Eric F. Wagner, Ph.D.
Director of FIU’s Community-Based Research Institute (CBRI)
Professor at FIU’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work
My name is Eric Fletcher Wagner, and I am the Director of FIU’s Community-Based Research Institute (CBRI). I earned my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, and I completed my clinical internship and a postdoctoral fellowship in alcohol treatment and early intervention research at Brown University. I joined the FIU faculty in 1998, when I was hired as an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work.
My clinical research expertise is addressing substance use and related problems among teenage, young adult, and underrepresented medically underserved populations. I have won grants from NIAAA, NIDA, NIMHD, HRSA, SAMHSA, the Ware Foundation, and Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología totaling more than $50 million. In 2017, I led FIU’s successful applications for a $13.1 million NIMHD-funded Research Center in Minority Institutions Grant and a $1.9 million HRSA-funded Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Grant. Annually, these two projects support more than 80 trainees, staff, and faculty at FIU.
My research involves real-world community-university partnerships aimed toward alleviating health disparities and promoting health and health equity. Community partners have included the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Banyan Health Systems, Citrus Health Network, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, the Choctaw Nation, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Gang Alternatives, Miami Music Project, Dranoff PIANO SLAM, Big Bend Community Based Care, Stable Place, His House, SOS Children’s Village, the Broward County Public Schools, the Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office, and Communities in Schools-Miami.
I have served as an expert consultant to the United Nations, the USDoED, the ONDCP, the NIH, and SAMHSA. In 2009, I led DIONYSUS, a scientific meeting on health and social issues associated with drinking, in partnership with FIU’s Chaplin School and its SOBEWFF. In 2016, I led Miami-Dade’s first ever town hall meeting on underage drinking. In 2018, I led Nicaragua’s first ever town hall meeting on underage drinking, in partnership with the Beauchamp Foundation. In addition to directing CBRI, I am a Professor in FIU’s School of Social Work, and a Psychologist licensed to practice in Florida (active) and Rhode Island (inactive).
Michelle M. Hospital, Ph.D., LMHC, BBA
Associate Director of Research of FIU’s Community-Based Research Institute (CBRI)
Associate Professor (Research) at FIU’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work
My name is Michelle M. Hospital. I am the Associate Director of Research and Development of FIU’s Community-Based Research Institute (CBRI) and a Research Associate Professor of the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work at FIU. I also currently serve as the Chair of the FIU Health Sciences Institutional Review Board (IRB). I have a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from the University of Miami with a concentration in Accounting. I received an M.S. in Counseling Psychology and a Ph.D. in Applied Life-Span Developmental Psychology at FIU. I am also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of Florida (LMHC License # MH 9226). I completed my Post-Doctoral training in advanced statistical analyses including Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) and Growth Curve Modeling (GCM) as well as focusing on national weighted longitudinal datasets.
My colleagues and I at CBRI have been awarded more than $50 million in extramural grant funding from federal agencies (e.g., NIDA, NIAAA, NIMHD and SAMHSA) and other private foundations (e.g., Aetna Foundation and Ware Foundation). We have partnered with numerous community organizations including Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Banyan Health Systems, Citrus Health Network, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, the Choctaw Nation, Gang Alternatives, Miami Music Project, Dranoff 2 Piano Foundation, PIANO SLAM, Stable Place, His House, and SOS Children’s Village.
I have extensive experience conducting school and community-based prevention and intervention research. My clinical and research interests have been primarily centered on the reduction of risk behaviors and the promotion of well-being among racial and ethnically diverse youth. I have served as the principal investigator of multiple community-based research studies evaluating the impact of positive youth development programs (e.g., music education, mindfulness, yoga and equine facilitated psychotherapy) among at-risk urban youth. I have served as a co-investigator for over 10 NIH and other federally funded grants including multiple R01 randomized clinical trials (RCTs). I was the primary internal evaluator for a multi-year National Science Foundation (NSF) ADVANCE grant and served as an expert consultant for the Health Communications Department at the Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland. I am also currently a co-leader of South Florida’s first Health Disparities Research Center at a Minority Institution (RCMI) from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).
