Institute for Translational Research Education in Adolescent Drug Abuse (ITRE)
Each year, 12-15 students are accepted into a cohort of Institute scholars. Institute scholars are a diverse group of students, representing a variety of academic departments, including psychology, school counseling, nursing, rehabilitation and mental health counseling, child and family studies, public health, social work and criminology. Some scholars are enrolled in master's or doctoral degrees, while others work full-time at community-based agencies. Over the past four years, nearly 90 percent of scholars have been women and more than 40 percent identify as racial or ethnic minorities.
See below for more information about our scholars and cohorts.
Amanda Armstrong - Amanda is currently pursuing two Master's Degrees in Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health as well as Criminology at the University of South Florida. Her research interests include how parenting practices affect child and adolescent behavioral health outcomes. Currently, her Master's Thesis in Criminology focuses on the impact parenting practices have on truant adolescents' drug use and symptoms of depression and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Amanda is also interested in program evaluation, translational research, and implementation sciences within the context of behavioral health. She currently assists researchers evaluating the Medication-Assisted Drug Court Treatment (MADCT) Program for offenders with prescription drug issues. Additionally, Amanda is the Editorial Associate for the Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, and tutors student-athletes in a variety of courses within the academic fields of social and behavioral sciences. She was recently accepted into USF's doctoral program in Behavioral & Community Science, and hopes to combine her passion for research, teaching, and community service into a professional career upon graduation.
Amy Armstrong-Heimsoth - Amy is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Northern Arizona University on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus. Amy graduated with a doctoral degree from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in the spring of 2014. She earned her Bachelor's Degree in Human Development & Family Studies from the University of Missouri in 1992 and her Master's Degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California in 1997. Amy has 20 years clinical pediatric occupational therapy experience. Her research interests include neurodevelopmental disabilities, influences of trauma on development, empowerment through health literacy, and foster care youth. Amy currently serves as President of the Arizona Occupational Therapy Association. She is also a board member for Opportunity, Community, & Justice for Kids, which serves foster care youth in Arizona.
Tracy Bales - Tracy is pursuing a Master's in Public Health Degree in the Behavioral Health Concentration at the University of South Florida College of Public Health. She earned her Bachelor of Design from the College of Architecture at the University of Florida and after a career in interior architecture, went on to complete her post bachelorette degree in psychology at USF. Her psychology honors thesis focused on the effects of priming and implicit thought on health decision making and goal setting behaviors. She worked to develop a children's safety program with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and has lectured about child safety issues. Her primary research interests include health decision-making; depression, including treatment effects of mindfulness-based cognitive behavior therapy and art therapy; the effect of visual arts-based learning on health care providers as a means of developing communication; teamwork and empathy skills; and issues related to girls' self-esteem and female objectification.
Dylan Bilyeu - Dylan graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from Western Illinois University (WIU) in 2014. During his time at WIU, he participated in a Social Psychology lab in which he developed his honors thesis on the topic of Terror Management Theory and Gender Role Stereotypes. He is currently a 2nd year graduate student at Northern Arizona University (NAU) and is finishing his Master of Arts Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. While at NAU, he has been conducting research on wellness and resilience. Currently, his research interests include adverse childhood experiences and resilience. His future goals are to pursue a PhD Degree in Counselor Education and Supervision and to earn his LPC.
Julie Cheney - Julie is a first-year master's student in the Criminology and Criminal Justice Department at Northern Arizona University. Her main research interests are to analyze crime patterns, study violent homicides, and investigate sociopathic behavior. She hopes to eventually become an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Julie is interested in researching women in prisons or interviewing exonerees for her master's thesis. She is honored to represent Northern Arizona University as a Scholar for the Institute for Translational Research Education in Adolescent Drug Abuse. Julie earned her Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of Arizona... "Bear Down"!
Joshua Zaris Goldman - Joshua is completing his final semester as a Master of Social Work Degree student and Graduate Student Success Fellow at the University of South Florida. He previously worked on multiple social work and public health research studies as a USF Graduate Assistant, and continues to assist in a voluntary role. At last year's American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Joshua presented the initial findings of an exploratory study about the impact of the Swamp Apes, a program taking veterans into the Everglades National Park on service projects, with data suggesting it promotes healing from trauma and helps the transition back to civilian life. Joshua currently interns at Suncoast Hospice doing grief counseling. He plans on one day pursuing his PhD, with interests in trauma, mindfulness, and children and family counseling.
