2019 Fellows

Lucas Albrechet-Souza, PhD

Research Instructor, Department of Physiology
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

IRTI Mentor: Jamie Maguire, PhD, Tufts University

Dr. Lucas Albrechet-Souza is an Instructor currently working in the laboratory of Dr. Nicholas Gil- pin in the Department of Physiology at the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. His re- search focuses on understanding how alcohol and stress promote changes in brain mechanisms to drive the adverse behavioral outcomes associated with alcohol use disorders and stress-related neuropsychiatric diseases using rodent models. During his graduate work and postdoctoral train- ing at University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, Dr. Albrechet-Souza was interested in the neurobiologic processes involved in anxiety disorders. Therefore, he was awarded a two-year postdoctoral fel- lowship to work at Tufts University in Boston-MA. Under this fellowship, Dr. Albrechet-Souza re- search focused on neuroadaptative changes in the reward system function induced by social stress in rodents, with emphasis on the role of brain corticotropin-releasing factor signaling in mediating stress-induced escalation of cocaine and alcohol consumption. After completing his training, he earned a highly competitive Brazilian grant designed to attract young researchers living abroad and establish a cooperation between Brazil and the United States. He used this funding to continue his studies on stress and alcohol abuse in Brazil. Dr. Albrechet-Souza joined the Department of Physiology at the LSU Health Sciences Center in January 2018 as a postdoctoral researcher and was promoted to Instructor in November of the same year. His research interest aims to translate the knowledge of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying alcohol use disorders and stress- related neuropsychiatric diseases into innovative therapeutic strategies. Dr. Albrechet-Souza has authored 25 peer-reviewed research articles with more than 770 citations.

Selected Publications:

Albrechet-Souza, L., Nastase, A. S., Hill, M. N., & Gilpin, N. W. (2021). Amygdalar endocannabinoids are affected by predator odor stress in a sex-specific manner and modulate acoustic startle reactivity in female rats. Neurobiology of stress, 15, 100387. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ynstr.2021.100387, PMID: 34522703.

Souza-Smith, F. M., Albrechet-Souza, L., Avegno, E. M., Ball, C. D., Ferguson, T. F., Harrison-Bernard, L. M., & Molina, P. E. (2021). Perspectives Against Racism: educational and socialization efforts at the departmental level. Advances in physiology education, 45(4), 720–729. https://doi.org/10.1152/advan.00246.2020, PMID: 33656307.

Albrechet-Souza, L., Schratz, C. L., & Gilpin, N. W. (2020). Sex differences in traumatic stress reactivity in rats with and without a history of alcohol drinking. Biology of sex differences, 11(1), 27. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13293-020-00303-w, PMID: 32393336.

Albrechet-Souza, L., & Gilpin, N. W. (2019). The predator odor avoidance model of post-traumatic stress disorder in rats. Behavioural pharmacology, 30(2 and 3-Spec Issue), 105–114. https://doi.org/10.1097/FBP.0000000000000460, PMID: 30640179.

Viola TW, Wearick-Silva LE, Creutzberg KC, Kestering E, Orso R, Centeno-Silva A, Albrechet-Souza L, Marshall PR, Li X, Bredy TW, Riva MA, Grassi-Oliveira R. Postnatal impoverished housing impairs adolescent risk-assessment and increases risk-taking: a sex-specific effect associated with histone epigenetic regulation of Crfr1 in the medial prefrontal cortex. Psychoneuroendocrinology 99: 8-19.

Han X, Albrechet-Souza L, Doyle MR, Shimamoto A, DeBold JF, Miczek KA. Social stress and escalated drug self-administration in mice II. Cocaine and dopamine in the nucleus accumbens. Psychopharmacology (Berlin) 232: 1003-10.

Elí Andrade, MPH

Doctoral Student, Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
University of Pittsburgh

IRTI Mentor: Carlos Rodriguez, PhD, George Washington University

Elí Andrade is a doctoral student in the department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is affiliated with the Center for LGBT Health Research. Elí completed a BA in Sociocultural Anthropology from the University of California, San Diego in 2011, and in 2016 obtained an MPH in Social and Behavioral Sciences and Global Health from Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública in México. His current research at the University of Pittsburgh looks at HIV prevention among Black transgender women in the United States. Elí’s dissertation research focuses on patterns of PreP delivery and adherence among MSM and transgender women involved in sex work in Perú as a part of a larger PreP demonstration project. His future goals are to pursue a tenure-track faculty position to continue developing his research agenda on HIV prevention with Latinx MSM and transgender women in the United States and Latin America.

