2012 Fellows

Meghan Althoff, MD, PhD

Physician, Physician Scientist Training Program, Internal Medicine
University of Colorado at Denver

IRTI Mentor: Alan Neaigus, PhD

Meghan Althoff graduated with her MD and PhD in Epidemiology from the Tulane University School of Medicine and School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine in 2016. Her research focused on the impact of social support networks and neighborhood composition on HIV and STI risk behaviors, including drug and alcohol use, among Latino migrants living in New Orleans. Dr. Althoff is currently in the Physician Scientist Training Program at the University of Colorado in Denver, where she is completing her Internal Medicine residency followed by a fellowship in Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care Medicine.

Selected Publications:
Rebholz, C., Macomber, M., Althoff, M., Garstka, M., Pogribny, A., Rosencrans, A., Selzer, S., & Springgate, B. (2013). Integrated Models of Education and Service Involving Community-Based Health Care for Underserved Populations: Tulane Student-Run Free Clinics. Southern Medical Journal, 106(3), 217-223.

Kissinger, P., Althoff, M., Burton, N., Schmidt, N., Hembling, J., Salinas, O., Shedlin, M. (2013). Prevalence, patterns, and predictors of substance use among Latino migrant men in a new receiving community. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 133 (5), 814-824.

Althoff, M., Anderson-Smits, C., Kovacs, S., Salinas, O., Hembling, J., Schmidt, N., & Kissinger, P. (2012). Patterns and Predictors of Multiple Sexual Partnerships Among Newly Arrived Latino Migrant Men. AIDS and Behavior, 1-10.

Miguel Ángel Cano, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology
Florida International University

IRTI Mentor: Seth Schwartz, PhD

Dr. Miguel Ángel Cano is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology. Dr. Cano’s primary research interests focus on (1) social determinants, ethnocultural determinants, and stress and coping resources in relation to substance use behavior and mental health; and (2) evidence-based prevention interventions for underserved and socially disadvantaged populations. Dr. Cano currently serves on the editorial board of the following journals: Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, Journal of Clinical Psychology, Journal of Latinx Psychology, Emerging Adulthood, and the Journal of Prevention and Health Promotion. In 2016, Dr. Cano received the National Award of Excellence in Research by a New Investigator from the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse.

Selected Publications:

De La Rosa M, Sanchez M, Wang W, Angel Cano M, Rojas P. Alcohol use trajectories of adult Latinx immigrants during their first decade in the United States. Addict Behav. 2020;106:106352. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106352.

Auf R, Cano MÁ, Selim M, O’Connell D, Martin S, Ibañez GE. Hepatitis C Virus and Hispanic Criminal Justice Clients: A Missed Opportunity. J Immigr Minor Health. 2020;22(4):701-707. doi:10.1007/s10903-019-00931-4.

Ramírez-Ortiz D, Sheehan DM, Ibañez GE, Ibrahimou B, De La Rosa M, Cano MÁ. Self-efficacy and HIV testing among Latino emerging adults: examining the moderating effects of distress tolerance and sexual risk behaviors [published online ahead of print, 2020 Mar 4]. AIDS Care. 2020;1-9. doi:10.1080/09540121.2020.1736259

NICMHD. Loan Repayment Program. (July 2012- June 2013). Understanding health disparities among Hispanics.

National Cancer Institute (NCI).R25T. (September 2013- August 2015). Associations of acculturations and enculturation with smoking cessation outcomes among Spanish speaking Mexican and Mexican American.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). K01. (September 2017 – July 2022). Ethnic discrimination and alcohol risk behaviors among Hispanic adolescents/Project on Latinos Ending Alcohol Abuse and Discrimination (Project LEAD).

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). K01. (August 2020- July 2021). Early-life risk and resilience profiles of Alzheimer’s disease in a multiethnic cohort.

Jennifer Kam, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Communication
University of California, Santa Barbara

IRTI Mentor: Felipe Castro, PhD

Jennifer Kam is an Associate Professor and Graduate Director for the Department of Communication at UC Santa Barabara. Based on a stress-coping-resilience framework, her work involves investigating how fear of deportation, separation from family during migration, perceived ethnic/racial discrimination, and language brokering are related to adolescents, depressive symptoms, substance use, and low academic performance. She also is interested in identifying interpersonal-based resources that might protect adolescents from experiencing such negative outcomes. Dr. Kam’s research often involves conducting semi-structured interviews and surveys with Latino/a adolescents and/or children of immigrant families. Her work is intended to inform the design of culturally-grounded substance-use prevention programs that can enhance the well-being of adolescents from underserved backgrounds.

