Current Research Areas of Interest

Substance Use

Many youth and young adults are exposed to substance use-related content via social media. We are using social media for insights into drug use behaviors, especially use of newly emerging drugs that are increasing in popularity. This information will help us understand how social media can be used for delivering substance use messages to young people.


As more and more people engage with social media, it is important to learn the motivations of individuals who publicly post about their depression, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm struggles via postings on social media. We are seeking to understand why this type of social networking occurs online and how it impacts users’ overall mental health.

Eating Disorders

There is increasing concern about online communities that promote eating disorder (ED) behaviors. We are exploring innovative strategies for online, accessible, and timely ED-related outreach that could facilitate novel ways to utilize social media in mental health promotion and prevention initiatives.

Our Team

Patricia Cavazos-Rehg, PhD

Patricia Cavazos-Rehg, PhD

Professor of Psychiatry, Principle Investigator

Dr. Patricia Cavazos-Rehg is the principal investigator (PI) of iCHASM. She is a clinically-trained licensed psychologist who has been involved in biomedical research for over 10 years. After receiving her Ph.D. in Psychology from SUNY at Buffalo in 2004, she moved to Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) in St. Louis, MO to begin her research career, focusing on understanding how policy and social media shape health risk behaviors of young people. In addition to her research, she is also a dedicated Professor and was voted “Course Master of the Year” by students enrolled in the Master of Science in Applied Health Behavior Research program at WUSM. Dr. Cavazos-Rehg is also the Chair of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Psychiatry Department at WUSM.


Hannah Szlyk, PhD, LCSW

Hannah Szlyk, PhD, LCSW

Instructor, Department of Psychiatry

Dr. Hannah S. Szlyk, PhD is a doctoral-level licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) with training in suicidology among underserved and minoritized populations and in qualitative and mixed methods study design and analyses. Her current work extends this research program to include mHealth interventions for SUD (e.g., opioid use disorder (OUD), alcohol, cannabis, and vaping) among adolescents and adults, and special populations, like pregnant and postpartum women and people. She is especially interested in understanding how mHealth tools can be used to amplify health equity. She holds graduate degrees in social work from Columbia University (MSSW) and the University of Texas at Austin (PhD) and received additional training at The Menninger Clinic and the Brown School (as a NIMH T32 postdoctoral fellow).


Xiao Li, MS

Sr Statistical Data Analyst

Ms. Li completed her Master’s degree in Health Data Science and is pursuing her PhD in epidemiology at St. Louis University. She has experience with data mining of national databases and integrating machine learning algorithms into applications. Ms. Li has extensive experience with performing survival analysis, longitudinal analysis, and modeling of large population-based studies.

Erin Kasson, MS, MSW

Sr Clinical Research Coordinator

Ms. Kasson completed her undergraduate degree in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, with both Master’s of Science and Master’s of Social Work degrees from Saint Louis University. She has previous experience working with and conducting research among several clinical populations, with particular interest in anxiety, depression, and treatment of co-occurring disorders.


Layna Paraboschi, BA

Clinical Research Study Assistant II

Ms. Paraboschi received her B.A. in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. She has previous experience assisting with global health informatics research as well as with digital interventions for eating disorders and other mental health conditions. Her research interests lie in digital interventions, eating disorders/disordered eating, depression, and anxiety in adolescent and young adult populations

Sarah Geisz

Clinical Research Coordinator I

 Ms. Geisz graduated with a degree in Applied Science. After re-entering the workforce in November 2021, Ms. Geisz has worked across healthcare and cancer research settings as a clinical research coordinator.  Her areas of interest and expertise are in interpersonal and communication skills and building relationships, which align well with her role supporting community outreach and engagement efforts for iCHASM projects supporting individuals in substance use recovery. 

Nina Kaiser, BA

Research Assistant

​Ms. Kaiser obtained her B.A. in Sociology at Saint Louis University and is now studying at SLU School of Medicine. She has extensive research experience studying the opioid crisis and maintains an interest in analyzing reproductive health disparities and the relationship between mental health and social media platforms. 

