Current Fellows

Sarah Chavez, MA

Doctoral Student, SDSU-UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Interdisciplinary Research on Substance Use
San Diego State University

IRTI Senior Mentor: Avelardo Valdez, PhD, University of Southern California

IRTI Peer Mentor: Miguel Ángel Cano, PhD, Florida International University

Sarah Chavez is a Ph.D. candidate in the San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Interdisciplinary Research on Substance Abuse. Sarah’s program of research involves investigating various risk factors, protective factors, and racial/ethnic differences in alcohol specific outcomes. Currently, she is working on her dissertation which aims to further expand on the relationship between childhood adversity and heavy episodic drinking, among Latinx young adults, by testing multiple moderators and mediators. Sarah aspires to develop culturally based alcohol-specific interventions for Latinx young adults who are at risk for an AUD in her near future.

Selected Publications:

Reed, M. B., Woodruff, S. I., DeMers, G., Matteucci, M., Chavez, S. J., Hellner, M., & Hurtado, S. L. (2021). Results of a Randomized Trial of Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) to Reduce Alcohol Misuse Among Active-Duty Military Personnel. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 82(2), 269-278.

Lee, A. M., Chavez, S., Bian, J., Thompson, L. A., Gurka, M. J., Williamson, V. G., & Modave, F. (2019). Efficacy and effectiveness of mobile health technologies for facilitating physical activity in adolescents: scoping review. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 7(2), e11847.

Bernier, A., Fedele, D., Guo, Y., Chavez, S., Smith, M. D., Warnick, J., … & Modave, F. (2018). New-onset diabetes educator to educate children and their caregivers about diabetes at the time of diagnosis: usability study. JMIR diabetes, 3(2), e9202.

Melissa Ertl, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow, New York State Psychiatric Institute
Columbia University

eIRTI Senior Mentor: Felipe González Castro, PhD, Arizona State University

eIRTI Peer Mentor: Diana Sheehan, PhD, Florida International University

Melissa M. Ertl Ph.D. is a counseling psychologist engaged in research on health disparities and health risk behaviors among marginalized groups, including Latinx immigrants, college students, LGBTQ individuals, and individuals with disabilities. Melissa earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a certificate in Health Disparities in Public Health from University at Albany-State University of New York in August 2021. She is currently completing an NIMH-funded T32 postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute where she is focused on addressing disparities related to sexual health and mental health among substance-using minoritized populations. She has published more than 30 publications in peer-reviewed journals since beginning graduate school in 2015 and is currently developing a K-award application related to developing and implementing an intervention to address substance use and HIV risk prevention among women. Her goals for the eIRTI are to gain further training in grant writing, hone the concept for a K-award application, decide what K mechanism to submit to, and help identify mentors. 

Selected Publications:

Ertl, M. M., Pazienza, R., Cannon, M., Cabrera Tineo, Y. A., Fresquez, C. L., McDonough, A. K., Bozek, D. M., Ozmat, E. E., Ladouceur, G. M., Planz, E. K., & Martin, J. L. (2022). Associations between Impulsivity and Exercise Addiction, Disordered Eating, and Alcohol Use Behaviors: A Latent Profile Analysis. Substance use & misuse, 57(6), 886–896. https://doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2022.2052095

Da Silva, N., Verdejo, T. R., Dillon, F. R., Ertl, M. M., & De La Rosa, M. (2021). Marianismo beliefs, intimate partner violence, and psychological distress among recently immigrated, young adult Latinas. Journal of interpersonal violence, 36(7-8), 3755-3777.

Ertl, M. M., Rentería, R., Dillon, F. R., Babino, R., De La Rosa, M., & Brenner, R. E. (2019). Longitudinal associations between marianismo beliefs and acculturative stress among Latina immigrants during initial years in the United States. Journal of counseling psychology, 66(6), 665.

Veronika Espinoza, MA

Doctoral Student, Behavioral Neuroscience
University of Texas at El Paso

eIRTI Senior Mentor: Christie Fowler, PhD, University of California, Irvine

eIRTI Peer Mentor: Kevin Uribe, PhD, University of Texas

Veronika Espinoza is a Ph.D. candidate in the Behavioral Neuroscience graduate program at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Veronika obtained her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and two minors in Psychology and Mathematics from California State University, San Marcos. As an undergraduate, Veronika worked under the mentorship of Dr. Keith A. Trujillo, investigating the locomotor effects of amphetamine-like stimulants in male adolescent and adult rats. She is currently working on her Ph.D. at UTEP under the mentorship of Dr. Laura E. O’Dell, whose research focuses on tobacco use in vulnerable populations such as adolescents, females, and persons with diabetes. In the O’Dell laboratory, she became interested in understanding why females and adolescents are more vulnerable to tobacco use when compared to their male counterparts. As such, her dissertation work has focused on examining age and sex differences in the mechanisms that enhance withdrawal from nicotine vapor exposure in rats. Veronika aspires to become a tenured-track faculty member at a research-oriented institution where she can continue conducting research as well as train, teach, and mentor the next generation of diverse scientists. 

Selected Publications:

Espinoza, V. E., Giner, P., Liano, I., Mendez, I. A., & O’Dell, L. E. (2022). Sex and age differences in approach behavior toward a port that delivers nicotine vapor. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 117(3), 532-542.

Matos-Ocasio, F., Espinoza, V. E., Correa-Alfonzo, P., Khan, A. M., & O’Dell, L. E. (2021). Female rats display greater nicotine withdrawal-induced cellular activation of a central portion of the interpeduncular nucleus versus males: A study of Fos immunoreactivity within provisionally assigned interpeduncular subnuclei. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 221, 108640.

Tasha Perdue, PhD

Assistant Professor, John Glenn College of Public Affairs
The Ohio State University

eIRTI Senior Mentor: Danielle Ompad, PhD, NYU School of Global Public Health

eIRTI Peer Mentor: Angela Bazzi, PhD, University of California, San Diego

Tasha Perdue is an Assistant Professor in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University and an affiliated faculty member with the Moritz College of Law’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center. Perdue earned her PhD from the Suzanne-Dworak Peck School of Social Work at the University of Southern California as well as a Graduate Certificate in Public Policy from USC’s Price School of Public Policy. She was one of six students honored with the 2021 USC PhD Achievement Award for her federally funded research on the illicit drug market in Dayton, Ohio. She received her Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan and her BS in criminal justice, with a minor in sociology, from Bowling Green State University. Her research contextualizes drug use and elucidates ways that inequities in criminal justice responses to drug crises perpetuate trajectories of risk and drug use, demonstrating the essential relationship of public health and criminal justice policy. 

Selected Publications:

Perdue, T., Cepeda, A., Kaplan, C. D., Zhao, Q., & Valdez, A. (2022). Crack cocaine use among aging Mexican American men with heroin use histories: motivations and polydrug use patterns. Addiction Research & Theory, 30(1), 57-65.

Cepeda, A., Nowotny, K. M., Frankeberger, J., Ramirez, E., Rodriguez, V. E., Perdue, T., & Valdez, A. (2020). Examination of multilevel domains of minority stress: Implications for drug use and mental and physical health among Latina women who have sex with women and men. PloS one, 15(3), e0230437.

Fedina, L., Williamson, C., & Perdue, T. (2019). Risk factors for domestic child sex trafficking in the United States. Journal of interpersonal violence, 34(13), 2653-2673.

Robert Rosales, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Brown University 

IRTI Senior Mentor: Jeremy Goldbach, PhD, Washington University

IRTI Peer Mentor: Miguel Pinedo, PhD, University of Texas

Robert Rosales is an Assistant Professor in the Department for Behavioral and Social Sciences at Brown University’s School of Public Health. He received his PhD and MSW from the Boston College School of Social Work and completed a T32 Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies. Dr. Rosales’ work focuses on: 1) the risk and protective factors associated with behavioral health problems, and 2) access to socioculturally appropriate care for intersectional Latinx groups. In 2021, he was awarded a 5-year Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08) from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) to study the protective and risk factors related to alcohol use among Latinx sexual minority youth. His K08 provides training in the: 1) development and progression of alcohol use in youth; 2) Risk and protective factors of alcohol use in SMY; 3) Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA); 4) Intensive longitudinal data analysis; and 5) cultural adaptation of measures and interventions for SMY of color. 

Selected Publications:

2022 Fellows

Sarah Chavez, MA

Doctoral Student, SDSU-UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Interdisciplinary Research on Substance Use
San Diego State University

IRTI Senior Mentor:

IRTI Peer Mentor:

Sarah Chavez is a Ph.D. candidate in the San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Interdisciplinary Research on Substance Abuse. Sarah’s program of research involves investigating various risk factors, protective factors, and racial/ethnic differences in alcohol specific outcomes. Currently, she is working on her dissertation which aims to further expand on the relationship between childhood adversity and heavy episodic drinking, among Latinx young adults, by testing multiple moderators and mediators. Sarah aspires to develop culturally based alcohol-specific interventions for Latinx young adults who are at risk for an AUD in her near future.

Selected Publications:

Reed, M. B., Woodruff, S. I., DeMers, G., Matteucci, M., Chavez, S. J., Hellner, M., & Hurtado, S. L. (2021). Results of a Randomized Trial of Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) to Reduce Alcohol Misuse Among Active-Duty Military Personnel. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 82(2), 269-278.

Lee, A. M., Chavez, S., Bian, J., Thompson, L. A., Gurka, M. J., Williamson, V. G., & Modave, F. (2019). Efficacy and effectiveness of mobile health technologies for facilitating physical activity in adolescents: scoping review. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 7(2), e11847.

Bernier, A., Fedele, D., Guo, Y., Chavez, S., Smith, M. D., Warnick, J., … & Modave, F. (2018). New-onset diabetes educator to educate children and their caregivers about diabetes at the time of diagnosis: usability study. JMIR diabetes, 3(2), e9202.

Melissa Ertl, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow, New York State Psychiatric Institute
Columbia University

eIRTI Senior Mentor:

eIRTI Peer Mentor:

Melissa M. Ertl Ph.D. is a counseling psychologist engaged in research on health disparities and health risk behaviors among marginalized groups, including Latinx immigrants, college students, LGBTQ individuals, and individuals with disabilities. Melissa earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a certificate in Health Disparities in Public Health from University at Albany-State University of New York in August 2021. She is currently completing an NIMH-funded T32 postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute where she is focused on addressing disparities related to sexual health and mental health among substance-using minoritized populations. She has published more than 30 publications in peer-reviewed journals since beginning graduate school in 2015 and is currently developing a K-award application related to developing and implementing an intervention to address substance use and HIV risk prevention among women. Her goals for the eIRTI are to gain further training in grant writing, hone the concept for a K-award application, decide what K mechanism to submit to, and help identify mentors. 

Selected Publications:

Ertl, M. M., Pazienza, R., Cannon, M., Cabrera Tineo, Y. A., Fresquez, C. L., McDonough, A. K., Bozek, D. M., Ozmat, E. E., Ladouceur, G. M., Planz, E. K., & Martin, J. L. (2022). Associations between Impulsivity and Exercise Addiction, Disordered Eating, and Alcohol Use Behaviors: A Latent Profile Analysis. Substance use & misuse, 57(6), 886–896. https://doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2022.2052095

Da Silva, N., Verdejo, T. R., Dillon, F. R., Ertl, M. M., & De La Rosa, M. (2021). Marianismo beliefs, intimate partner violence, and psychological distress among recently immigrated, young adult Latinas. Journal of interpersonal violence, 36(7-8), 3755-3777.