Molly Hahn-Floyd - Molly is a second-year doctoral student in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Northern Arizona University, College of Health and Human Services. Molly's current research interests include the effects of sensory integration on mental and behavioral health and the effects of the foster care system on mental and behavioral health of children and adolescents. She wants to establish a future career in research and policy serving marginalized populations. Molly is currently a Graduate Research Assistant in developing an executive skills assessment for middle and high school students with autism. She has also volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club and OCJ Kids, a nonprofit organization that provides services including mentorships to children and adolescents in foster care. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science Degree in Health Sciences with an emphasis in Sports Conditioning and Training from the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs in 2012.
Jade Heffern - Jade is a doctoral student in the combined Counseling/School Psychology PhD Degree program at Northern Arizona University. She has prior research experience working with at-risk rural, low socioeconomic status families through community-based parent interventions within the state of Arizona, which is an area that is dear to her heart and that she would like to continue researching. Her current research interests include mindfulness, health psychology, and effective treatments for childhood disorders. She hopes to become a licensed psychologist working primarily with children and adolescents. She recently earned her Master of Counseling Degree in August 2017, and she graduated with her Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from The University of Arizona in 2014.
Rebecca Liller - Rebecca is a first year master's student in the Department of Community and Family Health (Behavioral Health Concentration) at the University of South Florida, College of Public Health after earning her Bachelors of Science Degree in Psychology at Saint Leo University in Dade City, Florida. She is currently working for the Center for Urban Transportation Research as a Graduate Assistant with the ITS traffic and operations safety team. Her main research interests are traumatic brain injury and cognitive development in children and adolescents, the epidemiology of mental disorders in individuals within the juvenile justice system, and education of drug impact on brain development. She has a passion for working with children and adolescents and preventing new injuries or illness through education. She has volunteered at the Rothman Center for Pediatric Neuropsychiatry, where she worked on a variety of research projects with children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She has also volunteered at Suncoast Kids Place, where she worked with children and families grieving after the loss of a loved one.
John Martin - John is a first-year doctoral degree student in the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, He is currently working is a Graduate Assistant for a course in behavioral health policy and comorbidities. He is originally from Columbia, South Carolina where he completed his undergraduate studies and had his first research experiences in coding and data entry as well as working with black families on positive aspiration and motivation research in the African American Youth Development Lab (AAYDL) at the University of South Carolina.
Amanda Sharp - Amanda is a first year PhD Degree student in the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at the University of South Florida. She earned her Master of Public Health Degree from Boston University and is a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT). Her research interests include the utilization of patient-centered care and therapeutic alliance for behavior change, particularly in the field of substance abuse treatment and harm reduction. She previously worked in opioid overdose prevention in Boston and has consulted nationally to integrate patient-centered communication approaches in health care settings. She is currently involved in the intervention arm (as a recovery coach) on implementation research studies focused on patient engagement and activation. She is a graduate assistant at ACTS where she is performing a program evaluation of their medication assisted treatment program and working to implement a naloxone utilization tracking project. She hopes to continue working in behavioral health community-based organizations where she can contribute to improving care and empowering patients.
Lacey Tucker - Lacey is a dual degree student pursuing a Master's in Public Health and a Master's in Social Work Degrees at the University of South Florida. As a second-year student, Lacey is an intern at Roger's Behavioral Health where she specifically works with children and adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorders, anxiety, eating disorders, depression, and autism spectrum disorders. Her main research interests include behavioral health prevention programming through the education system of k-12 schools, in addition to increasing behavioral health services in rural communities. After graduating, Lacey hopes to pursue a PhD Degree in Public Health and earn a certification as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Lacey earned her Bachelor's Degree in Behavioral Healthcare (Concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis) in 2015 from the University of South Florida.
Renee Wallace - Renee is a first-year Master of Public Health student at the University of South Florida, College of Public Health. With a Concentration in Public Health Education, Renee's interests include translational research, community planning and engagement, behavioral health, and youth empowerment. She currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Champions for Children - USF Alliance. In this role, she assesses organizational and participant characteristics that affect the success of the family-focused Triple P intervention. She plans to serve as an advocate for minority and underserved populations, promoting social justice, eliminating health disparities, and creating awareness around behavioral health. In 2015, Renée earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise Science at Florida State University with Concentrations in Chemistry and Child Development.
