Former Team Members

Karla Flores, B.S.

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Domenica Cartagenova, B.S. B.A.

Research Assistant



Karla Flores is a recent graduate from the University of Houston, with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a minor in Health. Karla joined LABHRT because she has a strong interest in research in order to address how certain behaviors, such as smoking, alcohol and other substance related abuse, affect the many lives of Hispanic/Latinx communities in the greater Houston area. She plans to attend graduate school and obtain a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. In the future, she wants to be able to provide affordable therapy to those who struggle with harmful behaviors in the Hispanic/Latinx community.

Karla loves dogs and enjoys taking walks at the park with her little chihuahua. She was born in El Salvador and loves to travel to her birth country and spend time with family.

Domenica Cartagenova graduated from Texas A&M University with a Sociology B.S and a Spanish B.A.  She joined the LABHRT in the summer of 2019 as a Research Assistant because of her interest in preventative health care and her previous research experience in Race and Ethnicity effects on society. As a research assistant she wants to be able to participate in community outreach, and learn more about the mental health aspects of Latinx health disparities. Domenica will be starting a post-baccalaureate in Nutrition. She hopes to attend medical school in future to pursue a career in primary care and preventative medicine. In her spare time Domenica enjoys being outdoors, running, and spending time with her family.

Daniela Arenas,  B.S.

 Research Coordinator



Crystal Hernandez

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Katherine Balderrama  Najera  

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Summer 2019

Daniela Arenas is an alumni from the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences at the University of Houston with a B.S. in Kinesiology – health profession. She is a native Mexican, first-generation college graduate with 10 years of experience in the clinical field & health research. She joined the LABHRT in August of 2019 as a research coordinator because she cares about educating the Latinx community about mental and behavioral health issues. As a research coordinator, she wants to be able to participate in community outreach events and help in engaging Latinx adults with limited resources into effective tobacco-cessation treatments. In her spare time Daniela enjoys meditating, journaling and spending time with her family and her four dogs.

Crystal Hernandez is an undergraduate student in the College of Education at the University of Houston. She is majoring in Public Health and minoring in Biology. After graduation (expected December 2020), she wants to work a year in her field and later pursue a career as a Physician’s Assistant. Her dream is to be able to start a nonprofit organization to help underserved communities, especially Latinx children and adolescents. Crystal joined the LABHRT because of her interest in community engagement and health promotion in the Latinx community. She hopes that this position will help her be more involved in health research. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching shows, or exploring Houston.

Katherine is a senior undergraduate student in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. She is majoring in Mathematical Biology and minoring in Psychology. She joined the LABHRT in the Summer 2019 as part of the Urban Experience Program CITE Internship. Katherine aims to attend medical school and one day open low cost clinics to help the under-served Latinx community. Currently, as an intern, she hopes to be able to gain experience about health promotion and research initiatives within the Latinx community. Katherine is still exploring her research interests. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music, solving Sudoku and spending time with her family.

Morgan McNeel, B.A.

Graduate Research Assistant


Morgan McNeel was a graduate student research assistant for LABHRT. She received her bachelors degree in Psychology from Rice University with a minor in Neuroscience in May of 2015. Following graduation, she worked as a research assistant and clinic coordinator at UT Health Science Center’s Developmental Neuropsychology Clinic, with children with neurodevelopmental disorders and their families. Morgan continues to pursuing her Ph.D. in school psychology at the University of Houston.

In her spare time, Morgan enjoys traveling, printmaking and photography, and exploring all that Houston has to offer!

Josée Kahambwe 

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Lena Musoka 

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Josée she joined the LABHRT in Fall 2016. She is majoring in Health and minoring in Biology. Although she continues to explored her research interests, she is interested in health promotion. In particular, she is intrigued by the reasons behind people's behavioral choices and what can be done to assist them in engaging in behaviors that will positively impact their health. In the future, she aspires to earn a master's degree in public health and study medicine. 

Josee was an intern for the LABHRT during summer 2018. This experience has helped her better understand the procedures for implementing a study and strengthen her analytical skills. Through her experience as an intern, she was studied on the relationship between sleep, mindfulness and distress tolerance. She presented her findings during The Undergraduate Research Day at UH.  

During her free time, she likes spending time with her friends, reading, and listening to music. 

