) with the study of substance use behaviors over time. The ultimate goal of her work is to inform regulatory policy for tobacco and cannabis products.


Photo of Evan Krueger

Evan Krueger, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.S.W

Postdoctoral Scholar
eakruege@usc.edu
323-442-2598
Soto Street Building

Dr. Evan Krueger is a Postdoctoral Scholar with the Health, Emotion, & Addiction Laboratory (HEAL) at the USC Keck School of Medicine. Broadly, his research addresses the social and interpersonal determinants of minority health, with a focus on understanding disparities in social stress, mental health, and addiction among sexual and gender minority populations. He is especially interested in understanding how social environments predispose some populations to use substances more heavily than others, and in factors contributing to resilience. Ultimately, the goal of Dr. Krueger’s research is to inform policies and interventions that improve health equity. Prior to joining HEAL, Dr. Krueger completed his PhD in Community Health Sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health (2019). His dissertation focused on identifying differences in mental health status, substance use, and resilience across diverse sexual orientation groups and on understanding the social mechanisms underlying those group differences. Dr. Krueger also holds an MPH from the USC Keck School of Medicine (2011) and an MSW from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs (2019), where he completed clinical training with adults experiencing mental health and substance use disorders at the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, and with older adults at the Greater Los Angeles VA.


Doctoral Students

Photo of Mariel Bello

Mariel Bello, M.A.

Doctoral Candidate in Clinical Science
marielbe@usc.edu
(323) 442-2598
Soto Street Building

Mariel Bello is a doctoral candidate in the USC Clinical Science program and a National Science Foundation predoctoral fellow. She received her B.S. in Psychology cum laude at the University of California, Riverside in June 2013. During her undergraduate career, she became the Founder and former President of a nationally-recognized student organization called Healing Highlanders at UCR, which was dedicated to providing students in recovery from addictive behaviors and disorders with emotional support and a wide range of campus and community services. Before starting graduate school, she worked as a Project Specialist at USC-HEAL for 3 years, where she led the Southern California Tobacco Addiction Phenotype Project (SC-TAPP).

Her research interests include investigating the etiology and underlying mechanisms of substance use disorders among underserved populations and the development of novel, culturally-tailored evidence-based treatment programs to effectively treat substance use and psychiatric disorders in disadvantaged, minority groups. She is also particularly interested in examining prescription drug abuse, cultural factors, as well as racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, mental health, and gender-related health disparities across the substance use trajectory (i.e., initiation, escalation/progression, maintenance, and cessation/relapse). Aside from research, she enjoys reading, sketching, arts & crafts, hiking, exploring cafes in LA, and spending time with her friends and family.


Photo of Sam Cwalina

Sam Cwalina, B.S.

Doctoral Candidate in Preventive Medicine
cwalina@usc.edu
(323) 442-2598
Soto Street Building

Sam Cwalina is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the USC Keck School of Medicine and a predoctoral trainee in the USC Tobacco Center for Regulatory Science (TCORS). She earned her B.S. in Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh in 2014. During her time at Pitt, Sam became heavily involved in nicotine and tobacco research, specifically tobacco regulatory science. She conducted nicotine self-administration studies in rat subjects and assisted with clinical trials using low nicotine content cigarettes in samples of adult smokers. Outside of the lab, Sam volunteered at Prevention Point Pittsburgh, a non-profit needle exchange program, which inspired her to pursue further studies in public health and harm reduction.

Since starting her doctoral studies at USC, Sam has applied her diverse research experiences in tobacco regulatory science to new subtopics, including menthol cigarette use, e-cigarette use, multiple tobacco product use, and emotional health in youth and young adult populations. Her dissertation research aims to understand the association between vaping and anxiety disorders among youth and young adults. She stays active in the international tobacco research community by volunteering as an Operations Coordinator for the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) Health Disparities Committee and works as a consultant at the USC Writing Center. In her free time, Sam enjoys hobbies that appeal to her creative and artistic interests, such as piano and singing, writing poetry, reading autobiographies and memoirs, and drawing.



