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Jeff Stein, PhD

Assistant Professor
  • Assistant Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC
  • Associate Director, Center for Health Behaviors Research
  • Focus area(s): Type 2 diabetes management; obesity; health behavior; tobacco use; decision-making; behavioral economics
A Virginia Tech HNFE faculty member stands outside for a photo.
Room 267, Suite 203
Center for Health Behaviors Research
1 Riverside Circle
Roanoke, VA 24015
  • Graduate Program Track(s): Behavioral & Community Science


Ph.D., Behavioral Psychology, Utah State University, 2016

M.A., Applied Behavioral Science, University of Kansas, 2010

B.A., English Literature, University of Kansas, 2002


2019 – present: Assistant Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, Roanoke, VA

2019 – present: Assistant Professor, Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

2019 – present: Associate Director, Center for Health Behaviors Research, Roanoke, VA

2016 – 2019: Research Assistant Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, Roanoke, VA

2014 – 2016: Postdoctoral/Research Associate, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, Roanoke, VA

Selected Major Awards

  • 2012 –Walter R. Borg Scholarship, Department of Psychology, Utah State University
  • 2010 – Experimental Analysis of Behavior Fellowship, Society for Advancement of Behavior Analysis
  • 2008 – Donald M. Baer Award for Outstanding Achievement in Basic Research and Conceptual Foundations, Department of Applied Behavioral Science, University of Kansas
  • 2007 – Undergraduate Research Assistantship Award, Office of Research and Graduate Studies, University of Kansas

Program Focus

Up to half of all premature deaths are the result of lifestyle choices leading to chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and tobacco-related cancers, among others. Most harmful health behaviors (e.g., smoking or hedonic eating) are tempting because they provide immediate and reliable gratification and are easily accessible. In contrast, the healthier alternatives to these behaviors (e.g., avoidance of cancer or diabetes) provide delayed and uncertain benefit—and are often much more effortful.

Our research leverages multidisciplinary expertise in behavioral economics, medicine, computer science, biostatistics, and cognitive psychology to understand how delay, uncertainty, and effort influence health-related decision-making. Within this framework, our goal is to develop effective and highly accessible behavioral interventions to improve public health and reduce health disparities. Current areas of focus include type 2 diabetes management, tobacco cessation and harm reduction, and cancer prevention. 

Selected Recent Publications

  • Downey, H. M., Freitas-Lemos, R. F., Curran, K., Serrano, E. L., Davis, G. C., & Stein, J. S. (2023). COVID-19-related financial scarcity is associated with greater delay discounting but not probability discounting. Behavioural Processes. Advance online publication.
  • Freitas-Lemos, R., Stein, J. S., Tegge, A. N., Kaplan, B. A., Heckman, B. W., McNeill, A., ... & Bickel, W. K. (2022). Illegal Experimental Tobacco Marketplace II: effects of vaping product bans—findings from the 2020 International Tobacco Control Project. Tobacco Control, 31(Suppl 3), s1-s9.
  • Rockwell, M. S., Frazier, M. C., Stein, J. S., Dulaney, K. A., Parker, S. H., Davis, G. C., Rockwell, J. A., Castleman, B. L., Sunstein, C. R., & Epling, J. W. (2023). A “sludge audit” for health system colorectal cancer screening services. The American Journal of Managed Care. Advance online publication.
  • Verdejo‐Garcia, A., Rezapour, T., Giddens, E., Khojasteh Zonoozi, A., Rafei, P., Berry, J., ... & Ekhtiari, H. (2023). Cognitive training and remediation interventions for substance use disorders: a Delphi consensus study. Addiction, 118(5), 935-951.
  • Brown J., & Stein, J. S. (2022). Putting prospection into practice: Methodological considerations in the use of episodic future thinking to reduce delay discounting and maladaptive health behaviors. Frontiers in Public Health, 10, 1020171.
  • Brown, J., Washington, W. D., Stein, J. S., & Kaplan, B. A. (2022). The Gym Membership Purchase Task: Early Evidence Towards Establishment of a Novel Hypothetical Purchase Task. The Psychological Record. 
  • Epstein, L. H., Paluch, R. A., Biondolillo, M. J., Stein, J. S., Quattrin, T., Mastrandrea, L. D., Gatchalian, K., Greenawald, M. H., & Bickel, W. K. (2022). Effects of 6-month episodic future thinking training on delay discounting, weight loss and HbA1c changes in individuals with prediabetes. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 45(2), 227–239.
  • Freitas-Lemos, R., Tegge, A. N., Stein, J. S., DeHart, W. B., Reisinger, S. A., Shields, P. G., Hatsukami, D. K., & Bickel, W. K. (2022). The experimental tobacco marketplace: Effects of low-ventilated cigarette exposure. Addictive Behaviors, 125, 107160.
  • Keith, D. R., Tegge, A. N., Stein, J. S., Athamneh, L. N., Craft, W. H., Chilcoat, H. D., Le Moigne, A., DeVeaugh-Geiss, A., & Bickel, W. K. (2022). Struggling With Recovery From Opioids: Who Is at Risk During COVID-19? Journal of Addiction Medicine, 10.1097/ADM.0000000000001096.
  • Sukumar, J. S., Vaughn, J. E., Tegge, A., Sardesai, S., Lustberg, M., & Stein, J. S. (2022). Delay Discounting as a Potential Therapeutic Target for Weight Loss in Breast Cancer Survivors. Cancers, 14(5).