March 2022

Wesley Matthiesen made a poster presentation at the 2022 UCF Student Scholar Symposium and an invited presentation at the 2022 European Public Health Webinar.

January 2022

New paper is online now!!

Stress and Substance Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown among College Students in the United States

Fall 2021

Dr. Trung Ha participated in development of an interactive website for providing most current information regarding COVID-19. The website is in Vietnamese. Moreover, Dr. Ha made an invited presentation (see translation to English here) about this project at a conference organized by Faculty in Mathematics – Mechanical – Informatics, University of Sciences, Vietnam National University, Hanoi, and Vietnam Institute for Advanced Study in Mathematics.

March – April 2021

Albert Osom, Jarod Barnhart and Jeremy Sheiber presented their projects (virtually) at the 2021 UCF Student Scholar Symposium!

2021 UCF Student Scholar Symposium, Four Methods for Detecting Outliers:
Applications in Animal Study. Osom, A. Zhang, L., St. Pierre Schneider and Soulakova, J.N., Orlando, FL, March 30, 2021.
2021 UCF Student Scholar Symposium, Application of Bonferroni and Holm Methods in Biomedical Research. Barnhart, J., Osom, A. Zhang, L., St. Pierre Schneider and Soulakova, J.N., Orlando, FL, March 31, 2021.
2021 UCF Student Scholar Symposium, Tobacco Use Behaviors and Attitudes Toward the Smoke- and Vape-Free Campus Policy Among UCF Students: Analysis of 2020 Data. Sheiber, J., Schrimshaw, E.W., Schmidt-Owens, M. and Soulakova, J.N., Orlando, FL, April 1, 2021.

September, 2020

Our lab has worked remotely for several months and we are especially happy to get some news from our former team members. Dr. Mai, Dr. Ha and Mrs. Deeksha are doing great. In addition, Victoria Owens really likes the DC area that offers so many museums that “you could never get bored”. Plus, Victoria enjoys the mountains view and shared the sunrise photo that she took. Here it is…

May 1, 2020

Parth Patel completed his 2020 Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence project titled Tobacco Use Disparities by Sexual and Gender Minority Status Among UCF Students. The poster (authored by Patel, P., Schrimshaw, E.W., Schmidt-Owens, M. and Soulakova, J.N.) was presented by Parth via Zoom and is available at

November 10-12, 2019

Camilo attended the 2019 International Conference on Big Data Analytics and Data Science in Las Vegas. He made a poster presentation on constructing UpSet plots for data gathered via complex sampling.  

November 6-8, 2019

Dr. Julia completed Tobacco Treatment Specialist Training Course at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ. This 2.5-day-long onsite course is mandatory for getting certified as a tobacco treatment specialist. 

Focus Group Training
Mayo Clinic Campus in Arizona

November 4, 2019

We celebrated Deeksha’s last day in the Lab at Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine. Deeksha is getting re-united with her family in Texas and joining the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio as a Biostatistician Associate.

September 16, 2019

We celebrated team member Deeksha’s B’day during group meeting.


August 21, 2019

Deeksha Sharma, Fatima Hussain and Jay Desai attended the 11th Annual Graduate Research Colloquium at College of Medicine, University of Central Florida. Deeksha presented the poster “Sociodemographic Factors Associated with Smoking Cessation Among Smokers who Attempted to Quit”. Fatima presented the poster “On Assessing Mean Differences for Patient’s Quantitative Measures Using SAS®9.4”. Jay presented the poster “Set Intersection Bar Plots to Visualize Key Reasons of Using E-Cigarettes”.


June 26, 2019

Victoria Owens celebrated her last day in the lab with the team before going for her masters degree in Survey Methodology from University of Maryland, College Park. We appreciate the time she spent with us in the lab as well as her many contributions to the team.

June 10, 2019
Dr. Trung Ha was awarded the 2019 Bayesian Causal Inference Workshop Travel Award to provide support to attend the Workshop and present a poster by Ha, T. and Soulakova, J.N., by The Mathematical Biosciences Institute, June 2019.

May 11, 2019
Fatima Hussain and Dr. Trung Ha attended the 7th Workshop for Biostatistics and Bioinformatics on May 10-12 at Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA. Fatima presented the poster “Smoking Initiation after Being Diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease”. Dr. Trung presented the poster “Key Advantages and Disadvantages of Hybrid Approach with Balanced Repeated Replications and Bayesian Logistic Linear Mixed Model for Small Area Estimation”.

