2018 Fellows

Marvyn R. Arévalo Avalos, PhD, MA

Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Social Welfare
University of California Berkeley

IRTI Mentor: Guillermo Prado, PhD, University of Miami

Marvyn R. Arévalo Avalos is a fourth-year PhD student in Counseling Psychology in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at Arizona State University (ASU). Marvyn works at ASU’s Global Center for Applied Health Research as a research assistant for NIDA/NIH funded studies focusing on the cultural adaptation and randomized controlled trials of a youth substance abuse prevention intervention, Keeping it REAL – (Mantente REAL), in Mexico and Guatemala. In this role, he has assisted on qualitative and longitudinal studies examining the associations between violence, school belonging, and depressive symptoms on youth substance use. Marvyn’s research interest includes exploring the psycho-social-cultural determinants of treatment seeking and treatment adherence behaviors of Latinos/as experiencing behavioral health issues. Specifically, he plans to use his scientist-practitioner training to study the links between diabetes psychosocial distress, alcohol use, and depressive symptoms among Latinos/ as. Marvyn’s future goals are to pursue a tenure-track faculty position. Prior to his work in health disparities, Marvyn earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Development from the University of California Davis and has experience providing mental health services to diverse populations.

Selected Publications:

Arévalo Avalos, M. R., Ayers, S. L., Patrick, D. L., Jager, J., Castro, F. G., Konopken, Y. P., Olson, M. L., Keller, C. S., Soltero, E. G., Williams, A. N., & Shaibi, G. Q. (2020). Familism, Self-Esteem, and Weight-Specific Quality of Life Among Latinx Adolescents With Obesity. Journal of pediatric psychology, 45(8), 848–857. https://doi.org/10.1093/jpepsy/jsaa047, PMID: 32632446.

Kulis, S. S., Marsiglia, F. F., Porta, M., Arévalo Avalos, M. R., & Ayers, S. L. (2019). Testing the keepin’ it REAL Substance Use Prevention Curriculum Among Early Adolescents in Guatemala City. Prevention science : the official journal of the Society for Prevention Research, 20(4), 532–543. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-018-0956-8, PMID: 30519793.

Spanierman, L. B., Poteat, V. P., Wittaker, V. W., Schlosser, L. Z., & Arévalo Avalos, M. R. (2017) Allies for life? Lessons from White scholars of multicultural psychology. The Counseling Psychologist 45(5), 618–650.

Arévalo Avalos, M. R., & Flores, L.Y. (2016). Nontraditional career choices of Mexican American men: Influence of acculturation, enculturation, gender role traits, self-efficacy and interest. Journal of Latina/o Psychology, 4(3), 142-157. May, S. F., Flores, L. Y., Jeanetta, S., Saunders, L., Valdivia, C.,

 Arévalo Avalos, M. R., & Martinez, D. (2015). Latino immigrant integration in the rural Midwest: Long-term resident and immigrant perspectives. Journal of Latina/o Psychology, 3(1), 23-39.

Jaime Arredondo Sánchez Lira, PhD, MS

Assistant Professor, School of Public Health
University of Victoria

IRTI Mentor: Charles Kaplan, PhD & Avelardo Valdez, PhD

Jaime Arredondo Sánchez Lira is a professor at the Drug Policy Program at the Centro de Investi- gación y Docencia Económica (CIDE) in Aguascalientes, Mexico. He completed his PhD in Global Public Health at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and San Diego State University (SDSU). He studied political science and economics at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de Me- xico (ITAM) and a masters in Latin American Studies at UCSD. Prior to that, he worked four years as Chief of Staff for the Ministry of Public Security in the State Government of Quintana Roo, where he gained extensive experience in coordinating federal programs and establishing partnerships with universities. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the British Columbia Centre on Subs- tance Use (BCCSU) in Vancouver, Canada, with a focus on the implementation and evaluation of a drug checking pilot to address the fentanyl overdose crisis. Previously, he helped implement a police training program (ESCUDO) in the city of Tijuana on occupational health and harm reduc- tion His research interests include adapting and implementing harm reduction interventions ba- sed on empirical evidence, with a particular interest in the effects of police practices and the judi- cial system as risk factors in the spread of diseases (HIV, HCV) among people who use drugs. His research seeks to transform the public debate by viewing drug use as a public health issue rather than a public safety one. He continues to work with the BCCSU as an independent researcher in order to bring drug checking and safe consumption sites to the USA-Mexican Border.

