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LSU Today Flagship Faculty
What was your previous position and where?Prior to coming to LSU in 1998 as an assistant professor, I was a postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco, clinical research fellowship, Public Service and Minority Mental Health, Specialization in Substance Abuse & HIV.
What brought you to LSU?My professional goal was to work within an academic psychology department, running my own research laboratory, training doctoral students and teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level. LSU's psychology department is much like the one in which I was trained - favoring learning-based models of behavior change and empirically supported treatments. It was a great match!
What is your research interest?My research interests focus on cognitive and affective variables in substance use initiation, maintenance, cessation and relapse. In my work, I focus on licit (tobacco/nicotine) and illicit (cocaine, methamphetamine) psychomotor stimulants and I recently have become interested in the relationship between problem alcohol use and smoking among college undergraduates. Specifics include: 1) weight concern, beliefs about weight control, beliefs about health consequences and stimulant use; 2) smoking cessation and relapse prevention as it pertains to high-risk cues for relapse; 3) prevention of substance use; 4) brief alcohol and smoking interventions for college students; and 5) impaired decision-making in substance use and cessation.
What do you hope to accomplish at LSU?With my ongoing research, I hope to learn how to modify motivating variables to support healthy behavior change (e.g., smoking cessation), such as beliefs that substances alleviate negative mood or control appetite/weight. In looking at variables that motivate substance use, I can identify and focus on groups that may be particularly vulnerable to substance use and the inability to stop using. There are important clinical applications of this work, but it would also offer theoretical advancement in conceptualizing substance use behavior.
What do you enjoy most about LSU?Where else would I see a beautiful Bengal tiger frolicking in his habitat on my way to work each morning? There is a palpable sense of school spirit and pride on campus among LSU students, the degree to which I haven't experienced at other universities. LSU is a truly unique place.
What are your major accomplishments?(1) I consider my greatest accomplishment to be provision of quality mentoring to my graduate students. Most of my students have obtained competitive academic/research careers, or are well on their way to doing so; (2) I recently completed a postdoctoral M.S. in clinical psychopharmacology. I felt it was important as director of our training clinic and as a clinical psychology faculty supervisor to have this additional degree, which will ultimately allow me to prescribe psychiatric medications due to unique legislation in the state of Louisiana.