Past Research Laureates

2020  Research Laureate

Jennifer B. Unger, PhD

University of Southern California

Keck School of Medicine

Jennifer B. Unger, Ph.D. is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.  Her research focuses on the psychological, social, and cultural influences on health-risk and health-protective behaviors including tobacco and cannabis use.  She and her colleagues have conducted several longitudinal studies of acculturation and substance use among Hispanic adolescents, highlighting the role of discrimination in health-risk behaviors. 

Her research also has examined cultural influences on tobacco use among American Indian adolescents, Chinese adolescents, and African American adults. She is currently conducting a study of the association between proximity to cannabis retailers and cannabis use among adolescents.  She is interested in entertainment-education strategies for health education among low-literacy minority populations and has collaborated on the design and evaluation of fotonovelas and telenovelas about secondhand smoke exposure in multiunit housing; diabetes; asthma; immunization; and kidney transplantation. 

She is a co-investigator in the USC Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS), where she studies diffusion of messages about emerging tobacco products to vulnerable populations through social media. Dr. Unger directs the Ph.D. program in Preventive Medicine / Health Behavior Research. She is an Associate Editor for Substance Use and Misuse and Tobacco Regulatory Science.

2019 Research Laureate

Kenneth Michael Cummings, PhD, MPH

Medical University of South Carolina

Dr. Cummings is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and member of the Hollings Cancer Center’s Cancer Control Program where he co-leads the tobacco control research program. He is widely recognized for his research on smoking behavior, product marketing, consumer risk perceptions, and the influence of cigarette design on smoking behavior. In 2002, Dr. Cummings and colleagues established the International Tobacco Control Policy Research Project a way to evaluate impact of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.  This study, now implemented in over 25 countries around the world, has helped to generate evidenced used to guide tobacco control policy implementation around the world.  Dr. Cummings has authored over 450 peer-reviewed scientific papers as well as contributing to reports for the Office of the Surgeon General, the National Cancer Institute, the Institute of Medicine, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.  In the late 1990s, Dr. Cummings was involved in digitizing and indexing millions of pages of previously secret internal tobacco industry documents which have helped to uncover how cigarette manufacturers directed their marketing to attract youthful replacement smokers and designed cigarettes in ways that make it hard for smokers to quit once they get addicted to nicotine. He has served as an expert witness in litigation against cigarette manufacturers in over 150 trials. In 2009, he received the prestigious American Cancer Society Luther L. Terry Award for Outstanding Research Contribution in recognition of his research contributions in tobacco control.

2018 Research Laureate

JOHN D. CLAPP, PhD is a professor and executive vice dean of the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at the University of Southern California. 

Clapp is known internationally for his research and translational work in the field of alcohol problem prevention. A fellow in the American Academy of Health Behavior, Clapp is currently studying the system dynamics of drinking events with a team of engineers and computer scientists with the goal of developing “smart” real-time prevention applications. 

He has published more than 100 journal articles, with his work appearing in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Addiction, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, among numerous other top research journals. Clapp has been awarded more than $32 million in grants and contracts (NIAAA, NIDA, U.S. Department of Education, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation) and has been principal investigator on over 20 funded projects. 

Clapp was the founding co-editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research

As a leader in the prevention of alcohol-related problems experienced by college students, he served six years as the director of the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery. He also served on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention National Advisory Council. 

Clapp’s work and expertise has been featured in numerous international media outlets, with coverage in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Daily Telegraph, ABC National News, among numerous others.

2017 - Dr. Kenneth D. Ward

Dr. Ward is Professor and Director of the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of Memphis School of Public Health.  His research focuses on community-, healthcare system-, and population-level approaches to reducing the burden of tobacco use.  He is co-founder and Intervention Director of the Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies, which is the Eastern Mediterranean Region's first comprehensive tobacco control research center ( and the recipient of the Hamdan Award for the Best Medical Institute in the Arab World.  

