SEIGMA / MAGIC

Dr. Rachel Volberg

Dr. Rachel VolbergDr. Rachel Volberg has been involved in epidemiological research on gambling and problem gambling since 1985 and has directed or consulted on numerous gambling studies throughout the world. In 1988, Dr. Volberg was the first investigator to receive funding from the (U.S.) National Institutes of Health to study the prevalence of problem gambling in the general population. Dr. Volberg is currently the Principal Investigator on the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) study. In addition to her work in Massachusetts, Dr. Volberg is working on two projects in Canada to assess the impacts of the introduction of online gambling and to identify best practices in population assessments of problem gambling.  She is also a member of research teams in Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden conducting large-scale longitudinal studies to identify predictors of transitions into and out of gambling and problem gambling. Dr. Volberg has published extensively, presented at national and international conferences, and testified before legislative committees in states and provinces throughout North America. She sits on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Gambling Studies, International Gambling Studies and the Journal of Gambling Issues and is a longtime member of the American Sociological Association and the (U.S.) National Council on Problem Gambling. Dr. Volberg holds appointments at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, NORC at the University of Chicago and the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand.

Dr. Mark Melnik

Dr. Mark MelnikDr. Mark Melnik is the Director of Economic & Public Policy Research at the UMass Donahue Institute. He specializes in demographic, socio-economic, and labor market issues. Before joining the Institute, Dr. Melnik worked as deputy director for research at the Boston Redevelopment Authority where he led research teams on demographic and economic research studies as well as analyses used for public policy advisement and decision making with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and the City of Boston. Prior to his work at the BRA, Dr. Melnik worked as a research associate at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy. He also has extensive teaching experience in urban sociology, statistics, and research methods. Dr. Melnik holds a doctorate of philosophy in sociology from Northeastern University. His dissertation explored skill and credential mismatches in the greater Boston labor market. He received his master’s of arts from Northeastern University and his bachelor’s of arts from Youngstown State University, both in sociology.

Dr. Robert Williams

Dr. Robert WilliamsDr. Robert Williams is a professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Lethbridge, in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada and also a Research Coordinator for the Alberta Gambling Research Institute. Dr. Williams teaches courses on gambling; provides frequent consultation to government, industry, the media, and public interest groups; regularly gives expert witness testimony on the impacts of gambling; and is a co-editor of International Gambling Studies. Dr. Williams is a leading authority in the areas of:  prevention of problem gambling; Internet gambling; the socioeconomic impacts of gambling, the proportion of gambling revenue deriving from problem gamblers; the prevalence and nature of gambling in Aboriginal communities; the etiology of problem gambling; and best practices in the population assessment of problem gambling.

Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance

Debi LaPlante

Dr. Debi LaPlanteDr. LaPlante is Director of Research & Academic Affairs at the Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (HMS). She joined the Division during 2001, and has been involved with its diverse research, education, and outreach activities. With her colleagues, she developed the Syndrome Model of Addiction and engaged in a seminal 10-year research program on Internet gambling that was the first to use actual gambling records, rather than just self-report. She has authored dozens of book chapters, journal articles, and reports. More recently, she co-edited the two volume Choice awarded APA Addiction Syndrome Handbook. Dr. LaPlante is the author of the e-book, Responsible Drinking for Women. Dr. LaPlante currently is involved with a federally funded research program with seven tribes in the Northwest and the Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations. She and her colleagues are working with these tribes to identify the strengths and needs that these tribes have related to supporting tribal youth who are in recovery from addiction. She also is involved with the development of the Division’s innovative assessment software, the Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS). CARS emerged from her and her colleagues’ federally funded research into psychiatric comorbidity and driving while impaired. This tool provides real time screening and diagnostic information for mental health disorders and geo-targeted referrals. CARS can be used by professionals and laypersons, alike. For Massachusetts, Dr. LaPlante is overseeing the Division’s evaluations of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s Voluntary Self-Exclusion, GameSense, and PlayMyWay programs. She also is working with the Department of Public Health’s Office of Problem Gambling Services to revise the Your First Step to Change self-help workbook and preparing evidence-based guidelines for treating gambling-related problems. In addition to these research and resource activities, Dr. LaPlante is a member of the editorial team for the Division’s research summary blog, The Brief Addiction Science Information Source. She also is a course director for online and live continuing education courses for addiction, and for gambling-related problems, specifically. She is regular reviewer for research grants and academic journal submissions. Dr. LaPlante has numerous peer-reviewed publications and her work has been supported by state, federal, private, and foundation funding.

Howard Shaffer

Dr. Howard ShafferDr. Howard Jeffrey Shaffer is the Morris E. Chafetz Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the Field of Behavioral Sciences at Harvard Medical School; in addition, he is the Director of the Division on Addiction at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital. During recent years, Dr. Shaffer has served as principal or co-principal investigator on many government, foundation, and industry sponsored research projects around the world. Dr. Shaffer is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. In addition to an active private practice, Dr. Shaffer consults internationally to a variety of organizations in business, education, human services, and government. Dr. Shaffer is licensed as a clinical psychologist in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; the National Register of Health Care Providers in Psychology also certifies him. Dr. Shaffer is the founder of the American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders which represents the first international credentialing body for clinicians working with multiple expressions of addiction. Dr. Shaffer served on the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, Committee on the Social and Economic Impacts of Pathological Gambling. His professional appointments also have included consultation to the National Institutes of Health, The National Cancer Institute, The National Council on Marijuana and Health, The Icelandic Ministry of Health and Social Security, The Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, the Tung Wah Hospital Group, and The Massachusetts Departments of Mental and Public Health.

Public Safety Impact Study

Christopher W. Bruce

Christopher W. Bruce

Christopher W. Bruce is a career crime analyst with previous service at the Cambridge Police Department (1994–2001) and the Danvers Police Department (2001–2010). He was president of the Massachusetts Association of Crime Analysts from 2000 to 2004 and has served in three roles in the International Association of Crime Analysts: vice president of administration (2000‐2006), president (2007‐2012), and vice president of membership (2016‐present). He has served as an instructor in criminal justice and crime analysis topics at Suffolk University (2001–2010), Westfield State University (2009–2010), the University of Massachusetts Lowell (2009–2010), Middlesex Community College (2007–2011), Tiffin University (2006‐present), and Western Oregon University (2010‐present). Christopher is an internationally‐recognized expert in police data systems and police data analysis. He currently consults with the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance; the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs; the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; and the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training. He is the contracted analytical director for NHTSA’s Data‐Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) program, and a subject matter expert for BJA’s Smart Policing Initiative and its National Training and Technical Assistance Program.

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