Selected Publications:

Chandler, C.J., Meunier, É., Eaton, L.A., Andrade, E., Bukowski, L.A., Matthews, D.D., Raymond, H.F., Stall, R.D. and Friedman, M.R. (2021). Syndemic health disparities and sexually transmitted infection burden among Black men who have sex with men engaged in sex work in the US. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 50(4), 1627-1640.

Chandler, Cristian, Jordan Sang, Leigh Bukowski, Elí Andrade, Lisa Eaton, Ronald Stall, Derrick Matthews. Characterizing the HIV care continuum among a community sample of Black men who have sex with men in the United States. AIDS Care (2018). https://doi.org/10.1080/09540121.2018.1549724

Andrade, Elí, René Leyva, Mei-Po Kwan, Carlos Magis, Hugo Staines-Orozco and Kimberly Brouwer. Women in Sex Work and the Risk Environment: The role of agency in perception and management of sex work related risk in the work environments of two México-U.S. border cities. Journal of Sexuality and Social Policy Research (2018) https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-018-0318-0 . 10.1037/ort0000214

Gell-Redman, Micah, Elí Andrade, Alpha Martell and Zoila Jiménez Pacheco. 2010. “Inhabiting Two Worlds: Tunkaseños in the Transnational Labor Market.” In Mexican Migration and the U.S. Economic Crisis: A Transnational Perspective. Eds. Wayne A. Cornelius, David Fitzgerald, Pedro Lewin Fischer and Leah MuseOrlinoff. La Jolla, CA: Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, University of California, San Diego.

Rodolfo Flores, MA

Doctoral Student
University of Texas, El Paso

IRTI Mentor:

Rodolfo J. Flores is a Ph.D. candidate in the Behavioral Neuroscience graduate program at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Rodolfo obtained his bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Chemistry from California State University, Long Beach. As an undergraduate, Rodolfo worked under the mentorship of Dr. Arturo R. Zavala, investigating the effects of early-life exposure to methylphenidate on the sensitivity to methamphetamine during adolescence in an animal model of reward. He is currently working on his Ph.D. at UTEP under the mentorship of Dr. Laura E. O’Dell, whose research focuses on tobacco use in vulnerable populations such as adolescents, females, and persons with diabetes. In the O’Dell laboratory, he became interested in understanding why females are more vulnerable to tobacco use when compared to their male counterparts. As such, his graduate work has focused on examining sex differences and the role of ovarian hormones in the reinforcing effects of nicotine and the aversive effects of nicotine withdrawal in rats. His dissertation work aims to elucidate the role of estradiol and progesterone in modulating negative affective states produced by nicotine withdrawal in female rats. Rodolfo aspires to become a tenure-track professor at a research-oriented institution where he can continue conducting research as well as train, teach, and mentor the next generation of diverse scientists.

Selected Publications:

Flores, R. J., Alshbool, F. Z., Giner, P., O’Dell, L. E., & Mendez, I. A. (2022). Exposure to Nicotine Vapor Produced by an Electronic Nicotine Delivery System Causes Short-Term Increases in Impulsive Choice in Adult Male Rats. Nicotine & tobacco research : official journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, 24(3), 358–365. https://doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntab141, PMID: 34232312.

Tejeda, H. A., Wang, H., Flores, R. J., & Yarur, H. E. (2022). Dynorphin/Kappa-Opioid Receptor System Modulation of Cortical Circuitry. Handbook of experimental pharmacology, 271, 223–253. https://doi.org/10.1007/164_2021_440, PMID: 33580392.

Cruz, B., Carcoba, L. M., Flores, R. J., Espinoza, E. J., Nazarian, A., & O’Dell, L. E. (2021). Insulin restores the neurochemical effects of nicotine in the mesolimbic pathway of diabetic rats. Journal of neurochemistry, 156(2), 200–211. https://doi.org/10.1111/jnc.15104, PMID: 32562571.

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.

Flores, R. J., Uribe, K. P., Swalve, N., & O’Dell, L. E. (2019). Sex differences in nicotine intravenous self-administration: A meta-analytic review. Physiology & behavior, 203, 42–50. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.11.017, PMID: 29158.


