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Research Affiliates

The MH-RITES Research Center is led by a multidisciplinary team committed to driving evidence-based innovation in research and practice. 

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For inquiries regarding shared research interests or collaboration, please reach out to individuals below.

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Interesed in becoming a Research Affiliate for the MH-RITES Research Center? View the requirements and application process here.


Research Affiliate Biography and Research Interests

John Bickel


John's research interest are in the areas of child welfare, the long-term impacts of child maltreatment, and the area of mental health related to human development, clinical treatment, and access. His dissertation is focused on violence and trauma, and how that may interrupt development of mentalization skills. His hope with this research will lead to improved means of intervention for children and adults who have challenges due to early violence and abuse.

Marcus Brown


Marcus' research interest includes examining access and engagement in informal and formal mental health care settings among Black adults with serious mental illness. His direct practice experience informs his scholarly agenda as a licensed clinical social worker, where he worked in inpatient and outpatient mental health settings with children, youth, and adults.

Sean Burr


Sean’s research interests are in the areas of suicide prevention and intervention. He is interested in exploring innovative and evidence-based approaches that will allow underserved communities to better respond to suicidality. This focus is informed by his work as a clinical social worker in Canada and the US where he observed individuals and their families struggle to find quality mental health supports and interventions for suicide. Finding novel ways to promote greater health equity in this area is the primary driver for his work.

Alberto Cabrera, LCSW


Mr. Cabrera's research within the Latinx community focuses on improving access to mental health services and empirically supported treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Drawing from his professional and clinical experiences, Mr. Cabrera's program of research aims to assist Latinos managing OCD, related mental health challenges, and their environments.

Holly Davies, LMSW, MBA


Holly Davies, LMSW, MBA, is a doctoral student at the Graduate College of Social Work, University of Houston. Her clinical research focuses on trauma with a special emphasis on mental health surrounding natural disasters and force-majeure events, which was informed by her work as the founder of a Community Emergency Response Team in Houston. Ms. Davies believes that an interdisciplinary approach to flooding across federal, state, and local levels is necessary to ameliorate structural, economic, and mental health issues in disaster-prone areas while creating resilient communities throughout the USA. 

Chinyere Eigege, LCSW, NCTTP, CDWF


Chinyere Y. Eigege, LCSW-S, NCTTP, CDWF conducts research focused on examining, advocating for, and informing best practices around perinatal mental healthcare of Black women. Specifically, her research seeks to use qualitative research methods to understand the experiences of Black women who have had some form of perinatal loss. Her scholarly agenda is informed by several years of practice as a licensed clinical social worker, and her community engagement efforts related to improving perinatal health outcomes in the Houston area.

Judy Gardner


Jody's research focuses on sexuality and intellectual disability, specifically the intersection between the two and the implications of negative perceptions from paid support staff. Jody is interested in developing a progressive sexual health curriculum to enhance the quality of life among this population, decrease the prevalence of abuse and exploitation, and sexually offending behaviors. Jody's scholarly agenda is informed by her work in residential settings for adults labeled with I/DD and co-occurring mental health diagnoses.

Natalia Giraldo-Santiago


Natalia's research seeks to promote access to culturally concordant, mental health interventions and ameliorate existing social and health disparities in the Latino and Hispanic community in the United States. Natalia's research agenda seeks to identify, adapt, and improve access to culturally grounded Evidence-Based Practices (EBPs). Her long-term goals include evaluating the quality and effectiveness of behavioral health interventions for diverse populations.

Andrew Robinson, LMSW


Andrew is a doctoral student who received his MSW from the GCSW in May 2020. Before starting the PhD program, Andrew worked as an adolecent outpatient therapist in the Houston community. Andrew's research interests include supporting the positive mental health and dignity of LGBTQ+ seniors, as well as using open source technology to more effectively engage clients across the lifespan in mental health assessment and treatment.

Limor Smith


Limor Smith, MS, MSW is a doctoral student at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She is interested in the relationship between self-stigma, illness perceptions, and illness identity as predictors of personal recovery for individuals with bipolar disorder. This research is based on the premise that if individuals with bipolar disorder are exposed to adaptive illness perceptions and positive role models, perhaps they will have more choices than accepting and internalizing societal stigma.