Photo of Esthelle Ewusi Boisvert

Esthelle Ewusi Boisvert, B.A.

Doctoral Student in Clinical Science
ewusiboi@usc.edu
323-442-2598
Soto Street Building

Esthelle Ewusi Boisvert is a doctoral student in Clinical Science in USC’s Department of Psychology. She received her B.A. in Psychology (Honours) from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in May 2016, as well as her Certificate in Substance Abuse Counselling from the University of Montreal in December 2016. Broadly, Esthelle is interested in the etiology and treatment of addiction, especially when comorbid with other psychiatric disorders. She is also interested in examining the factors that contribute to the initiation and maintenance of substance use. Outside of doing science, Esthelle likes to go for runs, cook good meals in the least amount of time possible, explore microbreweries, and attend free concerts!




Photo of Annemarie Kelleghan

Annemarie Kelleghan, M.A.

Doctoral Student in Clinical Science
MPH student in Biostatistics and Epidemiology

kellegha@usc.edu
323-442-2598
Soto Street Building

Annemarie Kelleghan is a dual degree student at USC working on her doctorate in the Clinical Science program and her MPH in biostatistics and epidemiology. She received her B.A. degrees in Psychology and in Human Biology & Society at the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to starting grad school, Annemarie worked as a research associate at the UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Program where she helped develop an intervention for parents of substance abusing adolescents. She also assisted in conducting research on the use of a smartphone apps as a treatment tool for young adult methamphetamine users. Her current research focuses on psychosocial functioning of adolescents and emerging adults. Specifically, she is interested in understanding how psychosocial mechanisms impact health and health behaviors including substance use.


Photo of Kelsey Simpson

Kelsey Simpson, M.A.

Doctoral Student
kasimpso@usc.edu
323-442-2598
Soto Street Building

Kelsey Simpson is a 2nd year doctoral student in the Health Behavior Research Ph.D. program at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Prior to entering her Ph.D. program, Kelsey received an MA in Clinical Psychology from California State University, Northridge (Spring 2016). There, she worked as Lab Coordinator of a neuropsychology lab that focused on the neuropsychological, cognitive, and psychosocial consequences of HIV infection. Prior to her enrollment at USC, Kelsey worked as an Interventionist on a community-based RCT testing the efficacy of a behavioral intervention on reducing injection initiation risk behaviors among people who inject drugs. Kelsey’s primary research interests are grounded in investigating the underlying mechanisms of addictions in diverse and marginalized populations. Additionally, she is interested in program evaluation and intervention development to address health-related disparities and prevention from further risk behaviors in substance using populations.


Research Staff

Photo of Afton Kechter

Afton Kechter, Ph.D., M.S.

Senior Research Associate
kechter@usc.edu
323-442-2598
Soto Street Building

Dr. Afton Kechter is a Senior Research Associate in the Health, Emotion, and Addiction Laboratory (HEAL) and the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California. She received her B.S. in Dietetics and Psychology from Bradley University in 2013, M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Syracuse University in 2015, and Ph.D. in Preventive Medicine from the University of Southern California in 2020. Her research broadly focuses on examining (1) biopsychosocial risk and resilience mechanisms of addictive behaviors and (2) integrative approaches to chronic disease prevention and treatment. Afton currently serves a multidisciplinary role in HEAL working on scholarship, team management/mentoring, and project development. Her efforts predominately go toward the cohort and qualitative studies examining e-cigarette and cannabis use behaviors among adolescents and emerging adults. The ultimate goal of Afton’s work is to provide a deeper understanding of why people engage in maladaptive health behaviors and better implementation of how to create a lasting shift in choosing adaptive health behaviors.


 

Population Studies

 

Photo of Gina Klemm

Gina Klemm, M.P.H.

