2016 Fellows

Tara Bautista, PhD

Research Associate, Department of Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience
Arizona State University

IRTI Mentor: Hortensia Amaro, PhD

Tara Bautista holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology from San Diego State University and a Ph.D. in Nurs- ing and Health Innovation from Arizona State University. Her research focuses on intervention ad- aptation to improve reach, acceptability, and retention for vulnerable populations without compro- mising intervention fidelity and efficacy. Her populations of interest include individuals recovering from substance use disorders, first-generation and disadvantaged college students, ethnic and ra- cial minorities, and U.S.-Mexico borderland communities.

Selected Publications:

Bautista, T., James, D. & Amaro, H. (2019). Acceptability of mindfulness-based intervention for substance use disorder: A systematic review. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 35, 201 -207, doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2019.02.012.

Coplan, B., Bautista, T. G., & Dehn, R. (2018). Physician assistant program characteristics and di- versity in the PA profession. Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, 31 (3), 38-46, doi: 10.1097/01.JAA.0000530295.15656.51

Castro, F. G., Barrera, M., & Bautista, T. G. (2018). Empirically-based treatments: Adapting behavioral medicine change strategies to meet the needs of integrative care… With an appreciation of culture. In M. P. Duckworth & W. T. O’Donohue (Eds.), Behavioral Medicine and Integrative Care: Efficient Delivery of the Most Effective Treatments (pp. 89-117). Springer, Cham.

Elma I. Lorenzo-Blanco, PhD, MS

Assistant Professor, Human Development & Family Sciences 
University of Texas at Austin

IRTI Mentor: Seth Schwartz, PhD

Elma I. Lorenzo-Blanco is a bilingual (English/Spanish) Assistant Professor in the Human Develop- ment & Family Sciences department at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior, she was as assistant professor in clinical/community psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of South Carolina (USC), where she investigated socio-cultural and community-based determinants of Latina/o youth well-being. Before joining USC’s Department of Psychology in 2013, she earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan through the support of a NIDA T-32 pre-doctoral fellowship with the University of Michigan Substance Abuse Research Center. One of her career goals is to become an independent NIH-funded investigator of culture, gender, and Latina/o youth mental health and substance use to conduct school-based panel and intervention research with Latina/o youth across contexts. She is also interested in using her research to inform policy. Dr. Lorenzo-Blanco is confident that her participation in the IRTI will allow her to work towards becoming an independent NIH-funded researcher by expanding her research network, gaining access to NIH-funded mentors, and acquiring training in grantmanship and Hispanic drug abuse.

Selected Publications:

Schwartz, S. J., Meca, A., Ward, C., Szabó, A., Benet-Martínez, V., Lorenzo-Blanco, E. I., Albert Sznitman, G., Cobb, C. L., Szapocznik, J., Unger, J. B., Cano, M. A., Stuart, J., & Zamboanga, B. L. (2019). Biculturalism dynamics: A daily diary study of bicultural identity and psychosocial functioning. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 62, 26-37

Lorenzo-Blanco, E. I., Meca, A., Unger, J. B., Szapocznik, J., Cano, M. Á., Des Rosiers, S. E., & Schwartz, S. J. (2018). Cultural stress, emotional well-being, and health risk behaviors among recent immigrant Latinx families: the moderating role of perceived neighborhood characteristics. Journal of youth and adolescence, 1-18.

Gonzales-Backen, M. A., Meca, A., Lorenzo-Blanco, E. I., Des Rosiers, S. E., Córdova, D., Soto, D. W., … & Schwartz, S. J. (2017). Examining the temporal order of ethnic identity and perceived discrimination among Hispanic immigrant adolescents. Developmental Psychology, 54(5), 929-937.


K01. NIH/NIAAA. (August 2020- July 2025). Juntos (Together): Development of a family-based Latino youth use preventive intervention.

Oswaldo Moreno, PhD

Assistant Professor, Counseling Psychology
Virginia Commonwealth University

IRTI Mentor: Kurt Organista, PhD

Oswaldo Moreno received a BS from Arizona State University in 2008 and an MA and PhD from Clark University in 2011 and 2015, respectively. He was subsequently at Boston University School of Medicine, where he completed his predoctoral fellowship in 2015 and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Brown University. Dr. Moreno’s research focuses on understanding and addressing the mental healthcare disparities in the United States that continue to disproportionately affect individuals from low-income and racial/ethnic minority backgrounds. His research program includes both applied and basic research that lie at the intersection of cognitive-behavioral theories, motivation interviewing, and cultural and contextual approaches including psychology of religion and spirituality variables. While at Brown University, current research projects include randomized control trials, evidenced based practices, culturally sensitive interventions, early interventions for AOD use among Latino youth, as well as proximal and cultural variables that impact the substance use and mood disorders among Latinos in the United States.

