Meet The Team

Dr. Virmarie Correa-Fernández

Dr. Virmarie Correa-Fernández is a tenured Associate 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

  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. 


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Dr. Han Joe Kim

Assitant Professor 

Dr. Kim is a professor assistant at the University of Houston. His research interest is 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).

Niloofar Tavakoli, M.Ed.

Graduate Research Assistant

Niloofar is a third 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.

Marshall Motsenbocker, M.S.

Graduate Research Assistant 


Marshall is a third 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 has served as a study therapist and collaborated 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

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Danielle Llaneza, M.A.

Graduate Research Assistant

Danielle is a second 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. 


Luane is a second 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 Araujo Rabello, M.A.

Graduate 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.

Valentina Friedl

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. 

Anayeli Euceda

Undegraduate Research Assistant

Gerardo Fajardo is an undergraduate student at the university graduating in December 2021. He is majoring in Health with a focus on Health Promotion and a minor in Psychology. Gerardo has an interest in mental health and how people are developing different types of mental disorders and what are different ways that can help them cope with their mental health disorders. His hobbies include spending time with his family like playing Mario kart or Mario party.

Gerardo Fajardo

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. 

Cielo Torres

Undegraduate Research Assistant

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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.

Marialuisa Aldama

Undegraduate Research Assistant