Dr. Melissa Cox

Melissa Cox, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Health Behavior


Melissa Cox is a behavioral scientist with a program of research centered on the social ecology of youth and young adult alcohol misuse. Her primary focus has been understanding the complex relationships and environments that young people occupy and that shape their alcohol use behaviors. Dr. Cox’s work represents an intersection of public health approaches, principles of developmental science, quantitative methodologies and prevention science. Ultimately, the goal of this research is to develop and evaluate innovative interventions that address high-risk social contexts to reduce the prevalence and consequences of youth and young adult alcohol misuse.

Melissa Cox in the Gillings News

Research Activities

R34DA051710; NIDA; Title: Development and Pilot Randomized Control Trial of a Text Message Intervention to Facilitate Secure Storage and Disposal of Prescription Opioids to Prevent Diversion and Misuse; Co-l

K01AA028540-01; NIAAA; Title: Development of a Just-in-Time Adaptive Intervention to Reduce High-Intensity Drinking Among Young Adults; PI

Service Activities

  • Chair, Early Career Preventionist Network, Society for Prevention Research
  • Member, Society for Prevention Research
  • Member, Society for Addiction Psychology (APA Division 50)
  • Member, Research Society on Alcoholism

Key Publications

Profiles of parenting in the digital age: Associations with adolescent alcohol and marijuana use. Cox, M. J., Janssen, T., Gabrielli, J., Jackson, K. M. (2021). Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 82(4), 460-469.

Mechanisms underlying associations between media alcohol exposure, parenting, and early adolescent drinking: A moderated sequential mediation model. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Jackson, K. M., Janssen, T., Cox, M. J., Colby, S., Barnett, N. P., Sargent, J. (2021).
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More substances, more problems? Simultaneous use of alcohol and marijuana at parties among youth and young adults. Egan, K. L., Cox, M. J., Suerken, C. K., Reboussin, B. A, Song, E. Y, Wagoner, K., Wolfson, M. (2019). Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 202.
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Social and situational party characteristics associated with high-intensity alcohol use among youth and young adults. Cox, M. J., Egan, K. L., Suerken, C. K., Reboussin, B. A, Song, E. Y, Wagoner, K., Wolfson, M. (2019). Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 43(9), 1957-1966.
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A systematic review of high-risk environmental circumstances for adolescent drinking. Cox, M. J., Sewell, K., Egan, K., *Baird, S., *Eby, C., *Ellis, K., *Kuteh, J. (2019). Journal of Substance Use, 24(5), 465-474.

Do misperceptions of peer drinking influence personal drinking behavior? Results from a complete social network of first-year college students. Cox, M. J., DiBello, A., Meisel, M., Ott, M. Q., Kenney, S. R., Clark, M. A., & Barnett, N. P. (2019). Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 33(3), 297-303.
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  • PhD, Health Behavior, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, 2016
  • MPH, Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, 2008
  • BA, Sociology, Boston College, 2006