Newswise — Rutgers School of Public Health faculty, Olivia A. Wackowski, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences, has been selected as the recipient of the 2018 Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) Early Career Public Health Research Award. Every year, ASPPH recognizes one exemplary early-career researcher from the faculty of the organization’s member institutions.

Dr. Wackowski’s work focuses on tobacco product trends, risk perceptions and communication. She conducted the first content analysis of smokeless tobacco coverage in US newspapers, describing the product risk and harm reduction messages used, and analyzed the impact of smokers’ exposure to these messages in a 2013 grant awarded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Her work has also focused on e-cigarettes, publishing the first study to show smokers’ high support for many e-cigarette policies, as well as papers on e-cigarette risk perceptions, information sources, initiation experiences and measurement. Through her most recent FDA research grant, Dr. Wackowski is currently focusing on developing and testing health warnings for e-cigarettes, and actively advancing the field of tobacco warning research.

“Olivia is a bright young scientist with creative ideas and outstanding research skills and work ethic,” says Dr. Cristine Delnevo, Vice Dean of Rutgers School of Public Health. “In six years since her terminal degree, she developed her own research agenda, secured internal and external grants, and published 35 papers.” Dr. Perry Halkitis, Dean of the school, adds: “[Dr. Wackowski] does not shy away from teaching and lecturing opportunities. Through teaching, Dr. Wackowski shares her research with another generation of scientists and public health professionals.”

Today, Dr. Wackowski’s research continues to focus on smokeless tobacco and e-cigarette communication and aims to expand into cigar warning label research. She also conducts research on mentholated cigarettes, which are used disproportionately by minorities and young people and play a role in smoking initiation and dependence.

Dr. Wackowski and other recipients of ASPPH’s 2018 awards will be honored on Thursday, March 8, 2018 at an awards reception during the ASPPH Annual Meeting in Arlington, Virginia.

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