Jennifer Pearson joined the University of Nevada, Reno as an assistant professor in 2017 and is already making impactful contributions through her research. faculty member’s work is being recognized by the 2021 Regents’ Rising Researcher Award, which acknowledges a faculty member’s “early-career accomplishments and potential for future advancement and recognition in research.”
Pearson’s research explores how tobacco, cannabis and e-cigarette policies affect consumer behavior. In her nomination of Pearson, Trudy Larson, dean of the School of Community Health Sciences at the University, noted, “Dr. Pearson is an energetic and committed young public health professional who has already contributed much to our field. She is extremely well-regarded by our faculty and students and has demonstrated substantial promise through her research accomplishments.”
Pearson elaborated on this research and the greater impact she hopes it will have on society.
What inspired you to pursue this research?
I am motivated by a desire to be useful to society. I want to contribute in my own small way to creating a world where the healthy choice is the easy choice so that people can live long, healthy, happy lives. I started my research career focusing on cigarette smoking because it is still the top cause of preventable death in the county, killing nearly half a million U.S. adults every year. Nicotine is a very difficult drug to quit, and we don’t have very good pharmacological treatments for nicotine dependence. Given these facts, tobacco control policy research seemed like a good place to start.
I expanded my work to e-cigarettes’ effect on public health because I’m also motivated by justice. Tobacco control often focuses on adolescent smoking prevention, which is incredibly important, but sometimes I feel like we write off adult smokers as lost causes, even though many of them started smoking when they were children.