Selected Publications:

Beletsky L, Abramovitz D, Arredondo J, Baker P, Artamonova I, Marotta P, Mittal ML, Rocha-Jimenez T, Cepeda JA, Morales M, Clairgue E. Addressing Police Occupational Safety During an Opioid Crisis: The Syringe Threat and Injury Correlates (STIC) Score. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine. 2020 Jan 1;62(1):46-51.

Arredondo J, Gaines T, Manian S, Vilalta C, Bañuelos A, Strathdee SA, Beletsky L. The law on the streets: Evaluating the impact of mexico’s drug decriminalization reform on drug possession arrests in Tijuana, Mexico. International Journal of Drug Policy. 2018 Apr 1;54:1-8. Editor’s choice for April issue.

 Arredondo J, Strathdee SA, Cepeda J, Abramovitz D, Artamonova I, Clairgue E, Bustamante E, Mittal ML, Rocha T, Bañuelos A, Olivarria HO. Measuring improvement in knowledge of drug policy reforms following a police education program in Tijuana, Mexico. Harm Reduction Journal. 2017 Nov 8;14(1):72

Roberto Cancio, PhD, MA

Assistant Professor, Sociology Department
Loyola Marymount University

IRTI Mentor: Craig Bryan, PsyD, ABPP, University of Utah

Dr. Roberto Cancio is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA and has received degrees from East Los Angeles College, University of California, Berkeley, University of Florida, and the University of Miami. As a researcher, Dr. Cancio has focused on the intersection between the biological, behavioral mechanisms, and pathways underpinning resilience and susceptibility to adverse health conditions that disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minority veteran populations, veterans of less privileged socioeconomic status, and the impact of racism and discrimination on health behavior and strategies for veterans and their families. Dr. Cancio has published on the mechanisms through which behavioral risk and protective factors from military service influence the development of adverse health conditions (e.g., substance use) for veterans; individual-level strategies by veterans, and interpersonal relationships for coping with adversity and chronic stress (e.g. PTSD, TBI, depression). Some of his recent contributions can be found in the Journal of Hispanic Behavioral Science, Men and Masculinities, and The Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Selected Publications:

Cancio, R., & Altal, D. (2021). Comparing post-Gulf War and post-9/11 era of service among veterans: Intimate partner violence and substance use by race and ethnicity. Journal of ethnicity in substance abuse, 20(1), 77–103. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332640.2019.1571978, PMID: 30806199.

Cancio R. (2021). Military Cohorts, Substance Use, and Male-Perpetrated Intimate Partner Violence. Violence against women, 27(3-4), 399–424. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801219893475, PMID: 31928328.

Cancio R. (2020). Post-9/11 Service Era Veterans: Intimate Partner Violence and Substance Use. Substance use & misuse, 55(2), 241–251. https://doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2019.1662812, PMID: 31535941.

Cancio, R. and D. Altal. (2019). Comparing Gulf War and Post-9/11 Service Era Veterans: Intimate Partner Violence and Substance Use by Race and Ethnicity. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, 10. 

Cancio, R. (2018). The Effect of Military Service on Education: An Examination of Mexican American Veterans. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 24(2), 150-175.

Cancio, R. (2017). Structural Pathways between Race/Ethnicity, Substance Use, Military Service, and Male-Perpetrated Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in Pre-9/11 Military Families. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 0886260517723142.

Manuel Cano Moreno, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work  
University of Texas at San Antonio

IRTI Mentor: John Bryan Page, PhD, University of Miami

Manuel Cano works as Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He studies racial/ethnic differences in alcohol and drug use, with emphasis on drug overdose mortality. Manuel received a bachelor’s degree from Tecnológico de Monterrey, an MSW from Arizona State University, and a PhD in Social Work from Boston College. Originally from México, he previously worked in Phoenix, Arizona, as a bilingual behavioral health clinician with parents referred by child protective services due to substance use-related concerns.