Project Manager
gklemm@usc.edu
323 442-5420
Soto Street Building

Gina C. Klemm joined the HEAL team in January of 2020. Gina studied behavioural science, receiving a Master’s in Public Health from Emory University before joining the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. As a Research Specialist at Cornell, Gina managed several overlapping multi-site, multi-year grants providing critical leadership and direction of day-to-day operations. Gina’s research focused on translational research to enhance the effectiveness of community-based programs for improving nutritional status, especially the integration of nutrition interventions with multisectoral strategies. As a project manager with HEAL, Gina oversees two cohort studies exploring e-cigarette (“vaping”) product preference and vaping’s causal role in subsequent cigarette and cannabis use among low-risk adolescents and young adults. More broadly, Gina is interested in work that looks critically at health disparities and low-cost, high impact approaches to strengthen health and educational systems. She is passionate about community-based research especially the crucial elements of reciprocity in the context of research-community partnerships and collaborations.


Photo of Victoria Williams

Victoria Williams, M.P.H.

Study Coordinator
victoria.williams.0@usc.edu
323-442-7368
Soto Street Building

Vickie received her M.P.H. with emphasis in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention from Cal State Long Beach after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a B.S. in Health Science. She started her Public Health career in tobacco prevention in Orange County, collecting prevalence data of tobacco use as well as educating young adults on the health detriments of tobacco. Prior to Joining HEAL, Vickie worked as a Study Coordinator for 8 years at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control Research where she focused on the psychosocial needs of young breast cancer survivors, developing and implementing research studies on long term effects and quality of life. Additionally, she collaborated with the UCLA Psychology department as a Study Coordinator of research a project with metastatic breast cancer patients. As the current Study Coordinator, Vickie will be working on the cohort studies involving young adults and vaping – exploring trends, attitudes and beliefs, marketing impact, and implications on nicotine and cannabis use and addiction. In her free time, Vickie enjoys the outdoors whether that is hiking and mountain biking in the spring/summers or snowboarding in the winters, practicing yoga and meditation when time allows and reserves all Sundays between September and early February for football.


Photo of Gabi Lozoya

Gabi Lozoya, B.S.

Project Assistant
lozoyag@usc.edu
Soto Street Building

Gabi Lozoya graduated from the University of Southern California in 2018 with a B.S. in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and continued her education at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. As an undergraduate, Gabi developed an interest in diminishing health disparities while supporting a research project on health equity within reproductive healthcare and volunteering to teach health education to students in low income areas. These experiences, along with her coursework, allowed Gabi to find her passion for achieving health equity, especially for youth and racially and ethnically diverse populations. She is, also, curious about the intersect of policy and healthcare access and outcomes. Gabi hopes to expand on her knowledge and interests in the areas of addiction and mental health with USC HEAL. Outside of HEAL, you can find her reading, playing volleyball at the beach, or painting with friends.


 

 

Laboratory Studies

 

Photo of Lauren Whitted

Lauren Whitted, M.A., CCRP

Project Manager
lwhitted@usc.edu
323-442-1197
Clinical Science Center 271

Lauren graduated from Duke University with a BS in Psychology with a Neuroscience concentration and a BA in Biology. As an undergraduate, she gained pivotal experience in psychology research working with participants diagnosed with borderline personality disorder with comorbid opiate addiction. While completing her MA in Psychology at Pepperdine University, Lauren realized that she wanted to pursue a career in psychology research. Prior to joining the USC HEAL, she coordinated numerous research projects, grant-funded programs, and industry-sponsored studies at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the University of California Los Angeles, and Duke University. In her role as the Project Manager for the USC HEAL, Lauren is responsible for supervising operations for various USC HEAL research projects. When she’s not at HEAL, you can find Lauren enjoying coffee on the weekends, baking, reading, and spending time with her friends and her dog.


Photo of Jewelia Ferguson

Jewelia Ferguson, B.A.

Project Assistant
jeweliaf@usc.edu
323-442-2598
Clinical Sciences Center 271

Jewelia Ferguson graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Psychology and the Science in Society Program in May 2020. As an undergraduate, Jewelia researched the trajectory of suicidal thoughts and behaviors through examining risk factors, prevention, and intervention in individuals experiencing suicidal ideations, suicidal behaviors, and non-suicidal self-injury. Her research experience and volunteer work with survivors of interpersonal violence were formative in shaping her passion for working with individuals experiencing adverse situations. Jewelia’s main research interests include understanding how social and behavioral determinants of health play a role in shaping mental health, when an individual undergoes a harm-related experience. Furthermore, she is interested in how macro level intervention can assist individuals in those situations. She plans to further her education by pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. In her free time, Jewelia enjoys discovering obscure music, hiking, sewing, and experimenting in the kitchen.



