Primary Research Focus
Dr. Selya’s main research track seeks to understand the etiology of smoking and addiction among youth. She is especially interested in the role of early-emerging nicotine dependence, which can occur soon after smoking initiation and even before daily smoking habits develop. She is also interested in the hereditary and/or environmental mechanisms by which risk factors act to increase smoking behavior, particularly maternal smoking and prenatal tobacco exposure.
A second major focus of Dr. Selya’s research the drastic increase in electronic cigarette use over recent years, and understanding how that impacts conventional cigarette use, either positively or negatively.
Dr. Selya also studies the unique role of nicotine dependence in exacerbating smoking-related health outcomes, beyond the risk conveyed by objective smoking behavior alone.
Finally, Dr. Selya is the director of the Data Exchange Core, an initiative which provides researchers with access to Sanford Health’s centralized data warehouse – data that has the potential to uncover unique barriers and opportunities for impact in providing quality health care to our communities. By providing streamlined on-demand tools and prioritized access to health care data, researchers will have a unique opportunity to engage in translational, sustainable and transdisciplinary population health research with the capacity to directly influence patient health outcomes.
Her current research projects include:
- Pathways of prenatal tobacco exposure on youth smoking behavior.
- Electronic cigarettes’ impact on conventional smoking behavior.
- Health outcomes associated with nicotine dependence, independently of smoking behavior.
- Smoking and unplanned medical visits among patients with diabetes.
About the Selya Lab
Lab Projects and News
Etiology of Smoking and Nicotine Dependence
Dr. Selya uses path analysis to examine potential mediators of the relationship between maternal smoking (both lifetime smoking status and prenatal tobacco exposure) and youth smoking. Potential mediators include both hereditary factors (genetics, personality traits, initial subjective smoking experiences) as well as environmental ones (access to cigarettes, parental attitudes and rules about smoking).
She uses system dynamics simulation modeling that (1) incorporates known causes of smoking and replicates historical trends in smoking behavior, and (2) analyzes possible preventive efforts (policies, interventions, etc).
E-Cigarettes’ Impact on Conventional Smoking
Dr. Selya uses propensity score modeling to examine the effect of e-cigarettes on conventional smoking, after robustly accounting for preexisting risk factors.
Nicotine Dependence and Smoking-Related Health Outcomes
Researchers examine the effects of nicotine dependence (a psychological construct capturing addiction) on health outcomes, even after controlling for smoking history (objective behavior). Current health outcomes being analyzed are diabetes, osteoporosis, and periodontal disease.
Data-Driven Health Care Delivery Improvements
Dr. Selya directs the Data Exchange Core, which leverages Sanford Health’s data warehouse to inform research projects aimed at improving the health of Sanford patients. One current project uses machine learning to develop a model predicting which patients with diabetes are at risk for an unplanned medical visit. This project aims to develop and implement clinical recommendations from the machine learning model that will reduce unplanned medical visits among patients with diabetes.
Meet the Selya Lab
Tess Weber, MPH
Senior Research Specialist
Tess Weber has been working in behavioral sciences at Sanford Research since 2016 and joined the Selya Lab in 2019. She works on various projects related to smoking and nicotine addiction, diabetes prevention and behavioral economics strategies. Tess writes manuscripts, manages compliance and regulatory submissions, collects and analyzes qualitative and quantitative data and assists with grant applications.
Tess has a Master of Public Health with an emphasis in epidemiology from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.