2018 Fellows

Marvyn R. Arévalo Avalos, MA

Doctoral Student, College of Integrative Science
Arizona State University 

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:

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

Postdoctoral Fellow, British Columbia Center on Substance Use
University of British Columbia, Canada 

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

Jaime Arredondo Sánchez Lira, 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 Mexico (ITAM). 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. His research focuses on adapting and implementing interventions based on empirical evidence, in order to modify the effects of police practices and the judicial system as risk factors in the spread of diseases (HIV, HCV), particularly among injecting drug users in the border region Mexico – USA. His research seeks to transform the public debate by viewing drug use as a public health issue rather than a public safety issue.

Selected Publications:

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

Beletsky L, Wagner KD, Arredondo J, Palinkas L, Magis Rodríguez C, Kalic N, Natasha-J. Arredondo Ludwig-Barron, Strathdee SA. Implementing Mexico’s “Narcomenudeo” drug law reform: A mixed methods assessment of early experiences among people who inject drugs. Journal of Mixed Methods Research. 2016 Oct;10(4):384-401

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. 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.

Cancio, R. (2017). Epidemiologic Studies on the Development of PTSD, PTSD Measures, and Future Directions. Theranostics Brain Disorder. 2.2. 555585.

Manuel Cano Moreno, PhD, MSW

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

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

Manuel Cano Moreno has a PhD from the Boston College School of Social Work where his dissertation focused on acculturation and substance use in U.S. Latinos. He studies acculturation and substance abuse among Latino populations. Manuel received an MSW from Arizona State University and subsequently worked as a substance abuse clinician with adult caregivers involved in the child welfare system. After some years of experience in clinical practice, Mr. Cano decided to pursue a doctoral education to better understand the crucial role research plays in informing practice. His main populations of interest include children of immigrant parents who abuse substances. He hopes to participate in studies that contribute to the development of evidence-based interventions for Spanish-speaking individuals with problem substance use. Additional long term goals include teaching and mentoring social work students.

Selected Publications:

Cano, M. (in press). Diversity and inclusion in social service organizations: Implications for community partnerships and social work curriculum. Journal of Social Work Education. 

Rosales, R., Figuereo, V., Woo, B., Perez-Aponte, J., & Cano, M. (2018). Preparing to work with Latinos: Latino-focused content in social work master’s programs. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 38(3), 251-262.

Calvo, R., Ortiz, L., Padilla, Y. C., Waters, M. C., Lubben, J., Egmont, W., Rosales, R., Figuereo, V., Cano, M., Villa, P. (2015). Achieving equal opportunity and justice: The integration of Latino/a Immigrants into American society (Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative Working Paper No. 20). Cleveland, OH: American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.

Miguel A. Cruz-Feliciano, MS, PhD

Assistant Professor, Institute of Research, Education, and Services in Addiction 
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,; 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, BA

Doctoral Candidate, Gradute School of Biomedical Sciences 
Baylor College of Medicine

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

Vena Martinez is a PhD candidate in the Pharmacology program of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine in the laboratory of Dr. Russell Ray. Prior to attending Baylor College of Medicine, she completed her BA in Telecommunication in 2006 at Texas A&M University. Her current research investigates the role and organization of the central noradrenergic system based on developmental, molecular, and projection target identities using mouse intersectional genetic, optogenetic, and pharmacogenetic tools to functionally, anatomically, and molecularly map circuits that are important for responding to drugs of addiction and behaviors co-morbid with addiction. 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:

Eisenhofer J., Makanjuola T., Martinez V., Thompson-Lake D., Rodgman C., DeBrule D., Graham D., De La Garza R. (2015) Efficacy of Electronic Cigarettes for Smoking Cessation in Veterans. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 156: e63-e64

Kevin Uribe, MS

Doctoral Candidate, Behavioral Neuroscience Program 
University of Texas at El Paso

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:

Estradiol promotes the rewarding effects of nicotine in female rats. Flores, R.J., Pipkin, J.A., Uribe, K, Perez, A., and O’Dell, L.E. Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX. Published in the Journal Behavioural Brain Research.

Sex differences in nicotine intravenous self-administration: A meta-analytic review. Uribe K.P., Flores R.J., Swalve N, and O’Dell L.E. Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX. Department of Psychology, Alma College, Michigan, MI. Published in a special issue of Hormones, Sex Differences, and Drugs of Abuse in the Journal of Physiology and Behavior.


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

Postdoctoral Fellow, Rory Meyers College of Nursing 
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., Rivera, A., Reilly, K., Anderson, B.J., Bolden, B., … & Braunstein, S. (2018). Exchange Sex among Persons Who Inject Drugs in the New York Metro Area: The Importance of Local Context, Gender and Sexual Identity. AIDS and Behavior, 1-15.

Walters, Suzan M, Alexis V Rivera, Lila Starbuck, Kathleen H Reilly, Nyasha Boldon, Bridget J Anderson, and Sarah Braunstein. 2017. “Differences in Awareness of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis and Post-exposure Prophylaxis Among Groups At-Risk for HIV in New York State: New York City and Long Island, NY, 2011–2013.” Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS) 75:S383-S91.

 Walters, Suzan M, Kathleen H Reilly, Alan Neaigus, and Sarah Braunstein. 2017. “Awareness of preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among women who inject drugs in NYC: the importance of networks and syringe exchange programs for HIV prevention.” Harm Reduction Journal 14(1):40.

Baird, Karen and Suzan M. Walters. “Women, HIV Prevention, and Behavioral versus Holistic Approaches: The United States and South Africa.” World Medical and Health Policy 9(4):466-488. 

Walters, Suzan, Alexis Rivera, Kathleen Reilly, Bridget J. Anderson, Barbara Bolden, Afework Wogayehu, and Sarah Braunstein. “Exchange Sex among Persons Who Inject Drugs in the New York Metro Area: The Importance of Gender and Sexual Identity for HIV Prevention.” (Accepted in AIDS and Behavior).