Selected Publications:

Cano, M., Agan, A., Bandoian, L., & Larochelle, L. (2022). Individual and County-Level Disparities in Drug and Opioid Overdose Mortality for Hispanic Men in Massachusetts and the Northeast United States. Substance Use & Misuse, 1-13.

Cano, M., & Gelpi-Acosta, C. (2022). Variation in US Drug Overdose Mortality Within and Between Hispanic/Latine Subgroups: A Disaggregation of National Data. medRxiv.

Cano, M. (2020). Racial/ethnic differences in US drug overdose mortality, 2017-2018. Addictive Behaviors. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106625

Cano, M. (2020). Drug overdose deaths among US Hispanics: Trends (2000-2017) and recent patterns. Substance Use & Misuse, 55(13), 2138-2147. https://doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2020.1793367

Cano, M., Oh, S., Salas-Wright, C. P., & Vaughn, M. G. (2020). Cocaine use and overdose mortality in the United States: Evidence from two national data sources, 2002-2018. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 214, 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2020.108148

Miguel A. Cruz-Feliciano, MS, PhD

Assistant Professor, School of Medicine
Universidad Central del Caribe

IRTI Mentors: Richard Cervantes, PhD, Behavioral Assessment Inc.

Dr. Cruz-Feliciano is a public health professional with specialization in epidemiology, and colleague of the Institute of Research, Education and Services of Addiction (IRESA) at the Universidad Central del Caribe, School of Medicine in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. Currently, Dr. Cruz-Feliciano is an Assistant Professor and Research Associate with special emphasis in behavioral health epidemiology and evaluation of services. He has been working closely in the areas of education and services for federal and state funded projects with emphasis in Alzheimer’s, adolescent sexual behavior, criminal justice, homelessness, mental health, substance use, and suicide. His experience working with federal funded programs sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provided the opportunity to focus on disparities in service provision and workforce development among Hispanics and Latinos across the United States. After completing his doctoral degree in 2014, he is now transitioning into research with a focus on becoming an independent researcher. His research interest aims to identify and explore factors that impede or facilitate treatment utilization, retention, and completion among vulnerable populations (e.g., older adults, women, Hispanic/Latinos).

Selected Publications:

Cruz-Feliciano, M. A., Pabón-Cruz, K., Carrión-González, I. S., & Vargas-Bernal, M. I. (2018). Outcomes of a Culturally-Based Sexually Risk Reduction Intervention for Adolescents in Puerto Rico: A Cohort Evaluation Report. J Community Med Health Educ, 8(585), 2161-0711.

Cruz-Feliciano, M.A,; Orobitg, D; & Carrión-González, I (2017). Is a Shorter Intervention Better for the Improvement in Quality of Life Scores for Latinas Receiving Substance Use and Trauma-Related Treatment? Addiction Health Services Research Conference. Madison, WI.

Cruz-Feliciano, M.A.; Miranda-Díaz, C.; Fernández-Santos, D. M.; Orobitg-Brenes, D.; Hunter-Mellado, R. F.; & Carrión-González, I. S. (2017). Quality of life improvement in Latinas receiving combined substance use disorders and traumaspecific treatment: A cohort evaluation report. Health and Quality of Life Outcome15, 90 doi: 10.1186/s12955-017-0667-z

Cruz-Feliciano, M.A.; Ferraro, A; & Prehn, A W (2017). Are stressful life events (SLEs) associated with the utilization of substance use treatment–related services? Puerto Rico Health Sciences Journal, 36(1), 29-36.