Photo of Paddy Loftus

Paddy Loftus, B.A.

Project Assistant
ploftus@usc.edu
323-442-2277
Clinical Sciences Center, 271

Paddy Loftus graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with an Honors Degree in Psychology in May 2019. As an undergraduate, Paddy researched self-help treatments for depression and anxiety in IBD patients, mechanisms of comorbidity and specificity in GAD and MDD, and mental health protocols targeted at college stress. Presently, Paddy is interested in intensive longitudinal tracking, particularly efforts that allow novel conceptualizations of comorbid and trans-diagnostic data. On weekends, Paddy enjoys visiting local parks, cooking, and vigorously sunscreening.


Photo of Christie Ngo

Christie Ngo, B.S., B.A.

Project Assistant
christie.ngo@usc.edu
323-442-3932
Clinical Science Center 271

Christie Ngo graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2018 with a B.A. in Psychology and a B.S. in Nutritional Science. As an undergraduate, she worked on research projects ranging from public health intervention and policy to examining the social and psychological processes that may contribute to discipline disparities in schools. These experiences were formative in shaping her passion for working with youth and disadvantaged, minority populations to analyze factors that contribute to health disparities. Christie is especially interested in studying the social and behavioral determinants of health and health behavior, particularly how socioeconomic status, cultural factors, and environment play a role in shaping a person’s life trajectory. In her free time, she enjoys writing, traveling to new destinations, and exploring all of the coffee shops LA has to offer.


Photo of Natalia Peraza

Natalia Peraza, B.S.

Project Assistant
nperaza@usc.edu
323-442-7313
Clinical Science Center 270

Natalia Peraza graduated from the University of Houston in 2018 with a bachelor of science in Psychology and a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. As an undergraduate, she first developed her research interests in psychopathology and substance use at the Anxiety and Health Research Laboratory and Substance Use Treatment Clinic at the University of Houston. Natalia’s main research interests include understanding the comorbidity of mental health disorders and addictive behaviors, developing intervention efforts to treat psychological and substance use issues, and identifying populations that may be at greater risk for maladaptive mental health and substance use problems. She plans to further her education by pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. In her free time, Natalia enjoys long hikes, baking, song/poetry writing, and watching stand-up comedy.


Photo of Reid Whaley

Reid Whaley, M.P.H.

Project Assistant
rwhaley@usc.edu
323-442-2598
Clinical Sciences Center 271

Reid Whaley graduated with a B.A. in Communication from University of California, Santa Barbara in 2017 and an MPH from University of San Francisco in 2019. As a graduate student, Reid worked on research projects ranging from investigating the various deleterious effects (e.g., substance use, anxiety, depression) of fear of violent victimization, violent crime, bullying, and discriminatory violence among university students, to the adverse behavioral risk outcomes among Latinx youth exposed to the juvenile justice system. These experiences allowed her the opportunity to author and present three abstracts at the American Public Health Association’s 2019 national conference and serve as third author on several manuscripts, driving her passion for public health research. Reid’s research interests concern the complex relationship between social and behavioral determinants of health, as well as the impact of policies and regulations on the health and wellbeing of marginalized and under-served communities. In her free time, she enjoys exercising, trying new recipes, and exploring Los Angeles.


Photo of Naosuke Yamaguchi

Naosuke Yamaguchi, B.S.

Project Assistant
naosukey@usc.edu
323-442-0603
Clinical Sciences Center 271

Naosuke graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2019 with a B.S. in Psychobiology. As an undergraduate, Naosuke developed his research and career aspirations through working with heavy-drinking smokers at the UCLA Addictions Laboratory and through involvement with stroke research at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center. He is most interested in the neurobiological underpinnings that influence substance use and hopes to attend medical school to become a family medicine doctor. In his free time, Naosuke enjoys working on photography projects, watching cooking videos, and engaging in deep conversations.


