Fogarty Trainees: 1995-1999

The MHIRT Latino Mental Health Program builds upon our successful UCLA Minority International Research Training (MIRT) program that was previously supported by the Fogarty International Center from 1995-1999. The past program addressed broadly defined mental health issues concerning Latinos. Below are narrative biographies and contact information of some former Fogarty trainees.  We welcome you to contact former trainees to learn about their experience participating in an international research training program. 

Andrea Acevedo, Ph.D.
Undergraduate Trainee, 1995 & 1996

Andrea AcevedoAndrea Acevedo is a Senior Research Associate at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandies University.  She recently completed her doctoral work and her dissertation focused on racial/ethnic disparities in performance measures of substance abuse treatment.  Her primary research interests are in racial/ethnic inequalities in access and quality of substance abuse services and performance measurement in health services. Dr. Acevedo is currently working on a randomized trial of interventions to improve performance of treatment programs in Washington State and their impact on racial/ethnic disparities and on a study examining preferences and needs of different racial/ethnic groups for public reporting of nursing home performance measures and testing measures to assess disparities in nursing home quality.

Dr. Acevedo obtained her doctoral degree at Brandeis University where she was a National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Training Fellow. She was also awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service award by NIAAA which supported her dissertation research. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at UCLA and a Master’s in Science degree at Harvard University’s School of Public Health.

Alfredo Bimbela, Ph.D., MSN, FNP-C
Graduate Trainee, 1996

To learn more about Dr. Bimbela, please visit website at interested in learning about Dr. Bimbela’s experience may reach him using the contact information found through his website.  

Melanie Domenech-Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Graduate Trainee, 1996

Melanie DomenechMelanie Domenech Rodríguez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Utah State University. Her research focuses on family processes in Spanish-speaking Latino families, most of whom are immigrants. Dr. Domenech Rodríguez recently wrapped up a randomized controlled trial of a Parent Management Training – Oregon intervention which was culturally adapted for use with Spanish-speaking Latino families in northern Utah. The intervention, Criando con Amor: Promoviendo Armonía y Superación (CAPAS), promotes positive parenting practices in an attempt to interrupt coercive parent-child processes that lead to negative outcomes for all. The research was supported by a K01 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. As part of her research efforts, Dr. Domenech Rodríguez collaborates actively with researchers in Mexico in intervention activities. In Mexico City, Dr. Domenech Rodríguez collaborates with researchers at the Instituto Nacional de Psiquiatría. She and her colleague, Dr. Jorge Villatoro Velázquez, have obtained funding to conduct a trial of CAPAS in Mexico City. Dr. Domenech Rodríguez is also a co-investigator on an intervention project in Monterrey, México organized by the Centro de Investigación Familiar and funded by the Sistema Nacional para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (DIF) also using PMT-O intervention techniques and processes to promote family well-being.

Dr. Domenech Rodríguez is a licensed psychologist in Utah and provides services to Spanish-speaking Latino families. In her clinician role she also supervises doctoral students’ service provision to a diverse array of clients. Dr. Domenech Rodríguez obtained her doctoral degree at Colorado State University in 1999. There she trained at the Tri-Ethnic Center for Prevention Research under the guidance of Drs. Frederick Beauvais and Ernest Chavez. During her graduate studies she was a Fogarty Fellow under the mentorship of Dr. Steven R. López. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Family Research Consortium - III under the tutelage of Dr. Ana Mari Cauce at the University of Washington. Dr. Domenech Rodríguez was born and raised in Puerto Rico.

Roberta Espinoza, Ph.D.
Graduate Trainee, 1997

Roberta EspinozaRoberta Espinoza is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Pitzer College.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Pomona College and her Ph.D. in sociology from University of California, Berkeley, where she was an American Sociological Association Minority Fellow.  Dr. Espinoza’s program of research examines issues of equity, access, and achievement for underrepresented students in the American educational system.  She examines the role of social and cultural capital in the educational advancement and success of first-generation students of color in higher education.  She has already received funding from the Haynes Foundation through their faculty fellowship program to support her research.  Before joining the sociology faculty at Cal State Fullerton, Dr. Espinoza worked at various research institutes including the University of California, Berkeley Center for Working Families, the UCLA Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST), the National Institute of Psychiatry (Social Sciences Division) in Mexico City, Mexico, and the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute (TRPI).  She has also taught at UC Berkeley, Pomona College, Pitzer College, Cal State Los Angeles and Cal State Fullerton.


