The Grant Team

The current social norms team is comprised of members from Olin Health Center's Health Education team, the College of Communication Arts & Sciences' Communication department, and the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research.

Dennis P. Martell, Ph.D. - Co-Principal Investigator

Dennis MartellDennis P. Martell (Ph.D., Human Ecology, Michigan State University, 1993) is Coordinator of Health Education at Olin Health Center on the campus of Michigan State University. He also serves as the coordinator for research and policy for the health education department. From 1998 to 2000 he served as the research and policy advisor on alcohol for President Peter McPherson's Michigan State University/Community Action Team, which produced the document "Challenging the Environment of High Risk Drinking". This document, with its 33 recommendations, serves as a template for reducing high-risk drinking and harmful consequences. Dr. Martell shared joint responsibility to implement the 33 recommendations, which included social norm and harm reduction campaigns, as well as environmental prevention initiatives.

From 2003-2006 he has since served as a Co- Principal Investigator on a grant through the Social Norms Resource and Research Center focused on exploring celebratory and global drinking patterns and social norms interventions. That grant has been renewed for another 4 years in which he will serve once again as the co-principal investigator. He is a sought after speaker and has presented his work on social norming, environmental prevention, and effective health message creation at several national conferences including ACHA, MACHA, and the National Conference on Social Norms. Dr. Martell has co-authored an award winning book entitled, Effective Health Risk Messages, Sage Publishing, 2001. His innovative work with operationalizing efficacy and threat based theory has led to effective assessments being created which ascertain tailored messages to be given to individual and populations in the prevention of risky behavior.

Dr. Martell worked with the B.R.A.D (Be Responsible About Drinking) foundation to develop the 21st Birthday Card. This card, which is sent to all Michigan State University students one-week before their 21st birthday, brings a message of responsible drinking and education about alcohol poisoning. He also served as co-director in the evaluation of the card. The evaluation showed a reduction in alcohol use and an increase in protective behaviors by participants during the 21st birthday celebration. The card is now being used in some variation by over 80 colleges and universities. Dr. Martell's collaborative work on celebration drinking has been included in the new Anheuser-Busch's "College Talk: A Parent's Guide on Talking to Your College Bound Student About Drinking".

Sandi W. Smith - Co-Principal Investigator

Sandi W. Smith Sandi W. Smith is Director of the Health and Risk Communication Center and Professor in the Department of Communication at Michigan State University where she teaches courses in persuasion, communication theory, and interpersonal communication. Her research interests parallel these course topics and have been funded by private foundations and governmental agencies. In specific, she has focused her research on the impact of memorable messages received from important others on health behaviors; persuading people to carry signed and witnessed organ donor cards and to engage in family discussion about their decisions related to organ donation encouraging college students to consume alcohol moderately, if at all; and the portrayal of interpersonal relationships on television. Her research has appeared in journals such as Communication Monographs, Human Communication Research, Health Communication, the Journal of Health Communication, Journal of Communication, and the Journal of Applied Communication Research, among others. She is active in the International Communication Association where she served as Chair of the Interpersonal Communication Division and was a member of the Board of Directors. She has received honors for her teaching and research from student groups, professional associations, and the universities at which she has worked. In 2007, she was honored with the Distinguished Faculty Award at Michigan State University, and in 2008 she received the B. Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award from the International Communication Association. Sandi received her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Southern California.

She is inordinately fond of dogs and mystery novels.

Charles K. Atkin, PhD

Charles K. AtkinCharles Atkin is University Distinguished Professor and Chair in the Department of Communication at Michigan State University. He holds a PhD in Mass Communications from University of Wisconsin. In 2006, he received the national “Decade of Behavior Research Award” for his applied health and safety research on the role of the mass media in prevention of problems associated with alcohol and drunk driving, which featured a congressional briefing on “Promising Strategies for Media Health Campaigns”.

He has written four books presenting content related to media and alcohol : Public communication Campaigns (2001), with Ronald Rice; Mass Communication and Public Health: Complexities and Conflicts (1990), with Lawrence Wallack; Preventing Teenage Drinking and Other Drug Problems (1986), and Market Research on Alcohol Attitudes (1985). Atkin has consulted with NIAAA, NIDA, NIMH, NCI, OSAP/CSAP, HRSA, USDOT and National Academies of Science on campaign design and evaluation.

