Who We Are

Principal Investigator

Matthew Kirkpatrick, Principle Investigator

Dr. Kirkpatrick 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 earned his B.A. in Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his PhD in Experimental Psychology at Columbia University. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Neuropsychopharmacology at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Kirkpatrick works in collaboration with scientists at all career levels – from senior faculty to undergraduate research assistants – and uses behavioral pharmacology, Ecological Momentary Assessment, and survey methods to examine the complex, bi-directional interactions between social contexts, social behavior, and drug use. He has scientific expertise in a wide range of drugs, including amphetamines, MDMA, alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis. Dr. Kirkpatrick is committed to conducting research that will inform more just and rationale drug policies and will lead to more effective drug treatments for individuals and families that may develop drug-related problems.


Matthew Kirkpatrick, PhD
Associate Professor of Research Population and Public Health Sciences
mgkirkpa@usc.edu
About Matthew Kirkpatrick, PhD

Dr. Kirkpatrick's research uses laboratory psychopharmacology, Ecological Momentary Assessment, and survey methods to focus on how drug use - both normal and problematic - functions in social contexts. 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 and naturalistic conditions. His current interests focus on: (1) the complex bi-directional interactions between acute drug effects and social settings, and how these interactions contribute to the rewarding effects of drugs; and (2) how friends and family can either help or hinder quit attempts (especially cigarette smoking quit attempts). Overall, this multidisciplinary approach carries direct clinical relevance as it will improve our understanding of drug use, which will help to develop novel treatments for those who wish to quit.

Doctoral Students


Esthelle Ewusi Boisvert
Teaching Assistant - PSYCH
ewusiboi@usc.edu
About Esthelle Ewusi Boisvert

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!


Shirlene Wang
Research Assistant
shirlenw@usc.edu
About Shirlene Wang

Shirlene is a 4th year PhD student in the Health Behavior Research Program at USC. After receiving her B.A. in Psychology and Medicine, Health, and Society from Vanderbilt University, she has been conducting research testing approaches to increasing physical activity, improving diet, smoking cessation, and treatment adherence using wearable devices and apps. Her current research focuses on increasing engagement and improving the quality of longitudinal data collected using ecological momentary assessment (EMA). She has worked with the DUB Lab since 2019 analyzing data from the SCOR and SYNC studies. The first smoking study Shirlene designed involved daily counts of the number of cigarette butts in a Wendy's parking lot.

Research Staff


Kendrick Canizales
Project Specialist
kcanizal@usc.edu
About Kendrick Canizales

Kendrick Canizales graduated from The University of California, Los Angeles in 2019 with a B.S. in Psychobiology. Kendrick has extensive experience in human subjects research, particularly in the field of tobacco control and human health behaviors. As a project specialist at the Drug Use & Behavior Laboratory, Kendrick manages and conducts data collection for the INSPIRE study, along with other administrative tasks for the DUB Lab. In his free time, Kendrick enjoys trying new foods, exploring Southern California, and going to concerts.


Nayeli Ayala
Student Research Assistant
ndayala@usc.edu
About Nayeli Ayala

Nayeli Ayala is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California pursuing a B.S. in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and a minor in Business Administration, set to graduate in 2023. At USC, Nayeli serves on the Executive Board of GlobeMed and is also a member of Delta Delta Sigma, a pre-dental honors society. After graduation, Nayeli hopes to attend dental school and pursue a career in Dentistry. In her free time, Nayeli enjoys painting, spending time with friends, and trying new food around LA.


Lucy Schuler
Project Assistant
lschuler@usc.edu
About Lucy Schuler

Lucy Schuler graduated from UC Berkeley in 2021, receiving a B.A. in Psychology (Highest Honors) and Linguistics. At Berkeley, Lucy was a research assistant in the Language and Cognitive Development Lab. Her senior honors thesis examined the role of financial stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic on children's language environments and exposure. As a project assistant in the DUB Lab, her main work is on the Smoking Cessation in Sexual Minority Couples Study. Outside of research, Lucy enjoys going on walks with her dog, discovering new podcasts, and exploring all over Los Angeles.