Selected Publications:
Akinkugbe, A., & ​Moreno, O.​ & Brickhouse, T.H. (2019). Serum cotinine, vitamin D exposure levels and dental caries of experience in U.S. adolescents. ​Journal of Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, 47​(2):185-192.​​doi:10.1111/cdoe.12442

Moreno, O.​, & Cardemil, E. (2018). The role of religious attendance on mental health among Mexican populations: A contribution toward the discussion of the immigrant health paradox.American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 88​(1), 10-15. doi:10.1037/ort0000214.

Oesterle, D.W., Orchowski, L.M., Moreno, O, Berkowitz, O. A (2018). Qualitative Analysis of Bystander Intervention among Heavy Drinking College Men. Violence Against Women, 24(10), 1207 – 1231. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801218781931

Miguel Pinedo, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor, Health Behavior & Health Education
University of Texas at Austin

IRTI Mentor: Margarita Alegria, PhD

Dr. Pinedo has an invested interest in better understanding the intersection between migration and health. Though migrant health has become an important facet of health research, migration has rarely been examined as a social determinant of health. His work addresses this critical area by focusing on how different migration experiences contribute to health disparities, particularly among Latino populations. Specifically, his work investigates how social- and structural-level factors associated with migration to the US; voluntary and forced migration (e.g., deportation); domestic migration within Mexico; and migration to high-risk environments (e.g., settings with increased availability of alcohol and drugs) relate to the epidemiology of substance abuse, HIV risk, and related harms. A large proportion of his work has focused on Mexican migrants residing on both sides of the US-Mexico border, a high-risk region for alcohol and drug abuse and HIV. Overall, his research underscores the importance of migration-related factors in shaping health behaviors, risk practices, and health outcomes. Prior to joining UT, Dr. Pinedo received his PhD in Global Health from the UC San Diego and completed his postdoctoral training at UC Berkeley. He also previously earned his Master in Public Health from UC Berkeley.

Selected Publications:

Pinedo M. Deportation of family members of US-citizen Latinos and misuse of prescription drugs: United States, 2019. (in press) American Journal of Public Health.

Pinedo M, Zemore SE, Mulia N. (in press). Black-White differences in treatment barriers to specialty substance abuse treatment. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse.

Pinedo M. The impact of deportation policies on the substance using behaviors of US-citizen Latinos. (2020). Journal of International Drug Policy. DOI: doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2019.11.013. Epub ahead of print.

Pinedo M. (2019). Help seeking behaviors of Latinos with substance use disorders who perceive a need for treatment: Substance abuse treatment versus mental health treatment services. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 109: 41-45. DOI: doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2019.11.006.

Pinedo M, Zemore S, Beltrán-Girón J*, Gilbert P, & Castro Y. (2019). Women’s barriers to specialty substance abuse treatment: A qualitative exploration of racial/ethnic differences. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 1-8. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10903-019-00933-2


R01, NIAAA/NIH (September 2019 – August 2022). Understanding disparities in alcohol treatment services utilization. Principal Investigator.

Claudia Rafful, MSc

Doctoral Candidate, Public Health
San Diego State University & University of California, San Diego

IRTI Mentors: Angela Garcia, PhD & Shoshanna Berenzon, PhD

Claudia Rafful is a PhD candidate in Public Health, with emphasis on Global Health at the Joint Doctorate Program at San Diego State University and University of California, San Diego. She studied psychology at Universidad de las Américas, Puebla, in Mexico and holds a Masters in Substance Misuse at the University of Sussex, Brighton, UK. She has collaborated for over 7 years with researchers at the National Institute of Psychiatry in Mexico, as well as the New York State Psychiatric Institute. As a result, she has gained experience in psychosocial and epidemiological research with Mexican and American populations, specifically on substance use and mental health. While in the PhD program, she has collaborated and led research related to cannabis legalization in Uruguay, substance use among Mexican adolescents, and social epidemiologic research with people who inject drugs (PWID) in Tijuana, Mexico. Her dissertation is focused on involuntary drug treatment among PWID in Tijuana using a structural violence framework and a mixed-methods approach. After obtaining her PhD degree, she wants to continue working in research that informs drug policy reforms in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America.