April 4, 2019

Fatima Hussain, Jeremy Sheiber, and Victoria Owens presented at the 2019 Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence at UCF. Fatima presented the poster “Smokers with Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Who Are They?”, Jeremy presented the poster “Does Getting Diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease Promote the Onset of Cigarette Smoking?”, and Victoria presented the poster “Widespread Use of Flavored E-Cigarettes and Hookah Tobacco in the United States.”


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February 27, 2019

Dr. Julia Soulakova, Dr. Trung Ha, and Victoria Owens attended the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco 2019 Annual Meeting in San Francisco on February 19-23. Dr. Trung presented the poster “Rates of Smoke-Free Homes are Increasing Among Single-Parent Households in the United States”, and Victoria presented the poster “Polytobacco Use Among Young Adult Hookah Tobacco Smokers in the U.S.”

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February 15, 2019

Congratulations to Valory Anne Vailoces! Her artwork was accepted to the UCF COM Library gallery at the annual “Art in the Library” celebration this week.

Dean German

January 14, 2019

Dr. Soulakova served as an SRMS poster competition judge at the JSM 2018. For more information, you can read the SRMS January 2019 newsletter at

December 20, 2018

Happy Holidays! Our team celebrated the holidays together with a delicious potluck and shared gifts!

December 20, 2018

Congratulations to Dr. Trung Ha for publishing his first book chapter in New Frontiers of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics!

Ha, T., & Soulakova, J. N. (2018). Importance of Adjusting for Multi-Stage Design when Analyzing Data from Complex Surveys. Chapter 12 (pp. 257–268) In Y. Zhao & D.-G. Chen (Eds.), New Frontiers of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics. Springer Nature Switzerland.

September 17, 2018

Dr. Yujiao Mai celebrated her last day in the lab with the team before joining St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee. We appreciate the time she spent with us in the lab as well has her many contributions to the team.

August 20, 2018

Dr. Yujiao Mai and Victoria Owens represented the Biostatistics Team at the 10th Annual Graduate Research Colloquium at the UCF College of Medicine. Dr. Yujiao presented the poster “Former smokers’ retrospective reports of receiving a doctor’s advice to quit smoking; analysis of 2007-2015 trend.” Victoria presented the poster “Hookah tobacco use among young adults in the U.S.”

May 16-19, 2018

Richard Pack attended the 2018 Symposium on Data Science and Statistics in Reston, VA, a conference for an international community of statisticians, data scientists, and computer scientists. He represented UCF at the symposium, presenting research, networking, and attending the numerous sessions on big data analysis, computational statistics, and data visualization.

“Daily Smokers’ Attributes Associated with Purchasing Cigarettes on Indian Reservations” Richard Pack, Trung Ha, PhD, Julia Soulakova, PhD

May 11, 2018

Congratulations to Victoria Owens on her first paper being accepted by Addictive Behaviors, available online at

May 7-10, 2018

Dr. Julia participated in the Diversity Track of the Summer Faculty Development Conference.  Her team (Dr. Barry Mauer, English Department, and Dr. Lauryn De George, College of Business) has worked on the project titled Diversity Leadership. Richard Pack helped with literature search.

April 23, 2018

Dr. Soulakova was one of five presenters and panel discussants in the invited session which took place during the 2018 Office of Research and Commercialization NIH Month. She presented “NIH Funding: What Worked and What did not Work” and shared her successful strategies in receiving NIH funding.


April 13, 2018

Victoria Owens and her advisers, Dr. Julia and Dr. Trung, attended the LEARN End-of-Year Reception to celebrate Victoria’s completion of the T-LEARN program. T-LEARN (run by both the Office of Undergraduate Research and Academic Advancement Programs) helps transfer students in STEM majors to conduct research, build a network, and receive academic support.” Here are the pictures from the reception. Do you see two “Victorias” there? Victoria at a table is watching Victoria on the screen!

April 4, 2018

Congratulations to Victoria Owens for being awarded the 2018 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) – Track 2! Through the SURF program, Victoria will continue her research in our lab over the summer. The award ($1,500) is sponsored by the UCF’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Office of Research and Commercialization.

April 3, 2018

Dr. Trung Ha presented the team’s poster “Heavy Smokers Purchasing Cigarettes from Indian Reservations” on behalf of Richard Pack at the 2018 Graduate Research Forum at the University of Central Florida. The Research Forum is an opportunity for students to showcase their research and creative projects and to receive valuable feedback from faculty judges.

April 2, 2018

Dr. Trung Ha, Dr. Yujiao Mai, and Dr. Thanh Pham attended the 2018 Annual Research Week Kickoff event at the University of Central Florida. This year the event’s title was “Tales from the Pegasus’s Side”. They presented three posters to disseminate their research results and facilitate future collaborations with other researchers.

