Robin J. Mermelstein, PhD

Distinguished Professor of Psychology and IHRP Director

Dr. Robin Mermelstein, a Distinguished Professor, College of Liberal Arts and Science, Department of Psychology, directs the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also is a research professor of community health sciences in the UIC School of Public Health, and the co-director of the UIC Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

Her research interests fall broadly in the area of tobacco use, with studies ranging from longitudinal examinations of the etiology of youth smoking to cessation interventions for adult smokers.

Since the mid 1990s, Dr. Mermelstein has been the principal investigator of a series of studies, including two consecutive program projects funded by the National Cancer Institute, to investigate trajectories of smoking patterns among adolescents and young adults, with a focus on social and emotional contextual factors.

In addition, she has been funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to examine factors related to youth smoking, and by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Cancer Institute for studies of adult smoking reduction and cessation. Other areas of research focus include health behaviors of young adults and motivational interventions to increase smoking cessation.

Cover of 2015 I-O-M report on raising the minimum age of legal access to tobacco productsDr. Mermelstein is the past-president of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco and serves on national research review committees of the National Institutes of Health. She served on the Institute of Medicine committee that wrote the 2015 consensus study report, Public Health Implications of Raising the Minimum Age of Legal Access to Tobacco Products.

She directed the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's national program office of Partners with Tobacco Use Research Centers: A Transdisciplinary Approach to Advancing Science and Policy Studies. As part of this program, RWJF collaborated with both NCI and the National Institute on Drug Abuse in funding the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Centers.

In 2014, the University of Illinois at Chicago named Dr. Mermelstein Woman of the Year for her contributions to women's health and professional development.

Research Interests

Etiology and progression of health-promoting and health compromising behaviors among adolescents and adults; tobacco use (very broadly), with studies ranging from longitudinal examinations of the etiology of youth smoking to cessation interventions for adolescent and adult smokers; behavioral health risk reduction and interventions

Recent and Noteworthy Publications

A sample of peer-reviewed articles by Dr. Mermelstein since 2013 are below. See PubMed for a more current and detailed list of published studies by Dr. Mermelstein.

Hertel AW, Sokolovsky AS, Mermelstein RJ. An investigation of the relationship between identifying as a smoker and urges to smoke among young adult combustible cigarette smokers. Psychol Addict Behav. 2020 Mar 12. doi: 10.1037/adb0000571.

Wilhelm J, Abudayyeh H, Perreras L, Taylor R, Peters EN, Vandrey R, Hedeker D, Mermelstein R, Cohn A. Measuring the temporal association between cannabis and tobacco use among Co-using young adults using ecological momentary assessment.Addict Behav. 2020 May;104:106250. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106250. Epub 2019 Dec 19.


Engle JL, Mermelstein R, Baker TB, Smith SS, Schlam TR, Piper ME, Jorenby DE, Collins LM, Cook JW. Effects of motivation phase intervention components on quit attempts in smokers unwilling to quit: A factorial experiment. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2019 Apr 1;197:149-157.

Selya AS, Dierker L, Rose JS, Hedeker D, Mermelstein RJ. The Role of Nicotine Dependence in E-Cigarettes' Potential for Smoking Reduction. Nicotine Tob Res. 2018 Sep 4;20(10):1272-1277.

Selya AS, Rose JS, Dierker L, Hedeker D, Mermelstein RJ. Evaluating the mutual pathways among electronic cigarette use, conventional smoking and nicotine dependence. Addiction. 2018 Feb;113(2):325-333.

Selya AS, Dierker L, Rose JS, Hedeker D, Mermelstein RJ. The role of nicotine dependence in e-cigarettes' potential for smoking reduction. Nicotine Tob Res. In press.

Petersen A, Mermelstein R, Berg KM, Baker TB, Smith SS, Jorenby D, et al. Offering smoking treatment to primary care patients in two Wisconsin healthcare systems: Who chooses smoking reduction versus cessation? Prev Med. 2017 Dec;105:332-336.

Villanti AC, Johnson AL, Rath JM, et al. Identifying "social smoking" U.S. young adults using an empirically-driven approach. Addict Behav. 2017 Jul;70:83-89.