Mandy Montayne, MA

Project Manager

Ms. Montayne graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with her Masters degree in Clinical Psychology. She has training in counseling, crisis intervention, trauma-informed care, and psychological assessment and has worked with variety of populations in various settings, including university counseling centers, community mental health centers, and a sexual assault care facility. Her research interests focus on eating attitudes and disordered eating, interpersonal violence, and sexual assault.

Zhuoran Zhang, MA

Professional Rater II

Ms. Zhang received her BA in psychology from University of Rochester and her MA in experimental psychology with an emphasis on cognitive psychology from Indiana State University. She has previous experience conducting research and working with adolescents and children with behavioral and mental disorders. Her research interests include interventions and treatments for substance use, depression, and anxiety in adolescents and young adults.

Emily Maranets, BS

Ms. Maranets received her B.S. in Public Health and B.A. in Spanish from Tulane University. She has worked with a variety of clinical populations, with prior research experience in studying COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and new treatment interventions for hypertension. Her research interests lie in eating disorders, nutrition, and substance abuse, with a focus on using digital tools as a therapeutic intervention for behavioral health conditions.

Yoseph Worku, MD

 Mr. Worku completed medical school at St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College in Ethiopia. He is currently pursuing a Master’s of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at WashU and Data Science and Statistics as a one league scholar at MIT. He worked as a front-line physician in Ethiopia during the COVID pandemic, and has experience in clinical research and data analysis. His research interests include digital health interventions, health communication’s impact on clinical practice, and ways of increasing patient engagement in clinical practice and program development.

Recent Findings

Using an app to deliver information about Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

In this pilot study we examine the preliminary effectiveness of a mobile application, ‘uMAT-R’, that includes health information about opioid use disorder (OUD) recovery supported by science and MAT benefits.

Conducting investigations into substance use among teens and adolescents using nationally representative datasets (PATH, NYTS, NSDUH)

In this study that is linked, we looked at how social media impacts tobacco and vaping behaviors.

Examining the self‐reported advantages and disadvantages of socially networking about body image and eating disorders

We found that posting/following thin-ideal content on SMPs were motivation/encouragement to engage in a certain behavior, socializing, and information giving/seeking while posting/following thin-ideal content on SMPs were that the content elicits negative/bad feelings.

Leveraging social media to explore the barriers to treatment among individuals with depressive symptoms

We found that those with major depression were more likely to seek out treatment, to report an unmet need for
treatment, and have a higher risk of suicide. Barriers to treatment were more likely to be attitudinal, while participants with mild depression experienced more structural barriers.

News & Events

WUSTL Institute for Public Health Conference - October 2022

We love sharing our findings! Jenny, Hannah, and Erin (L-R) present our preliminary research on a mobile health app to support recovery among teens with eating disorders recruited from social media. Check out more about the 15th annual IPH conference and our posters: Health as a Human Right


COVID-19 Vaccinations - February 2021

As members of the Washington University School of Medicine community, the iCHASM Research team has been receiving their first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine over the past month. We are excited to be taking this important public health step with other researchers and healthcare providers to continue providing safe and effective support to our clients and to promote the health of our overall community. We are hopeful that such steps in the coming months will reduce the impact and uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic across the US and across the world.

Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences Annual Symposium (ICTS)- February 2020

Our project manager, Andrea Fentem, presented findings from our uMAT-R project, which aims to connect individuals who misuse opioids with a mobile app to support them throughout their recovery. Raven Riordan and Briana Wilson also presented a poster on our findings and participant feedback to date.

Recruitment at CARE clinic - November 2019

Raven Riordan, one of our Professional Raters, is recruiting pregnant and postpartum women at the CARE clinic to test our new recovery-focused mobile app.

Dr. Cavazos-Rehg travelled to Uganda with the Brown School - July 2019

The experience offered great insight into potential new global mental health research opportunities, allowing our team to gain a deeper understanding on the cross-cultural meaning of personal health.