I am a native Miamian, born from Cuban parents and am fully fluent in Spanish and French. I have presented my work at local, regional, national and international professional conferences. I have mentored, trained and supervised hundreds of undergraduate, Masters, and Doctoral students as well as Post-Doctoral Fellows from various disciplines including Psychology, Social Work, Public Health, Nursing, Biology, Dietetics and Nutrition and Women and Gender Studies.
Staci Leon Morris, Psy.D.
Associate Director for Clinical Services and Training of FIU’s Community-Based Research Institute (CBRI)
Assistant Professor (Research) at FIU’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work
My name is Staci Leon Morris, and I am the Associate Director for Clinical Services and Training of FIU’s Community-Based Research Institute (CBRI) and Assistant Professor (Research) in FIU’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work. I received my B.A. from Rutgers University where I was a Henry Rutgers Research Scholar; there, I received Psychology Departmental Honors for my thesis research, “Authentic Assessment in the Middle School.” I earned my Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree from Nova Southeastern University, completed my clinical internship at Nova Southeastern University’s Community Mental Health Center (which included a specialized trauma rotation) and my post-doctoral training at FIU’s Community-Based Intervention Research Group (C-BIRG). In 2017, I was selected to participate in the Training Institute for Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health (TIDIRH), sponsored by NIH/NCI and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Concurrently, I was selected to participate in the SAMHSA-sponsored learning community, “Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS TACS) Recovery Supports for Diverse Students.”
I am a Licensed Clinical Psychologist (FL PY 6443) and a State of Florida Qualified Supervisor for Mental Health Counseling. I have been working at FIU with the same research group since 2000. Collectively, CBRI has been awarded more than $50 million in grants, partnered with numerous community organizations, and trained hundreds of students from the undergraduate to the doctoral level. My professional career has been devoted to real-life implementation of empirically-based treatments, often with underserved populations. I am also the co-faculty advisor of Panthers for Recovery (P4R), a collegiate recovery community (CRC) at FIU devoted to supporting students recovering from addiction, as well as family, friends, and allies of those in recovery or in active addiction. I serve as a practicum preceptor and supervisor for the Master’s in Public Health (MPH) program and as a faculty mentor for the FIU Honors College: Advanced Research in Creativity with Honors (ARCH) Program.
I have extensive experience and research expertise in implementing community and school-based RCTs, D&I (Dissemination and Implementation) research methods, tailoring, staffing, training, supervision, mentorship, and human subject protection issues. I have served as Co-Investigator and Clinical Supervisor on 20 grant-funded research projects, including NIH-funded (NIAAA, NIDA, NIMHD, and SAMHSA) RCTs and community-based foundation-funded (Ware Foundation and Aetna Foundation) studies. Most recently, CBRI was awarded a SAMHSA-funded grant, “Community Partnership for Preventing Health Risks among Florida Urban American Indian & Alaska Native Young Adults,” for which I am the PI of the evaluation. This project aims to provide a solid foundation for delivering sustainable, high-quality, accessible, state-of-the-science substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis prevention research and services to urban American Indian and Alaska Native young adults, ages 18-24, living in Florida.
Maria Carricarte, B.S.
Research Assistant at CBRI
Maria Carricarte, B.S., is a Research Assistant at FIU’s Community-Based Research Institute. Maria received her Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management with a focus in Event Management from Florida International University and is a graduate of the FIU Honors College. With over 3 years of experience as an events and marketing professional, Maria has volunteered extensively with Relay for Life and has also worked as an event manager for non-profit organizations and corporate events. Her work at CBRI primarily focuses on Marketing and Events, as well as social media and graphic design. Maria is pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health with a concentration on Public Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.