March 07, 2018

Our whole team attended the University of Central Florida (UCF) 2018 Big Data Series. This year the theme was Big Data in Healthcare. Our team presented two posters at the event. Especial thank you to our part-time scientists Julie, Richard, Selena and Victoria who represented the team at the event. Dr. Julia Soulakova was one of distinguished speakers at the event. The conference was held at the UCF main campus.

February 26, 2018

Dr. Yujiao Mai attended and presented the team’s poster “Smoking Policy and Support for Smoking Cessation Offered at Work: Recent Trends in the United States” at the 2018 Society for Research on Nicotine & Tobacco (SRNT) Annual Meeting held in Baltimore, Maryland. The SNRT is the largest professional association, with members from 40 countries, which is dedicated to promoting research on nicotine and tobacco use cessation around the world. The SRNT’s annual meeting helps bring together healthcare professionals, researchers from academy and industry, and government employees. Attending the meeting provided Dr. Yujiao with a great networking opportunity.

February 24, 2018

Well done to Selena Leonardo and Victoria Owens on their successful presentations at the Florida Undergraduate Research Conference (FURC) hosted by Eastern Florida State College in Melbourne, Florida. FURC is Florida’s largest multi-disciplinary research conference dedicated to showcasing Florida’s undergraduate researchers. This annual event allows undergraduate students to network and attend workshops geared towards their success in both their undergraduate research and graduate school application process.

“Do Parents Who Smoke Protect Their Children From Secondhand Smoke At home?”, Selena Leonardo, Yujiao Mai, PhD, Julia N. Soulakova, PhD

“Socio-demographic Factors Associated with Ever-Use of Hookah Among Young Adults in the U.S” Victoria Owens, Thanh Pham, PhD, Julia Soulakova, PhD

February 21, 2018

Thanks to Victoria for being part of the T-LEARN program, an undergraduate research program devoted to helping transfer students in their research work at UCF, which resulted in a $250 Faculty Mentor Supply Award for our lab.

December 15, 2017

Holiday Celebration

We celebrated the coming Christmas and New Year’s Day. We all got gifts from a “Secret Santa” and had fun together. Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday to everyone !!!


December 8, 2017

Congratulations to Selena Leonardo for receiving the Office of Undergraduate Research travel award! The award in the amount of $400 will help cover her  travel expenses to attend the 12th International Conference on Health Policy Statistics in Charleston, South Carolina, where she will present her study at the conference.

December 7, 2017

Congratulations to Dr. Yujiao Mai and Selena Leonardo for their joint paper being published and made available on-line in Preventive Medicine Report.

Mai Y., Leonardo S., and Soulakova J., (2017). Smoke-free homes among single-parent families: Differences associated with parental race/ethnicity and smoking behaviors (2017). Preventive Medicine Reports. Available online at

November 10, 2017

Congratulations to Dr. Trung Ha for receiving the award: Professional Development Grant to attend SouthEast SAS® Users Group (SESUG) 2017. The award reduced the registration fee and covered up to $300 travel cost to attend the SESUG 2017 conference in Cary, NC where Dr. Ha presented his paper.

Proceedings of the SouthEast SAS Users Group Conference (SESUG 2017), paper 189, Statistical Analyses of Public Health Surveys Using SAS® Survey Package, Ha, T. and Soulakova, J., Cary, NC: SAS Institute Inc., November 2017

October 27, 2017

Congratulations to Selena Leonardo for receiving the award: First place in the oral presentation in Social Science for undergraduate students, at FIU McNair Scholars Research Conference 2017!

FIU McNair Scholar Research Conference, Parental race/Ethnicity and prevalence of smoking-free homes in single-parent household; Analysis of 2010-11 and 2014-15 Tobacco use supplement, Leonardo S., Mai Y., Ha T., and Soulakova J., Miami, FL, 2017

August 5, 2017

Our lab is proud to have two separate papers presented at the 2017 Joint Statistical Meetings in Baltimore, MD, in August 2017. The papers were “Disregarding Survey Sampling Method When Analyzing Complex Surveys Can Jeopardize Research Findings” by Tang, C.Y. and Soulakova, J., and “Behavioral Interventions for Smoking Cessation Used by Daily Smokers” by Leonardo, S., Tang, C.Y. and Soulakova, J.

June 14, 2017

Congratulations to Selena Leonardo for receiving the Office of Undergraduate Research travel award! The award will help cover travel expenses for Selena to attend the 2017 Joint Statistical Meetings of the American Statistical Association in Baltimore, Maryland, where she will present her poster at the conference.

April 6, 2017
Selena presented her poster at 2017 SURE