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.
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.
Brett Froeliger, PhD
Dr. Froeliger is a cognitive neuroscientist and the Director of the Translation Research of Addictions & Integrative Neuroscience (TRAIN) Laboratory. The overarching goal of the TRAIN lab is to use cognitive and affective neuroscience research methods to investigate drug addiction - psychiatric comorbidities. The TRAIN lab conducts studies that examine the neural mechanisms underlying addiction and relapse vulnerability, pharmacotherapies for treating the pathophysiology of addiction and mindfulness-based intervention that promote well-being.
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.
Colleen Hanlon, PHD
Dr. Hanlon became interested in the way that the brain controls behavior as a college student the University of Florida. Following a PhD in neurobiology at Duke University and a fellowship in pharmacology at Wake Forest University, Dr. Hanlon began building a research program at MUSC which uses non-invasive brain stimulation to modify the neural circuits that are responsible for addiction. She currently serves as an Associate Professor with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and is conducting several NIH-funded clinical trials using this technique (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) to help people decrease their use of cigarettes, alcohol, and pain medication. In her free time, Dr. Hanlon still enjoys playing tennis as well as trying to use her science-knowledge to grow heat tolerant vegetables in her backyard "farm."
Bryan W. Heckman, PHD
Dr. Heckman is a clinical psychologist who specializes in addiction studies, focusing on tobacco use disorders. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2006 and completed his graduate training along with Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at the University of South Florida in 2014. Following his clinical internship and postdoctoral research fellowship at MUSC Department of Neurosciences, Dr. Heckman remained in Charleston joining the Project Quit research team and Cancer Control Program at Hollings Cancer Center. When taking a break from research, Dr. Heckman is likely to be spending time with friends/family, traveling, cooking, or enjoying nature.
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.
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.
Rachel L. Tomko, PhD
Dr. Tomko is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the study of tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol use disorders. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pennsylvania State University in 2008 and completed her graduate training at the University of Missouri in 2015. Following a clinical internship at MUSC from 2014-2015, she remained in Charleston and joined the Project Quit research team. Rachel tries to spend most of her free time outside, enjoying Charleston’s parks and nature.