Faculty Research Profiles



 

J. Aaron Johnson, PhD

Dr. Johnson

Director, Institute of Public and Preventive Health
Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences
Professor, School of Graduate Studies

Dr. Johnson’s research is focused on the implementation of evidence-based practices in substance abuse prevention and treatment. He has worked with populations in addiction treatment facilities; medical settings including primary care, emergency department, trauma unit, and urgent care; as well as with justice-involved populations (jails, prisons, transitional centers, drug courts, probation/parole). In is recent work, he  has incorporated technology as a means of enacting behavior change within this field.  In addition to intervention-based research, Dr. Johnson has published several validation studies of brief alcohol and/or drug screening tools for use in general medical settings, as well as a number of publications related to training health professionals to conduct alcohol/drug screening and brief intervention.

Dr. Johnson’s work has been continuously funded for more than two decades with federal grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Library of Medicine and from private foundations including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Healthcare Georgia Foundation.

Research Interests: Addiction/Substance use, Substance use prevention and treatment, Correctional Health, Health Education, Health Literacy, and Health Services Research

Curriculum Vitae

 

K.M. Monirul Islam, MBBS/MD, MPH, PhD

Dr. Islam

Associate Professor, Institute of Public and Preventive Health 
Associate Professor, Department of Population Health Sciences

Dr. Islam's current research foci are patient-centered outcomes research in cancer, infectious diseases, and interventions program evaluation. He is particularly interested in clinical epidemiology and early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes of diseases. The overarching objective of his research is to prevent diseases and lead to better treatment outcomes among diverse populations including resource-limited communities such as minorities and rural populations.

Research Interest: Epidemiology Research Methods, Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases and Cancer, Clinical Epidemiology, and Global Health

Curriculum Vitae

Paul Seal, MD

Dr. Paul Seale

Professor, Institute of Public and Preventive Health
Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior MCG

A graduate of the University of Texas (Austin) and Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Seale is a clinician researcher with board certification in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine. Since completing an NIAAA-NIDA sponsored faculty development fellowship in 1987-1988, he has been involved in practice, teaching and research related to substance use screening, brief intervention, and referral for treatment (SBIRT) for more almost three decades in both the U.S. and abroad. Recent interprofessional SBIRT training grants in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University, Mercer University, Augusta University and U. of Georgia have trained more than 1,500 primary care providers including 1,000+ advanced practice nursing students, 100+ nursing faculty & preceptors, and dozens of physician assistants. With over 14 years’ experience in office-based opioid treatment (OBOT) practice, training, dissemination and mentoring, he has a special interest in bridges and barriers to treatment of opioid use disorder and is principal investigator of a pilot study of opioid use disorder in older adults. His involvement for more than a decade in full-time global health in Asia and the Americas led to the development of resilience and recovery training programs taught through storytelling which have been translated into seven different languages and are now being used with indigenous and other vulnerable populations across Latin America and Africa. He has served as author or co-author of more than 70 peer-reviewed journal articles.

Dr. Seale’s research has been funded with federal grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the Centers for Disease Control and from private foundations including the Betty Ford Foundation, the Conrad Hilton Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation.

Research Interests: improving and disseminating the use of storytelling approaches for resilience and recovery training, recognition and treatment of opioid use disorder in older adults, substance use screening, and improving delivery of SBIRT and Medications for Addiction Treatment (MAT) in rural and underserved areas.

Curriculum Vitae

 

Ashwini Tiwari, PhD

Dr. Tiwari

Assistant Professor, Institute of Public and Preventive Health 
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior MCG

 

Dr. Tiwari’s research program is focused on reducing health disparities among high-risk and victimized populations in a family violence context. Her work focuses on biobehavioral trajectories and responses to trauma-based prevention and intervention efforts, while considering the impact of non-modifiable contextual stressors and intra-individual variation. She has a special interest in stress physiological and genetic profiles among victimized youth populations who receive trauma-based care. Her recent research has focused on understanding the implementation, barriers and effective components of trauma-based treatments for youth victims of sexual abuse in community settings.

Research Interests: family violence, child maltreatment, evidence-based parenting interventions, mental health, biobehavioral stress, trauma-based interventions

Curriculum Vitae

Kip Webster, PhD

Dr. Webster 

Assistant Professor, Institute of Public and Preventive Health 
Assistant Professor, College of Education – Kinesiology

Dr. Webster’s research interests are focused on physical activity behaviors and fundamental motor skill competency in pediatric populations. Her research involves school or early childhood education-based programs that target positive health-related outcomes, such as reducing childhood obesity and increasing physical activity, fitness, motor skill competency, and psychological variables related to health. Her recent research has examined the relationship between physical activity/ motor skill competency to screen-time behaviors, academic achievement, as well as early childhood education center and school policies that directly relate to improving pediatric health.

Research interest: Pediatrics, Fundamental motor skills, Motor Development, Physical Activity, Screen-time, School-based interventions, Childhood Obesity

Curriculum Vitae

Michael Vitacco, PhD

Dr. Vitacco

Professor, Institute of Public and Preventive Health
Professor, Psychiatry and Health Behavior

Dr. Vitacco is a board-certified forensic psychologist whose research focuses on best practices in the broad area of psychology and the law. Specifically, his research has focused on the treatment and prevention of violence among individuals found not criminally responsible and returned to the community (i.e., conditional release), evaluating how forensic psychologists can appropriately utilize social media information in their forensic practice, detecting atypical response styles (e.g., malingering) in forensic evaluations, legal applications of psychopathy, and evaluating and treating violence potential with individuals housed in forensic inpatient hospitals. Dr. Vitacco has extensive experience working with justice-involved individuals, especially those adjudicated not competent to proceed to trial or not criminal responsible because of mental illness. He has also worked with individuals on probation/parole and individuals who have been civilly committed. As part of his work on conditional release, Dr. Vitacco has partnered with multiple states to evaluate conditional release effectiveness with individuals with serious and persistent mental illness. He has also researched psychopathy and its correlates, including stress reactivity, with juveniles placed in detention facilities.    

Dr. Vitacco has over 100 publications in the area of mental health law. In 2020, he co-edited a book titled, Forensic Mental Health Evaluations in the Digital Age: A Practitioner’s Guide to Using Internet-Based Data with Dr. Ashley Batastini.  

Research Interests: Psychopathy; Conditional Release; Stress Reactivity; Malingering and related response styles.

Curriculum Vitae

Laura Williamson, PhD

Dr. Williamson

Associate Director, Center for Bioethics and Health Policy
Associate Professor, Institute of Public and Preventive Health

 

Dr. Williamson is a Health Ethicist. Her research focuses broadly on public health, with a particular interest in substance use problems, vaccination uptake, and the impact of stigma on wellbeing. As part of this work, Dr. Williamson investigates the challenges associated with engaging citizens in ethical debates that impact on their health. This includes the importance of helping people think through issues that span clinical care and public health.

Dr. Williamson’s research has been published in a range of leading journals including the American Journal of Public Health, American Journal of Bioethics, Journal of Medical Ethics, and the International Journal of Drug Policy. She has co-authored two books: Xenotransplantation: Law and Ethics (Ashgate, 2005) and Impairment and Disability: Law and Ethics at the Beginning and End of Life (Routledge, 2007). She has held a Wellcome Trust, Biomedical Ethics Research Fellowship and grant funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, British Academy and Medical Research Council (UK).

Research Interests: Health Ethics, Substance Use/Addiction, Person and Citizen Engagement, Stigma and Vaccination

 

Curriculum Vitae