Andre Clark - Andre earned his bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Florida and currently works as a social emotional program specialist for Frameworks, a non-profit organization.
Nicole Crawford - Nicole is a licensed clinical social worker and works as the clinic coordinator for the USF Memory Disorders Clinic. She is a DrPH student and previously earned her Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology, Master of Social Work, Master of Public Health, and Certification in Public Health at the University of South Florida.
Caitlin Hill - Caitlin is pursuing her master's degree in psychology at the University of South Florida-Saint Petersburg and plans to pursue a doctorate in public health. She completed her undergraduate studies in psychology at Kent State University.
Amanda (Jennings) Farris - Amanda is a master's student in the School of Social Work at the University of South Florida, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences. She is currently an MSW intern with Pasco County Schools and volunteers with Suncoast Kids Place, an agency dedicated to providing peer support groups and activities for children, teens and their families following the death of a loved one.
Lauren Julian - Lauren works as a research support specialist with the Department of Child and Family Studies in the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at the University of South Florida. She earned her bachelor of science in criminology at the University of South Florida in 2009.
Jason Kora - Jason currently works for a large managed care organization in Tampa and is aiming to eventually attain a master's degree in public health. He earned a bachelor of arts in economics from the University of South Florida in 2011.
Jana Leyrer - Jana is a master's student in the Department of Community and Family Health at the University of South Florida, College of Public Health. She graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a bachelor of arts in cognitive psychology.
Alexis McKinley - Alexis recently graduated with a bachelor's in public health at Northern Arizona University. She plans on going to the University of Arizona for a master's in public health and aspires to become a certified health education specialist.
Monica Rousseau - Monica is a DrPH student at the University of South Florida, College of Public Health. She earned her master of public health at the University of South Florida in 2012, is certified in public health, and is a certified health education specialist.
Sarah Sheffield - Sarah is a master's student in the Department of Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling at the University of South Florida, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences. She earned a bachelor of arts in psychology with a minor in behavioral health at the University of South Florida and Hillsborough Community College Honors Institute.
Vanessa Tate - Vanessa is pursuing a master's in public health with a concentration in behavioral health. She earned her bachelor's degree in 2007 from the University of South Florida in women's studies and sociology.
Enya Vroom - Enya is a master's student in the Department of Child and Family Studies at the University of South Florida, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences. She earned her bachelor of arts at USF, where she majored in psychology and minored in history.
Monica Chambers - Monica recently graduated with a master of arts in rehabilitation and mental health counseling at USF. She earned a bachelor of arts in philosophy and has a desire to serve the community.
Melody Chavez - Melody is a national registered dietitian and currently works at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital and Clinics. She earned her master of public health from USF in 2015 and bachelor of science in human nutrition and food service from New Mexico State University in 2004.
Ericka Duncan - Ericka is a master's student at USF in the Department of Community and Family Health with a concentration in health education. Ericka has research experience as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the Illinois Public Health Association at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
Elizabeth "Lee" Dunn-Gader - Lee is a master of public health student with a behavioral health concentration in the College of Public Health, Department of Community and Family Health at the University of South Florida. She also earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from USF.
Aldenise Ewing - Aldenise is a doctoral student in the Department of Community and Family Health at the University of South Florida, College of Public Health. In 2011, she earned her master of public health in behavioral science and health education at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health and earned her bachelor of arts from Vanderbilt University in Spanish and medicine, health and society in 2009.
Sarah (Lokey) Gonzalez - Sarah is a graduate student in social work at the University of South Florida and aspires to study public health in the future. She earned a bachelor of science with honors in legal studies and a certificate in victim advocacy from the University of Central Florida.
Shalay Jackson - Shalay is a school social worker for the Citrus County School Board and an adjunct professor at Saint Leo University, serving human services and social work students. She earned a bachelor of social work from Florida State University and a master of social work at the University of Michigan.
Gina-Maria Roca - Gina-Maria is a master of science in public health student in the Department of Community and Family Health the University of South Florida. She earned a bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of Tampa.
Christine Rollins - Christine is an art therapist and social worker in the Tampa Bay area, and is a master of public health student with a concentration in behavioral health at the University of South Florida. She earned a master of social work from the University of South Florida in 2014, and a master of arts in art therapy from George Washington University in 2001.
Vinita Sharma - Vinita is a doctoral student in the Department of Community and Family Health at the University of South Florida, College of Public Health. Vinita earned a bachelor of public health from Pokhara University and a master of public health at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is a certified trainer of community oriented primary care (COPC).
