West Virginia University Logo


Current Trainees and Associate Scholars


Left to right, top: Doug Thornton, Josh Gross, Deidre O'Dell. Left to right, bottom: Nick Felicione, Jenny Ozga, Desiree Williford.




Doug Thornton
Doug is in his second year as a trainee on the training grant.  He is a PhD student in the Department of Pharmaceutical Systems and Policy's Health Services and Outcomes Research program. His current research is focusing on consequences of chronic opioid therapy, changes in health-related quality of life relating to chronic opioid use, and evaluating the availability of naloxone in the community.  “This training grant will afford me the opportunity to expand both my clinical and research experiences. I will also be able to work with top members of the research community at WVU and the other partner universities.”
Doug’s advisor is Dr. Nilanjana Dwibedi.






Jenny Ozga
Jenny is in her second year as a trainee on the training grant.  She is a third-year PhD candidate in the Behavior Analysis program within the Department of Psychology, working under Dr. Karen G. Anderson. This lab focuses on behavioral pharmacology and how drugs and behavior interact in different environmental contexts.  She is also currently conducting research in Dr. Melissa Blank’s tobacco and health research laboratory, within the Behavioral Neuroscience program area in the Department of Psychology. This lab is currently working on two projects:  1) understanding the influence of electronic cigarettes on assisting with smoking cessation and 2) examining patterns of dual-tobacco use (i.e., smokeless tobacco and cigarette use).  “Being a trainee on the T32 has helped me meet researchers outside of my department and has exposed me to various research projects being conducted university-wide. It has also given me essential training in grant writing, and has expanded the diversity of my training by giving me the opportunity to do a clinical immersion in addition to research experiences.”







Joshua Gross
Josh is in his second year as a BBS trainee.  He is in his third year as a PhD student in Physiology and Pharmacology in the Biomedical Sciences Program.  He is investigating the role of Regulator of G Protein Signaling-12 (RGS12) in neurotransmitter systems of the CNS and neuropsychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia. His research interests would be neuropsychopharmacology, behavioral neuroscience, and molecu

lar biology.  “I think the BBS T32 will help me to facilitate collaborations across basic and clinical sciences, as well as provide a strong training in concepts and techniques ranging from molecular to behavioral levels of analysis.”
Josh’s advisor is Dr. David Siderovski.





Desireé Williford
Desireé is in her first year as a trainee on the training grant.  She is a second year Ph.D. student in the Clinical Child Psychology program within the Department of Psychology. Her primary lab (under the direction of Dr. Christina Duncan) focuses on pediatric psychology, with an emphasis on family-based interventions, adherence to medical regimens, provider-patient-parent communication, health literacy, and other psychosocial factors as they relate to children who have a chronic illnesses and injuries. She has also recently begun conducting research in Dr. Amy Herschell's lab, exploring implementation and dissemination of evidence-based interventions. Desireé is currently working on two major projects: 1) her master's thesis, focused on understanding family-based predictors of electronic cigarette use among high school students and 2) a HRSA-funded grant focusing on developing a pictorial  asthma action plan for youth and families. "As a trainee on the T32, I will have the opportunity to gain additional research and clinical experiences beyond the scope my current training. I will also have access to valuable mentorship that will prepare me for a career focused on engaging in collaborative research across multiple disciplines."
Desireé’s advisors are Drs. Christina Duncan and Amy Herschell.





Nick Felicione

Nick is in his first year as a trainee on the training grant. He is a 3rd year PhD student in the Behavioral Neuroscience program within the Department of Psychology. His research in Dr. Melissa Blank’s lab focuses on understanding behavioral and physiological factors promoting addiction. More specifically, he focuses on evaluating nicotine and tobacco products, with a particular interest in alternate tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes. Current projects include: 1) comparing methods of electronic cigarette puff topography, 2) characterizing patterns of dual use of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, 3) evaluating the role of electronic cigarettes in a smoker’s choice to quit smoking, and 4) integrating a smoking cessation intervention into an outpatient opioid-addiction treatment clinic. “As a trainee on this grant, I am able to develop as a more comprehensive researcher by gaining experience, skills, and education in behavioral, biomedical, and public health sciences.” Nick’s advisor is Dr. Melissa Blank.

Deidre O'Dell
Deidre is in her first year as a trainee on the training grant.  She is in her second year as a PhD student in Neuroscience in the Biomedical Sciences Program.  Her current project involves characterizing the direct cellular pathway to and from the deep cerebellar nuclei, particularly the anterior interpositus nucleus, which underlies learning in the eyeblink-conditioning paradigm.  Her research interests are behavioral neuroscience and the study of the underlying mechanisms of learning and memory in healthy and disease states.  “This training grant opens up opportunities for me to diversify my research training and gives me a chance to gain clinical experience as well.  It also grants me a chance to expand my scope beyond basic science into other areas of behavioral study. “
Deidre’s advisor is Dr. Bernard G. Schreurs.


Past Trainees



Danielle Doll
West Virginia University

Margeaux Gray
Dickinson College, PA

Sylvia Mrowka
Penn State University, Altoona

Erienne Olesh
University of Puget Sound, WA

Elvonna Atkins
Florida A&M University

Danielle Davidov
Marshall University, WV

Richard Felix
Washington State University

Rolf Hansen
Gannon University, PA

Lindsay Lueptow
Univ. of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

Paula Prentice
University of Albany, SUNY

Cameron Randall
UNC Chapel Hill

Michael Seminerio
Washington & Jefferson College, PA

Merideth Smith
Beloit College

Ryan Turner
Western New England College

Tricia Wilkins
SUNY Buffalo