Research Fellows

Photo of Marissa Anderson

Marissa Anderson

Undergraduate Research Fellow
323-442-2598
Clinical Sciences Center 270

Marissa Anderson is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California studying Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, set to graduate in 2021. At USC, Marissa works for the Department of Biomedical Engineering and is part of the Keck PREP Scholars program. Marissa also serves as Department Coordinator for Diagnostic Imaging at Kaiser Permanente South Bay through the COPE Health Scholars program. In the future, Marissa hopes to attend medical school and pursue a career in clinical research. Outside of school, Marissa enjoys photography, and her work was recently published in The Ear Literary Journal and is currently on display at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC.


Photo of Rajiv Sheth

Rajiv Sheth

Undergraduate Research Fellow
323-442-2598
Clinical Science Center 270

Rajiv Sheth is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California pursuing a degree in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in the Keck School of Medicine, set to graduate in 2021. On campus, Rajiv is on the board of the Inter-Health Council, a club missioned to educate and engage the pre-health community on current issues and trending topics. He is also an executive board member of his fraternity, focusing on recruitment. Rajiv aspires to continue his education with a degree in medicine and eventually pursue a career in surgery, specializing in sports medicine. Rajiv enjoys spending time with friends at the beach, watching and playing sports, and cooking.


Research Assistants

Photo of Kristen Amadasun

Kristin Amadasun

Undergraduate Research Assistant
323-442-7368
Soto Street Building

Kristin is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California pursuing a B.S. in Human Biology with a minor in Health Care Studies, set to graduate in 2021. At USC, she is on the executive board of African-American’s in Health, which strives to support African Americans on campus in their pursuit of careers in the health industry. She also is involved with USC Jumpstart and interns at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center. Kristin hopes to continue her education in medical school, with aspirations of working in the field of pediatrics. In her free time, she enjoys going to the beach, swimming, and baking.


Photo of Chloe Chose

Chloe Chose

Undergraduate Research Assistant
323-442-2598
Clinical Science Center 270

Chloe is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California studying Neuroscience, with a minor in Psychology, set to graduate in 2022. After graduation, she plans on attending medical school and is interested in pursuing pediatrics. Chloe has volunteered at local elementary schools and the Keck Hospital of USC through Trojan Health Volunteers, as well as being on the executive board for her sorority. In her spare time she enjoys running, hiking, and going to the beach.


Photo of Ariana Coba Clementel

Ariana Coba Clementel

Undergraduate Research Assistant
323-442-7368
Soto Street Building

Ariana is a sophomore at the University of Southern California pursuing a B.S. in Human Biology and a minor in Health Care Studies, set to graduate in 2023. At USC, Ariana is an active member of The Helenes, an organization that supports the university community through acts of volunteerism, hospitality and service. She also volunteers with Spanglish, where she teaches English to Spanish-speaking students in Peru, and volunteers as a patient interviewer at a Free Health Clinic, translating between physicians and patients during appointments. In her free time, she practices competitive Taekwondo for the USC team, and loves to spend time outside in nature exploring as many mountains as possible. After graduation, Ariana hopes to continue her education in medical school, and aspires to pursue a career in Orthopedics and Sports Medicine.



Photo of Colleen Feng

Colleen Feng

Undergraduate Research Assistant
323-442-7368
Soto Street Building

Colleen is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California pursuing a B.S. in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and a B.A. in Biological Sciences. She is also currently applying to pursue a progressive Master’s degree in Public Health, set to graduate in 2023. She is passionate about studying drug-use and abuse, more specifically with how psychoactive drugs chemically affect brain function, life quality, and how individual backgrounds influence the start and continuation of their usage. In the future, she hopes to help those with a substance use disorder. On campus, she is an active executive board member in the Chinese American Student Association and the Asian Pacific American Student Assembly.


Photo of Michael Guenoun

Michael Guenoun, B.A.