FI2, NIH/NIMHD. (September 2021-August 2024). Characterization of NAc D1 MSNs in Encoding Reward, Aversion, and Decision-Making During Conflict. Principal Investigator.

Rubi Gonzales, PhD

T32 Postdoctoral Research Scholar, St. Louis School of Medicine
Washington University

IRTI Mentor: Alice Cepeda, PhD, University of Southern California

Rubi Gonzales earned her B.A in Psychology at the University of Houston. Upon graduation she worked as a project manager for Dr. Clayton Neighbors in the Social Influences and Health Behaviors Lab at the University of Houston. During her time in the lab she managed a multi-million, multi-site grant to reduce alcohol consumption among college students. It was also there where she established her research niche in reducing health disparities among the Latinx population. Prior to her admittance to the Health Psychology Ph.D. program at the University of Texas at El Paso she had published in the Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, and in the Journal of Gambling Studies. Since at UTEP she has continued to publish and has several manuscripts in progress. In 2018 she was awarded the Dodson Research Grant from the Graduate School of The University of Texas at El Paso and the Young Investigator Award from the International Congress on Integrative Medicine & Health Conference. Rubi is trained in quantitative and qualitative methodologies. In addition to research she has a passion for teaching. She has served as an instructor for Introduction to Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, General Experimental Psychology and Social Determinants of Health courses. Rubi is dedicated in helping other first-generation minority students. As such, she currently serves as the Vice President of the newly established Doctoral Women Organization at UTEP and has presented at national conferences on her experiences as a first-generation Latina.

Selected Publications:

Lui, P. P., Zamboanga, B. L., Ertl, M. M., Rodriguez, L. M., Martin, J. L., & Gonzales, R. (2020). Drinking motives, cultural orientations, and alcohol use among Hispanic college students at the U.S.-Mexico border. Journal of ethnicity in substance abuse, 1–19. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332640.2020.1845901

Behrman, P., Fitzgibbon, M., Buscemi, J., Sanchez-Johnsen, L., Laroche, H., Yanez, B., Gonzales, R., Gwede, C. K., Raja, S., Jacobson, L., Gil-Rivas, V., & Tam-Ashing, K. (2019). Society of Behavioral Medicine Position Statement: Congress should protect immigrants seeking health care. Translational behavioral medicine, 9(6), 1244–1247. https://doi.org/10.1093/tbm/ibz119

DiBello, A. M., Gonzales, R., Young, C. M., Rodriguez, L. M., & Neighbors, C. (2016). Blood is thicker than booze: Examining the role of familism and gender in alcohol use and related consequences among Hispanic college students. Journal of ethnicity in substance abuse, 15(3), 310–324. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332640.2015.1044684, PMID: 26430851.

Alan Meca, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
University of Texas at San Antonio

IRTI Mentor: Charles Martinez, PhD, University of Texas, Austin

Alan Meca is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Dr. Meca received Ph.D. in Developmental Science from Florida International University (FIU) in 2014 and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine under Drs. Seth J. Schwartz and Jonathan Tubman as part of a minority supplement funded by the NIAAA (R01AA021888-02S2). Dr. Meca’s research interest are broadly focused on understanding the developmental (i.e., identity development) and cultural determinants (e.g., discrimination, cultural assets, etc.) of psychosocial functioning and substance use among ethnic/racial minority youth, particularly among first- and second-generation Hispanic adolescents and young adults. In pursuit of this research agenda, Dr. Meca has published over 40 peer-reviewed manuscripts focused on the links between personal, ethnic/racial, and national identity and youth adaptation as well as the role socio-cultural stressors play in Hispanic families. Dr. Meca’s current research agenda is focused on refining measures of cultural identity, understanding the processes that govern how ethnic/racial minority navigate their cultural environment, and identify strategic points for the development of culturally grounded interventions. Towards this end, a critical career goal for Dr. Meca is to become an independent NIH-funded investigator focused on disentangling the relative impact of developmental and cultural determinates on Hispanic youth mental health and substance use through the utilization of school-based longitudinal (e.g., panel and intensive longitudinal designs) and intervention research across a variety of contexts (e.g., ethnic enclaves, low-density areas, etc.).