Sara C. Charles, MPH
Sr. Coordinator at CBRI
Sara C. Charles, MPH, is a Sr. Coordinator at FIU’s Community-Based Research Institute (CBRI). She received her Bachelor’s in International Studies from the University of Miami and her Master’s degree in Public Health with a focus in Health Policy and Management from Florida International University. Sara has over five years of experience working in research administration. She has worked on projects focused on prevention in areas such as HIV, HEPC, HEPB, and HPV. At CBRI, she works closely with research faculty to ensure the synergistic implementation of essential research activities as part of the FIU-Research Center in a Minority Institution (RCMI) Administrative Core. Her areas of interest include working with the community to address health disparities and cultural competency.
Rachel Clarke, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow at CBRI
Rachel Clarke, Ph.D., CHES, is a Postdoctoral Fellow at FIU’s Community-Based Research Institute (CBRI). Rachel completed her Bachelors’ degree in Chemistry at Howard University and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. She received her Doctoral degree in Public Health, with a focus on health promotion and disease prevention at Florida International University. During the summers of her undergraduate years, Rachel completed an NSF fellowship in Chemical Biology at Vanderbilt University and interned at a dental office in her home country, Barbados. At CBRI, Rachel primarily conducts data collection, management, and analysis for a variety of projects including HORSES, STRETCH, YogaTeens. Rachel’s research focus is on community-based research geared towards addressing health disparities in oral health.
Eddy A. Herrera, B.A.
Research Assistant at CBRI
Eddy A. Herrera, B.A., is a research assistant at FIU’s Community-Based Research Institute (CBRI). Eddy received his Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with a focus on Health and Human Concerns from FIU on 2018. He joined the CBRI team during his last semester, working on projects such as Gang Alternative and Piano Slam. He hopes to further his career by completing graduate school with a Master’s in Public Health, concentrating in Epidemiology.
Robbert J. Langwerden, M.S.
Research Analyst at CBRI
Robbert J. Langwerden, M.S., is a Research Analyst at FIU’s Community-Based Research Institute (CBRI). Robbert completed his Bachelors’ degree and Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. After his graduation, he served as a Research Fellow at the Boston University Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (BU-CARD) and gained experience in evidence-based and clinical research. At CBRI, Robbert is a Research Assistant on a SAMHSA-funded study and research focusing on evaluating the efficacy of a substance use reduction program. His research work revolves around the Research Center for Minority Institutions grant (RCMI) and includes study coordination, data-analysis, web design, and manuscript writing. Next to his work at CBRI, Robbert is remotely working on his dissertation project on the MMPI and personality psychopathology, which is in the context of graduate trajectory at the Radboud University Nijmegen.
Katherine Perez, B.S.
Project Coordinator at CBRI
Katherine Perez, B.S., is a Project Coordinator at FIU’s Community-Based Research Institute (CBRI). Katherine holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science with Minors in Psychology and Criminal Justice from Florida International University. As a student at FIU, Katherine had several extracurricular involvements, which included serving as a member of the Student Conduct Committee for the Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution and serving as Research Chair for Phi Delta Epsilon, a pre-medical fraternity. Her work at CBRI primarily focuses on the SAMHSA-funded Miami-Dade Partnership for Preventing Health Risks among Youth, and her responsibilities include data entry and verification, materials preparation, and community outreach. Katherine has also contributed to various other CBRI projects such as Project STRETCH and HORSES. She hopes to use her experience with health disparities research to provide community-based interventions to minority populations as an aspiring physician.
