Our Team

The Project Quit team at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is dedicated to improving treatment for smokers who are trying to kick the habit. Our team is comprised of committed and focused researchers with varied backgrounds, including psychiatrists, psychologists, medical doctors, physician assistants, biostatisticians, and research support personnel of study coordinators and research assistants. The group is based out of the Addiction Sciences Division of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science and works collaboratively with the other campus research groups like the South Carolina Tobacco Research Group (SCTRIG).

Initially established to focus on a quit smoking study to assist adolescents, the Project Quit team has expanded to include other active research—both treatment based and observational—to better understand tobacco use disorder. The focus of the team is to explore the potential to improve treatment outcomes through the spectrum of tobacco users from adolescence through adulthood.

Lead Investigator

Erin A. McClure, PhD

Dr. McClure is a behavioral psychologist and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. McClure earned her B.S. in Psychology and Neuroscience from Allegheny College in 2003, and earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Florida in 2009. Go Gators! She completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. McClure’s research interests focus broadly on improving strategies to treat cigarette smoking and study the complex process of relapse, while integrating technology to improve research and treatment efforts. Dr. McClure enjoys being outside and loves hiking and playing volleyball. Dr. McClure also loves the food scene in Charleston and cooking at home with husband and sous chef, Eric.

Affiliated Investigators

Matthew Carpenter, PHD

Dr. Carpenter is a clinical psychologist by training, and has leading tobacco-related research for 20+ years. He earned a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University in 1993, masters (1998) from Loyola University in Baltimore MD, and his doctoral degree (2003) from the University of Vermont. He joined the MUSC faculty in 2006, and currently serves as co-Leader of the Cancer Control Program at the Hollings Cancer Center. Dr. Carpenter leads a number of clinical trials for smoking cessation and evaluation of alternative tobacco products. When not at work, he tries to keep up with his active family (wife Laura, 3 kids, and 1 dog), usually in an attempt to see the world or to get lost in the woods. When all else fails, a good book on a sunny day will suffice just fine.

Kevin Gray, M.D.

Dr. Gray is a board certified child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist who has dedicated his career to helping young people struggling with substance use. After earning his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Clemson University, Dr. Gray completed medical school, psychiatry residency and child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at MUSC. His research focuses on developing innovative tobacco cessation and marijuana cessation treatments. Dr. Gray has maintained active clinical and research practice since joining the MUSC faculty in 2005. He is a nationally recognized leader in clinical, research, education and policy initiatives to improve adolescent substance use outcomes. A native of South Carolina, Dr. Gray enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters, and is proud to raise a family in this beautiful area.

Xingbao Li , M.D.

Dr. Li earned his M.D. and M.S. in China. In 2019, Dr. Li completed his Master of Science in Clinical Research at MUSC. He has been working in the Brain Stimulation Lab since 2000. He is also a faculty member at the Center for Biomedical Imaging (CBI) at MUSC. His research interests include transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), functional MRI, and combining TMS and functional MRI techniques in neuropsychiatry, especially in substance abuse. Dr. Li is a pioneer in using TMS for smoking cessation. US NIH has awarded Dr. Li in the development of addiction therapy since 2014. He loves to walk a trail with his wife on the weekend. He also enjoys family travel with his two adult daughters.

Michael Saladin, PHD

Dr. Saladin is a licensed psychologist, clinical scientist and Professor in the Department of Health Sciences and Research, College of Health Professions. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He has been a faculty member at MUSC for more than 25 years and has served as Principal/Co-Investigator on numerous NIH-funded clinical trials and laboratory-based studies in the area of addiction, with a focus on how learning/memory processes impact substance use disorders and how sex hormones affect smoking behavior and cessation. Outside of his research pursuits and clinical care work, Dr. Saladin enjoys mountain travel, backpacking, and trekking all over the world.

Tracy Smith, PHD

Dr. Tracy Smith earned her PhD in Biological and Health Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and has been conducting research related to nicotine and tobacco for 8 years. The primary goal of her research is to improve public health by providing information about how to regulate tobacco products, including both cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Dr. Smith is originally from South Carolina and earned her undergraduate degree from College of Charleston. When she’s not at work, Tracy spends as much time as possible by the ocean with her family.

Research Staff

Kemi Chukwuka-White, M.S.

Kemi is a Program Coordinator II in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Duke University in 2008 and a master’s in Medical Science from the Medical University of South Carolina in 2019. Her research interests are broad and include addiction sciences, vulnerable populations, and the influence of behavioral or social processes on health outcomes. Kemi enjoys traveling with her husband, Justin, interior decorating, reading, event planning, and spending quality time with loved ones including her moody American Eskimo puppy, Ammy.

Ben Laprise

Ben is a Research Assistant. He graduated with a B.A from the University of South Carolina. After arriving to MUSC in 2019, Ben has enjoyed working collaboratively with the Project Quit team to solve problems and improve research. He also enjoys meeting with participants and seeing their progress. When not working, Ben is running, or recovering from running. He also enjoys reading about the Social Sciences.

Emma Mandel

Emma is a Research Assistant in the Department of Psychiatry Addiction Sciences Division. In 2021 Emma graduated from Oregon State University with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. While completing her undergraduate degree, she was able to volunteer for organizations that focused on serving vulnerable populations. She particularly enjoyed working with Jackson Street Youth Services and OSU’s Inside/Out Program. It was there she discovered her passion for understanding both the root cause and impact of addiction on a person’s life. Emma also enjoys embroidering, borosilicate glass work, and taking road trips with her friends and partner.

Isabeau Burnett

Isabeau is a Student Research Assistant. She currently attends the University of Chicago where she is double majoring in Biology and Creative Writing. She works closely with the other Research Assistants and staff to assist in participant visits, data entry, and more. Outside of MUSC, she mentors first-generation, low-income students with applying and matriculating to selective universities.