Selected Publications:

Schwartz, S. J., Waterman, A. S., Cobb, C. L., Cano, M. Á., Scaramutti, C., Meca, A., Ozer, S., Ward, C., Puente-Durán, S., Lorenzo-Blanco, E. I., Unger, J. B., Duque, M. C., Vos, S. R., Zeledon, I., Garcia, M. F., & Martinez, C. R. (2022). Cultural stress, daily well-being, and internalizing and externalizing symptoms among Hispanic college students. Journal of counseling psychology, 10.1037/cou0000604. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/cou0000604, PMID: 35129997.

Lorenzo-Blanco, E. I., Zhang, M., Cobb, C., Meca, A., Szapocznik, J., Unger, J. B., Cano, M. Á., & Schwartz, S. J. (2022). Longitudinal change in adolescent hope among recent immigrant Latinx adolescents: Links with adolescent and parent cultural stress, family functioning, emotional well-being, and behavioral health. Child development, 93(1), e87–e102. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13694, PMID: 34716916.

Meca, A., Allison, K., Kubilus, R., Olthuis, J. V., Merrill, J. E., Zamboanga, B. L., Wyrick, D., Milroy, J. J., & Carr, K. (2021). Dimensions of Athletic Identity and their Associations with Drinking Behaviors among a National Sample of University Athletes in the United States. Journal of youth and adolescence, 50(12), 2363–2373. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-021-01503-2, PMID: 34559396.

Meca, A., Gonzales-Backen, M., Rodil, J. C., Cowan, I., Sharma, S., Webb, T. N., & Hayes, T. (2021). The Ethnic Identity Scale: Affirmation, really?. Cultural diversity & ethnic minority psychology, 10.1037/cdp0000485. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/cdp0000485, PMID: 34291982.

Meca, A., Moreno, O., Cobb, C., Lorenzo-Blanco, E. I., Schwartz, S. J., Cano, M. Á., Zamboanga, B. L., Gonzales-Backen, M., Szapocznik, J., Unger, J. B., Baezconde-Garbanati, L., & Soto, D. W. (2021). Directional Effects in Cultural Identity: A Family Systems Approach for Immigrant Latinx Families. Journal of youth and adolescence, 50(5), 965–977. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-021-01406-2, PMID: 33599938.

Meca, A., Gonzales-Backen, M., Davis, R., Rodil, J., Soto, D., & Unger, J. B. (2020). Discrimination and ethnic identity: Establishing directionality among Latino/a youth. Developmental psychology, 56(5), 982–992. https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000908, PMID: 32105119.

Sabrina Sales Martinez, MS, PhD, RDN

Assistant Professor, Department of Dietetics and Nutrition
Florida International University

IRTI Mentor: Adam Carrico, PhD, University of Miami

Dr. Sabrina Sales Martinez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Dietetics & Nutrition at Florida International University (FIU) and the Miami Adult Studies in HIV (MASH) cohort Assistant Project Director. She is also a registered dietitian/nutritionist and has expertise in the effect of nutritional status on HIV.  She has over 15 years of experience working in HIV-related research and working with the underserved populations of Miami-Dade County.  Dr. Martinez is a co-investigator on three National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded studies including a U01 grant that follows a large cohort of people living with HIV and/or HCV, which includes the MASH cohort.  These studies investigate the impact of cocaine on HIV and HIV/HCV co-infection disease progression and morbidity in a population with disparities in access to care.  Dr. Martinez recently received funding the FIU Research in a Minority Institute (RCMI) funded by NIHMD for a pilot study titled “Effect of Cocaine on the Intestinal Microbiome and Metabolome and Inflammation in HIV-Infected Adults in the Miami Adult Studies in HIV (MASH) Cohort.”  This project will investigate how cocaine use in people living with HIV may affect the intestinal microbiome, its metabolites and inflammation, and suggest novel strategies to reduce the burden of disease.   Dr. Martinez’s research seeks to better understand how life-style factors including diet and substance abuse, obesity, inflammation and gut microbiota affect HIV disease progression and the possible mechanisms involved.  Her ultimate goal is to conduct research that could be translated into innovative interventions to decrease health disparities in minority HIV and substance using populations.

Selected Publications:

Martinez, S. S., Huang, Y., Acuna, L., Laverde, E., Trujillo, D., Barbieri, M. A., Tamargo, J., Campa, A., & Baum, M. K. (2021). Role of Selenium in Viral Infections with a Major Focus on SARS-CoV-2. International journal of molecular sciences, 23(1), 280. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23010280, PMID: 35008706.