Lena joined the LABHRT in Fall 2016. She is interested in environmental health specifically. After her studies, she desires to return to her home country, where she would like to work on improvements of the environmental surroundings of disadvantaged populations, focusing on health outcomes of issues such as air or water pollution. She volunteered with the Latino and Behavioral Health Research team. From this experience, she gained more knowledge on the impact of unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking. Her hobbies include playing musical instruments, cooking, and playing board games. 

Roseann John, B.A.

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Roseann is a recent graduate in Public Health from the College of Education. She joined the lab and completed her internship in Fall 2018.Throughout her internship, she learned a lot about recruitment, transcription, and qualitative analysis. Her internship experience has increased her interest in smoking cessation and Latino health. In LABHRT, her roles include screening participants for the various ongoing projects and assisting with the implementation of the qualitative study.  

Her research interests include stress, smoking cessation, anxiety, and depression.  

In the future, she plans to get a degree in Healthcare Management in hopes of improving patient outcomes and making a positive difference in the healthcare field. 

In her spare time, she likes to travel, cook, and spend time with family & friends. 

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Amanda Broyles, M.Ed.

Graduate Research Assistant

Summer 2016-2019

Amanda is a third year student in the Counseling Psychology PhD program in the College of Education. Her personal research interests include how gender role socialization affects violent behavior, particularly gender violence. In LABHRT she worked on a project that examined the relationship of mindfulness and negative affect on various health risk behaviors (including tobacco and heavy alcohol use). She also assisted with a project that involves the development of a culturally adapted ACT intervention  for Latino/a smokers who are experiencing depression and/or anxiety. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, exploring the many restaurants of Houston, and relaxing at home with her cat. 

Kimberly Smoots, B.A.

Graduate Research Assistant

Summer 2019

Kimberly is a first-generation college graduate in the Ph.D. School Psychology program at the University of Houston. She is in her third-year of the program. Her research interests include mindfulness, interventions for emotional, behavioral and mental disorders/problems, parent-training, and multicultural issues in the field of psychology.She is interested in working children with behavioral, emotional and mental disorders and culturally and linguistically diverse youth, especially Latino youth. In LABHRT, she was  assisting with the cultural adaptation of the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Latino/ smokers who were experiencing depression and/or anxiety. In her free time, she enjoys singing, dancing, reading, spending time with her family and friends and working out (when she can).

Hector Jay Perez, B.S. 

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Hector Jay Perez is a senior at the University of Houston. He joined LABHRT in Summer 2018. He is currently majoring in Health Promotion and minoring in Psychology.  

His research interests are smoking, childhood obesity, and HIV/AIDS.  Hector plans to go to nursing school when he graduates in December 2018, and he wants to become a Doctor of Nursing Practice eventually.   

During his free time, Hector enjoys photography, working out, and swimming. 

Haidar Iman, B.S.

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Haidar is currently a senior at the University of Houston majoring in Public Health and minoring in Biology. In exposure to health and natural science classes, a particular spark of interest he developed was studying the role that these subjects play in the community.

Throughout community events, helping others an objective to him, but finding ways to prevent health disparities and issues is an objective as well. Making deductions about problems is his method of approach. Reasons behind answers are far more precious than answers themselves.

His hobbies include exercising, playing the guitar, and good video-gaming.

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Erin Reid, B.A.

Graduate Research Assistant 


Erin is a third-year school psychology doctoral student in the Department of Psychological, Health, and Learning Sciences at the University of Houston. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Virginia and worked as a special education teacher with Teach for America before returning to graduate school. 

With LABHRT, Erin studied behavioral health among under-served populations, with a focus on research methodology. She now applies these research experiences in her work on early intervention practices to prevent educational injustices and promote student success. When she isn't working on research projects, Erin enjoys going to the theater and practicing yoga. 

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Jocelyn Abrams, Ph.D.

Graduate Research Assistant


Dr. Jocelyn Abrams is Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology for UH, and currently works as a psychologist at Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical center. During her curriculum, she did many internships and worked as a Graduate Research Assistant for  Dr. Correa-Fernandez from 2015-2016. 
Her research interests are in trauma and substance use disorders.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, cook and listen to music.

Valentina Friedl

Undegraduate Research Assistant

Valentina is an undergraduate student at the University of Houston, majoring in Health on the Public Health track and minoring in Biology. Valentina joined LABHRT as a volunteer during Spring 2021 seeking research experience, interested in health disparities affecting local communities in Houston. Following her expected graduation in Summer 2021, Valentina plans on working in her field before pursuing a Master's. She spends her free time enjoying the outdoors and trying new foods with her sister around Houston, or traveling back to Colombia to see her family.

