The BMSR provides expertise and training to support the needs of prevention, cancer control, and clinical researchers in their pursuit of behavioral research investigation and methods.

  • Director: Paul Reiter, PhD
  • Program Director: Heather Aker, MPH
  • Qualitative Research Specialist: Jill Oliveri, DrPh, MPH
  • Population-Based Data Retrieval Specialist: James Fisher, PhD
  • Data Collection Specialist: Cathy Tatum, MA
  • Recruitment and Accrual Specialist: Cecilia DeGraffinreid, MHS, RHIA
  • Program Coordinator: Caroline Gault, MPH
  • Program Coordinator: Rachel Thomas, MPH

Paul Reiter, PhD, MPH, director of the BMSR, is an assistant professor in Ohio State’s College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.

Dr. Reiter has extensive research experience in the behavioral sciences, most of which has addressed cancer prevention and control through two thematic areas: cancer screening and vaccination. Both are effective strategies for reducing disease burden, but they remain underutilized. He is particularly interested in examining the determinants of engaging in these behaviors and designing programs to increase their use.

Dr. Reiter received his PhD from Ohio State and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cancer control at Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina.

Heather Aker, MPH, serves as the technical and administrative manager and program director of the BMSR. She works closely with faculty and staff to ensure timely, high-quality and cost-effective work.

Aker specializes in the design and construction of tailored applications for data collection and management. Her secure, Web-based creations streamline the recruitment process and provide for detailed respondent tracking and reporting. She also offers interviewer training that focuses on survey response rates and the participation of hard-to-reach populations.

She received her BSAS from Youngstown State University and her MPH with specialization in epidemiology from Ohio State.

Jill Oliveri, DrPH, MPH, is the BMSR specialist for qualitative research. She also is a clinical research manager in population sciences at the OSUCCC – James, where she manages studies on underserved and minority populations, as well as on quantitative methods.

Dr. Oliveri has been extensively involved with all qualitative research activities within the BMSR. She is an expert in quantitative methods and has trained several research staff members in qualitative analysis and software application.

She earned her MPH from Ohio State and her DrPH from the University of South Carolina.

James Fisher, PhD, an adjunct associate professor of Epidemiology in Ohio State’s College of Public Health, works with colleagues in the Ohio Cancer Incidence Surveillance System (OCISS) at The Ohio Department of Health to examine the occurrence of cancer in Ohio. Over the years, he has helped create more than 100 reports and articles describing cancer burdens in Ohio and the United States. He uses data from such cancer-related sources as the OCISS, Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).

Dr. Fisher is interested in cancer-related disparities, methods of identifying spatial clusters of cancer and improving cancer surveillance systems in the United States.

Cathy Tatum, MA, the BMSR specialist for data collection, is also a program director in population sciences at the OSUCCC – James. She has been a program director for several OSUCCC – James research projects and NIH-funded, cancer control research, community-based projects.

Recent projects include an R24 grant (Community-Based Participatory Research Strategies to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening in Ohio Appalachia); R01 grants (Enhancing Colorectal Cancer Screening in Primary Care and The Ohio Patient Navigator Research Program); and a P50 grant (Project 1 of the Community Awareness Resources and Education Project) for Ohio State’s Center for Population Health and Health Disparities.

Tatum’s expertise includes developing and implementing NIH-funded cancer control community-based research projects; managing research projects among underserved minority and rural populations; coordinating investigators, staff and study populations; and using survey data collection methods and procedures. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University and her master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Cecilia DeGraffinreid, MHS, RHIA, is the BMSR specialist for recruitment and accrual, as well as a program director in the population sciences division of the OSUCCC – James.  

She has years of experience in all aspects of managing large, multi-centered, NIH/NCI-, industry- and cooperative group-cancer control clinical trials. Among her primary interests is access to health care, especially the inclusion of minorities and the underserved in research studies.

DeGraffinreid earned her MHS from Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC.

Caroline Gault, MPH, is a program coordinator with the BMSR who makes research more applicable to improving community health behaviors.

Gault designs secure mobile data collection and integration tools for use in the field. As part of her research interests, she recognizes the importance of collecting and managing data that can be analyzed in an efficient, useful manner.

She has a bachelor’s degree in health sciences and an MPH with a specialization in health behavior and health promotion from Ohio State.

Rachel Thomas, MPH, is a program coordinator with the BMSR who monitors data quality and assists investigators to develop data collection tools.

Thomas’s research interests include women’s and reproductive health, especially relating to attitudes towards reproductive health policy and access to reproductive health care.

She received Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Microbiology and Religion at Ohio Wesleyan University, and her MPH with a specialization in epidemiology from the Ohio State University.


The Behavioral Measurement Shared Resource (BMSR) has the following equipment and resources available:

  • TeleForm, a paper-based data capture system designed to offer flexibility in capturing handwritten data 
  • REDCap, a secure web application for building and managing online surveys and databases 
  • NVivo, software that supports qualitative and mixed methods research by allowing for organization and analysis of unstructured or qualitative data 

Contact BMSR

Heather Aker, MPH
Program Director
Phone: 614-293-7846
Fax: 614-293-5611

Behavioral Measurement Shared Resource
The Ohio State University
1590 N. High St.
Suite 525
Columbus, OH 43201

Availability: Monday – Friday

Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Assistance provided for other schedules on an as-needed basis.

Additional Contacts:

Caroline Gault, MPH
Phone: 614-293-2452

Rachel Thomas, MPH
Phone: 614-293-2450

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