Doctor of Philosophy in Social Policy

Behavioral Health Concentration

Robert Bohler

Robert Bohler, MPH, MA is a PhD candidate and NIAAA pre-doctoral trainee studying behavioral health policy. He recently served as a Rappaport Policy Fellow through the Harvard Kennedy School of Government at the Massachusetts State House, and as the lead researcher for a report and community forum held by the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum on the impact of opioids on rural and small communities in Western Massachusetts. Mr. Bohler is currently working on several research projects at Heller, including payment and policy tracking projects that are part of the HEALing Communities Study and the Brandeis Opioid Resource Connector, a website that highlights innovative community-based interventions to address the opioid crisis. Before coming to Brandeis, Mr. Bohler received an MPH with an emphasis in Epidemiology from the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University and received an AB in Economics from the University of Georgia. He worked in collegiate recovery and community-based efforts to address substance use disorder (SUD), serving as a grant writer for a proposal to establish a recovery community organization in his community. He has published on the SUD continuum of care and recovery science and his research interests are in opioid policy, medications for opioid use disorder, recovery trajectories, financing and delivery of SUD treatment, and developing effective SUD treatment systems. Mr. Bohler is also a consultant for the Recovery Research Institute at MGH/Harvard Medical School and is actively involved in the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery (MOAR).


Emily Crandall

Emily Ledingham Crandall, MPH, is a PhD student and NIAAA pre-doctoral trainee studying behavioral health policy. She received a Master of Public Health from Westminster College and a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from the University of Utah. Prior to her doctoral studies, Emily worked for nearly four years at the State of Utah Department of Human Services Division of Services for People with Disabilities as a policy research consultant. In this position, she secured two grants ($453,594 and $218,500) to fund new programs to address sexual violence against people with disabilities in Utah and worked on several policy projects related to the Home and Community-Based Services Final Settings Rule, a major civil rights policy for people with disabilities receiving Medicaid funded services. She also taught as an adjunct professor at Westminster College in the public health program for three years, teaching program planning and evaluation, social and behavioral health, and epidemiology. Her research interests include improving social service systems, civil rights of people with disabilities, substance use and abuse among people with disabilities, and healthcare access. 

Alex Duarte

Alex graduated from Bentley University in 2019 and received a dual bachelors degree in public policy and business studies. During his time at Bentley, Alex’s research focused on policy indicators found within the substance abuse policy domain. More specifically, Alex has focused on how opioid overdose rates and lobbying efforts made by the pharmaceutical industry work to affect policymakers attention to the current opioid crisis. During his time at Bentley, Alex worked at the Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington DC and Project Weber, a Rhode Island-based harm reduction center for male and transgender sex workers.
Corrine Holliday-Stocking, PhD student

Corrine Holliday-Stocking

Corrine Holliday-Stocking is a PhD candidate studying mental health in higher education. She received a M.S. in sociology  from Portland State University and a B.S. in Sociology from Gonzaga University. She teaches undergraduate courses in Sociology at Worcester State University. Her dissertation explores the mental health help-seeking behaviors of college students with disabilitie

Alexandra Kritikos

Alexandra F. Kritikos, MA, is a PhD Student studying health and behavioral health policy at the Heller School at Brandeis University. She is a National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Pre-Doctoral Fellow. Her current research includes work on cannabis regulatory policy, commercialization, and youth prevention. Before coming to Heller, she worked as an economist in the fields of micro-and-macroeconomics. Ms. Kritikos is a graduate research assistant in the Institute for Behavioral Health and has been on several research projects. Her work has been presented at annual conferences, and she serves as a co-author on various reports. Beyond her research interests, Ms. Kritikos is very passionate about teaching and mentoring, and teaches various economics and health policy courses. She received her MA in Applied Economics from Northeastern University, and her BS in Economics from the University of Patras, Greece.

Ruslan V. Nikitin

Ruslan V. Nikitin is a PhD candidate studying the effects of egocentric social networks/ relationships on type 2 diabetes and unhealthy alcohol use among midlife and older adults. He is also a pre-doctoral NIAAA/NIH trainee and 2020 Social Networks & Health fellow at the Duke Network Analysis Center. Professionally, Ruslan is a health policy analyst at Harvard Catalyst, working to improve community health by accelerating evidence translation into policy and practice. Prior to joining Harvard, he provided research and project management support at the Heller School’s Institute for Behavioral Health, which resulted in several publications on prevention of substance abuse and opioid misuse. Ruslan holds master's degrees in Social Policy and International Health Policy and Management from Brandeis University.
Deborah Strod, PhD student and NIAAA trainee concentrating in Behavioral Health

Deborah Strod

Deborah Strod is a PhD candidate and NIAAA pre-doctoral trainee concentrating in Behavioral Health. She received an MSW from Boston University and an AB from Harvard University. She focuses on addictions workforce development for specialist and non-specialist positions, examining how responses to existing worker shortages are being reshaped by healthcare integration, cross-system coordination, changes in demand, and advances in scientific understanding of addiction. She is exploring worker and job flow within local treatment ecosystems, and is particularly interested in working with data from existing administrative sources. Important considerations include: compensation, recruitment/retention, education/training, culturally-responsive care, quality improvement and expansion of peer supports.
Heidi Sulman, Doctoral student

Heidi Bruggink Sulman

Heidi Bruggink Sulman, MPH, MSW, LCSW is a PhD student studying behavioral health policy. She received an MPH in Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights from the Boston University School of Public Health; an MSW in Clinical Social Work and Behavioral Medicine from the Boston University School of Social Work; and an AB in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality from Harvard University. Ms. Sulman most recently served as a Program Manager at the Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission. She is a National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Pre-Doctoral Fellow and a past recipient of the Harvard Kennedy School Rappaport Institute Public Policy Fellowship. Her research interests include the financing and organization of behavioral health services, with particular focus on care integration, health insurance design, and provision of evidence-based practices.
Adam Vose-O'Neal

Adam Vose-O'Neal

Adam Vose-O'Neal is a PhD candidate in the Behavioral Health concentration. For the last several years, licensed clinical social worker Adam Vose-O’Neal has worked in a clinical practice in Providence, R.I. where he specializes in treating clients with addictions. Now, Vose-O’Neal is enrolled in the Heller PhD program with a concentration in behavioral health, and is a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Fellow. He continues to treat clients in Providence, and hopes to maintain a clinical practice while pursuing a research career. For his dissertation research, he plans to pursue deeper questions of addiction, sobriety and social networks informed by his experience as a clinician.

“Something that’s come up in my practice is seeing how people get sober. One interesting thing is that they don’t always do it through conventional treatment. I’ve seen clients that disconnect or connect with people in their lives—change jobs, move, start a new relationship, get out of a relationship—and it’s had an impact on their path not just to sobriety, but sustained sobriety. That’s interesting to me. Not just how people get sober, but stay sober.”