Dr. Kam has published a number of peer-reviewed journal articles, most of which can be found in top communication, prevention, and adolescent journals such as Communication Research, Human Communication Research, Journal of Communication, Health Communication, Prevention Science, and Journal of Research on Adolescence. She also has presented over 30 papers at national and international conferences and has received several top paper awards. In 2016, she received the Early Career Award from the Interpersonal Division at the National Communication Association, one of the premier associations in her discipline.

Selected Publications:

Afifi, T., Basinger, E., & Kam, J. A. (in press). The extended theoretical model of communal coping (TMCC): Understanding the properties and functionality of communal coping. Journal of Communication.

Kam, J. A., Merolla, A. J., & High, A. (in press). Latinx immigrant youth’s indirect and direct disclosures about their family-undocumented experiences, received emotional support, and depressive symptoms. Communication Research.

Kam, J. A., Steuber Fazio, K. R., & *Mendez Murillo, R. (2019). Disclosing one’s undocumented status to non-family members: Exploring the perspectives of undocumented youth of Mexican origin. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36, 3178-3198.

Kam, J. A., *Pérez Torres, D., & Steuber Fazio, K. R. (2018). Identifying individual- and family-level coping strategies for undocumented youth of Mexican origin. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 46, 641-664.

Kam, J. A., & Merolla, A. J. (2018). The influence of hope communication on documented and undocumented Latina/o high school students’ college intentions across an academic year. Communication Monographs, 85, 399-422.

Fatima A. Muñoz, MD, MPH

Physician and Postdoctoral Fellow, Division of Global Public Health
University of California, San Diego 

Fatima A. Muñoz is a Mexican physician and postdoctoral fellow in the UC San Diego Division of Global Public Health, is a native of the San Diego/Tijuana border region. Dr. Muñoz obtained a Medical Degree and a Master’s in Public Health from Universidad Autonoma de Baja California (UABC). She has over 10 years of experience working in outreach community health prevention programs, specifically in underserved populations. She served as Director of a community clinic in Ensenada, B.C. Mexico on behalf of the government for three years, and afterwards joined Universidad Xochicalco School of Medicine as a Medical coordinator for the Community and Research Program for 10 years. During this time, Dr. Muñoz coordinated prevention campaigns on addictions and STIs, including HIV among youths. She also has participated as a clinical advisor in two interventions to reduce risk behaviors among adolescents in junior and high schools in Tijuana, Mexico. Dr. Munoz’s interest in community–based, participatory research, particularly with vulnerable populations, led her to start a Fellowship in HIV/AIDS and associated co–morbidities in the US-Mexico Border region at UC San Diego, and two post-doctoral fellowships since 2008.

Dr. Muñoz’s research focuses on improving the health of Latino populations living in the US-Mexico border region. Specific areas of health research include: HIV and related co-morbidities, HIV-transmitting risk behaviors, and health care delivery systems in the US and Mexico. In 2009, she was awarded with a diversity supplement. These training opportunities have contributed to her development of critical research skills and her growth as an independent researcher. She is currently working on a T32 training grant focused on HIV perceptions and drug use stigma related to HIV and HCV risk behaviors among injection drug users living in the US-Mexico border region.

Kathryn M. Nowotny, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology
University of Miami

IRTI Mentor: Alice Cepeda, PhD

Kathryn M. Nowotny (PhD, University of Colorado Boulder) is an Assistant Professor of Medical Sociology at the University of Miami. Her research employs mixed-methods to examine the multilevel factors shaping health and healthcare among vulnerable popu- lations, with a particular focus on individuals involved or affected by the justice system and substance use. Dr. Nowotny is also the PI of a Center for AIDS Research funded pilot award to conduct a novel survey of health care practices in U.S. jails. She is also Co-I (site-PI) of multi-site R01 to establish a PrEP cohort among individuals recently released from prison and currently on parole in the South (North Carolina, Kentucky, and Florida). As an IRTI fellow (2012 Cohort), she was the recipient of a NIH Ruth L Kirschstein National Research Service Award Fellowship (F31) and a NSF Doctoral Dis- sertation Research Improvement Grant.