Mariana Stavig - Mariana earned her bachelor of arts in anthropology and gender and sexuality studies from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. While applying for a PhD in counseling psychology, Mariana pursued two graduate certificates: translational research in adolescent behavioral health and children's mental health.
Ashley Walker - Ashley earned a bachelor of science degree in public health and currently works for a non-profit organization, Frameworks of Tampa Bay. Ashley plans to pursue a master of science in public health with a concentration in public health education.
Shawna Green - Shawna is currently pursuing a PhD at USF in public health with a focus on adolescent behavioral health. She previously earned her master of social work and master of arts in public policy and management.
Jessica Koelsch - Jessica earned her master of public health with a concentration in behavioral health and is certified in public health. She is also a certified health education specialist.
Kristen McCallum - Kristen earned her master of science in mental health counseling and is currently practicing as a licensed mental health counselor.
Lauren Nieder - Lauren is currently pursuing a master of science in public health with a focus
in behavioral health.
Florence "Flossie" Parsley - Flossie earned her master of social work and is a school social work services coordinator for Hillsborough County Public Schools.
Sharlene Smith - Sharlene recently earned her doctor of nursing practice at USF and is an assistant professor in the College of Nursing at USF. She is also an advanced registered nurse practitioner and a certified pediatric nurse practitioner.
Ashley Souza - Ashley recently earned her master of public health with a concentration in behavioral health from USF. She is currently working at the University of Tampa.
Bailey Thompson - Bailey earned her bachelor of science in public health from USF and was a peer health educator at USF's Wellness Center. She plans to pursue a degree in nursing.
Jessica Vazquez - Jessica earned her education specialist degree in school psychology and a master of science in school psychology from USF. She is currently a school psychologist intern in Cleveland.
Heather Walders - Heather earned her master of public health (concentration in behavioral health) and master of social work at USF and is certified in public health. She currently works as a clinician with a health care agency in Tampa.
Alexandra Albizu-Rivera - Alex earned her master of public health with a concentration in behavioral health from USF and is currently working as a technical assistance liaison on a SAMHSA grant and as a research coordinator at Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute.
Nichole (Snyder) Fintel - Nichole earned her master of science in public health from USF and is currently a technical assistance liaison for a SAMHSA grant.
Shivani Gogna - Shivani earned her master of public health with a concentration in global health
from USF and is certified in public health.
Chanelle Henderson - Chanelle earned her master of arts in rehabilitation and mental health counseling at USF and is a certified rehabilitation counselor. She is a licensed professional counselor resident in Roanoke, Va.
Humberto Lopez Castillo - Humberto is a postdoctoral research fellow at USF in Mental Health Law & Policy and earned his PhD in public health with a focus in behavioral health. He has also earned a doctor of medicine from the University of Panama, a master of education from Latin American University for Science and Technology, and a master of clinical sciences with a concentration in pediatrics from the University of Panama.
Mathew Lynch - Mathew earned his PhD in criminology from USF. He also holds a master of science in education in community, agency, and mental health counseling from Duquesne University and a bachelor of arts in psychology and English from Washington and Jefferson College.
Vickie Lynn - Vickie is a doctoral student and adjunct professor at USF in the College of Public Health with a focus in behavioral health. Vickie previously earned her master of public health (concentration in behavioral health) and master of social work.
Andrew McFarlane - Andrew earned his master of arts in counseling and is a certified addictions professional. He is the director for Prevention and Health Services for a community-based health care agency in Tampa.
Kimberly Menendez - Kimberly earned her master of science in educational leadership and is a certified prevention specialist. She is the senior curriculum writer for a non-profit focused on preventing adolescent substance use.
Catherine "Cat" Randall - Cat earned her PhD in social work from USF and is a licensed clinical social worker for Hillsborough County Public Schools.
Tommi Lynn Rivers - Tommi earned her bachelor of arts in psychology and works as a senior quality improvement analyst for a large managed care organization.
Monica (Solomon) Simmonds - Monica earned her master of science in public health with a focus in behavioral health from USF and is a certified health education specialist.
Kristina Soderstrom - Kristina earned her master of social work from USF. She currently works with adolescent girls as a counselor for a non-profit agency.
Sara Beth Wolicki - Sara earned her master of public health with a concentration in health education at USF. She is certified in public health and is a public health grand rounds fellow for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.