Antonia Madrigal-Solis, Ph.D.
Undergraduate Trainee, 1996

To learn more about Dr. Madrigal-Solis’ experience as a trainee, please contact her by email

Rosalie Corona, Ph.D.
Graduate Trainee, 1997

Rosalie CoronaDr. Corona is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University and the Founding Director of the VCU Latino Mental Health Clinic. Dr. Corona’s area of research is broadly focused on health promotion and risk reduction in minority (primarily Latino and African American) families. A common theme throughout her work is the role that family relationships and culture play in the health behaviors of adolescents (e.g., adolescent substance use; adolescent sexual health) and adults (e.g., cancer prevention, HIV). Addressing health disparities requires an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates the use of different types of methodologies. Thus, Dr. Corona uses a variety of tools including observational methods, semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and surveys. She has also developed and evaluated prevention programs aimed at increasing family communication to reduce health disparities. Her work has a strong interdisciplinary focus that bridges clinical psychology, developmental psychology, medicine/genetics, and public health. When she’s not in her office working, her favorite things to do are playing with her two daughters, reading (mostly fiction that has a cultural focus), and spending time with family and friends. Dr. Corona received her B.A. from the University of California, Irvine, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Victoria D. Ojeda, Ph.D., MPH
Graduate Trainee, 1998

Victoria OjedaVictoria D. Ojeda, is an Assistant Professor, in the Division of Global Public Health in the Department of Medicine at UCSD. Her researchfocuses on the health of underserved and vulnerable populations, including immigrants, Latinos, and women. She has published on health services issues including access to health insurance coverage, utilization of health and mental health services, and the financing of health care. Prior research also includes international collaborations with investigators in Mexico and the Netherlands. Dr. Ojeda’s current research focuses on substance use, HIV/AIDS, and mental health comorbidities, with a focus on migrant populations, including injection drug users and female sex orkers.  Dr. Ojeda is the principal investigator (PI) of a National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) K01 Career Development award which focuses on the intersection of substance use, HIV, and migration in female sex workers in Tijuana, Mexico. She is also the PI of a California HIV/AIDS Research Program grant based in Tijuana, Mexico that examines the relationship between deportation and substance use and HIV risk behaviors in Mexican males eported from the U.S.  Lastly, Dr. Ojeda is the PI of a qualitative study nvestigating the life and substance use histories of males and females who were deported from the U.S. and potential factors that may elevate participants’ risk for HIV. Dr. Ojeda teaches in the UCSD-SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Global Public Health. Dr. Ojeda holds a BA in Psychology and Spanish from Brandeis University and she obtained her MPH and PhD in Community Health Sciences from the School of Public Health at UCLA. Dr. Ojeda completed a NIMH Post-doctoral fellowship in Mental Health Policy at the Department of Health Care Policy at the Harvard Medical School.

Antonio Polo, Ph.D.
Graduate Trainee, 1995 & 1996

Antonio PoloAntonio Polo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology (Clinical-Child Area) at DePaul University in Chicago, IL.  He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His research interests concentrate on three primary areas. The first area focuses on expanding our understanding about the mental health of Latino children, and adolescents and their families, especially in terms of disparities relative to their peers from other ethnic groups, and cultural influences and their risk and protective factors that may explain the patterns and levels of maladjustment they exhibit. A second research area is the prevention and treatment of depression and anxiety in youth, and centers around developing interventions that are evidence-based, transportable, and effectively implemented in community settings and culturally-informed and well-received by ethnic and linguistic minority youth and their families.  As a third area, he is interested in developing educational strategies and programs for individuals to become actively involved in the educational and mental health systems. This research includes developing interventions to help parents of youth referred for mental health problems become collaborative partners with their schools and community mental health agencies in order to identify and receive the best possible services. His research has been funded in part by NIMH and most recently by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Quote from Antonio’s experience as a trainee: “I often think back to my experiences as a trainee in Dr. Lopez’s program and I am impressed by how much it shaped my thinking and improved my perspective about culture’s role in the lives and experiences of people. Living in Mexico and working with top-notch Mexican researchers in a professional context was simply invaluable and inspiring.”