Anayeli Euceda

Undegraduate Research Assistant

Anayeli Euceda is an undergraduate student in the College of Education at the University of Houston. She is majoring in Health on the Public Health track and minoring in Biology. Anayeli recently joined LABHRT in Fall 2021 seeking experience, and to be able to understand firsthand how research is utilized to target challenging health disparities among her Latino community. Following her graduation, Anayeli plans to work in the health care field before pursuing her Master’s. During her free time, she enjoys hiking, playing music, and exploring new places around Houston with her friends and family. 

Cielo Torres

Undegraduate Research Assistant

Cielo Torres is an undergraduate student at the College of Education at the University of Houston.  She is majoring in Health on the Public Health track with a minor in Chemistry. She joined LABHRT in Fall 2021 seeking experience in research and health behavior theory. After graduation, she plans to work in Health Promotion before pursuing her Master's. In her free time, Cielo likes to listen to music, take pictures and visit different coffee shops. 

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Marialuisa Aldama

Undegraduate Research Assistant

Marialuisa is an undergraduate student at the University of Houston, she is pursuing a dual degree in Health on the Public Health track and in Psychology. Additionally, she is minoring in Sociology concentration in Health and Medicine as well as Human Development and Family Studies. Marialuisa joined LABHRT as an Intern during Spring 2022 seeking new research experience and opportunities. She is interested in the psychological disparities affecting the health of the Latinx community. Following her expected graduation in May 2022, Marialuisa plans on working in her field before pursuing a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She spends her free time playing with her dog Bo and Bella, watching true crime, and reading a good book when possible.

Ingrid Yrra, B.S.

Undergraduate Intern

Spring 2019

Ingrid joined LABHRT in Fall 2018. She received a degree in Health and a minor in Nutrition. She was an intern at LABHRT and assisted in the Spanish translation of projects. Ingrid continues to explore her research interests. She aspires to help the Latinxs community and continue her education. In her spare time, she spends time with family and friends and walks her dogs.

Melanie Gallego, B.S.

Undergraduate Intern


Melanie studied Public health in the College of Education with a minor in Biology. Throughout her studies, she has also discovered an interest in smoking cessation, leading her to work with the Latino and Behavioral Health Research team. By incorporating the reasons for behavioral choices and also acquiring knowledge for smoking cessation, she plans to integrate this into her future work with patients.

In her spare time, she enjoys playing instruments, exercising, and watching documentaries.

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Andrés Muñoz

High school Student Intern 

Summer 2018 

During the time of his internship, Andres Munoz was a senior at Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions. In his pursuit of a career in medicine, he hopes the research team will serve as a place to learn more about the realm of the health sciences through the eyes of psychology and tobacco research.

Although he was a short-term addition to the team, Andres was able to expand his knowledge and develop meaningful relationships that will aid him in his academic path.

His hobbies include baseball, playing piano going to the movie, and hiking, and camping. 

Bryn Seerker, B.A.

Independent Study 

Summer 2017 

Bryn is a recent graduate of the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Science in public health. She majored in Health with a minor in Family Studies. She took the independent studies class with Dr. Correa-Fernandez not knowing what to expect. She studied on infectious disease providers knowledge, attitudes, and practices in Argentina, and presented her findings at UH Undergraduate Research Day.  She currently works at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center as a clinical study coordinator on a circulating tumor study. She loves her job and plans to continue her education to get a Ph.D. in Epidemiology after taking a year to focus on her current position. Some of her hobbies include playing board games, engaging in her community to promote local election voting as well as advocating for at-risk minority groups. She also volunteers with Houston Pets Alive and enjoys camping and hiking with her dog, Kira. 

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Augusta Ezem, B.A. 

Undergraduate Independent Study 


Fall 2016 - Spring 2017

Augusta is UH graduate with a major in public health and double minors in sociology and biology. During her undergraduate, she took an independent study session with Dr. Correa Fernandez. She had always been interested in research, but she did not know how to gain the right foundation. Her Independent study session gave her more than a foundation. It opened her mind to different facets of advanced critical thinking. Apart from critical thinking, she was privileged to attend many career-building training sessions like IRB training and systemic review training.  

Her research topic was titled Epigenetics and the effects of maternal smoking on offspring. It was challenging but, in the end, she was so inspired and grateful. She often refers to this experience as her most valuable college experience. She is currently en route to medical school in hopes of acquiring an MD/MPH degree soon where she hopes to continue her pursuit and appreciation for research