Current Team Members

Dr. Virmarie Correa-Fernández


Dr. Virmarie Correa-Fernández is a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological, Health and Learning Sciences. She is a Clinical Psychologist, a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist and has been working in the tobacco cessation field for more than 15 years. Her primary research focus involves examining:

  1. The psychosocial determinants and moderators (e.g., self-efficacy, outcome expectancies, social support) of different smoking cessation milestones (e.g., initial abstinence, long-term cessation, recovery from lapse),

  2. The efficacy of evidence-based treatments (EBT), particularly Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), for the co-morbidity of tobacco dependence with other behavioral health problems; and

  3. The cultural and linguistic adaptations of ACT for Latinx smokers with these comorbidities. Through her funded American Cancer Society’s Mentored Research Scholar Grant (MRSG-15-018-01-CPPB), Dr. Correa-Fernández is adapting an ACT phone-based intervention to be feasible and acceptable for the treatment of tobacco dependence and comorbid depression and anxiety among Latinx.

Secondary, but complementary, areas of research interest include translational research (e.g., implementing EBT for tobacco dependence in mental health care settings, capacity building for health care professionals), understanding and promoting Latino participation in behavioral health research and psychosocial interventions, and community-based participatory research. 

Dr. Correa-Fernández is a coffee lover, and in her leisure time she likes to jog, read, travel, and spend time with friends and relatives, including visiting her hometown, Puerto Rico.


Dr. Kim is a professor assistant at the University of Houston. 

His  research interest are in survival analysis, multilevel (clustered) data analysis, propensity score analysis, mediation and moderation analysis, measurement invariance, item response theory and utilizing quantitative methods for intervention research. Also, his newest interests are  in developing and evaluating intelligent tutoring systems (ITS).

Dr. Kim .jpg
Dr. Han Joe Kim

Statistic Consultant 

Niloofar is a second year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program under the advisement of Dr. Correa-Fernandez. She joined LABHRT in Summer 2017 during her Master's program at UH. Her research interests include anxiety, smoking, and other health related behaviors. She has been involved with several manuscripts and recently published a first author manuscript entitled “Psychological Inflexibility as it Relates to Stress, Worry, Anxiety, and Somatization in an Ethnically Diverse Sample of College Students." In LABHRT, Niloofar is currently the study therapist and assisting with the development and implementation of a culturally adapted ACT intervention for Latino/a smokers who are experiencing depression and/or anxiety. Her hobbies include exercising, spending time with her puppy, and cooking.

Niloofar Tavakoli, M.Ed.

Graduate Research Assistant

Marshall is a first year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program. With a focus on Latinx populations, his personal research interests entail risk and protective factors related to depression and resilience. More specifically, he aspires to utilize research on resilience to creatively address mental health behaviors and risk factors within the Latinx community. As an advisee of Dr. Correa-Fernández in LABHRT, Marshall will serve as a study therapist and collaborate to implement a culturally adapted Acceptance and Commitment Therapy intervention for Latinx smokers with comorbid depression and/or anxiety. In his spare time, Marshall enjoys exercising and relaxing outdoors, traveling, as well as spending time with friends and family.

Marshall Motsenbocker, M.S.

Graduate Research Assistant 

Danielle is a first year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program, Health Psychology track under the advisement of Dr. Correa-Fernandez. She joined LABHRT in Summer 2020 as she began her fellowship in the UHAND program (a partnership between the University of Houston & MD Anderson Cancer Center) on cancer health disparities research. She is interested in investigating the biological and psychological mechanisms that maintain chronic diseases in adult, minority populations. Specifically, she is interested in using a biopsychosocial framework to examine lifestyle behaviors like tobacco use that may influence a person’s risk of developing and/or relapsing to cancer. In LABHRT, Danielle will be working with Dr. Correa-Fernandez and team on various projects. In her free time, Danielle enjoys reading, spending time with family and traveling. 

Danielle Llaneza, M.A.

Graduate Research Assistant

Danielle H Llaneza Headshot.JPG

Luane is a first year student in the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program under Dr. Correa-Fernandez’s advisement.  Originally from Brazil, she received both Bachelor and Master´s degrees in Psychology at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora (UFJF). She joined LABHRT during Fall 2020 as she started the doctoral program. She has been working with smoking cessation interventions for patients with multiple chronic conditions (MCC) and assessment of constructs related to treatment seeking. She also worked as a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist (CBT) for more than 2 years in Brazil. Her professional goals include teaching and to continue researching the tobacco field, especially assessment, treatment and development of interventions for high risk populations such as MCC patients, and health disparity populations such as the Latinx community.  Her hobbies include exercising, meditating, watching TV shows, cooking healthy food, and reading.​

 Luane Araújo Rabello, M.S.

Graduate Research Assistant 

Karen Mejia

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Karen Mejia is an undergraduate student in the College of Education at the University of Houston. She is majoring in Public Health and minoring in human development and family studies.  Karen has been a research assistant for over a year now and has been working on research with the Hispanic community. After seeing a repetitive pattern in the lack of resources that this community had through the greater Houston area, she has decided she wants to be instrumental. After graduating she wants to become a program planner for an institution that focuses on health disparities in minorities.  Karen joined the LABHRT because of her desire to continue learning about the Latino community.  On her free time, she loves to go biking and does interior decorating projects for her friends and family.

Valentina Friedl

Undergraduate 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.

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Mariana Vásquez

Mariana Vázquez is a third-year school psychology doctoral student at the University of Houston. Mariana’s research interests focus on the influence of cultural, language, and social factors on Latinx parents’ involvement and Latinx students’ educational and psychological outcomes. She is particularly interested in the provision of culturally and linguistically sensitive and responsive services to Latinx youth and families. Through her academic and applied work, Mariana aims to support the advancement of the Latinx community. In her leisure time, she likes to explore Houston’s food scene and spend time with family and friends.

Graduate Research Assistant


Joana Ledezma is an undergraduate student in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Houston. She is majoring in Psychology with a minor in human development and family studies and plans to graduate May 2022. Joana joined LABHRT in Summer 2021 after taking a Latino Health and Disparities class in which she learned the disparities in the Latino community health and representation in research studies. She holds an Associate's Degree in Science from Houston Community College, has a Pharmacy Technician License, is CPR certified, and is fluent in Spanish, English, and American Sign Language. She is Mexican American and enjoys dancing, sculpting, and painting on her free time. 

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Sem título.jpg
Joana Ledezma

To learn more about our former team members , click below: