Faculty Mentors

Avelardo Valdez, PhD

School of Social Work & Sociology
University of Southern California

Dr. Avelardo Valdez is currently the principal investigator and Director of the IRTI. Prior to his leadership of the current IRTI program, Dr. Valdez directed during the course of ten years the National Hispanic Science Network Summer Research Training Institute on Hispanic Drug Abuse.  The institute was a precursor to the IRTI program that was focused on promoting interest and professional commitment to Hispanic drug abuse research among students and early career faculty, earning him the NHSN National Award of Excellence in Mentorship. Dr. Valdez is a Professor at the USC School of Social Work with a second appointment in the Department of Sociology. He obtained his Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

A primary focus of his research has been on the relationship between substance abuse and violence and health issues among high-risk groups. His research projects have been among “hidden populations” such as youth and prison gang members, injecting and non-injecting heroin users, and sex workers on the U.S./Mexico border. Dr. Valdez is a recipient of numerous federal grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  His most recent NIH funded grant focuses on examining the long-term consequences of adolescent gang membership among Mexican Americans in San Antonio, Texas. Currently, Dr. Valdez is serving as a Co-Investigator on NIH/NIDA longitudinal study of female Mexican Americans associated with these male gang members as adolescents. He has also recently completed a NIH/NIDA-funded ethnographic study among active crack users in Mexico City. Dr. Valdez is also currently the principal investigator and Director of the Interdisciplinary Research Training Institute on Hispanic Drug Abuse (IRTI). He has published over 75 journal articles and chapters and academic publications including two books.

Selected Publications:
Valdez, A., Nowotny, K. M., Negi, N., Mora, E. Z., & Cepeda, A. (2016). Un Jalón, Un Volteón, y Otra Vez: High-Risk Crack Smoking Paraphernalia in México City. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs48(4), 295-302.

Valdez, A., Saint Onge, J. M., Cepeda, A., & Kaplan, C. (2016). The Influence of Informal Social Control Processes on Drug Trajectories and Delinquent Behavior Among Mexican American Gang Members. In Drug Use Trajectories Among Minority Youth (pp. 291-304). Springer Netherlands.

Valdez, A., Kaplan, C., Nowotny, K. M., Natera-Rey, G., & Cepeda, A. (2015). Emerging patterns of crack use in Mexico City. International Journal of Drug Policy26(8), 739-745.