Meet the Team

Here you can learn more about the Center’s members, including their research interests and relevant publications.

Georg E. Matt, PhD

Co-Director
Professor of Psychology

Georg Matt, PhD

Name: Georg Matt, PhD

Position: Co-Director, Professor of Psychology

Email: gmatt@sdsu.edu

Publication: Google Scholar

Bio: Dr. Matt is a Professor of Psychology in the College of Sciences at San Diego State University and a participating member at the University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center. Dr. Matt’s research focuses on human exposure to tobacco smoke toxicants in real-world field settings and on strategies to protect people who do not smoke from the exposure to tobacco smoke toxicants from second- and thirdhand smoke. 

Dr. Matt is the Principal Investigator of the Thirdhand Smoke Dissemination, Outreach, and Resource Center (Thirdhand Smoke Resource Center) that connects thirdhand smoke researchers with California’s diverse communities. The Thirdhand Smoke Resource Center (1) publishes a website to share Thirdhand Smoke information and outcomes from Thirdhand Smoke Research Consortium-supported research with California residents, communities, tobacco groups, and business owners; (2) raises awareness among California residents through social media campaign; (3) shares what we know about Thirdhand Smoke with community groups, health professionals, and relevant tobacco control stakeholder groups through a series of online workshops; and (4) engages community groups, health professionals, and business owners about policies related to Thirdhand Smoke.

When Dr. Matt is not busy with his research and teaching, you can find him in San Diego’s backcountry trail-running and birding, in the backyard raising heirloom tomatoes and orchids, in the kitchen baking bread, or at an Aztecs basketball game.

Thomas E. Novotny, MD, MPH, DSc (Hon)

Co-Director
Professor
Emeritus School of Public Health

Thomas E. Novotny, MD, MPH, DSc (Hon)

Name: Thomas E. Novotny, MD, MPH, DSc (Hon)

Position: Co-Director, Professor Emeritus School of Public Health

Email: tnovotny@sdsu.edu

Publication: Google Scholar

Bio: Dr. Novotny is an Emeritus Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the Graduate School of Public Health at San Diego State University (SDSU). Previously, he was a Professor of Global Health and Co-Director of the Joint PhD Program in Global Health at SDSU and the University of California, San Diego. He was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health from 2015-2017 where he was involved in federal programs on tobacco control and public health. He has been a contributor to and editor of several Reports of the US Surgeon General on Tobacco and Health.

Dr. Novotny’s research has most recently focused on the environmental impact of tobacco use, and he initiated and guided the production of a WHO Overview on the life cycle of tobacco impacts on the environment. He also founded the Cigarette Butt Pollution Project, a 501c3 charity registered in California that involves several multi-sectoral collaborative partnerships. He has conducted extensive policy research, advocacy, and conceptual work in this area for over a decade. These activities included work with SDSU and UC researchers on the environmental exposures resulting from tobacco product waste. He has conducted successful dissemination activities with the Truth Initiative in Washington, DC, the California Tobacco Control Program, and other tobacco control advocacy groups.

Kai-Chung Cheng, PhD

Assistant Professor of Public Health

Kai-Chung Cheng, PhD

 

Name: Kai-Chung Cheng, PhD

Position: Assistant Professor of Public Health

Email: kcheng2@sdsu.edu

Publication: Google Scholar

Bio: Dr. Kai-Chung Cheng is an Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health at San Diego State University Imperial Valley. He also worked as a Research Engineer at Stanford University and a Research Scientist at the California Department of Public Health, with more than 10 years of experience in measuring and assessing air pollution and human exposure. He led a cohort study that evaluated the effect of an air purifier on indoor PM2.5 levels and asthma severity in children from low-income families in Fresno, California. He assessed the impacts of indoor smoking on involuntary tobacco smoke exposure in 36 Tribal casinos in California. He recently took the lead on a project that evaluated secondhand exposure to marijuana smoke; which systematically examined exposure of people near others who smoke, offering insight into recommended safe distances from cannabis smoking. His expertise also involves technology development. Using indoor positioning, he created a mobile mapping method to track time-varying locations and exposures of occupants inside buildings. He developed a machine learning method to differentiate smoking from other indoor particle emissions, such as cooking and household cleaning.

Nathan G. Dodder, PhD

Research Scientist School of Public Health

Nathan G. Dodder, PhD

Name: Nathan G. Dodder, PhD

 

Position: Research Scientist, School of Public Health

 

Email: ndodder@sdsu.edu

 

Bio: Dr. Dodder works in the School of Public Health’s Environmental Health Laboratory at San Diego State University. He is an analytical chemist specializing in applications related to environmental and public health, his expertise includes:

 

1) Analytical method development to quantify contaminants, metabolites, and protein biomarkers by chromatography/mass spectrometry.

2) Non-targeted mass spectrometry to identify unexpected environmental contaminants.

3) Environmental survey design to assess the occurrence and fate of contaminants in abiotic and biotic matrices.

4) Implementation of quality assurance/quality control procedures for chemical analyses.

5) Scientific software development, including tools for mass spectral interpretation and mass spectral libraries, automated quality control validation, and data analysis and visualization.

Dr. Dodder is a Co-Investigator of a couple of the CTE Public Health Projects. In these projects, he leads method development for qualitative and quantitative chemical analyses, with responsibility for QA/QC, laboratory maintenance, and training and supervision of laboratory technicians and student lab assistants.

Elana Elkin, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor of Environmental Health

Elana Elkin, PhD, MPH

Name: Elana Elkin, PhD, MPH

 

Position: Associate Professor of Environmental Health

 

Email: eelkin@sdsu.edu

 

Bio: Dr. Elkin is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Health at San Diego State University. She is a toxicologist specializing in reproductive and placental toxicology. Her research seeks to understand how exposures to environmental and occupational pollutants during pregnancy contribute to an elevated risk of developing adverse birth outcomes. Dr. Elkin is new to the Thirdhand Smoke Research Consortium and was recently awarded a pilot grant by the Consortium to investigate the toxic effects of third-hand smoke dust on placental cells. She is an avid genealogist in her spare time. 

 

Publication Link: NCBI

Joe Gibbons, PhD

Associate Professor of Sociology

Joe Gibbons, PhD

Name: Joe Gibbons, PhD

 

Position: Associate Professor of Sociology

 

Email: jgibbons@sdsu.edu

 

Bio: Dr. Gibbons is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at San Diego State University. He is a demographer with expertise in spatial analysis and neighborhood studies. In addition to a number of research projects about various public health topics, Dr. Gibbons researches environmental waste from tobacco, e-cigarettes, and marijuana products. His other research interests include health disparities and how gentrification impacts public well-being. 

Publication Link: Google Scholar

Paula E. Stigler Granados, PhD, MSPH

Assistant Professor of Public Health

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Lydia Greiner, DrPH

Adjunct Professor of Psychology

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