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Institute for Global Tobacco Control


Ayodeji Awopegba, DMD, MPH
Research Program Manager

Ayodeji Awopegba provides support for the Institute for Global Tobacco Control's (IGTC) online tobacco control training programs, helping to create a platform for communication between the IGTC and participants, and assists with other research projects. Dr. Awopegba worked as a research assistant at the institute during his MPH program. He helped develop a surveillance system for tobacco packaging and labeling in the 14 Bloomberg Inititative countries, offered methodological and logistical support for the project, and provided research on tobacco legislation. He previously worked as a dental officer for federal and state hospitals in Nigeria. Dr. Awopegba received his dental degree and a year of clinical training from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and his master of public health from Johns Hopkins University.

Ashley Grant, MPH
Research Program Manager

Ashley Grant manages a variety of projects at IGTC, focusing on policy implementation and compliance. Ms. Grant coordinates the Bloomberg Initiative working group tasked with developing a series of TAPS compliance assessment guides, and implemented the first of these protocols to assess compliance with TAPS bans at points of sale in the Russian Federation. She also works on a project which seeks to evaluate the utility of social media and mobile technologies to support compliance with smoke-free places. Ms. Grant has provided technical assistance for air quality monitoring projects in several countries, including training, data analysis and reporting. She previously worked as the data manager of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She received a BS in health policy and management from Providence College, and a master of public health degree in global health from Tufts University.

Jeffrey Hardesty, MPH
Research Program Manager 

Jeffrey Hardesty currently works on several projects for IGTC, including cigarette health warning labels, tobacco usage among Palestinian refugees and the efficacy of social media in supporting smoke-free policies. He previously conducted clinical research at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health aiming to increase patient participation in non-small cell lung cancer clinical trials in an ethical manner. Mr. Hardesty received his MPH from the Bloomberg School with a concentration in epidemiology and biostatistics.

Michael Iacobelli, MPH
Research Program Manager

Michael Iacobelli will lead monitoring field data collection for the TPackSS project, and will manage the intake and coding process of packs from 14 countries around the world. He will also lead contract activities with in-country data collection agencies and support in-field training. Mr. Iacobelli holds an MPH from George Washington University School of Public Health and previously worked as a research associate at Evidera. 

Asim Khan, MA
Communications Associate

Asim Khan is responsible for developing and implementing communication strategies to effectively disseminate the work of the institute through multiple channels, including the web and electronic media. He is also involved in creating multimedia content and design projects for IGTC. Mr. Khan holds a master of arts in media design/publications design from the University of Baltimore, and a bachelor of arts in sociology from McDaniel College. He previously worked as a Marketing Production Specialist for American Postal Workers Union Health Plan in Glen Burnie.

Naseeb Kibria, MSE
Research Program Manager

Naseeb Kibria is involved in a variety of projects, including a multi-country study to measure levels of secondhand smoke exposure in select public places and subsequent dissemination of the results to advocate for policy change. She also managed a multi-year project in Vietnam aimed at building capacity of the Ministry of Health on tobacco control issues and was responsible for program implementation and providing technical assistance. Ms. Kibria previously worked as a program manger on asthma and environmental health issues at the national headquarters of the American Lung Association in Washington, DC. She holds a bachelor of dental surgery degree from Dhaka Dental College, Bangladesh, and a master of science and education in public health from the University of Toledo, Ohio.

Rebecca Lesser, BS
Research Assistant

Rebecca Lesser is an assistant on the TPackSS project, coding tobacco packs for compliance in accordance with the health regulations for 14 countries. Rebecca’s previous work includes working in a lab assisting in a cognitive process of learning research study and conducting research on the impact of the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill on marine life. Ms. Lesser completed her BS in psychology from Mississippi State University.

Mustafa Sakib, BA
Research Assistant

Mustafa Sakib is an assistant on the TPackSS project, coding tobacco packs for compliance in accordance with the health warning regulations, pack features and appeals. Mustafa was previously an assistant researcher on a study at the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research that looked at the comparative effectiveness of multilevel interventions over traditional health system intervention to reduce hypertension disparities among minorities. Mustafa graduated with a BA in psychology from Hood College.

Kara Robinson, BS
Research Assistant

Kara Robinson is an assistant on the TPackSS project, coding cigarette packs for compliance with health warning regulations and for pack features and appeals, as well as cleaning data and preparing for project field work. She previously worked as an infectious control assistant at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and graduated with a BS in community health science from Towson University.

Heidi Saunders, MBA
Senior Research Financial Analyst

Heidi Saunders is responsible for managing all the pre- and post-award financial activities for IGTC projects, as well as the day-to-day financial operations of the institute. She holds an MBA in economics, management and corporate social responsibility and a BS in finance, both from the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg. Ms. Saunders previously worked as a financial specialist for Fairfax County Government in Virginia.

Mark Spires, MPH
Research Program Manager

Mark Spires is responsible for managing various research projects at IGTC, including the investigation of ways to utilize social media and online communities to encourage higher levels of public engagement in smoke-free issues, and a number of projects evaluating levels of tobacco control policy compliance and implementation fidelity. Prior to joining IGTC, Mark worked on evaluating the sustainability of hygiene promotion education in South Africa and interned with the World Health Organization in the department of Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion in Geneva, Switzerland. Mr. Spires received a BA in international cultural studies and holds a master of public health degree in global health. He has also earned a graduate-level certificate in health and human rights from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Ashley Waith, MBA
Administrative Coordinator

Ashley Waith is the first point of contact at IGTC and is responsible for administrative tasks that support the research team. She is a 2012 MBA graduate from the University of Baltimore, and received her undergraduate degree in business administration from Stevenson University.

Carmen Washington, MPH, MSW
Research Program Manager

Carmen Washington is supporting knowledge generation for the institute’s Bloomberg Initiative. She is leading the development of a surveillance system for tobacco product packaging in 14 countries. In this capacity she is responsible for the development, implementation and management of all data collection and maintenance, and collaborative communication with country partners. Prior to IGTC she worked as an Evaluation Specialist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, for the CDC’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant and evaluating the city of Chicago’s tobacco policies. She also has experience working in Rwanda and South Africa conducting community-based evaluation and research. Ms. Washington holds both master of public health and master of social work degrees from the University of Washington. 

Kevin Welding, PhD
Senior Biostatistician

Kevin Welding will lead the analysis of the data collected by the TPackSS project, and will provide statistical support on a variety of other projects at IGTC. During his PhD studies, he studied the effectiveness of state-level cigarette excise taxes on older smokers in the U.S. His work in the domestic fiscal policy area highlighted the significance of the global market and of tobacco control policies that complement cigarette taxation. His current research interests center around how demographic and socioeconomic differences affect population response to tobacco regulatory policy. Dr. Welding received his doctoral degree in economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his master's degree in applied economics from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.