Latino Mental Health Research Trainees: Summer 2011

Scarlett Barker, B.A.
Undergraduate Trainee

Scarlett BarkerMy name is Scarlett Barker and I'm a senior majoring in Psychology with a concentration in Neuroscience at Princeton University. My goal is to use Neuroscience research to improve the quality of life of individuals who suffer from mental illness. Next year I will conduct a senior thesis on the neural mechanisms responsible for cognitive reserve with the ultimate goal of reducing cognitive disparities. I am very interested in the complex interaction between the external environment and our internal biology, and the important role of social factors in mental health. This summer I will be working at the National Institute of Psychiatry in Mexico City on an epidemiological project regarding depression in an indigenous population. I am extremely grateful to the MHIRT program for this immense opportunity!

Ava Casados, B.A.
Undergraduate Trainee

Ava CaadosI graduated from the University of Southern California in May 2011 as a Renaissance Scholar with Bachelors degrees in Psychology and Fine Arts. During my time at USC I served as a research assistant and later as project coordinator on a number of studies pertaining to the early literacy development of low-income Spanish-speaking children. I am now a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at Yale University, under the mentorship of Dr. Alan Kazdin. My experience in the MHIRT program fueled my interest in cultural competence and pathways to mental health care. I plan to pursue these interests in my graduate studies, with an emphasis on addressing ethnic disparities in child and adolescent mental health.

Martha Castaneda, B.A.
Undergraduate Trainee

Martha CastanedaI graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago where I received my B.A. in Psychology with minors in Sociology and Biology in the spring of 2011. I will be applying to Community and Clinical Psychology doctoral programs later this year. While attending UIC I was a member of the Honors College and I conducted research under the supervision of Dr. Kara Morgan-Short on the Oak Park River Forest (OPRF) Second language acquisition study. We hope to discover possible differences or advantages in cognition, lexical retrieval, and memory for students who are learning a second language and use this study to inform future research and for further development of language learning techniques. My goal for graduate school is to find a program that will allow me to look into the mental health disparities in the Mexican immigrant community and develop interventions to address them. Being a part of the Latino Mental Health Program has been a dream come true. Given my interest in eliminating the disparities in mental health for Latino and other minority populations, the knowledge I have gained while a member of this program has been an invaluable fuel for my desire to continue with a graduate education.

Quetzalli Castro, B.A.
Undergraduate Trainee

I did my undergrad at the University of Illinois at Chicago and received my B.A. in Applied Psychology in 2011. My goal is to become a research professional that focuses on the mental health disparities, and improve mental health awareness, of the Latino community. My research interests include identifying and understanding factors between mental health stigma and help-seeking behavior in relation to Latinos, as well as improving mental health campaigns to be culturally competent and more accessible to populations that are Spanish-speaking and of low socioeconomic resources. Participating in the Latino Mental Health Program has allowed me to learn about disparities in mental health that occur in minority populations as well as provided insight as to possible ways of improving these disparities. My research focus as part of MHIRT is La CLAve and the research experience that has been gained through this program has been valuable.

Tracy Cerda, MSW
Undergraduate Trainee

I graduated from University of California, Irvine where I received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science with a specialization in Public and Community Service. My research interests include child development and child mental health. I am interested in mental health and how culture plays a role, both within the individual and in therapy. This interest has inspired me to work with Dr. Lopez on his cultural competence research project. I am currently part of a group within this research project. My goal is to work with the Latino population who face mental health disorders. I want to work with this population because I feel they are underrepresented in aid for mental health. I want to help children who are facing psychological distresses, and I would like to see how this experience affects not just the child but the whole family as well. The Latino Mental Health Research Training Program has been a rewarding research experience and has enabled me to learn on a personal level about mental health disparities within the Latino population. I am currently applying to graduate school and plan to follow my goal of working under mental health.

