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Research Fellows

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

Connect with Us 

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

Become a Research Fellow

If you are an MD or PhD who conducts research connected to the MH-RITES Research Center's mission and would like to be considered as a research fellow, please submit your CV and bio to the Center Director at rgearing@uh.eduApproved submissions will be presented to the board for final review.

Research Fellows

Title & Research Interests


Dana Alonzo, PhD


Professor |  Director, Suicide Prevention Research Program, Fordham University


Research Interests: Suicide prevention and intervention, mental health treatment engagement and adherence, mood disorders and suicide attempt, protective factors against suicide attempt, and race, ethnicity and culture in mental health research.


Rabiu K. B. Asante, PhD


Lecturer | Department of Sociology, School of Social Science, University of Ghana


Research Interests: Digital technologies and social behavior, mental health interventions, mental health needs of problematic sports gamblers and digital gamers, and mental health in developing nations.


Juan Barthelemy, PhD, LCSW-BACS


Assistant Professor | Graduate College of Social Work, University of Houston


Research Interests: Community engagement strategies to reduce juvenile violent crime, community capacity building, violence intervention development and implementation, and monitoring the effects of group violence reduction strategies on homicides and other violent crimes. 


Shanondora Billiot, PhD, MSW


Assistant Professor | School of Social Work, Affiliate, Department of American Indian Studies, University of Illinois


Research Interests: The intersection of culture, the environment, and wellbeing among Indigenous peoples; understanding health and wellbeing in relation to global environmental changes such as chronic disasters and climate change.


Doris Akyere Boateng, PhD


Lecturer | Department of Social Work; Affiliate | Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy, University of Ghana


Research Interests: Gender issues, Women’s Empowerment, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Issues, Mental Health, Resilience


Sharon Borja, PhD


Assistant Professor | Graduate College of Social Work, University of Houston


Research Interests: Intergenerational adversity and resilience; migrant health and wellbeing; determinants of health and mental health and health inequities in low- and middle-income countries and in the United States; and culturally grounded social work prevention approaches and interventions.


Katheryn Brewer, PhD


Assistant Professor | University of New Hampshire


Research Interests: Adolescent resilience, strengthening self-regulation, increasing engagement in social services, and justice-involved adolescents.


Nicole F. Bromfield, PhD


Associate Professor | Graduate College of Social Work, University of Houston


Research Interests: Social well-being of persons who are vulnerable and at risk for exploitation, especially women and children in a global context; divorce from arranged marriages and global surrogacy arrangements.


L. Christian Carr, PhD


Postdoctoral Fellow and Statistician | MH-RITES Research Center, University of Houston


Research Interests: Developing simulation-based research into assessing fit of latent variable models under various violations of multivariate normality, including working with categorical outcomes; applying latent variable models and other multivariate methods in a variety of applied research areas, including child welfare youth outcomes, child welfare employee retention, and mental health outcomes.



Michael Coffey, PhD


Professor of Mental Health Care | Department of Public Health, Policy and Social Sciences, Swansea University, UK


Research Interests: The organization, delivery, and experience of mental health care; negotiating identity for people leaving forensic mental health services; care planning and coordination in community and acute inpatient settings; recovery and shared decision making.


Prince Solomon Devadass, Ph.D.


Assistant Professor | Madras Christian College, Department of Social Work


Research Interests: Dr. Prince Solomon has 21 years of experience in teaching and training postgraduate students at the Department of Social Work, Madras Christian College, and has recently completed a visiting Scholar rotation at the School of Social Work, University of Michigan, USA. He has pioneered Field Action Programs in the department of Social Work and has a wide experience in working with Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in India.



Sondra J. Fogel, PhD, LCSW


Associate Professor & PhD Program Chair| School of Social Work, University of South Florida


Research Interests: Social and behavioral health disparities among individuals and families due to poverty, criminal justice involvements, mental health conditions, and/or traumatic experiences. Community engagement strategies to promote equity and justice.


Lisa Kan, PhD


Director of Research | Harris County CSCD


Research Interests: Cultural and linguistic differences on mental health assessment processes and outcomes; social disparities in judicial systems; culturally informed forensic mental health assessments.


Daryl Knox, MD, DLFAPA, ACP 



Retired Chief Medical Officer of The Harris Center for MH and IDD


Research Interests: Improving the quality of mental health services and care for individuals with chronic and severe mental health disorders and implementation of evidenced based services and supports for families and significant other care providers for this population.


Jamison (Jami) V. Kovach, PhD


Professor and Director | Lean Six Sigma Professional Training Program, College of Technology, University of Houston


Research Interests: Application of engineering design and process improvement methods in healthcare, changes organizations need to implement in order to improve their operational processes to achieve their strategic objectives and better serve their clients.