Vena Martinez, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

IRTI Mentor: Elva Diaz, PhD, University of California Davis

Vena K. Martinez, PhD, is the Senior Scientific Writer at Houston Methodist Hospital Foundation, the No. 1 ranked hospital in Texas. In 2019, she earned her PhD in Pharmacology and Chemical Biology at Baylor College of Medicine, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. In March 2020, she began training in the laboratory of Dr. Louise McCullough under the mentorship of Dr. Anjali Chauhan to investigate the detrimental and protective effects of the neuroimmunological response during acute and chronic post-stroke respectively. Ultimately, she aims to pursue a career in basic neuroscience research that is informed by epidemiological and clinical studies to clear a path toward understanding, diagnosing and treating mental illnesses that are tightly linked to drug use and addiction that disproportionately affect minority populations.

Selected Publications:

Lusk, S. J., McKinney, A., Hunt, P. J., Fahey, P. G., Patel, J., Chang, A., Sun, J. J., Martinez, V. K., Zhu, P. J., Egbert, J. R., Allen, G., Jiang, X., Arenkiel, B. R., Tolias, A. S., Costa-Mattioli, M., & Ray, R. S. (2022). A CRISPR toolbox for generating intersectional genetic mouse models for functional, molecular, and anatomical circuit mapping. BMC biology, 20(1), 28. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12915-022-01227-0, PMID: 35086530.

Silverman, D. A., Martinez, V. K., Dougherty, P. M., Myers, J. N., Calin, G. A., & Amit, M. (2021). Cancer-Associated Neurogenesis and Nerve-Cancer Cross-talk. Cancer research, 81(6), 1431–1440. https://doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-20-2793, PMID: 33334813.

Lusk, S.J., McKinney, A., Hunt, P.J., Fahey, P.G., Patel, J., Sun, J.J., Martinez, V.K., Zhu, P.J., Egbert, J.R., Jiang, X. and Arenkiel, B.R. (2021). A CRISPR toolbox for generating intersectional genetic mice for functional, molecular, and anatomical circuit mapping. bioRxiv.

Martinez, V. K., Saldana-Morales, F., Sun, J. J., Zhu, P. J., Costa-Mattioli, M., & Ray, R. S. (2019). Off-Target Effects of Clozapine-N-Oxide on the Chemosensory Reflex Are Masked by High Stress Levels. Frontiers in physiology, 10, 521. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2019.00521, PMID: 31178741.

Kevin Uribe, PhD, MS

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Neuroscience
University of Texas Austin

IRTI Mentor: Kathryn A. Cunningham, PhD, University of Texas Medical Branch

Kevin P. Uribe is a PhD candidate in the Behavioral Neuroscience graduate program at the University of Texas at El Paso. Mr. Uribe completed his combined dual BS/MS degree from the City College of New York. Currently, Mr. Uribe is working in the laboratory of Dr. Laura E. O’Dell, whose research is focused on studying the effects of tobacco abuse in vulnerable populations such as persons with diabetes, adolescents, and females. His project focuses on investigating the underlying molecular and neurochemical mechanisms by which viral-mediated overexpression of a stress peptide potentiates the behavioral effects of nicotine in females and males. Much of Mr. Uribe’s work has focused on drug addiction and the biological mechanisms that contribute to the increased vulnerability observed in females. He wishes to continue investigating sex differences and the relationship between ovarian and stress hormones in the initiation and escalation of drug addiction. His career goal is to obtain a tenure-track position in a research-intensive institution.

Selected Publications:

Giner, P., Maynez-Anchondo, L., Liley, A. E., Uribe, K. P., Frietze, G. A., Simon, N. W., & Mendez, I. A. (2022). Increased Risky Choice and Reduced CHRNB2 Expression in Adult Male Rats Exposed to Nicotine Vapor. International journal of molecular sciences, 23(3), 1231. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23031231, PMID: 35163155.

Cruz, B., Ortegon, S., Giner, P., Matos-Ocasio, F., Rodriguez-Crespo, A., Uribe, K. P., Galindo, K. I., Serafine, K. M., Nazarian, A., & O’Dell, L. E. (2021). The emergence of insulin resistance following a chronic high-fat diet regimen coincides with an increase in the reinforcing effects of nicotine in a sex-dependent manner. Neuropharmacology, 200, 108787. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2021.108787, PMID: 34571112.

