We are delighted to welcome Assistant Professor Violeta Rodriguez to the Department of Psychology faculty as of Fall 2023! Dr. Rodriguez is primarily affiliated with the Clinical-Community area.
Can you briefly share your academic and professional background that led you to the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign?
I am a clinical psychologist - I completed my PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Georgia (UGA), and my predoctoral internship at the University of Illinois at Chicago. At UGA, I was a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow (2018-2021) from the National Academies of Science, Medicine, and Engineering, received a Dissertation R36 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (2021-2023), and a PEO Scholar Award (2022). I also completed a master's in Research, Measurement, and Education at the University of Miami (UM), and my bachelor's in Psychology at Florida International University. My research at UGA focused on the psychometrics of parenting and family constructs, with an emphasis on making parenting and family measures more representative of diverse families, whereas my research at UM was focused on HIV prevention and treatment in a global health context.
Looking ahead, what do you hope to achieve during your time at UIUC's Department of Psychology? Are there any long-term goals you're aiming for?
I am dedicated to addressing the inadequate and inaccessible mental health care of minoritized youth and their families (e.g., racially and ethnically minoritized families, LGBTQIA+ families, families disproportionately affected by chronic illness). My research program aims to achieve three major aims, with the goal of improving health outcomes for these underserved populations. Firstly, I strive to gain a better understanding of the causal and perpetuating factors contributing to health disparities among youth and their parents in understudied, underserved, and underprivileged groups. By identifying these factors, we can develop targeted interventions to address the unique challenges faced by these populations. Secondly, we are committed to improving assessment methods used to evaluate health outcomes and predictors (e.g., parenting) in parents and youth, ensuring their validity across different cultural, research, and clinical contexts. Through the development of culturally sensitive and contextually appropriate assessment tools, we aim to improve the accuracy of how we assess various factors (e.g., parenting) in research and interventions. Lastly, I am interested in the translation of evidence-based health promotion strategies and interventions into underserved settings to promote health equity. These are aims I am excited to pursue at UIUC's Department of Psychology.
On a personal note, what do you enjoy doing outside of your academic and professional life? Any hobbies, interests, or experiences you'd like to share?
I enjoy cooking, running, and weightlifting.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with the department and the UIUC community?
I am very happy to be here!