I am a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in conducting research on the intersection of mental (e.g., PTSD) and physical health (e.g. HIV) and developing interventions. I completed my PhD in Clinical Psychology at Boston University in 2014, Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)/Harvard Medical School (HMS) in 2015, Predoctoral Fellowship at the MGH/HMS in 2014, and a Master’s Degree in Human Development and Psychology at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2005. I was previously an Assistant in Psychology at Massachusetts General Hospital and an Instructor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School. I joined the Psychology Department at the University of Miami’s in August of 2017 as an Assistant Professor in Psychology. I will be taking doctoral students for the fall 2018 academic year.
My primary research interests are (a) enhancing our understanding of the relationships between resilience, trauma, and health outcomes among individuals with HIV and those at risk for HIV, (b) investigating psychosocial (e.g., discrimination) and structural factors (e.g., poverty) that relate to health disparities, (c) developing effective prevention and intervention strategies to promote resilience and good health outcomes, and (d) engaging community members and stakeholders in research. I have been the principal investigator of three NIH-funded grants in the area of HIV: current Mentored Career Development Award (K23) from NIMH, F31 award from NIMH, and a scholar award via the Harvard Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). The purpose of my K23 study (Striving Towards EmPowerment and Medication Adherence [STEP-AD]) is to develop and assess the feasibility and acceptability of an intervention to improve medication adherence for Black women with HIV by combining evidence-based strategies for trauma symptom reduction, strategies for coping with racial and HIV-related discrimination, gender empowerment, problem solving techniques for medication adherence, and other resilient coping techniques. It consists of four phases: (1) formative/qualitative phase (completed), (2) open pilot trial (completed), (3) small RCT (ongoing), and (4) preparation for an R01 application in partnership with a community based clinic/organization. Beyond my K23, I am also collaborating as a co-investigator on a R01 grant (PIs Howe and Keita) aimed at creating a reliable and valid resilience measure to capture individual, interpersonal, and neighborhood resilience components among African Americans with HIV and assess whether higher resilience facilitates positive HIV outcomes by the level of the neighborhood risk environment. In conducting research I view community engagement and involvement as the key and start to doing research that can be adopted in community settings to have a positive impact. Positive community relationships both ground and inspire my approach to research.