Photo of Sheila M. Alessi, Ph.D.

Sheila M. Alessi, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Psychiatry
Academic Office Location:
Calhoun Cardiology Center - Behavioral Health
UConn Health
263 Farmington Avenue
Farmington, CT 06030-3944
Phone: 860-679-1849
Fax: 860-679-1312

Contingency Management Research Group

Sheila M. Alessi, Ph.D. 

I am a research psychologist dedicated to developing, refining, and evaluating ways to improve substance use disorder treatment, with my interests extending to behavioral health more generally. My research largely focuses on contingency management therapy (a.k.a., motivational incentives), which is grounded in behavioral economics and involves arranging conditions to incentivize pro-health decision-making. I am particularly interested in using mobile technologies to help get effective treatment and support to individuals where and when needed. 

Among my ongoing projects, one I am particularly excited about is in collaboration with researchers at UMASS Medical Center and Q2i, a Boston-based software company in the healthcare space.

Reward-based digital technology to link and support patients in opioid use disorder treatment after an ED visit

I am also co-PI for an NIAAA-funded NRSA T32 training grant. We are actively seeking trainees. If you may be interested, please feel free to contact me at

B.A.University of New HampshirePsychology, Pre-med Track
M.A.Wayne State UniversityBiopsychology
Ph.D.Wayne State UniversityBiopsychology

Post-Graduate Training
Professional TrainingUniversity of MassachusettesUniversity of Massachusettes Medical School’s Basic Skills for Working with Smokers Online Course
Professional TrainingUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolUniversity of Massachusetts Medical School’s “Addressing Depression and Anxiety in Tobacco Treatment"
PostdoctoralUniversity of VermontNIDA Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Name & DescriptionCategoryRoleTypeScopeStart YearEnd Year
Experimental and Clinical PsychopharmacologyEditorial BoardEditorial Board memberExternalInternational2020
American Psychological AssociationProfessional/Scientific OrganizationMemberExternalInternational2019
Scientific Review Committee, Human Subjects Protection ProgramResearch CommitteeMemberUConn HealthLocal2019
Undergraduate Medical Education-Graduate Medical Education (UME-GME) Retreat TaskforceAdvisory CommitteeMemberUConn HealthLocal2019
NIH Center for Scientific Review; Risk, Prevention and Health Behavior (RPHB) Integrated Review Group; Special Emphasis Panel – Ad hoc reviewerStudy SectionMemberExternalNational20192019
NIH/NCCIH BRIM-2 and HEAL initiatives meetings, ad hoc reviewer.Study SectionMemberExternalNational20192019
NIH/CSR IPTA and NIDCR meetings, ad hoc reviewerStudy SectionMemberExternalNational20192019
Alcohol Research Center Executive CommitteeResearch CommitteeMemberUConn HealthUniversity2018
Addictive BehaviorsEditorial BoardAssociate EditorExternalInternational2017
NIH/NIDCR ad hoc reviewer.Study SectionMemberExternalNational2016
School of Medicine Admissions CommitteeAdvisory CommitteeMemberUConn HealthLocal2015
Psychology of Addictive BehaviorsEditorial BoardEditorial Board memberExternalInternational2014
Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, Chair of the Electronic Communications CommitteeProfessional/Scientific JournalChairExternalInternational2014
Public Issues CouncilAdvisory CommitteeMemberUConn HealthRegional2014
WNPR, Where We Live, live discussion for program, “Why is it so difficult to get healthy?”, 9 a.m. and replayed at 7 p.m. Invitation extended through the Donaghue Foundation. April 14, 2010OtherDiscussantOtherState2010
Society for Research on Nicotine and TobaccoProfessional/Scientific OrganizationMemberOtherInternational2009
NBC 30 live interview regarding the Donaghue Foundation “Contingency management and pharmacotherapy for smoking” study on the 11:00 morning news program. January 12, 2009.OtherIntervieweeOtherRegional2009
Society for Research on Nicotine and TobaccoProfessional/Scientific OrganizationMemberExternalInternational2009
News release regarding Contingency management and pharmacotherapy for smoking study funded by the Donaghue Foundation, November 2008.OtherOtherRegional2008
Cox Radio interview regarding Donaghue Foundation study, audiotaped via telephone, November 13, 2008.OtherIntervieweeOtherRegional2008
Fox 61 live interview regarding the Donaghue Foundation “Contingency management and pharmacotherapy for smoking” study on the morning news as a segment related to the Great American Smokeout, November 20, 2008.OtherIntervieweeOtherRegional2008
American Psychological Association, Division on AddictionsProfessional/Scientific OrganizationMemberOtherNational2005
School of Medicine Admissions Committee, Faculty InterviewerAdvisory CommitteeInterviewerUConn HealthLocal2004
Alcohol Research CenterExecutive Committee MemberUConn HealthUniversity2002
Ad hoc reviewer Addiction; Addictive Behaviors; Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research; Behavioural Processes; BMC Public Health; Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research; Criminal Justice and Behavior; Drug and Alcohol Dependence; Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology; Health Education Research; Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis; Journal of Dual Diagnosis; Nicotine and Tobacco Research; Psychological Reports; Psychology of Addictive Behaviors; Psychopharmacology; Substance Abuse: ResOtherReviewerOtherInternational2002
Alcohol Research Center Steering CommitteeResearch CommitteeMemberUConn HealthLocal2002
American Psychological AssociationProfessional/Scientific OrganizationMemberOtherNational2000

Journal Articles

Book Chapters

  • Pharmacology and treatment of substance abuse: Evidence and outcome based perspectives
    Barry, D., Petry, N. M., & Alessi, S. M. Cocaine. 2009 Jan;317-334
  • Contingency management in the treatment of substance use disorders: A science-based treatment innovation
    Petry, N. M. & Alessi, S. M. Lowering costs in drug abuse treatment clinics 2007 Jan;261-279
  • Contingency management interventions for the treatment of substance use disorders
    Alessi, S. M. & Petry, N. M. Comprehensive Handbook of Drug and Alcohol Addiction, Second Edition 2007 Jan;
  • Psychosocial treatments
    Higgins, S. T., Alessi, S. M., & Dantona, R. L. Voucher-based incentives: A substance abuse treatment innovation 2003 Jan;61-86
Title or AbstractTypeSponsor/EventDate/YearLocation
Tobacco use patterns and clinical outcomes in the T1D ExchangePosterAmerican Diabetes Association's 79th Scientific Sessions2019San Fransisco, CA
Alcohol Use and Clinical Outcomes in the T1D ExchangePosterAmerican Diabetes Association's 79th Scientific Sessions2019San Fransisco, CA
Monitoring and intervention of alcohol use in unemployed hazardous drinkers with alcohol breathalyzer + cellular technologyPanel DiscussionResearch Society on Alcoholism annual meeting2019Minneapolis, Minnesota
Remembering Dr. Nancy PetryPanel DiscussionAmerican Pscyhological Association annual meeting2019Chicago, Illinois