Selected Publications:

Cepeda, A., K.M. Nowotny, J. Frankeberger*, E. Ramirez^, V. Rodriguez*, T,. Perdue*, A. Valdez. (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. 2020;15(3):e0230437. Published 2020 Mar 26. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0230437

Nowotny, K.M., J. Frankeberger*, A. Cepeda, A. Valdez. 2019. “Trajectories of Heroin Use: a 15-Year Follow-Up Study of Mexican American Men who were Affiliated with Gangs During Adolescence.” Drug & Alcohol Dependence, 204(1): 107505. PMID: 31550612. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.06.008.

Cepeda, A., ., Frankeberger, J., Onge, J. M. S., & Valdez, A. (2018). Biological risk and infection profiles of young adult male Mexican American gang members. Public Health Reports, 133(5), 551-558.


Pilot award NIMHD/NIH Center for Latino Health Research Opportunities (CLaRO). U54. Minority Stress and Sexual Identity across Life Course of Mexican-American Women Who Have Sex with Women and Men.

NIDA. F31. (2014-2017). Examining health disparities: Health and healthcare of incarcerated adults.

National Science Foundation (NSF). Doctoral Dissertation Improvement. Doctoral Dissertation Research: Applying a Social Ecological Framework to Inmate Health. Co-Principal Investigator.

Lizette Ojeda, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Educational Psychology
Texas A&M University

IRTI Mentor: Kurt Organista, PhD

Lizette Ojeda’s career agenda and life mission is to help move the Latino community forward within the broad domains of education, work/career, and mental health. She focuses on the Latino community specifically because they are the largest ethnic minority group in the U.S., yet they lag behind academically, are overrepresented in low-wage labor-intensive jobs, and underuse mental health services. She particularly focuses on people of Mexican descent because at 64%, they are the largest Latino subgroup, yet are not as well off educationally and economically compared to other Latino subgroups such as Puerto Ricans and Cubans. More recently Dr. Ojeda has narrowed her focus onto Mexican American and Mexican immigrant boys and men because they are worse off in the abovementioned domains than their female counterparts and because less is known about Mexican-origin males in general.

Selected Publications:

Ojeda L, Flores LY, Navarro RL. Social cognitive predictors of Mexican American college students’ academic and life satisfaction. J Couns Psychol. 2011;58(1):61-71. doi:10.1037/a0021687.

Ojeda L, Piña-Watson B. Day laborers’ life satisfaction: the role of familismo, spirituality, work, health, and discrimination. Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2013;19(3):270-278. doi:10.1037/a0032961.

Piña-Watson B, Romero AJ, Navarro RL, Ojeda L. Bicultural stress, coping, and psychological functioning among Mexican-descent and White college students. J Clin Psychol. 2019;75(7):1249-1266. doi:10.1002/jclp.22767

Martha Zapata Roblyer, PhD, MA

Research Scientist, Department of Human Development and Family Science
Oklahoma State University

IRTI Mentor: Richard Cervantes, PhD

Martha Zapata Roblyer works as a research scientist in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at Oklahoma State University, in Tulsa. She is the co-investigator of various evaluation research studies of early childhood education and parenting programs being implemented in Oklahoma. These programs, funded by local and national private foundations, aim to disrupt the cycle of intergenerational poverty and improve educational and health outcomes for families and children in the state. Dr. Zapata Roblyer has expertise in quantitative and qualitative research; program design, implementation and evaluation; training on issues of corporate diversity; and cultural competence in the delivery of services to minority populations. Her projects and collaborations have led to publications in peer-reviewed journals, a book chapter on mixed-status families, and numerous presentations at scientific and community events. She holds a PhD in Human Development and Family Science from Oklahoma State University.

Selected Publications:

Bámaca-Colbert, M. Y., Gonzales-Backen, M., Henry, C. S., *Kim, P. S. Y., Zapata Roblyer, M. I., Plunkett, S. W., Sands, T. (2018). Family profiles of cohesion and parenting practices and Latino youth adjustment. Family Process, 57, 719-736. doi:10.1111/famp.12314.

Cox, R. B., Criss, M. M., Harrist, A. W., & Zapata-Roblyer, M. (2017). Are Negative Peer Influences Domain Specific? Examining the Influence of Peers and Parents on Externalizing and Drug Use Behaviors. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 38(5), 515-536.

Zapata Roblyer, M. I., *Carlos, F. L., Merten, M. J., & Gallus, K., & Grzywacz, G. J., (2016). Psychosocial factors associated with depressive symptoms among Latina immigrants living in a new arrival community. Journal of Latino Psychology.

NIDA. R36. (March 2014-March 2016). Parent immigration status and Latino youth substance use-Drug abuse dissertation research: Epidemiology, prevention, treatment, services, and/or women and sex/gender differences.