TRIP Faculty & Doctoral Staff

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Thomas H. Brandon, Ph.D.
TRIP Program Director
Dr. Brandon is Professor in the departments of Psychology and Oncologic Sciences at the University of South Florida (USF). He received his doctoral training in clinical psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served his internship at Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis, and was on the faculty at the State University of New York at Binghamton prior to arriving at USF and Moffitt in 1997. He is a Fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine and the American Psychological Association's Divisions of Addiction, Clinical Psychology, and Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse, and past President of the Division of Addictions.  He is past editor of the journal, Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Dr. Brandon's research ranges from basic human laboratory studies of behavioral and cognitive factors influencing tobacco use, through large-scale clinical trials of theory-based interventions.

David J. Drobes, Ph.D.

TRIP Program
Associate Director

Dr. Drobes is a Senior Member in the Department of Health Outcomes and Behavior of the Moffitt Cancer Center, and Professor in the Departments of Oncologic Sciences and Psychology at the University of South Florida (USF).  He received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Purdue University, interned at the University of Florida, completed post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Florida and the Medical University of South Carolina, and was on the faculty of the Medical University of South Carolina before joining Moffitt and USF in 2002.  He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Division 28, Psychopharmacology), and currently serves as Deputy Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.  Dr. Drobes's human laboratory research focuses on tobacco craving and cue reactivity, interactions between nicotine and alcohol, neurocognitive effects of nicotine use and withdrawal, and genetic markers of smoking risk.  His applied work examines brief and intensive interventions for tobacco use, with a recent emphasis on the acute effects of physical activity.

Vani Nath Simmons, Ph.D.

Dr. Simmons is an Assistant Member at TRIP and Assistant Professor in the Department of Oncologic Sciences at USF.  She earned her doctorate in clinical psychology at USF, served her internship at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Behavioral Oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center.  Dr. Simmons's research interests include the development of smoking cessation and relapse prevention interventions for special populations including college students, cancer patients, and ethnic minorities. Her research has been funded by the National Cancer Institute, Florida Biomedical Research Program, March of Dimes, and the University of South Florida Area Health Education Center.
Marina Unrod, Ph.D.
Dr. Unrod is an Applied Research Scientist in the Population Science Division at Moffitt. She received her doctorate in clinical and health psychology from the University of Florida, completed her internship and postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Diego, and was on the faculty in the Department of Oncological Sciences at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Unrod worked at the Bureau of Tobacco Control in the New York City Department of Health before joining Moffitt. She is the Project Director of several studies at TRIP focusing on the development and testing of smoking cessation interventions. She is also a PI on an NCI grant examining smoking and cessation factors among chronic pain patients. Her research interests are in smoking cessation interventions and public health approaches to tobacco control.


David Evans, Ph.D

Dr. Evans is an Applied Research Scientist in the department of Health Outcomes and Behavior of the Moffitt Cancer Center.  He received his doctorate in personality psychology from the University of Oregon, and completed his postdoctoral training here at Moffitt.  Dr. Evans is currently the PI on three grants that involve genetic and brain activity measures in relation to nicotine/smoking. One of his primary research interests involves understanding the relationship between nicotine and cognitive control processes relevant to efficiently performing daily activities (for example, attentional control and working memory).  Many smokers may smoke in part to reduce deficits in cognitive control, including the reversal of cognitive control deficits that accompany nicotine withdrawal.  This research program also examines specific genetic variants as predictors of the strength of association between nicotine administration and cognitive control.  This research program may lead to the testing of tailored behavioral and/or pharmaceutical treatment programs that match the specific needs of individual smokers who find smoking more reinforcing because of temporary reduction in cognitive control deficits.

Dr. Sutton is an Applied Research Scientist in the Biostatistics Department. He earned his doctorate in personality psychology at Northwestern Univeristy along with a Masters degree in Mathematical Methods for the Social Sciences. Dr. Sutton primarily provides data analytic support to clinical and laboratory research projects lead by TRIP faculty. He also has expertise in the areas of emotion and motivation with an emphasis on biologically based individual differences and biological correlates of emotional and motivational processes.


Steve Sutton, Ph.D



Kate Janse Van Rensburg, Ph.D

Dr. Janse Van Rensburg is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at TRIP. She received her doctoral degree in experimental and health psychology at the University of Exeter, UK, where she studied the possible neurological mechanisms that may underpin the effects of exercise on cigarette withdrawal. She continues this line of research at TRIP where she focuses on the effects of a single session of exercise on aspects of withdrawal, including cognitive disruption, mood, cravings, and desire to smoke.
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