Research Assistant
323-442-2598
Clinical Science Center 270

Michael Guenoun graduated from the University of Southern California in 2020, receiving a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Natural Sciences. He is spending his gap year doing numerous activities from applying to medical school, research, teaching tennis and even volunteering at institutions performing magic for underprivileged individuals! In his spare time he enjoys working out or watching tv.


Photo of Zainab Hasan

Zainab Hasan

Undergraduate Research Assistant
323-442-2598
Clinical Science Center 270

Zainab Hasan is an undergraduate student pursuing a B.S. in Global Health with a minor in Applied Analytics, set to graduate in 2022. She is also pursuing a progressive master’s degree in Applied Biostatistics/Epidemiology. Zainab is passionate about health disparities hopes to use data and research to address disparities and serve underserved communities. At USC, Zainab is the co-director of Keck Student Ambassadors and a Resident Assistant. She also volunteers with Ansar Service Partnership to address social justice issues in the LA community. In her free time, Zainab is a competitive figure skater. She also loves traveling, exploring new foods in LA with her friends, and spending time at the beach.


Photo of Nikki Jafarzadeh

Nikki Jafarzadeh

Undergraduate Research Assistant
323-442-2598
Clinical Science Center 270

Nikki Jafarzadeh is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California pursuing a degree in Cognitive Science, set to graduate in 2022. She is especially interested in the topics of mental health and addiction. On campus, Nikki is on the executive board of Interaxon, a group that teaches neuroscience and STEM-based lessons to K-12 students in the area. After graduation, she hopes to further her studies through a graduate program and ultimately pursue a career in research. In her free time, Nikki enjoys spending time with friends and cooking.


Photo of Brittany Ngo

Brittany Ngo

Undergraduate Research Assistant
323-442-2598
Clinical Science Center 270

Brittany Ngo is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California pursuing a B.S. in Human Biology and is hoping to minor in Occupational Science, set to graduate in 2022. After spending a summer shadowing Occupational Therapists in a hospital, she was inspired to pursue a career in which she can work directly with those in her community and make a difference to individual lives. After graduation, she hopes to continue her education and pursue a career in Occupational Therapy with an emphasis on mental health or pediatrics. Outside of school, Brittany enjoys traveling, reading, and photography.


Photo of Sarah Noe

Sarah Noe

Undergraduate Research Assistant
323-442-2598
Clinical Science Center 270

Sarah is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California pursuing a B.S. in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and a progressive master’s degree in Public Health at Keck School of Medicine, set to graduate in 2023. After graduation, she hopes to continue her studies in Public Health in a PhD program. Sarah is interested in the psychological and sociocultural underpinnings of public health behavior, and aspires to work to promote health equity in Los Angeles in the future.


Photo of Komal Patri

Komal Patri

Undergraduate Research Assistant
323-442-2598
Clinical Science Center 270

Komal is a sophomore at the University of Southern California and is pursuing a B.S. in Computational Neuroscience with a minor in Applied Analytics, set to graduate in 2023. Outside of the classroom, she serves as Director of Activities on the Executive Board of Synapse, a club dedicated to exploring neuroscience research and building community with peers. Currently, Komal is also a member of the Center of Artificial Intelligence in Society (CAIS++) and a part of the Resident’s Honors Program. After graduation, Komal hopes to work in the biotech or pharmaceutical industry or pursue graduate studies.


Photo of Briana Pelayo

Briana Pelayo

Undergraduate Research Assistant
323-442-2598
Clinical Science Center 270

Briana is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California studying Psychology and Sociology, set to graduate in 2022. After graduation, she plans on attending graduate school for Psychology, focusing on social behavior. At USC, Briana is involved in the Prison Education Project and hopes to change the way society views incarcerated individuals and also volunteers at the Violence Intervention Program Community Mental Health Center, tutoring and engaging with children in order to become more involved in the community and learn more about social work. She is particularly interested in the field of Criminal Justice and hopes to learn more about the psychology of criminal behavior. Her other interests include traveling, hiking, and exploring interesting and new food joints with friends.