Degarege, A., Krupp, K., Tamargo, J., Martinez, S. S., Campa, A., & Baum, M. (2021). Polysubstance use and adherence to antiretroviral treatment in the Miami Adult Studies on HIV (MASH) cohort. AIDS care, 1–8. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540121.2021.1896660, PMID: 33663276.

Zarini, G., Sales Martinez, S., Campa, A., Sherman, K., Tamargo, J., Hernandez Boyer, J., Teeman, C., Johnson, A., Degarege, A., Greer, P., Liu, Q., Huang, Y., Mandler, R., Choi, D., & Baum, M. K. (2020). Sex Differences, Cocaine Use, and Liver Fibrosis Among African Americans in the Miami Adult Studies on HIV Cohort. Journal of women’s health (2002), 29(9), 1176–1183. https://doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2019.7954, PMID: 32004098.

Martinez, S. S., Pardo-Hernandez, H., & Palacios, C. (2020). Feeding modifications and additional primary caregiver support for infants exposed to Zika virus or diagnosed with congenital Zika syndrome: a rapid review of the evidence. Tropical medicine & international health : TM & IH, 25(11), 1353–1361. https://doi.org/10.1111/tmi.13482, PMID: 32881216.

Sherman, K. E., Abdel-Hameed, E. A., Ehman, R. L., Rouster, S. D., Campa, A., Martinez, S. S., Huang, Y., Zarini, G. G., Hernandez, J., Teeman, C., Tamargo, J., Liu, Q., Mandler, R., & Baum, M. K. (2020). Validation and Refinement of Noninvasive Methods to Assess Hepatic Fibrosis: Magnetic Resonance Elastography Versus Enhanced Liver Fibrosis Index. Digestive diseases and sciences, 65(4), 1252–1257. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10620-019-05815-z, PMID: 31468264.

Alejandro Tapia

Doctoral Student, Department of Psychology
Universidad Iberoamericana, CDMX

IRTI Mentor: Eddie Castaneda, PhD, University of Texas, El Paso

Alejandro Tapia de Jesus obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and the Universidad de Buenos Aires (Argentina), and a master’s degree in psychology (UNAM) with a residency in clinical neuropsychology. He has extensive experience in evaluation, differential diagnosis and intervention with patients with neurological pathologies, psychiatric disorders and cognitive impairment associated with aging. He has contributed to writing book chapters about self-control and sexual disorders, and specialized articles in the area of ​​neurosciences to develop software to record sexual behavior in male rats. He has also participated in presentations at national and international congresses in the area. He is currently at a doctoral program at the Universidad Iberoamericana, CDMX, developing research lines on the neurochemical and neurophysiological systems involved in sexual behavior, physical activity, aging and cognitive processes and addictive drugs. His clinical practice is focused on rehabilitation/stimulation of patients with neurological and psychiatric disorders, as well as the development of cognitive and psychological training programs for high performance athletes.

Selected Publications:

Martinez-Peinado, N., Ortiz, J. E., Cortes-Serra, N., Pinazo, M. J., Gascon, J., Tapia, A., Roitman, G., Bastida, J., Feresin, G. E., & Alonso-Padilla, J. (2022). Anti-Trypanosoma cruzi activity of alkaloids isolated from Habranthus brachyandrus (Amaryllidaceae) from Argentina. Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology, 101, 154126. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2022.154126, PMID: 35489322.

Rey, M., Kruse, M. S., Magrini-Huamán, R. N., Gómez, J., Simirgiotis, M. J., Tapia, A., Feresin, G. E., & Coirini, H. (2021). Tessaria absinthioides (Hook. & Arn.) DC. (Asteraceae) Decoction Improves the Hypercholesterolemia and Alters the Expression of LXRs in Rat Liver and Hypothalamus. Metabolites, 11(9), 579. https://doi.org/10.3390/metabo11090579, PMID: 34564396.

López, S., Tapia, A., Zygadlo, J., Stariolo, R., Abraham, G. A., & Cortez Tornello, P. R. (2021). Zuccagnia punctata Cav. Essential Oil into Poly(ε-caprolactone) Matrices as a Sustainable and Environmentally Friendly Strategy Biorepellent against Triatoma infestans(Klug) (Hemiptera, Reduviidae). Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 26(13), 4056. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26134056, PMID: 34279396.