Marcus Lam, PhD


Assistant Professor of Nonprofit Management | School of Leadership and Education Sciences, University of San Diego


Research Interests: Identifying strategies for the sustainability of health and human service nonprofit organizations; the effect of organizational and environmental factors on nonprofit sustainable resources; and the influence of resources on organizational programs, services, and client outcomes.


Patrick Leung, PhD

Patrick Leung

Professor | Graduate College of Social Work, University of Houston


Research Interests: Children and families, mental health, HIV and AIDS, refugee populations, Asian studies, and the elderly.


Pedro Isnardo de La Cruz Lugardo, PhD


Director of Research | Escuela Nacional de Trabajo Social (ENTS), Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM)


Research Interests: The evaluation of public policies, social community impact of public policies, migration, public health, security, social prevention of violence, and the design of institutional strategies in social policy.


James M. Mandiberg, PhD 

Associate Professor | Hunter College, City University of New York, NY


Research Interests: Community and economic development of highly stigmatized populations, such as those with serious mental health conditions (SMI) and those with long-term histories of homelessness.


Irfan Mian, MD


Psychiatrist and Assistant Professor, Child and Adolescent, Equity, Gender and Population | University of Toronto Psychiatry Department


Research Interests: Youth mental health, schizophrenia, and suicide prevention.


Kiara Moore, PhD


Assistant Professor | Silver School of Social Work, New York University


Research Interests: Multisystemic factors that lead to mental health disparities among marginalized young people, including youth of color, youth from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and LGBTQ youth that are experiencing mental health conditions.


Sarah Narendorf, PhD 
Sarah Narendorf

Associate Professor & Associate Dean of Research and Faculty Development | Graduate College of Social Work, University of Houston


Research Interests: Mental health and mental health service use during the transition to adulthood for marginalized groups including youth aging out of foster care, youth experiencing homelessness, and youth involved in the criminal justice system.


Bernice Perez Ramirez, PhD


Associate Professor | Escuela Nacional de Trabajo Social, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico


Research Interests: Gender studies, body studies, trans issues, disability, and prison.


Shahnaz Savani, PhD, LMSW


Lecturer of Social Work | University of Houston - Downtown


Research Interests: Mental Health and suicide prevention in low and middle-income countries; closing the treatment gap for mental illness by scaling up mental health treatment and engagement through evidence-based
psychosocial interventions.


Steve Schnee, PhD

Retired Executive Director of The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD in Houston, Texas


Research Interests: Improving services provided by clinicians, improving connectivity within and across organizational components to positively engage seriously impaired, economically challenged individuals of diverse backgrounds with significant mental disabilities.


Jair C. Soares, MD, PhD 

Professor & Chairman, Pat R. Rutherford, Jr. Chair in Psychiatry, Director, Center of Excellence on Mood Disorders, Executive Director, UTHealth HCPC


Research Interests: Adult general psychiatry, bipolar disorder, depression, second opinion, deep brain stimulation, mood disorders, neuroendocrinology, neuroimaging, neuropsychology, and psychopharmacology.


Ciwang Teyra, PhD


Assistant Professor | Truku Tribal Nation, Department of Social Work, National Taiwan University


Research Interests: Determinants of global indigenous health, wellbeing and resilience; historical trauma, healing, and resistance; culturally relevant psychometric measurement; and culturally informed interventions to address health concerns among indigenous communities internationally. 


Bruce A. Thyer, Ph.D., LCSW, BCBA-D


Distinguished Research Professor | Florida State University, College of Social Work


Research Interests: Intervention research; Research design & methods;  Social work education; Anxiety disorders assessment and treatment.




Micki Washburn, PhD, LMSW, MA,


Assistant Professor | University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work 


Research Interests: The integration of technology into mental health and substance abuse interventions; the intersections of mental health, substance abuse and child welfare, and health disparities related to LGBTQ+ children and youth with child welfare and/or juvenile justice involvement.


Quenette Walton, Ph.D.


Assistant Professor | Graduate College of Social Work, University of Houston


Research Interests: Mental health and mental health disparities among Black women across the life course; SES as a social determinant of mental health; The Black middle class; Black women's wellness and well-being; Race, class, and gender; Qualitative research



Ann Webb, PhD, J.D., LCSW-S 

Research Interests: Mental health at the intersection of law and social work, particularly the impacts of trauma on mental health and overall well-being for vulnerable shared clients of lawyers and social workers.



Miao "Jessica" Yu, PhD


Postdoctoral Research Associate | University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work 


Research Interests: Maternal mental health and social support, mental health disparities, integrated healthcare and advanced statistical analysis.