Research Fellows


Nikki Jafarzadeh
Project Assistant
jafarzad@usc.edu
About Nikki Jafarzadeh

Nikki Jafarzadeh graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Psychology (Honors) and a minor in Addiction Science in 2022. As an undergraduate, she spent her time devoted to nicotine research, working as an undergraduate for both HEAL and the DUB Lab, and mental health research at the Race, Disparities, and Interventions Lab. Nikki is passionate about nicotine use and perceptions among adolescent and young adult populations. Nikki plans to continue her education by pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Health, and hopes to ultimately pursue a career in academia and research. In her free time, she enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, doing puzzles, and hanging out with friends.

Research Assistants


Hanna Raskin
Project Assistant
hraskin@usc.edu
About Hanna Raskin

Hanna Raskin is a rising undergraduate senior at the University of Southern California pursuing a degree in Neuroscience at the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. On campus, Hanna has served on the executive board at USC Hillel for three years working to create mental health and wellness programming for students. Hanna is also training to become a postpartum doula so that she can support new parents in their healing process and parenting journey. In the future, Hanna hopes to attend medical school and pursue a career in Obstetrics and Gynecology. In her free time, Hanna enjoys reading, cooking, hiking, practicing yoga, lifting weights, and gardening.


Eden Mohabber
Student Research Assistant
emohabbe@usc.edu
About Eden Mohabber

Eden Mohabber is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California perusing a degree in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in the Keck School of Medicine, set to graduate in 2022. At USC, Eden works within the Mind-Body Medicine Lab focusing on biobehavioral research. Eden is also involved in "SunSmart", a sun safety program for adolescents developed by the Keck School of Medicine of USC. On campus, he is a member of AED, a pre-medical honor society dedicated to creating a community of individuals with a passion for medicine and promoting personal and professional growth. He is also a volunteer mentor at the Lifespan Psychological Center. In the future, Eden hopes to attend medical school and pursue a career in pediatric emergency medicine. Outside of school, Eden enjoys spending time with his friends and family, going to the beach, playing basketball, cooking, and exploring nature.


Halle Greenbaum
Student Research Assistant
hallegre@usc.edu
About Halle Greenbaum

Halle Greenbaum is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California pursuing her B.S. in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in the Keck School of Medicine. At USC, Halle is the founder and president of the Food SC'ience & Nutrition Club which she started to spread awareness about the expansive field of food science, as well as to address food-related disparities in the nearby LA area. Halle hopes to obtain her MPH at USC before going on to study food science and work in the industry.


Nayeli Ayala
Student Research Assistant
ndayala@usc.edu
About Nayeli Ayala

Nayeli Ayala is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California pursuing a B.S. in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and a minor in Business Administration, set to graduate in 2023. At USC, Nayeli serves on the Executive Board of GlobeMed and is also a member of Delta Delta Sigma, a pre-dental honors society. After graduation, Nayeli hopes to attend dental school and pursue a career in Dentistry. In her free time, Nayeli enjoys painting, spending time with friends, and trying new food around LA.


Kelvin Nguyen
Student Research Assistant
kelvinng@usc.edu
About Kelvin Nguyen

Kelvin Nguyen is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California pursuing a degree in Health and Human Sciences with a minor in Public Health, set to graduate in 2023. At USC, Kelvin is Assistant Director of Trojan Health Volunteers (THV), an organization under the Joint Educational Project (JEP) whose goal is to provide students with opportunities to receive volunteer experience in clinics and hospitals within LA County. Furthermore, he is on the executive board for the USC Emergency Medical Services organization (EMSC), working as a volunteer EMT during campus events. Lastly, Kelvin is the lead research associate at the Center for Health Financing, Policy, and Management, working on topics such as healthcare utilization. In the future, Kelvin hopes to attend medical school and pursue a career in primary care. In his free time, Kelvin enjoys cooking, physical exercise, and spending time with friends and family.


