Areas of Research

Click on the titles below to learn more about the research areas studied by our faculty. Additional information can be found under each faculty member's bio.


  • Child Clinical Psychology: Early Identification and Intervention of Autism Spectrum Disorders, Evidence Based-Parent Mediated Interventions. Health disparities and barriers to accessing services [Dr. Cecilia Montiel-Nava]

    Dr. Montiel-Nava’s research focuses on four topics: 1) Understanding ethnic disparities among children with autism spectrum and neurodevelopmental disorders, 2) ADHD and its comorbid disorders, 3) Evidence-based interventions that can be carried out by parents of children with developmental delays in underserved populations, and 4) Validity and acculturation of diagnostic instruments. Her research has as an ultimate goal to reduce the gap in access to services that identify and treat neurodevelopmental disorders to improve the quality of life of RGV residents.

  • Clinical Psychology: Adversities in childhood; interpersonal violence; sibling aggression; trauma; PTSD [Dr. Ruby Charak]

    Dr. Charak's program of research is aimed at understanding the cumulative effect of childhood adversities, including child abuse and neglect in the development of traumatic stress reactions, such as PTSD and substance use, and revictimization across the lifespan. She has examined the same in samples from geographically diverse regions, namely, India, Burundi, the United States, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Northern Ireland. A recent focus of the lab has been on the interpersonal violence among sexual minorities, and the intergenerational transmission of violence from parent(s) to the sibling dyad.

  • Clinical Psychology: Child and adolescent mental health; Mental health disparities; Culture; Prevention science; Victimization and trauma [Dr. Juventino Hernandez Rodriguez]

    Dr. Hernandez Rodriguez is co-director of the Research on Enhancing Access to Culturally-Informed Mental Health Services (REACH) lab. His program of research largely focuses on developing, implementing, and evaluating community-based (e.g., schools, primary care clinics) prevention and intervention programs that target problem behaviors and foster resiliency among at-risk, underserved youth. Current studies focus on how to prevent the consequences associated with bullying/peer victimization and trauma, and improve access to treatment for those who have been significantly impacted by traumatic stress.
  • Clinical Psychology: Family Violence/Intimate Partner Violence [Dr. Arthur Cantos]

    Dr. Cantos' area of research is family violence in general and characteristics of perpetrators of intimate partner violence and their treatment, more specifically. Dr. Cantos has been a strong critic of current mandated one size fits all interventions for perpetrators of intimate partner violence and a strong proponent of developing interventions that address the needs of the perpetrators following Gordon Paul's Epic Question: "What treatment, by whom, is most effective, for this individual, with that specific problem and under which set of circumstances (Paul, 1967).

    Dr. Cantos completed a five year program evaluation of treatment of perpetrators on probation in Lake County, Illinois and has been engaged in collaborative treatment outcome research with researchers in Spain and Ohio. Dr. Cantos' lab is currently working on a research project on dating violence in the Rio Grande Valley with the goal of identifying cultural variables that may be important to understand dating violence in this population. In addition, we are continuing to conduct studies to assess characteristics of perpetrators of intimate partner violence which are relevant for the development of interventions based on an individualized comprehensive assessment of perpetrator needs.

    Family Violence Lab

  • Clinical Psychology: Latinx Mental Health [Dr. Alfonso Mercado]

    Dr. Alfonso Mercado’s research lab focuses a myriad of issues pertinent to the Latino population. Of special research interest are trauma, cultural values, and health in recent immigrants and refugees. The lab also examines personality, acculturation, and substance use within the Latino population. The effectiveness of empirically supported mental health treatments, such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy, in Latino groups are explored. Dr. Mercado also studies the development of ADHD and IDD in Latino children and support for their families.

  • Clinical Psychology: Mental health disparities; Enhancing service utilization; Primary Care Behavioral Health; Latinx mental health [Dr. Bianca Villalobos]

    Dr. Villalobos's research focuses on evaluating novel service delivery models (e.g., telemental health, primary care behavioral health, community outreach), to increase access to mental health care for underserved populations. In addition, her research aims to eliminate health disparities and delays to treatment by understanding the structural and attitudinal barriers that impede mental health help-seeking. Her ultimate goal is to increase the dissemination of evidence-based interventions that are culturally- and linguistically-appropriate for the Latinx population. Current projects include conducting a needs assessment in the Rio Grande Valley to document mental health needs and barriers to service use. Dr. Villalobos is co-director of the Research Enhancing Access to Culturally-Informed Mental Health Services (REACH) Lab at UTRGV. 

  • Clinical Neuropsychology [Dr. Philip Gasquoine]

    Effects of Spanish/English bilingualism on cognition; Causation in Alzheimer disease and other age-related neurodegenerative processes; Anosognosia; Organization of emotion within the brain, especially concerning the function of anterior cingulate and insula cortices; History of neuropsychology.

  • Health Psychology: Stress, Sleep, & Health [Dr. Grant Benham]

    Research on the causes and consequences of psychological stress and inadequate sleep, with a focus on their impact on physical health. A recent focus of the Stress, Sleep, & Health Lab has been on the role of perseverative cognitions (rumination and worry) as mediators of the stress-insomnia relationship and the impact of psychological stress and inadequate sleep on skin healing and heart rate variability.

  • Neuroscience: Behavioral Neuroendocrinology; Neurobiology of Learning and Neuropsychiatric Disorders; Neural Development and Plasticity [Dr. Mario Gil]

    Research on the role of different neural systems in the regulation of social behavior, learning, and motivation, with a focus on identifying the genetic and physiological factors that underlie individual differences in behavior and disease susceptibility.

  • Quantitative psychology: Structural equation modeling, missing data techniques and their applications in clinical and health psychology [Dr. Po-Yi Chen]

    Methodological research on the impacts of ordinal missing data on model comparison and parameter estimations in structural equation modeling, Another recent focus of my empirical research is to use various latent variable techniques to capture the efficacies of psychological therapies (such as cognitive and behavioral therapy for insomnia) and to re-examine the psychometric properties of some widely used clinical/psychological measures.