Dr. Ward’s research has been funded by more than 35 grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and other funders.  At the University of Memphis, he is the recipient of the Faudree Professorship and the Willard R. Sparks Eminent Faculty Award.  Dr. Ward is a fellow of the American Academy of Health Behavior and the Society of Behavioral Medicine, and was recently a visiting Fulbright Scholar at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. 

Presentation Title:  Reflections on 15 years in the global tobacco trenches

2016 - Dr. Marcia G. Ory

Marcia G. Ory, Ph.D., M.P.H., is Regents and Distinguished Professor, Department of Health Promotion and Community Health Sciences, School of Public Health (SPH) at The Texas A&M Health Science Center in College Station, Texas.  Her primary administrative role is serving as Associate Dean for Research (since February 2015). She is also the Director of the SPH Program on Healthy Aging, chair of the Health and Wellness Committee, and the academic partner for the Community Research Center for Senior Health.  She has been a principal investigator on multiple local, state and federally funded grants to implement and evaluate evidence-based behavioral interventions for promoting healthy lifestyle changes in midlife and older ages.  

2015 - Dr. Gary L. Kreps

Gary L. Kreps Ph.D., is a University Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication at George Mason University. His research examines health communication, health promotion, health informatics, multicultural relations, social organization, and applied research methods, with a major focus on reducing health disparities. Gary was the founding Chief of the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch at the National Cancer Institute (NIH) from 1999 to 2004, where he planned major national research and intervention programs for promoting cancer prevention and control.  He also served as the founding Dean of the School of Communication at Hofstra University, Executive Director of the Greenspun School of Communication at UNLV, and a professor at Northern Illinois, Rutgers, Indiana, and Purdue Universities.

2014 - Dr. David B. Abrams

Dr. David Abrams is Executive Director, The Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at Legacy, and a Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Georgetown University Medical Center and the University of Maryland. He is a clinical health psychologist. He was Director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and prior to that he was Professor and founding Director of the Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at Brown University Medical School. He holds a B.Sc. (honours) in computer science and psychology from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers University.

2012 – Dr. Andrea Gielen

Andrea Gielen, Sc.D., Sc.M. is Professor in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society and Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and holds joint appointments in the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health and the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.  Dr. Gielen has almost three decades of public health experience, including as a public health department practitioner and an academic researcher directing numerous federally funded studies of health behaviors and behavior change interventions. Her research includes: child passenger safety, child pedestrian injury, bicycle helmet use among children and teens, older drivers, house fires and other home injuries, and domestic violence.

2011 – Dr. John Lowe

John Lowe, DrPH, is Head (Chairman) of the School of Health and Sport Sciences at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. Dr. Lowe's research interests are in cancer control and prevention and injury prevention. Since 1980, he has worked in the area of intervention studies for the cessation of smoking among adults, pregnant women, and the prevention and cessation of smoking among youth. He is internationally known for his work in the area of skin cancer prevention. Professor Lowe continues to focus his research on community development and empowerment to make sustainable long-term changes to promote health. 

2010 – Dr. Ken McLeroy

Kenneth R. McLeroy, Ph.D., is Professor of Social and Behavioral Health at the Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health. He is currently Principal Investigator on two large projects including a recently funded five-year renewal of the CDC funded Center for Community Health Development ($3.9 million) and the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) funded Program for Rural and Minority Health Disparities Research ($6.8 million). Dr. McLeroy has published extensively on social ecology, the development and evaluation of community-based interventions, and critical community concepts such as community capacity, program institutionalization, and community coalitions. 

2009 – Dr. Ray Niaura

Raymond Niaura, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and Director of Transdisciplinary Research at Butler Hospital. His primary research interests include tobacco dependence and psychological factors affecting metabolism and cardiovascular diseases. Dr. Niaura has served as principal investigator or co-investigator on more than 30 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants, as well as numerous grants from other funding agencies, including serving as PI of 14 on-going or completed multicenter, industry-sponsored pharmacological smoking cessation trials. 