He has testified to numerous federal hearings and inquiries, including the U.S. Surgeon General’s Workshop on Drunk Driving (Role of mass media in preventing alcohol problems), National Commission Against Drunk Driving (Community-based strategies to prevent youth impaired driving), U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Telecommunications (Regulation of lifestyle portrayals of alcohol in broadcasting), White House Drug Abuse Policy Office and American Bar Association Advisory Commission on Youth Alcohol and Drug Problems (Recommendations regarding alcohol advertising regulation and public service campaigns), U.S. Senate, Subcommittee on alcoholism and Drug Abuse (Research evidence on impact of beer and wine commercials on audiences), and Presidential commission on Driving and Drinking (Impact of alcohol advertising on drunk driving).

Larry A. Hembroff, Ph.D.

Larry A. HembroffLarry Hembroff, Ph.D., (Sociology, Washington State University, 1978) joined the MSU faculty in 1987 after nine years in the Sociology Department of Radford University in Virginia. A year later, he was asked to establish and develop the Office for Survey Research (OSR), which then launched its first telephone survey in early 1989.

He oversees the methodological approaches of the Institute for Public Policy Survey Research's OSR at all phases, including sampling designs, training, questionnaire development, data collection, data processing and analysis.

He has published several monographs, and numerous research articles in such journals as Social Psychology Quarterly, Social Forces, the American Journal of Sociology, and others. He has authored or co-authored dozens of research reports over a wide range of topics for foundations, state and county government agencies, municipalities, and university administrative offices. And, he has authored numerous briefing papers based on the State of the State Surveys. Beyond research for clients, he has an on-going interest in and has conducted a variety of experiments exploring survey methodology.

Rebecca Allen

Rebecca AllenRebecca Allen received a BA in Social Work from Michigan State University in 1988 and a Master Degree in Social Work in 1989. She has subsequently worked in a variety of health-related administrative settings, including the state-level HIV/AIDS training and quality assurance office, substance abuse treatment and prevention programs, and Osteoporosis screening and education. Currently, she is the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Educator for Michigan State University. In this capacity, she has been primarily responsible for the implementation and coordination of ATOD education efforts within the University. As part of her responsibilities, she has coordinated the campaign portion of the current social norms project funded through the National Social Norms Research Center. Ms. Allen also acts as a liaison, and provides technical consultation and staffing to several campus and community groups on matters related to alcohol education and substance abuse prevention.

In her free time, Ms. Allen spends as much time as possible playing outdoors, and is an avid fly angler. She delights in putsing around her 5 acre rural haven with her partner of 14 years, 3 cats and a wild little border collie named Dylan. She has been known to get lost in a good book from time to time, and has a great observational affinity for nighttime creatures. Ms. Allen is fascinated by almost everything.

Wilma Novales-Wibert

Wilma Novales-WibertWilma Novalés Wibert is the Grant Specialist with the Health and Risk Communication Center at Michigan State University. She earned her Ph.D from Michigan State University’s college of Social Science. Her research interests include issues that impact educational outcomes of students in higher education

Andrew Poole

Andrew PooleAndrew Poole is principally responsible for the design of the social norms messages that the program uses. He designs these messages in coordination with the entire team, and is the creative force behind the graphic design process.

Ed Glazer

Edward L. GlazerEd Glazer is pursuing a PhD in Communication in health and computer mediated communication. He began working with the social norms team at Michigan State University while completing his MA in Telecommunication. He has experience working in the public and private sector as a web developer, television and radio producer, and journalist. Ed is responsible for the online media and programming of the project, including the development of surveying and measurement system utilizing the Facebook system.

Matthew Grizzard

Matthew GrizzardMatthew Grizzard is an M.A. student studying mass communication.

Carolyn LaPlante

Carolyn LaPlanteCarolyn LaPlante is currently an undergraduate student at Michigan State majoring in Communication with an additional major in Professional Writing. She has been a Professorial Assistant to Dr. Sandi Smith for two years and has been a part of various research projects on the Social Norms Model Grant.


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