Jordan E. Quintana, MSW
Sr. Research Coordinator at CBRI
Jordan Elizabeth Quintana, MSW, is a Research Coordinator at FIU’s Community-Based Research Institute (CBRI). Jordan received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Master’s degree in Social Work from Florida International University. She has five years of experience working in community mental health. Jordan has worked with various populations, including homeless individuals with a mental health condition, children and adolescents in the context of crisis stabilization unit and school systems, adults in a residential substance use setting, and adolescents and adults experiencing first episode psychosis. She has served as a research assistant/co-author on a research project aimed at identifying the needs of adults with neurodevelopmental disorders in Miami-Dade County, FL. Furthermore, Jordan was part of the first cohort at FIU awarded with the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Fellowship funded by HRSA, which provided integrated care and interprofessional team skills training. At CBRI, she serves as the coordinator for the FIU Research Center for Minority Institutions (FIU-RCMI) Recruitment Core as well as the FIU BHWET fellowship coordinator.
Thelma L. Robles, B.A.
Administrative Assistant at CBRI
Thelma L. Robles, B.A. serves as the Coordinator of Administrative Services at FIU’s Community-Based Research Institute (CBRI). She received her Bachelor’s in Sociology and Anthropology from Florida International University. Ms. Robles has over a decade of experience with the financial administration of research programs. She works closely with CBRI directors with regard to the financial management of multiple federally funded research grants. She also has experience with the financial management of student training programs. Prior to working with CBRI she worked 5 years as a Senior Secretary for the FIU Minorities Biomedical Research Support Program funded by NIH/NIGMS. She managed and monitored monthly and annual operating budgets for the program, maintained staff and students’ information in customized electronic databases and served as a liaison between program students and investigators. Additionally, she also worked for 2 years at CeSMEC (Center for The Study of Matter at Extreme Conditions) where she managed and monitored monthly and annual operating budgets for several grants funded by NSF. Ms. Robles has been working for Florida International University for the last 13 years.
Michael S. Vasconez, MSW
Research Coordinator at CBRI
Michael S. Vasconez, MSW, is a Research Coordinator at FIU’s Community-Based Research Institute (CBRI). He coordinates a subcontract with a nonprofit organization, Gang Alternative, Inc. on the Minority Youth Violence Prevention Project, a research grant funded by the Office of Minority Health. This program aims to reduce violence and substance use among adolescents in high-risk target communities Little Haiti and Liberty City. Under the supervision of Dr. Michelle Hospital, Michael is responsible for coordinating and overseeing evaluation activities, as an external evaluator. Michael received his Master of Social Work (2017), Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (2014) and Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (2014) from Florida International University. Michael is currently a Registered Clinical Social Worker Intern in the State of Florida and has experience working in child welfare, serving the adult forensic and homeless population as well as adolescents and adults experiencing first episode psychosis. His theoretical practice is derived from Motivational Interviewing, Solution-Focused Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Resilience Training and Crisis Intervention. An additional area of interest involves police social work — improving the provision and access to mental health and substance abuse first-responder training and consultation among police officers, as well as mental health services to police officers and their families.
Melissa Ward, Ph.D., MPH
Postdoctoral Fellow at CBRI
Melissa Ward, PhD, MPH, is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Community-Based Research Institute. A social epidemiologist by training, her research interests include disparities in access to substance abuse treatment and women’s health. Dr. Ward has extensive experience in health equity research and program management, and has provided technical support for numerous projects sponsored by federal and international agencies. Currently, she coordinates and manages the Research Infrastructure Core for FIU’s Research Center in Minority Institutions (FIU-RCMI). In 2019, Dr. Ward was awarded an FIU-RCMI pilot grant for a mixed-methods research project examining barriers to treatment for women with opioid use disorder. Additionally, Dr. Ward participated in the inaugural cohort of FIU’s Presidential Leadership Program. Dr. Ward also worked as a Research Analyst and Medical Simulation Manager in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. Prior to coming to FIU, Dr. Ward worked in the Department of Health Policy at George Washington University (GW) coordinating monitoring and evaluating the Medical Education Partnership Initiative, a $130 million international health program in 12 African countries administered by the Department of State, HRSA, and NIH. Dr. Ward also completed a GW Global Health Service Fellowship in the Public Health Information and GIS Unit at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.