Selected Publications:
Werb, D., Kamarulzaman, A., Meacham, M. C., Rafful, C., Fischer, B., Strathdee, S. A., & Wood, E. (2016). The effectiveness of compulsory drug treatment: A systematic review. International Journal of Drug Policy28, 1-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2015.12.005

Palinkas, L. A., Chavarin, C. V., Rafful, C., Um, M. Y., Mendoza, D. V., Staines, H., … & Patterson, T. L. (2015). Sustainability of Evidence-Based Practices for HIV Prevention among Female Sex Workers in Mexico. PloS one10(10), e0141508. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0141508

Rafful, C., Wagner, K. D., Werb, D., González‐Zúñiga, P. E., Verdugo, S., Rangel, G., & Strathdee, S. A. (2015). Prevalence and correlates of neck injection among people who inject drugs in Tijuana, Mexico. Drug and alcohol review34(6), 630-636. DOI: 10.1111/dar.12264

Eden H. Robles, PhD, MSW

Behavioral Health Researcher

IRTI Mentor: Felipe Gonzalez-Castro, PhD, MSW

Eden Robles has a background in social work, with training on qualitative research methods, health services and service user evaluations, and qualitative data analysis with an emphasis on alcohol health related disparities with Latinos. She is interested in treatment seeking experiences and health service practices. As a research associate on several university- and NIH-funded grants, she has laid the groundwork for the proposed research grant by investigating the social, cultural, and other psychosocial factors relevant to Latinos on the US/Mexico Border. In addition, she is serving as a co-investigator successfully administering follow-up research projects (e.g. the experience of change associated with alcohol recovery) by collaborating with other researchers, and community members. As co-investigator, she is responsible for developing a mentor-guided research plan, timeline, and budget.

Selected Publications:
Robles, E. H., Maynard, B. R., Salas-Wright, C. P., & Todic, J. (2016). Culturally Adapted Substance Use Interventions for Latino Adolescents A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Research on Social Work Practice, 1049731516676601. DOI: 10.1177/1049731516676601

Salas-Wright, C. P., Robles, E. H., Vaughn, M. G., Córdova, D., & Pérez-Figueroa, R. E. (2015). Toward a Typology of Acculturative Stress Results Among Hispanic Immigrants in the United States. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 0739986315573967. DOI: 10.1177/0739986315573967

Castro, Y., Fernández, M. E., Strong, L. L., Stewart, D. W., Krasny, S., Robles, E. H., … & Resnicow, K. (2014). Adaptation of a counseling intervention to address multiple cancer risk factors among overweight/obese Latino smokers. Health Education & Behavior, 1090198114560019. DOI: 10.1177/1090198114560019

Mayra E. Vargas-Rivera, MD

Project Director, School of Integrated Science & Humanity
Florida International University

IRTI Mentor: Mario De La Rosa, PhD

Mayra E. Vargas-Rivera is the Project Director for clinical research projects under the Health Behavior and Policy Initiative (HBPI) at the School of Integrated Science and Humanity at Florida International University. Originally from Camuy, Puerto Rico, Dr. Vargas-Rivera completed her BS degree in Biology at Iowa State University before earning her MD from Ross University School of Medicine. She has extensive experience in implementing and conducting research with a focus on minority populations experiencing health disparities, as well as teaching clinical research methodology. As part of HBPI, she is committed to addressing the needs of populations that have been disproportionately burdened by the epidemic of HIV, tobacco, and/or alcohol abuse, and has a strong interest in research that makes a difference in improving outcomes that will achieve health equality. Dr. Vargas-Rivera has also worked for the landmark Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos at both the Northwestern University and University of Miami Field Centers. Her other academic and research interests include stress and health behaviors, health and well-being promotion, as well as cost-efficiency of health care systems.

Selected Publications:

Ben Taleb Z, Vargas-Rivera M, Ebrahimi Kalan M, Eissenberg TE, Maziak W. (2019) The Effect of Flavored and Non-Flavored Tobacco on Subjective Experience, Topography and Exhaled Carbon Monoxide Among Waterpipe Smokers. Tob Control. [Accepted; In press].

Ben Taleb Z, Breland A, Bahelah R, Ebrahimi Kalan M, Vargas-Rivera ME, Jaber R, Eissenberg T, Maziak W.(2018)Flavored Versus Non-Flavored Waterpipe Tobacco: A Comparison of Toxicant Exposure, Puff Topography, Subjective Experiences and Harm Perceptions.Nicotine Tob Res.doi: 10.1093/ntr/nty1 [Epub ahead of print].

Madhavan Nair, J., Maria, M. B., Agudelo, M., Yndart, A., & Vargas-Rivera, M. E. (2015). Platelets Contribute to BBB Disruption Induced by HIV and Alcohol. Journal of alcoholism and drug dependence3(1), 182. DOI: 10.4172/2329-6488.1000182