Four Penn State researchers join the Social Science Research Institute


By Kristie Auman-Bauer and Melissa Krug

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Four Penn State researchers have joined the Consortium to Combat Substance Abuse, part of the Social Science Research Institute, including faculty members from the colleges of Engineering, Earth and Mineral Sciences, and Health and Human Development.

The Consortium to Combat Substance Abuse (CCSA) brings together researchers, educators, and practitioners from Penn State campuses to develop and implement effective programs, policies, and practices aimed at preventing and treating addiction and its spillover effects on children, families, and communities.

Paul Griffin

Griffin is a professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering in the College of Engineering and an expert in health systems engineering. Griffin focuses his research on health systems engineering and care delivery, health analytics, cost effectiveness modeling in public health and health supply chain coordination. In particular, Griffin is interested in mitigating the negative consequences of opioids and related substances. During his previous tenure at Penn State, Griffin served as the Peter and Angela Dal Pezzo Chair and head of the Penn State Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering from 2009 to 2014. He departed the University to join Georgia Tech as the Virginia C. and Joseph C. Mello Chair in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering. He then moved to Purdue University to serve as the St. Vincent Health Chair and director of the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering.

Louisa Holmes

Holmes is an assistant professor of geography in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. She is also a health geographer and demographer with additional training in public health and public policy and has published on topics such as tobacco control, cannabis use, migrant health and biological risk profiles in the context of urban neighborhoods. Her research focuses on health disparities and the socio-spatial determinants of health, tobacco control and substance use, and quantitative and geospatial research methods, particularly representative survey research and area-level observational studies. Prior to joining Penn State, Holmes was an assistant professor of geography at the State University of New York at Binghamton.

Abenaa Jones

Jones is an assistant professor of human development and family studies in the College of Health and Human Development. Jones’ work addresses the syndemic of substance use disorders, violence, sexual risk behaviors, and HIV/STIs, as well as evaluation of structural and behavioral interventions aimed at reducing substance use and associated harms. Jones also an affiliate of the Criminal Justice Research Center. Her current work focuses on the opioid epidemic and examines racial differences in opioid overdose educational training and administration of overdose reversal drugs, and the prevalence of opioid use in inner cities and racial/ethnic differences in opioid use. Her work also expands to treatment for opioid use disorder among women involved in the criminal justice system. Jones recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in drug dependence epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University.

Kelly Rulison

Rulison is an associate professor of human development and family studies in the College of Health and Human Development. Rulison’s research focuses on how peer networks shape substance use and related health-risk behaviors and how program developers can build more potent interventions and promote the diffusion of intervention effects. Her research aims to identify mechanisms through which social networks shape health-related behaviors, identify when and how social networks facilitate the diffusion of intervention effects from individuals who participated in an intervention, and how to optimize interventions so that they have a greater public health impact. Prior to joining Penn State, Rulison was an associate professor in public health education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


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Megan Lakatos