 Jessica Flores, B.A.
Undergraduate Trainee

I graduated with honors from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois with a B.A. in Psychology and a Spanish minor. As an undergraduate, I was a research assistant in the labs of Drs. Jocelyn Smith Carter, and Kathryn Grant. In addition, I assisted Julia DiGangi, M.A., a doctoral student of Dr. Leonard Jason, with her dissertation study.  During my senior year, I conducted an honors thesis that analyzed social support and disclosure in trauma exposed Latinos living in Oxford Homes under the mentorship of Dr. Jason and Julia DiGangi, MA. Currently, I am the research coordinator for the PTSD Treatment and Research Program at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. At CWRU I coordinate a NIMH clinical trial that compares two psychotherapy treatments for adults with PTSD. My research interests include coping and resiliency in adults diagnosed with PTSD. I am also interested in the influence of social support and cultural beliefs in treatment outcomes. I hope to one day create bilingual psychoeducational programs that provide adults with knowledge about PTSD and tools on how to cope with traumatic experiences. I am very grateful for the many opportunities the MHIRT program provided me. Furthermore, I am thankful to Drs. Steven Lopez and Maria del Carmen Lara-Muñoz for their continuous support! 

Michelle Flores, M.A.
Graduate Trainee

I am a second year doctoral student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in the Counseling Psychology program. In the past, I have researched racial identity and familism in Latinos and Asian Americans under the tutelage of Eric Kohatsu, Ph.D. Currently, I am studying racial colorblind ideologies in segregated communities with Helen Neville, Ph.D. My goal is to incorporate race/ethnicity/culture and familism studies into a line of research looking at Latino mental health disparities. I am very excited to be a MHIRT trainee this year, as it gives me the opportunity to conduct research in my own country and in my first language. A native Tapata, this is the first professional opportunity I have had in Mexico (lindo y querido!). I am also very excited to work with Dr. Steve Lopez during this training. Adelante!

David Gonzalez, Ph.D.
Graduate Trainee

David GonzalezDavid Andrés González is a postdoctoral fellow in clinical neuropsychology at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System in San Antonio, Texas. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of North Texas and B.A. in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame. Broadly, his research focuses on refining diagnosis and assessment of depressive disorders, neurocognitive disorders, and functional impairment. In particular, he focuses on the effects of culture and Spanish language (monolingual or bilingual) in these domains. He has several active projects which are informed by his clinical work in neuropsychology. He serves as an ad-hoc reviewer for several journals and conferences and is currently the Early Career Psychologist representative for the Bexar County Psychological Association. In his free time he enjoys cycling, sauntering through parks, and reading contemporary fiction.

Kathryn Hale , M.A.
Graduate Trainee/Anthropologist-in-Residence

I am a doctoral student studying medical and linguistic anthropology in UCLA's graduate program. I obtained my BA in Anthropology from Emory University in 2006, and my MA from UCLA in 2010. Before graduate school, I worked in the research unit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Psychiatry ward for 2 years. My job gave me experience with all aspects of research, ranging from IRB submissions to marketing to study visits and data entry. This work experience drew me to the interaction of psychology and culture in terms of our basic understanding of local folk psychologies interacting with the imposition of Western medicine and its impact on public health issues. For my doctorate, I am interested in examining the doctor-patient-family participant framework that surrounds patients with severe mental illness, as well as documenting the experiences and attributions of patients and physicians involved in pharmaceutical clinical trials. Participating in the Latino Mental Health Program has been an invaluable experience in terms of refining my language skills, helping identify a field site for longitudinal dissertation research, and learning more about disparities in mental health for minority populations alongside an amazing group of trainees.

Tariana V. Little, M.S.
Undergraduate Trainee

Tariana Little

Centered on social justice and my Afro-Dominican-German heritage, I am interested in bridging diverse disciplines and study methods to better impact social change. I am a graduate student in Transnational, Cultural, and Community Studies at UMASS Boston, where I am exploring the culturally responsive approaches to health promotion and the Dominican diaspora in the U.S. and Europe. I hold an MS in Clinical Research (health disparities focus) and am also pursuing a certificate in Digital Health Communication (Tufts University) to complement my quantitative health sciences training with digital technologies and social innovation for greater impact. The MHIRT experience invigorated my spirit and solidified my view of research as a way to solve real-life problems. Outside of academia, I run with my husband EmVision Productions, a digital branding agency, serve as a Millennial Advisory Board Member to BeVisible, a career development online platform and community for Latinas by Latinas, and volunteer as a Big Sister. In all of my work, I strive to embody what I call “intentional creativity for social change.”