Ertl, M. M., Rentería, R., Dillon, F. R., Babino, R., De La Rosa, M., & Brenner, R. E. (2019). Longitudinal associations between marianismo beliefs and acculturative stress among Latina immigrants during initial years in the United States. Journal of counseling psychology, 66(6), 665.

Veronika Espinoza, MA

Doctoral Student, Behavioral Neuroscience
University of Texas at El Paso

eIRTI Senior Mentor:

eIRTI Peer Mentor:

Veronika Espinoza is a Ph.D. candidate in the Behavioral Neuroscience graduate program at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Veronika obtained her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and two minors in Psychology and Mathematics from California State University, San Marcos. As an undergraduate, Veronika worked under the mentorship of Dr. Keith A. Trujillo, investigating the locomotor effects of amphetamine-like stimulants in male adolescent and adult rats. She is currently working on her Ph.D. at UTEP under the mentorship of Dr. Laura E. O’Dell, whose research focuses on tobacco use in vulnerable populations such as adolescents, females, and persons with diabetes. In the O’Dell laboratory, she became interested in understanding why females and adolescents are more vulnerable to tobacco use when compared to their male counterparts. As such, her dissertation work has focused on examining age and sex differences in the mechanisms that enhance withdrawal from nicotine vapor exposure in rats. Veronika aspires to become a tenured-track faculty member at a research-oriented institution where she can continue conducting research as well as train, teach, and mentor the next generation of diverse scientists. 

Selected Publications:

Espinoza, V. E., Giner, P., Liano, I., Mendez, I. A., & O’Dell, L. E. (2022). Sex and age differences in approach behavior toward a port that delivers nicotine vapor. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 117(3), 532-542.

Matos-Ocasio, F., Espinoza, V. E., Correa-Alfonzo, P., Khan, A. M., & O’Dell, L. E. (2021). Female rats display greater nicotine withdrawal-induced cellular activation of a central portion of the interpeduncular nucleus versus males: A study of Fos immunoreactivity within provisionally assigned interpeduncular subnuclei. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 221, 108640.

Tasha Perdue, PhD

Assistant Professor, John Glenn College of Public Affairs
The Ohio State University

eIRTI Senior Mentor:

eIRTI Peer Mentor:

Tasha Perdue is an Assistant Professor in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University and an affiliated faculty member with the Moritz College of Law’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center. Perdue earned her PhD from the Suzanne-Dworak Peck School of Social Work at the University of Southern California as well as a Graduate Certificate in Public Policy from USC’s Price School of Public Policy. She was one of six students honored with the 2021 USC PhD Achievement Award for her federally funded research on the illicit drug market in Dayton, Ohio. She received her Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan and her BS in criminal justice, with a minor in sociology, from Bowling Green State University. Her research contextualizes drug use and elucidates ways that inequities in criminal justice responses to drug crises perpetuate trajectories of risk and drug use, demonstrating the essential relationship of public health and criminal justice policy. 

Selected Publications:

Perdue, T., Cepeda, A., Kaplan, C. D., Zhao, Q., & Valdez, A. (2022). Crack cocaine use among aging Mexican American men with heroin use histories: motivations and polydrug use patterns. Addiction Research & Theory, 30(1), 57-65.

Cepeda, A., Nowotny, K. M., Frankeberger, J., Ramirez, E., Rodriguez, V. E., Perdue, T., & Valdez, A. (2020). Examination of multilevel domains of minority stress: Implications for drug use and mental and physical health among Latina women who have sex with women and men. PloS one, 15(3), e0230437.

Fedina, L., Williamson, C., & Perdue, T. (2019). Risk factors for domestic child sex trafficking in the United States. Journal of interpersonal violence, 34(13), 2653-2673.

