Latino Mental Health Research Trainees: Summer 2010

Darcy Alcántara, B.A.
Graduate Trainee

I completed my undergraduate education at the University of California, Santa Barbara and received a BA in Psychology and Chicana/o Studies in 2009. I am now a 2nd year graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, Boston in the clinical psychology doctoral program. My research interests include identifying and understanding protective factors and resilience for immigrant families, especially children and adolescents, as well as race-related stress. I am currently working on my master’s thesis on the immigrant youth experiences of intensified documentation status enforcement and how it relates to stereotype confirmation concern.

Erendira Aldana, B.A.
Undergraduate Trainee

I am a senior at California State University Long Beach finishing up my Bachelor’s in Psychology. I am currently a part of the National Institute of Mental Health – Career Opportunities in Research (NIMH-COR) fellowship program that has supported me with the process of my Senior Thesis and has helped me prepare for graduate school. As a researcher, the identity I am trying to create is one that can recognize the complexity of a social issue while appreciating the intricate details within and how it all relates. Furthermore, I am determined to build bridges and increase partnerships across disadvantaged groups, educational institutions and political organizations.  

Cynthia Funes, M.A.
Graduate Trainee

I am doctoral student in the joint Clinical Neuropsychology and Behavioral Neuroscience program at Georgia State University. I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree at UC Davis and a Masters in Arts in clinical psychology at CSU, Northridge. My current interests lie in cross-cultural assessment disparities. Specifically, I am interested in the development of adequate assessment tools, particularly neuropsychological tools, which will more adequately serve Spanish-speaking individuals with brain maladies at home and abroad, and answering the difficult questions regarding the disparate mental health profile and outcomes in this community. I am currently a Brains and Behavior fellow at the Neuroscience Institute of Georgia State University, which provides research funding for my dissertation.

Edlin Gonzales, M.A.
Undergraduate Trainee

I graduated cum laude from UC Santa Barbara in 2010. I was a research assistant under the guidance of Dr. Kim Heejung in the cultural psychology lab, investigating cultural differences in stress and coping between European-Americans and Latinos.  The summer after graduation, I was accepted into the MHIRT program and I conducted research in Puebla, Mexico. The research training in Puebla with Dr. Steven Lopez was an invaluable experience. I have gained a large amount of skills and continue to learn day by day.  I continued my education at Columbia University and will receive an MA in Psychology in Education in February of 2013. I also had enriching experiences working for the Hispanic Treatment Program at the New York State Psychiatric institute directed by Dr. Lewis-Fernandez. Currently, I am the project coordinator for the Shifting Cultural Lens Study at USC. I believe it is essential to not only address individual and biological factors that lead to disparities (like mental illness), but also to analyze the political system that fails to adequately resolve these important health matters. Ultimately, my goal is to incorporate culturally sound prevention programs that can benefit my community, which has not been adequately served in psychological research. 

Juventino Hernandez Rodriguez, B.A.
Undergraduate Trainee

I am a first year graduate student in the clinical psychology doctoral program at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. I currently work at the Center for Research Aggression and Victimization (CRAV) under the mentorship of Dr. Timothy Cavell. I am also a Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) grant fellow in which I am receiving training in integrative behavioral health care. Specifically, I am being trained on how to conduct assessments and evidenced-based interventions in primary care settings. My primary research interests are in building and testing preventive interventions geared towards minority youth with internalizing problems and who are chronically victimized. I completed my Bachelors at Arizona State University (ASU). While I was at ASU, I worked in three research labs that were focused on minority youth and at-risk populations. After completing my Bachelors, I worked as a research coordinator at the University of Miami under the supervision of Dr. Jill Ehrenreich-May.

John Keefe

John was a full-time trainee in the 2010 MHIRT program and he participated for 2 weeks in the 2011 MHIRT program. John was a student in the doctoral program in clinical psychology at USC. He said that “spending a summer in Puebla was an invaluable research experience for me.” During the fall semester of his third year in the doctoral program John passed away. He was a bright, compassionate, and generous young man. He touched us all through his humor, song, intelligence and compassion. We miss him dearly.

Evelyn Mendoza, B.A.
Undergraduate Trainee

I am a fourth year undergraduate psychology student at CSULA. I have been working under the guidance of Dr. Gaithri Fernando at CSULA since the summer of 2008. One of the projects I have recently been involved in with Dr. Fernando involves the way in which the degree of academic and social burdens experienced by college students affects their ability to succeed in college and graduate with their degree. One of my primary research interests has to do with the ways in which one’s sociocultural context predicts and protects against the development of certain personality and clinical disorders. I am particularly interested in exploring how the family system (especially parent-child relationships) affects both the development and the maintenance of mental illness and how this differs across cultures. I will be applying to graduate programs in clinical psychology in the fall of 2011. I am looking forward to working with Dr. Steven Lopez on his cultural competency project, which is taking place in Puebla, Mexico this summer.    

Denisse Tiznado, M.A.
Undergraduate Trainee

I am a second year student in the clinical health psychology doctoral program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. I am a student in the laboratory of Dr. Joan McDowd, where we are developing projects related to aging, cognition, and functional abilities. My research interests include the measurement and improvement of functional abilities in a number of different populations.  I have also begun my clinical work at a local community health clinic where I have had the opportunity to work with a diverse population. I graduated from San Diego State University in 2011 with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology. As an undergraduate, I was a NIMH -Career Opportunities in Research (COR) and Ronald E. McNair Scholar and conducted studies on the psychometric properties of a Spanish version of a performance-based measure of everyday functioning in people diagnosed with schizophrenia among other projects under the mentorship of Drs. Brent Mausbach and Veronica Cardenas from the University of California-San Diego.

Bianca Villalobos, M.A.
Undergraduate Trainee

I am a second year student in the clinical psychology doctoral program at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. I currently work under the guidance of my mentor, Dr. Ana J. Bridges, who is director of the Interpersonal Systems Lab in the Department of Psychological Science. As a Graduate Psychology Education grant trainee, I am receiving Integrated Behavioral Health Care training in conducting evidence-based interventions for patients in a primary care setting. My current research interests lie in Latino mental health. Specifically, I am interested in the influence of acculturation and cultural constructs on mental health service utilization, as well as the protective role of caregiving. This year I began my clinical work at the university's Psychological Clinic. I am looking forward to conducting therapy with monolingual Spanish speakers. 

Tracy Wang, B.S.
Undergraduate Trainee

I am currently a second year medical student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 2011, I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of California, Los Angeles with a degree in Psychobiology and a minor in Spanish. After growing up in Taiwan, living in the multi-cultural environment of Los Angeles, and doing many international service, research, and learning trips throughout my undergraduate years, I became strongly interested in international health and health disparities for minorities. My past international experiences include mental health research in Mexico with MHIRT, a medical service trip to Panama, a semester abroad in Spain, and a community service trip to rural China. Currently, I serve as the National President of the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association, an organization with over 90 chapters representing over 15,000 medical students. Through this organization, I strive to decrease health disparities in Asian populations. I also continue to work on Latino health disparities by helping with tuberculosis education and screening in Baltimore’s Latino communities. My current research projects involve educating Ghanaian healthcare workers on neonatal care in order to decrease neonatal mortality in Ghana, as well as evaluating the impact of a short-term international inguinal hernia repair training on the actual practice of the Ghanaian surgeons trained.

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