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The Addiction, Sex, Infectious Diseases (ASID) Lab is committed to the research of substance use
disorders, sex/gender differences in substance use and related outcomes, and infectious diseases
related to substance use (HIV/HCV).

The primary areas of focus for the ASID Lab are:

(a) Women and Addiction,

(b) Vulnerable Populations and Addiction, and

(c) Developing and Implementing
Clinical Trials to Reduce Drug Use.




Hannah Belnap Apsley, M.S., Ph.D. Student, Department of Human Development and Family Studies

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Hannah is a PhD student in the Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) program at Penn State. She received her Master’s degree in HDFS from Penn State in 2022. Hannah is dual-advised by Dr. Abenaa Jones and Dr. H. Harrington (Bo) Cleveland and is a predoctoral trainee in The Prevention and Methodology Training Program (PAMT; T32 DA017629). She is interested in the process of treatment and recovery from substance use disorders for women, especially pregnant and parenting women. She is also interested in the mother-child dyad in the context of treatment and recovery, and the intersection between reproductive health and addiction across the life course. Hannah hopes to use repeated measures designs to understand the experience of treatment and recovery for women on a within-person level, and to develop interventions that may be personalized to the need of each individual.


Joy Gray, M.Ed., LPC (PA), NCC, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education, Pennsylvania State University.

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Joy Gray is currently a nationally certified counselor and a licensed professional counselor in Pennsylvania and a doctoral candidate in Counselor Education in the Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education, Pennsylvania State University. She completed a master’s degree in Counselor Education with an emphasis in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling at Pennsylvania State University and has postgraduate clinical experience as a mental health professional in a community and school-based behavioral health service. Her work focuses on substance use and psychological distress, criminalization and pathologization of oppression and trauma, the school-prison nexus, and community mental health from a systems perspective.


Dr. Alexis R. Santos, Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University

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Dr. Alexis Santos is a social disparities demographer and the Data Wizard at the ASID Lab. In this capacity, he supports Dr. Jones and the research team in the analysis of national surveillance data (National Survey on Drug Use and Health, CDC WONDER Multiple Causes of Death). He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the U.S. Army Institute for Surgical Research and a Ph.D. in Applied Demography (Health Track) from the University of Texas at San Antonio. His research emphasizes social disparities in health and well-being focusing in stress, health status, and mortality.

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Greg Hard, RN, MSN, MHS, Simches Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, McLean Hospital

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Greg Hard utilizes his clinical skills to further the research conducted in the ASID Lab. He completed his Master of Health Science degree in Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and his Master of Science degree in psychiatric nursing from the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston. Greg’s research interests focus on the intersection of substance use epidemiology, adolescent health, and psychopathology. He is also interested in the relationship between drug policies and harm reduction, particularly regarding the effects of such policies on adolescent psychosocial outcomes. Greg also works clinically as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, focusing on adolescent psychiatry and the treatment of co-occurring substance use and psychiatric disorders. He completed his clinical training in adolescent psychiatry and substance use disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital.

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Kavya Iyer, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Human Development and Family Studies Major, Pennsylvania State University

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Kavya Iyer is a second-year student at Pennsylvania State University. She is currently pursuing a double major in Human Development/Family Studies and Psychology. Kavya is specifically interested in how development relates to elements such as race, gender, and socio-economic status. She wants to study further how these components affect behavior and development, starting in childhood and infancy. 

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Eric Harrison, B.S., Ph.D. Student, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University

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Eric Harrison is a Ph.D. student focusing on community and statewide implementation of addiction and recovery support services that target the individual needs of those seeking services. Eric graduated from the University of Alabama as the ’20 Outstanding Transfer Student and ’21 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award recipient – the highest honor awarded yearly to two graduating students who exemplify the highest standard of scholarship, leadership, character, and service towards humanity. In his free time, Eric enjoys mentoring youth and sharing his experiences, from overcoming a 15-year addiction to drugs and alcohol to using his experiences as a strength that leads all aspects of his life today.


Dr. Kristina Brant, Assistant Professor of Rural Sociology, Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education, Pennsylvania State University

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Dr. Kristina Brant is an Assistant Professor of Rural Sociology and a Faculty Affiliate of the Consortium on Substance Use and Addiction and the Population Research Institute at Pennsylvania State University. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard University, where she was also a Doctoral Fellow in the Multidisciplinary Program on Inequality and Social Policy. Dr. Brant has expertise in the areas of rural poverty, health, and the family. Her core research program focuses on the ways that families experience the state’s response to substance use. Outside of this focus, she is also engaged in projects exploring rural healthcare access, the geographic dimensions of immigration policy, and the utilization of social support. With Penn State Extension, Dr. Brant is engaged in community-based programming on these topics in Pennsylvanian communities

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Sienna Strong-Jones, B.A, Ph.D. Student, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University

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Sienna Strong-Jones is currently a graduate student in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminology and Spanish from the University of Florida. She is interested in child maltreatment prevention and policy. Her research focus is on the effects of ethnic identity on childhood sexual abuse and the development of PTSD symptoms. She was awarded the Knoll Distinguished Fellowship and serves as a Diversity Committee Rep for the HDFS graduate student steering committee.


Melissa Kusi-Amponsah, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Northwestern University

Melissa Kusi-Amponsah is an undergraduate research assistant at the ASID lab. She is double majoring in legal studies and psychology and plans on attending law school in the future.

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