A Brief History
Laura was born in Wilmington, NC in 1953. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, graduating with honors in psychology in 1975. She earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Virginia Tech in 1977 and 1981, and completed her clinical internship at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and VA Medical Center Consortium in 1980.
For two years, Laura worked for a consulting firm in Washington, DC, where she contributed to the smoking cessation, nutrition education, and school health activities of the National High Blood Pressure Program, under contract with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of NIH. In 1982, she joined the faculty of the Department of Psychology at the University of Vermont, where she remained for over 25 years, becoming a research professor in Psychology and in Family Medicine. Throughout her career at UVM, Laura was also affiliated with the Office of Health Promotion Research in the College of Medicine and a member of the Vermont Cancer Center.
Laura's research career spanned several content areas central to the prevention of illness and the promotion of physical health. With colleagues at UVM and at other institutions, she conducted numerous studies designed to modify behaviors that place people at risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and AIDS, including intervention trials to promote breast cancer screening, to encourage safer sex practices, and to prevent and treat cigarette smoking. Much of her research examined the role of social influences to change behavior and norms. She studied the impact of health care providers, support groups, peer opinion leaders, and mass media on health behavior change, and was particularly interested in the influence of credible peers on the diffusion of social norms to promote breast cancer screening, condom use, and smoking prevention and cessation. She is the author of over 100 journal articles and has edited two books.
Throughout her research career, Laura maintained a particular interest in smoking cessation with pregnant women and women of lower income. For 7 years, she ran a state-wide telephone quit line for pregnant smokers, and for 6 years, she served as technical advisor for behavioral interventions for the Smoke-Free Families initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Although she officially retired from UVM in 2008, she continues her active involvement in smoking cessation research.
Official Retirement Citation (2008)
Laura Solomon, you came to the University of Vermont in 1982 as clinical assistant professor of psychology. Over 26 years you developed an outstanding career focused on creating more effective methods to prevent disease. Your efforts have had substantial impacts on public health, particularly among low-income and other vulnerable populations.
As a member of the psychology faculty you taught courses related to these interests. You served on over 50 dissertation committees and supervised over 30 student research projects. The department benefited greatly from your leadership in faculty recruitment and other areas.
You have been a faculty member in the Office of Health Promotion Research since 1982. You provided leadership to community-based research projects focused on smoking cessation for pregnant and low-income women and adolescents, and on breast cancer screening. You developed collaborations with psychiatry researchers on studies that have had significant impact on the design of smoking cessation programs. Your contributions to disease prevention led to your appointment as research professor of family medicine in 2003.
Your reputation created opportunities for collaboration with national research programs. You made major contributions to multi-center HIV/AIDS prevention projects. You provided leadership for a national program of research on smoking cessation methods for pregnant women.
As a mark of the extraordinary quality of your accomplishments, the many papers you have published include significant results that are often cited by other authors. These objective indices reflect the high esteem in which you are held by your fellow scientists.
Your colleagues and collaborators value your commitment, your disciplined thinking, and your enthusiasm for making changes that benefit many. We thank you for your contributions to knowledge, to the university, and to your community.