Skip to content
Uma Rao, MD
Uma Rao has directed the Center for Behavioral Health Research since August 2014 and is the Betsey R. Bush Endowed Professor in Behavioral Health in the College of Social Work. She is a Professor of Family Medicine in the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine and an Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Dr. Rao has been involved in mood and substance use disorders research for over twenty years. Her primary areas of interest are adolescent depressive and substance use disorders during the developmental transition to adulthood. Dr. Rao’s research interests also include physical/medical conditions that frequently co-occur with these disorders, particularly obesity and pain.
Uma Rao’s Vita
Denzel Dukes, MSSW
Denzel Dukes has managed the Center for Behavioral Health Research’s operations and worked directly on various Center research projects for over twenty years. He previously served in management positions in a number of community nonprofit organizations. Mr. Dukes has been closely involved in developing the ARC organizational change strategy since its initial pilot testing in the mid-1990s.
Denzel Dukes’s Vita
Michael Mason, PhD
Michael Mason is the Betsey R. Bush Endowed Professor in Children and Families at Risk in the College of Social Work. Prior to coming to the University of Tennessee, Dr. Mason was an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, and Director of the Commonwealth Institute on Child and Family Studies, in the School of Medicine, at Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Mason completed his undergraduate degree at Pepperdine University, his masters at San Diego State University, and his doctorate from Oregon State University. He completed a National Institute on Mental Health postdoctoral research fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, School of Public Health, Department of Mental Hygiene.
Dr. Mason’s work seeks to understand and test the idea that substance use is a developmentally contingent social practice that is constituted within the routine social-environment of individuals’ lives. His work is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and state foundations.
Michael Mason’s Vita
Charles Glisson, PhD
Charles Glisson, Professor Emeritus, is the founding director of the Center. He has directed multiple interdisciplinary mental health services research projects since founding the Center in 1988. His research focused on organizational culture and climate, and their impact on client and other outcomes in child welfare and mental health services.
Charles Glisson’s Vita
John Wodarski, PhD
John Wodarski is a Professor in the College of Social Work. He has served as a principal investigator on multiple projects funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and foundations. His interests include substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and evidence-based treatments.
John Wodarski’s Vita
Lisa Reyes Mason, PhD
Lisa Reyes Mason is an Assistant Professor in the College of Social Work and faculty director of the Environment and Social Development initiative at Washington University in St. Louis. She is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment. Through community engagement, her multidisciplinary research examines social vulnerability and adaptation to problems at the nexus of society and the environment such as climate change, water security, urban pollution, and severe weather.
Lisa Reyes Mason’s Vita
Philip Green, PhD
Philip Green, Research Scientist, is responsible for the collection, analysis, and interpretation of research data, and he is involved in the ongoing development of the Center’s Organizational Social Context Measure. He holds a doctorate in experimental psychology from the University of Tennessee.
Philip Green’s Vita
Nikola Zaharakis, PhD
Nikola Zaharakis, Postdoctoral Research Associate, has over ten years of experience with project coordination and data management related to substance use risk and protective factors and clinical trials research, including m-health technologies. Broadly, she is interested in adolescent and young adult substance use and treatment. She holds a MS in Clinical Psychology and a PhD in Applied Developmental Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Nikola Zaharakis’s Vita
Ashley Howdeshell, Business Manager, develops the Center’s budgets, facilitates contracts and subcontracts, and monitors expenditures to ensure budgetary and regulatory compliance. She has over ten years combined experience in grant funding administration and accounting in higher education and the business sector.
Connie Armstrong coordinates large research projects and is responsible for developing budgets and monitoring expenses for those projects. She also provides administrative support for preparing and submitting grant proposals, publications, and reports.
Shauna Cook coordinates large research projects and the submission of grant proposals, publications, and reports. She also develops project budgets and monitors expenditures.
Claire Van Riper
Claire Van Riper provides project support for Center staff and is a liaison between the Center and organizations implementing ARC. She has over ten years of experience in program coordination.