2008 – Dr. Elbert D. Glover

Elbert D. Glover "Glover", Ph.D., is Professor & Chair, Department of Public &Community Health, & Director & Founder of the Center for Health Behavior Research at the University of Maryland College Park School of Public Health, College Park, MD. Dr. Glover is an internationally recognized authority on the topics of smoking cessation & smokeless tobacco, conducting hundreds of clinical trials with various nicotine pharmacologic adjunctsie, nicotine gum (2mg & 4mg), nicotine transdermal patches, nicotine oral inhaler, nicotine nasal spray, & the nicotine sublingual tablet.

2007 – Dr. Bruce Simons-Morton

Bruce Simons-Morton, Ed.D., M.P.H., is a senior investigator with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). His primary research interests are early adolescent problem behavior prevention and the prevention of motor vehicle crashes among novice young drivers. His research focuses on both risk assessment and the development and evaluation of effective interventions. 

2006 – Dr. Herb Severson

Dr. Severson is internationally respected for his work in tobacco prevention and control and in child behavioral disorders. He has been an author on two Surgeon General’s reports on tobacco use and an Institute of Medicine report. In 2006 he was the principal investigator of six grants and co-investigator on six others; chair of the board of Oregon Research Institute; and president of two companies. His presentation shared personal perspectives about shifts in tobacco-related research highlighting clinical and public health cessation efforts, traditional prevention approaches, and a new focus on reducing antisocial behavior and promoting school adjustment as an innovative way to reduce the onset of tobacco use. 

2005 – Dr. Steve Sussman

Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Sussman was the principal investigator of Project “Towards No Tobacco Use”, a tobacco-use prevention and cessation project among young teens that was disseminated nationally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a “Program That Works” (1997-2002) and now is disseminated nationally by the Centers for Substance Abuse Prevention. It is recognized as a model program by the U.S. Department of Education, Sociometrics, Inc, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. His presentation revisited the issue of assumptions behind the field of health behavior research.  

2004 – Dr. Cheryl Perry

Dr. Perry is perhaps best known for her work in smoking prevention research and is a recognized leader in both community heart-disease prevention and tobacco control circles. Among her many other highly visible achievements is her service the 1994 Surgeon General's Report, which was entitled "Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People". Her presentation looked at two major components of health behavior research, etiologic research and action research. She concludes that intervention programs including explicitedly creative components are successful in reducing alcohol use and activity patterns. 

2003 – Dr. John Elder

Dr. Elder has been an inspiration to a field struggling with both the programmatic and methodological challenges of conducting research in multicultural contexts. His fluency in Spanish, his extensive work in Mexico, and his consulting in numerous other developing countries give him a broader than usual perspective on the application of behavioral and social sciences in public health and education. Dr Elder has consulted for USAID, Rockefeller Foundation and WHO projects in 15 different countries in Asia, Latin America, and Europe in the areas of child survival, maternal and child health, dengue fever control, research design, and social marketing.  

2002 – Dr. Brian R. Flay

Dr. Flay stands in the highest ranks among the investigators in our field, not only in the United States, but with international recognition as well. He has a broader than usual perspective on the application of behavioral and social sciences in public health and education. His work spans such applications in institutional settings as well as in the mass media and in community-wide efforts, with particular attention to the health and related problems of adolescents and increasing emphasis on the necessity of combining the institutional and community components in comprehensive, integrated, and coherent programs. 

2000 – Dr. Lawrence Green

Of all the health education researchers and writers who have contributed to our understanding of health behavior, none have done it more voluminously than our special person in health education, Dr. Lawrence W. Green has. No one person in health education is more widely read or quoted than our first American Academy of Health Behavior Research Laureate honoree. Unequivocally, he has contributed more widely to health education than any other person, past or present. He best represents what The Academy is all about.  

Currently, 2019, Dr. Green is Professor Emeritus, UCSF.  Dr. Green is Associate Editor of the Annual Review of Public Health and Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Prize Jury of the Fries Foundation. 

Biosketch - Lawrence W. Green, Dr.P.H., D.Sc.(Hon)


Joanne Sommers, M.Ed.,CHES®
Executive Director 
Phone: (419) 760-6020

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