Photo of Ashley Sue

Ashley Sue

Undergraduate Research Assistant
323-442-2598
Clinical Sciences Center 270

Ashley is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California pursuing a B.S. in Computational Neuroscience and hoping to minor in Foundations of Data Science, set to graduate in 2021. She is on the executive board of USC’s National Alliance on Mental Illness, which strives to destigmatize and raise awareness about mental health on campus. After graduation, she plans to continue her studies in graduate school and ultimately work in research or the biotech industry. Outside of class, Ashley enjoys yoga, going to concerts, and trying new foods in LA.


Photo of Willis Tang

Willis Tang

Undergraduate Research Assistant
323-442-2598
Clinical Science Center 270

Willis Tang is currently an undergraduate at the University of Southern California with a major in Human Biology and minor in Healthcare Studies, set to graduate in 2022. At USC, Willis is the Founder and President of the Association of Integrative Medicine, a tutor for Teach For Los Angeles, and an EMT for the Emergency Medical Services of USC. He is also involved with geospatial analytics research at the Lever Institute and neuroscience research at the Infant Motor Control Lab at USC’s Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy. Willis hopes to continue his education in medical school, with aspirations of working in the field of emergency medicine. In his free time, he enjoys drumming, going on hikes, and exploring the mosaic of culinary selections around Los Angeles.


Photo of Zacari Tatum

Zacari Tatum

Undergraduate Research Assistant
323-442-2598
Clinical Science Center 270

Zacari Tatum is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California pursuing a B.S. in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and is applying for the progressive Master’s degree in Public Health. She is on the executive board for Keck Student Ambassadors, working with other members to bring social justice change to Keck Undergrad programs. At USC, she also works with CHIP and the McMorrow Neighborhood Academic Initiative. She is passionate about providing health services to underserved communities and work addressing racial disparities. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts and finding different brunch and vegan restaurants in LA.



Photo of Sharon Tu

Sharon Tu

Undergraduate Research Assistant
323-442-7368
Soto Street Building

Sharon is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California pursuing a B.S. in Biological Sciences and a minor Health Care Studies, set to graduate in 2023. At USC, Sharon is a student mentor for first-generation students and a member of the Chinese American Student Association. After graduation, she hopes to continue her education in medical school, with a specific interest in the field of internal medicine. In her free time, Sharon enjoys eating food and playing board games with her friends.



Photo of Fiona Yin

Fiona Yin

Undergraduate Research Assistant
323-442-2598
Clinical Science Center 270

Fiona is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California, majoring in Psychology and Business Administration with a minor in applied analytics, set to graduate in 2022. After graduation, she plans to continue her studies in graduate school focusing on behavioral economics. At USC, Fiona volunteers at Bet Tzedek, assisting in the process of providing legal helps to people in need, to become more involved in the community. She is also on the executive broad of her sorority doing finance and works as the director of community service for her professional fraternity. Outside of class, Fiona enjoys traveling, spending time with her friends, and she is in the training process to become a yoga instructor.


 

HEAL Affiliates

Photo of Lina DOrazio

Lina D’Orazio, Ph.D.


Dr. Lina D’Orazio is a neuropsychologist and clinical psychologist, who, as an Assistant Professor of Neurology in the Keck School of Medicine of the USC, is the Founding Director of the USC Cross-Cultural Neuropsychology Program which provides research and clinical services designed to understand and assess how cultural contexts shape behavioral and cognitive outcomes across the diversity spectrum. After graduating from Brown University and working in behavioral medicine research in Columbia University Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry, Dr. D’Orazio earned her master’s and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from USC. A multi-year American Psychological Association Minority Fellow, Dr. D’Orazio specializes in minority health psychology, cultural neuropsychology, and in working with Latinx and Spanish-speaking communities. Dr. D’Orazio also works as a clinical consultant for research across the medical school and in various national consortia, and currently serves as a member of HEAL’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee while providing social justice and anti-racism training.


Photo of Lucas Lebovitz

Lucas Lebovitz, B.S.


Lucas Lebovitz is a 4th-year medical student from Los Angeles, CA currently pursuing a career in Psychiatry at Keck School of Medicine of USC. His research interests include addiction medicine and psychosis.