Anna Miner
Student Research Assistant
acminer@usc.edu
About Anna Miner

Anna Miner is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California pursuing a B.S. in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and a minor in Addiction Science, set to graduate in 2024. At USC, Anna is a senior health educator within Peer Health Exchange, an organization that provides a skills-based health curriculum to students in under-resourced high schools. Anna also develops content for USC Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program, a club which offers kidney health screenings and education to the surrounding Los Angeles community. She is also involved with neonatal research at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and type 2 diabetes research within the environmental health division of the Keck School of Medicine, USC. In the future, Anna hopes to obtain her MPH at USC. In her free time, Anna volunteers in the disaster management sector of the American Red Cross and enjoys spending time with her friends and family.


Andrew Otterson
Student Research Assistant
aotterso@usc.edu
About Andrew Otterson

Andrew Otterson is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California perusing a degree in Global Health in the Keck School of Medicine, set to graduate in December 2021. At USC, Andrew has served as a member of the American Red Cross, AIESEC, and the LGBTQ+ Peer Mentoring Program. Andrew is also a regular volunteer at Being Alive, a HIV service organization serving all of Los Angeles County by providing low to no-cost mental health, and health and wellness programs. Andrew has also volunteered as a COPE Health Scholar at California Hospital Medical Center in Downtown LA. In the future, Andrew hopes to obtain a master's degree at USC in Neuroimaging and Informatics. His long-term goal is to attend medical school and explore the mind-body health connection through a career in neuroscience. In his free time, Andrew enjoys exploring the outdoors, surfing, practicing meditation, and spending time with his friends and family.   

Frequent Collaborators


David Black, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor of Population and Public Health Sciences
davidbla@usc.edu
https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-black-phd-mph-2b9637a0/
campus (mindful.usc.edu)|https://mindful.usc.edu
global (goAMRA.org)|https://goAMRA.org
http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=9QIzyCwAAAAJ&hl=en
About David Black, PhD, MPH

Dr. Black an Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He is also a member of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Associate Director of Education for the USC Center for Mindfulness Science. His research had been funded by university, private, and federal grants for over 17 years. He as authored and co-authored over 75 peer-reviewed articles in journals including JAMA Internal Medicine, JAMA Pediatrics, Cancer, Pediatrics, American Journal of Public Health, Behaviour Research and Therapy, and Psychosomatic Medicine. Dr. Black began his early career in the health sciences and earned a Master of Public Health degree and directed his first grant-funded human subjects research study prior to finishing his masters thesis. He trained as a NIH National Cancer Institute predoctoral fellow for five years at the USC Institute for Prevention Research, where he latter earned his Ph.D. The focus of his doctoral training was in substance misuse prevention and addictions research. He had self-studied contemplative theory and practices over the previous decade, and realized an opportunity to merge his passion for the contemplative studies with his training in the health sciences. He continued advanced training as a NIH National Institute on Aging postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at Los Angeles Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology. He focused his research effort on conducting a randomized controlled trial to test the impact of mindfulness training on sleep and inflammation in older adults with sleep problems. He went on to articulate a novel conceptual model to illustrate how mindfulness training exerts biological influence from brain to body using a genomic signal transduction framework with downstream biological impact on sympathetic nervous system activity, release of norepinephrine at nerve terminals, activation of b-adrenergic receptors on adjacent cells, and the cAMP/PKA signaling pathway that ultimately regulates gene expression by stimulating transcription factors, particularly those associated with the propagation of inflammation in peripheral blood. He recently completed a NIH NIDA R01 randomized controlled trial testing mindfulness training added to residential treatment for substance use disorder. He is currently co-PI of a clinical trial testing an app-based mindfulness training for smoking cessation that recruits smokers from across the state of California. He enjoys mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, was awarded the 2015 USC Mentoring Award for graduate students from the Center for Excellence in Teaching. He enjoys spending time with his family in nature, fly fishing, camping, and reading.


Raina Pang, PhD
Associate Professor of Research Population and Public Health Sciences
rpang@usc.edu
About Raina Pang, PhD

Broadly speaking my research interest lies in understanding sex/gender differences and women specific factors in addiction. As part of these efforts, I have completed a postdoctoral fellowship investigating the interactive role of menstrual cycle and nicotine on response inhibition and smoking behavior using laboratory based behavioral pharmacology. Currently, I am PI on a five year study aimed at understanding within and between subject effects of ovarian hormones on mood and smoking behavior across the menstrual cycle using ecological momentary assessment.