Piasecki TM, Trela CJ, Mermelstein RJ. Hangover symptoms, heavy episodic drinking, and depression in young adults: a cross-lagged analysis. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2017 Jul;78(4):580-587.

Gorka SM, Hedeker D, Piasecki TM, Mermelstein R. Impact of alcohol use motives and internalizing symptoms on mood changes in response to drinking: An ecological momentary assessment investigation. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017 Apr 1;173:31-38.

Pugach O, Cannon DS, Weiss RB, Hedeker D, Mermelstein RJ. Classification tree analysis as a method for uncovering relations between CHRNA5A3B4 and CHRNB3A6 in predicting smoking progression in adolescent smokers. Nicotine Tob Res. 2017 Apr 1;19(4):410-416.

Gao W, Hedeker D, Mermelstein R, Xie H. A scalable approach to measuring the impact of nonignorable nonresponse with an EMA application. Stat Med. 2016 Dec 30;35(30):5579-5602.

Curry SJ, Mermelstein RJ, Sporer AK. Sustainability of community-based youth smoking cessation programs: results from a 3-year follow-up. Health Promot Pract. 2016 Nov;17(6):845-852.

Selya AS, Dierker L, Rose JS, Hedeker D, Mermelstein RJ. Early-emerging nicotine dependence has lasting and time-varying effects on adolescent smoking behavior. Prev Sci. 2016 Aug;17(6):743-750.

Piasecki TM, Hedeker D, Dierker LC, Mermelstein RJ. Progression of nicotine dependence, mood level, and mood variability in adolescent smokers. Psychol Addict Behav. 2016 Jun;30(4):484-93.

Cannon DS, Mermelstein RJ, Medina TR, Pugach O, Hedeker D, Weiss RB. CYP2A6 effects on subjective reactions to initial smoking attempt. Nicotine Tob Res. 2016 May;18(5):637-641.

Schuster RM, Mermelstein RJ, Hedeker D. Ecological momentary assessment of working memory under conditions of simultaneous marijuana and tobacco use. Addiction. 2016 Aug;111(8):1466-1476.

Cannon DS, Medina TR, Mermelstein RJ, Hedeker D, Bakian AV, Coon H, Cook EH, Hamil C, Weiss RB. CYP2A6 longitudinal effects in young smokers. Nicotine Tob Res. 2016 Feb;18(2):196-203

Cook JW, Collins LM, Fiore MC, et al. Comparative effectiveness of motivation phase intervention components for use with smokers unwilling to quit: a factorial screening experiment. Addiction. 2016 Jan;111(1):117-28.

Schuster RM, Mermelstein RJ, Hedeker D. Acceptability and feasibility of a visual working memory task in an ecological momentary assessment paradigm. Psychol Assess. 2015 Dec;27(4):1463-70 

Crane NA, Langenecker SA, Mermelstein RJ. Gender differences in the associations among marijuana use, cigarette use and symptoms of depression during adolescence and young adulthood. Addict Behav. 2015 Oct;49:33-9.

Crane NA, Schuster RM, Mermelstein RJ, Gonzalez R. Neuropsychological sex differences associated with age of initiated use among young adult cannabis users. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2015;37(4):389-401.

Passarotti AM, Crane NA, Hedeker D, Mermelstein RJ. Longitudinal trajectories of marijuana use from adolescence to young adulthood. Neuropsychology. 2015 Sep;29(5):759-66.

Nadell MJ, Mermelstein RJ, Hedeker D, Marquez DX. Work and non-work physical activity predict real-time smoking level and urges in young adults. Nicotine Tob Res. 2015 Jul;17(7):803-9.

Dierker L, Rose J, Selya A, Piasecki TM, Hedeker D, Mermelstein R. Depression and nicotine dependence from adolescence to young adulthood. Addict Behav. 2015 Feb;41:124-128.

Honors and Awards

2014 UIC Woman of the Year Award
2006 Distinguished Clinical Mentor Award, Society of Behavioral Medicine
Fellow, Society of Behavioral Medicine
University Scholar, UIC