Vittorio T. Puente, Ph.D.
Graduate Trainee, 1999

After completing his pre-doctorate internship in Clinical-Child Vittorio PuentePsychology at the University of New Mexico – Children’s Health Center in 2005, Dr. Puente moved to begin a job at the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) to complete the requirements for Licensed Specialist in School Psychology (LSSP) and to complete his dissertation.  He received his LSSP in 2006 and Ph.D. in 2007.  As a LSSP, Dr. Puente was the lead school psychologist for the district’s Disciplinary Alternative Centers.  He was also the lead Needs Assessment Researcher on the district’s dropout figures and intervention plan development.  While an employee for DISD, he collaborated with colleagues to write a chapter for the Safe and Civil Schools publication on Behavioral Response to Intervention.  The title of the chapter is “A B-RTI Approach to Youth Gang Issues in School Communities.”  Dr. Puente also collaborated to write an article for an online publishing company.  The title of the article is “Gangs in Schools: An Overview for School-Based Practitioners.”  He has several poster presentations at regional conferences on ethnic issues in psychology.  He is currently working on building clientele for a company he co-founded and is finishing post-doctoral requirements for full licensure.  Dr. Puente plans to continue research in forensic assessment and with Hispanic-American populations.

Jorge I. Ramirez-Garcia, Ph.D.
Graduate Trainee, 1998

Jorge Ramirez

Dr. Ramírez García program of research and professional activities focuses on improving the mental health of youth and adults diagnosed with Serious and Persistent Mental Illness (SPMI) largely though family focused initiatives.  He is particularly interested in reducing disparities in access to evidence-based treatments and practices by traditionally under-served populations,  including Latinos and ethnic minority populations. He was a Fogarty Trainee in the summers of 1998-1999.  His work in Fogarty and a subsequent National Institute of Mental Health NRSA Training Grant award (MH14584; Psychological Research on Schizophrenic Conditions) at UCLA focused on research that informs interventions for family caregivers of adults diagnosed with SPMI.  His research examined the cultural nature of Family Expressed Emotion, as well as family caregiving behaviors that may promote desirable course of SPMI such as family caregiver’s supportive behaviors and acceptance (see Dorian, Ramírez García, et al., 2008; López, Ramírez García et al., 2009; Ramírez García, Chang et al., 2006; Ramírez García et al., 2009). Dr. Ramírez García Fogarty training was pivotal in his career given that it launched his program of research and introduced him to research and professional networks that specialize in Latino mental health through the mentorship of Dr. Steve López.  Notably, Ramírez García won a presentation award at the Critical Issues in Latino Mental Health Research Conference in 2004.  Subsequently during his faculty position in the Clinical/Community Psychology program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he mentored doctoral trainees who received awards for their presentations at two Latino Mental health conferences (respectively see Hernández, Ramírez García et al., 2010; Manongdo & Ramírez García, 2011).  He also was awarded a Visiting Research Scholar fellowship by the Center for Latino Family Research, Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to his mentoring activities during his faculty appointment at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, he carried out a multi-faceted agenda including: (a) a mixed-method program of research with Latino families living in Chicago, IL and El Paso, TX (e.g, Cruz-Santiago & Ramírez García, 2011; Marquez & Ramírez García, 2011; Ramírez García et al., 2010), (b) training doctoral students to conduct family systemic-behavioral interventions as well as interventions with Spanish-speaking adults in a primary care clinic, and (c) training for human service providers in Illinois on cultural-competent services for Latino populations. 

Dr. Ramírez García is currently a Research Scientist at the Oregon Research Institute.  His current work at ORI focuses on branching his family/risk and protective factors research to family intervention research.  In particular, he is working on the dissemination of family behavioral interventions to Latino families with substance abusing youth and with adults with Co-Occurring SPMI.

Rocío Rivadeneyra, Ph.D.
Graduate Trainee, 1998

Rocio RiveraRocío Rivadeneyra is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Interim Director of Latin American and Latino/a Studies at Illinois State University. She received her B.A. from the University of California, Irvine in Psychology and Social Behavior with a minor in Chicano/a Studies and her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Psychology. Dr. Rivadeneyra studies media portrayals of Latino/as and its use and impact on Latino/a youth. Currently, she is interested in how young Latinas make sense of the different sexual messages on Spanish and English-language television and how these messages are constructed through the social viewing context. Dr. Rivadeneyra has been a Visiting Professor at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California, San Francisco as part of their Collaborative HIV-Prevention Research in Minority Communities Program and a past recipient of a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship.
  • Dr. Steven R. Lopez, Ph.D.
  • University of Southern California
  • Dornsife College, Psychology Department
  • 3620 McClintock Avenue, SGM 501
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061