Carcoba, L. M., Uribe, K. P., Ortegon, S., Mendez, I. A., DeBiasi, M., & O’Dell, L. E. (2021). Amino acid systems in the interpeduncular nucleus are altered in a sex-dependent manner during nicotine withdrawal. Journal of neuroscience research, 10.1002/jnr.24826. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1002/jnr.24826, PMID: 33751631.

Uribe, K. P., Correa, V. L., Pinales, B. E., Flores, R. J., Cruz, B., Shan, Z., Bruijnzeel, A. W., Khan, A. M., & O’Dell, L. E. (2020). Overexpression of corticotropin-releasing factor in the nucleus accumbens enhances the reinforcing effects of nicotine in intact female versus male and ovariectomized female rats. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 45(2), 394–403. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-019-0543-0, PMID: 31614362.

Flores, R. J., Cruz, B., Uribe, K. P., Correa, V. L., Arreguin, M. C., Carcoba, L. M., Mendez, I. A., & O’Dell, L. E. (2020). Estradiol promotes and progesterone reduces anxiety-like behavior produced by nicotine withdrawal in female rats. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 119, 104694. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2020.104694, PMID: 32540678.


F31, NIH/NIDA. (January 2019-July 2020). Sex differences in the neurochemical mechanisms by which a stress peptide enhances nicotine reward and withdrawal. Principal Investigator.

Suzan Walters, PhD

Associate Research Scientist, School of Global Public Health
New York University

IRTI Mentor: Ricky Bluthenthal, PhD, University of Southern California

Dr. Suzan Walters is a postdoctoral fellow at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing in the Behavioral Sciences Training in Drug Abuse Research program. Her research focuses on how social networks, substance use, gender, sexualities, race/ethnicity, and socio-economic class impact health outcomes, specifically related to HIV prevention. Dr. Walters has worked as an ethnographer for the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System, a program director for the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities, and a research fellow for AIDS Foundation Chicago. Her research has been supported by the American Sociological Association, Sociologists for Women and Society, the Society for the Study of Social Problems, Sociology AIDS Network, and Stony Brook University.

Selected Publications:

Walters, S. M., Bolinski, R. S., Almirol, E., Grundy, S., Fletcher, S., Schneider, J., Friedman, S. R., Ouellet, L. J., Ompad, D. C., Jenkins, W., & Pho, M. T. (2022). Structural and community changes during COVID-19 and their effects on overdose precursors among rural people who use drugs: a mixed-methods analysis. Addiction science & clinical practice, 17(1), 24. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13722-022-00303-8, PMID: 35468860.

Walters, S. M., Frank, D., Van Ham, B., Jaiswal, J., Muncan, B., Earnshaw, V., Schneider, J., Friedman, S. R., & Ompad, D. C. (2022). PrEP Care Continuum Engagement Among Persons Who Inject Drugs: Rural and Urban Differences in Stigma and Social Infrastructure. AIDS and behavior, 26(4), 1308–1320. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10461-021-03488-2, PMID: 34626265.

Frank, D., Mateu-Gelabert, P., Perlman, D. C., Walters, S. M., Curran, L., & Guarino, H. (2021). “It’s like ‘liquid handcuffs”: The effects of take-home dosing policies on Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) patients’ lives. Harm reduction journal, 18(1), 88. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12954-021-00535-y, PMID: 34391436.

Walters, S. M., Kral, A. H., Lamb, S., Goldshear, J. L., Wenger, L., & Bluthenthal, R. N. (2021). Correlates of Transactional Sex and Violent Victimization among Men Who Inject Drugs in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. Journal of urban health : bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 98(1), 70–82. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11524-020-00494-y, PMID: 33409836.

Walters, S. M., Seal, D. W., Stopka, T. J., Murphy, M. E., & Jenkins, W. D. (2020). COVID-19 and People Who Use Drugs – A Commentary. Health behavior and policy review, 7(5), 489–497. https://doi.org/10.14485/hbpr.7.5.11, PMID: 33134405.