Robert Rosales, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Brown University 

IRTI Senior Mentor:

IRTI Peer Mentor:

Robert Rosales is an Assistant Professor in the Department for Behavioral and Social Sciences at Brown University’s School of Public Health. He received his PhD and MSW from the Boston College School of Social Work and completed a T32 Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies. Dr. Rosales’ work focuses on: 1) the risk and protective factors associated with behavioral health problems, and 2) access to socioculturally appropriate care for intersectional Latinx groups. In 2021, he was awarded a 5-year Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08) from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) to study the protective and risk factors related to alcohol use among Latinx sexual minority youth. His K08 provides training in the: 1) development and progression of alcohol use in youth; 2) Risk and protective factors of alcohol use in SMY; 3) Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA); 4) Intensive longitudinal data analysis; and 5) cultural adaptation of measures and interventions for SMY of color. 

Selected Publications:

Rosales, R., Janssen, T., Yermash, J., Yap, K. R., Ball, E. L., Hartzler, B., … & Becker, S. J. (2022). Persons from racial and ethnic minority groups receiving medication for opioid use disorder experienced increased difficulty accessing harm reduction services during COVID-19. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 132, 108648.

Cano, M., Portillo, A. G. P., Figuereo, V., Rahman, A., Reyes-Martinez, J., Rosales, R., … & Takeuchi, D. T. (2021). Experiences of ethnic discrimination among US Hispanics: Intersections of language, heritage, and discrimination setting. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 84, 233-250.

Lee, C. S., Colby, S. M., Rohsenow, D. J., Martin, R., Rosales, R., McCallum, T. T., … & Cortés, D. E. (2019). A randomized controlled trial of motivational interviewing tailored for heavy drinking latinxs. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 87(9), 815.

Anapaula Themann, MA

Doctoral Student, Behavioral Neuroscience
University of Texas at El Paso

IRTI Senior Mentor: David M. Dietz, PhD, University of Buffalo

IRTI Peer Mentor: Lucas Albrechet-Souza, PhD, Louisiana State University

Anapaula Themann is a second-year PhD student in the Behavioral Neuroscience program at the University of Texas at El Paso. She received her MA in Experimental Psychology, with a thesis concentrating on the long-term neurobiological effects of fluoxetine exposure in adolescent rodent models. Currently, Anapaula is under the mentorship of Dr. Sergio D. Iñiguez investigating brain and behavior relationships, with a focus on maladaptive aggression by using male CD-1 mice as a model system. Thus far she has assessed behavioral responsivity on affect-related behavior (anxiety, despair, motivation) as a function of male-to-male mouse aggression. As part of her dissertation studies, she plans to correlate these behavioral endpoints with molecular changes within specific brain regions of the limbic system, which may underlie both aggressive and mood-related behavior. Anapaula’s long-term goal is to obtain a tenure-track faculty position at a R1 institution where she will focus her research program on the neurobiology of affective and substance use disorders. Importantly, as a faculty member, one of her principal goals will be to provide research-intensive training opportunities, as well as collaborative workshops, to students of underrepresented backgrounds. 

Selected Publications:

Iñiguez, S. D., Flores-Ramirez, F. J., Themann, A., & Lira, O. (2021). Adolescent fluoxetine exposure induces persistent gene expression changes in the hippocampus of adult male C57BL/6 mice. Molecular Neurobiology, 58(4), 1683-1694.

Garcia-Carachure, I., Flores-Ramirez, F. J., Castillo, S. A., Themann, A., Arenivar, M. A., Preciado-Piña, J., … & Iñiguez, S. D. (2020). Enduring effects of adolescent ketamine exposure on cocaine-and sucrose-induced reward in male and female C57BL/6 mice. Neuropsychopharmacology, 45(9), 1536-1544.

Flores-Ramirez, F.J., Garcia-Carachure, I., Sanchez, D.O., Gonzalez, C., Castillo, S.A., Arenivar, M.A., Themann, A., Lira, O., Rodriguez, M., Preciado-Piña, J. and Iñiguez, S.D., 2019. Fluoxetine exposure in adolescent and adult female mice decreases cocaine and sucrose preference later in life. Journal of psychopharmacology, 33(1), pp.145-153.