Zorash Montano, M.A.
Graduate Trainee

I graduated from UC Berkeley in 2008 with a B.A. in Psychology. I am currently a second year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program under the mentorship of Dr. Nancy Gonzales at Arizona State University. I am motivated to address mental health disparities among minorities, especially Latinos. I intend to reach this goal by teaching the community, especially children and adolescents, about mental health through culturally appropriate psychoeducation programs. I am also interested in developing culturally competent interventions and prevention programs, again designed for children and adolescents. Overall, I want to conduct research that will inform social policy and affect practice in government agencies, hospitals, and schools on how to better serve ethnic minorities, specifically Latinos, and will help them create programs focused on mental health literacy and promotion in these populations.

Oswaldo Moreno, Ph.D.
Graduate Trainee

Oswaldo MorenoOswaldo Moreno is a postdoctoral research fellow at Brown University. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Clark University and his predoctoral residency training at the Center for Multicultural Training in Psychology at Boston University School of Medicine. Broadly, his research focuses in understanding and addressing the mental healthcare disparities in the United States that affect individuals from low-income and racial/ethnic minority backgrounds. His research program includes both applied and basic research that include prevention science and cultural and contextual approaches including the psychology of religion and spirituality. While at Brown, he is participating in various projects that include randomized control trials, evidenced based practice, culturally sensitive interventions, and prevention science for Latino youth and families, as well as substance use and mood disorders.

Pamela Perez, B.A.
Undergraduate Trainee

I recently received my Bahelor's in Psychology and Comparative Human Development from University of Chicago. Currently, I will be attending Cornell University in the fall to start my doctoral studies inDevelopmental Psychology. I have conducted research projects under the guidance of my mentor, Professor Katherine Kinzler, on the social cogntive development of Latino bilingual preschool children and their selective trust preferences about language and accent. I am interested in the development of bilinguals and how their cognition is altered because of their language experience. Participating in the Latino Mental Health Program has taught me the disparities that occur among Spanish-speaking immigrants and bilinguals and will supply with the tools I need to hopefully help eliminate them.

Janique Santos, B.A.
Undergraduate Trainee

I graduated with honors from the University of Chicago with a BA in Psychology in spring of 2011. For my honors thesis, I studied pain perception in subjects who viewed violent stimuli, which could be considered both pleasurable and aversive, under the guidance of Jean Decety. I also worked as a research assistant in the Psychology of Belief and Judgment Lab under Eugene Caruso and Jane Risen. I will be applying to developmental and clinical psychology doctoral programs a year from this autumn.

Joanna Segoviano, B.A.
Undergraduate Trainee

I graduated from San Diego State University in May 2013 with a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish. As an undergraduate, I studied abroad in Spain, investigated Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders at SDSU in 2010, conducted international research in Puebla México through the Latino Mental Health Program at the University of Southern California in 2011, and conducted summer research at Columbia University in 2011. I am now the Project Manager of The Wellness Center at the Historic General Hospital in Los Angeles. The Wellness Center at the Historic General Hospital is a partnership between First District Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, The California Endowment, the County of Los Angeles, and 18 health- promoting nonprofit organizations. Formed with the vision of a community where adults, children and families are healthy, safe and ready to learn, The Wellness Center is a communal space and resource that empowers Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles residents and patients to take control of their own health and lives. My passion lies in understanding and identifying the lack of preventative methods that contribute to Latino health disparities. I will be applying to graduate school this fall as I continue to serve my community of Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles. Aside from research and community service, I am a Zumba instructor who enjoys promoting fitness and health, assist adolescents with college applications, and deliver motivational speeches when the opportunity allows.

  • Dr. Steven R. Lopez, Ph.D.
  • University of Southern California
  • Dornsife College, Psychology Department
  • 3620 McClintock Avenue, SGM 501
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061