UVM’s Villanti, Copeland named to list of world’s most influential researchers

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Fri, 11/20/2020 - 9:51am -- Denise Sortor

Two University of Vermont faculty have been named to a list of the world’s most influential researchers, based on the number of times their published studies have been cited by other researchers over the past decade.

UVM faculty named to the list are Andrea Villanti, associate professor of Psychiatry, and William Copeland, professor of Psychiatry. Researchers on the list are in the top 1 percent of all scholars whose work has been cited. The prestigious Highly Cited Researchers list is compiled and published annually by Clarivate Analytics.

“There is no higher validation for a researcher than having your research cited by another scholar,” said Kirk Dombrowski, UVM’s vice president for research. “We’re very proud of Drs. Copeland and Villanti for producing such influential bodies of work.” 

Andrea Villanti, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor of Psychiatry (primary appointment) in the Larner College of Medicine and Psychology.

Villanti’s primary research focus is on young adult tobacco use, including predictors and patterns of use and interventions to reduce tobacco use in young adults. Her work focuses on design, collection, and analysis of population survey data and conducting experiments and intervention trials in large, online samples. She has received funding from a range of organizations, including the National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She has published more than 150 papers in peer reviewed journals, including the American Journal of Public Health, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, and Addiction.

Villanti also has expertise in translational research to improve tobacco control policy and program decision-making, including tobacco regulatory science. She partners with the Vermont Department of Health on the Policy and Communication Evaluation (PACE) Vermont study to understand the impact of state-level policies and communication campaigns on substance use beliefs and behaviors in young Vermonters. She serves as a co-leader of the Cancer Control and Population Health Sciences program at the UVM Cancer Center and a co-investigator in the UVM Center on Tobacco Regulatory Science and the UVM Center on Rural Addiction. 

Villanti’s current NIH-funded research projects include developing and testing novel messages to educate the public on nicotine, examining potential substitutes for menthol cigarettes under a hypothetical menthol cigarette ban, and understanding perceptions and problems associated with vaping in youth and young adults. Villanti earned a doctorate in social and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University and a master’s in public health degree at Columbia University.

Villanti was named in the Social Sciences category.

William Copeland, Ph.D., professor of Psychiatry in the Larner College of Medicine and director of research, Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families.

Copeland is a professor of Psychiatry and the director of research in the Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families at UVM’s Larner College of Medicine. He was trained as a clinical psychologist at UVM and then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in psychiatric epidemiology at Duke University Medical Center. 

He is the principal investigator of the prospective, longitudinal Great Smoky Mountains study, which has been following 1,420 participants in rural Appalachia for over 25 years to understand the long-term consequences of early adverse experiences and the development of mental illness. He is an investigator on the Duke Preschool Anxiety Study, the University of Vermont WE App Study and Project RAISE.  

His research program has focused on understanding the developmental epidemiology of emotional and behavior health across the lifespan. This work includes understanding the interplay between early adverse experiences and genetic vulnerability with other individual, family and contextual characteristics.  

His research has been supported by the National Institutes of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, all within the National Institutes of Health, and by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. This program of research has led to over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts including publications in JAMA, JAMA: Psychiatry, the American Journal of Psychiatry, American Journal of Public Health, Molecular Psychiatry, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. His work has been covered in such national news outlets as Slate, the New York Times, TIME magazine and CNN. 

Copeland also teaches undergraduate students in the “Healthy Brains, Healthy Bodies” course as part of the  Behavioral Change Health Studies minor. 

Copeland was named in the Psychiatry and Psychology category. He was previously named to the Highly Cited Researchers list in 2017 and 2019.

Photo: courtesy UVM