Doctoral Fellows

Carmela Roybal

Carmela
Roybal
RWJF Doctoral Fellow, Sociology
Biography 

Carmela Roybal is a PhD candidate with the Department of Sociology. A native New Mexican, Carmela's specialization is in the sociology of health, race and ethnicity, with an emphasis on the social determinants of mental health of American Indians and Latinos.  Her current research examines substance abuse patterns and suicide among American Indians and Latinos, in which she incorporates indigenous approaches to mental health.

Research Interests 

Carmela Roybal is a PhD student with the Department of Sociology. A native New Mexican, Carmela's specialization is in the sociology of health, race and ethnicity, with an emphasis on the social determinants of mental health of American Indians and Latinos. Her current research examines substance abuse patterns and suicide among American Indias and Latinos, in which she incorporates indigenous approaches to mental health.

Joaquin Rubalcaba

Joaquin
Rubalcaba
Doctoral Fellow
Economics
Biography 

I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of Economics at the University of New Mexico, where I also maintain a research fellowship in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy. I have progressed to candidacy with training focused on labor, health, and public economics, applied econometrics, immigration, and policy analysis. My lived and professional experiences have tremendously impacted my desire to become an economist and has shaped the lens in which I formulate new research questions and structure my pedagogical strategy.

Research Interests 

As a researcher, I have investigated labor market dynamics affecting wage and labor supply as well as the unintended consequences of public policy on health quality and labor market outcomes. I am focused on furthering the economic understanding of health, labor, and public policies that gives insight into the socioeconomic disparities of minority groups. Overall, the quality and development of my research has had a direct impact on my ability to teach, influence and mentor students all levels. I believe that exposure to diversity in both thought and lived experiences are essential to the intellectual development of students and the development of economics as a profession.

Cirila Estela Vasquez Guzman

Cirila Estela
Vasquez Guzman
RWJF Center for Health Policy Dissertation Fellow
Sociology, Currently on the Job Market
Biography 

C. Estela Vasquez Guzman was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and immigrated to the United States with her parents when she was two. She became interested in better understanding the medical establishment due to her personal struggles with various health conditions. She graduated salutatorian from Benson Polytechnic High School, a vocational school where she majored in Nursing. During that time she did over 200 hours of volunteer service at Presbyterian Hospital. Vasquez Guzman graduated from Whitman College in 2010 with her B.A. in Sociology and published her first piece on racial and class health disparities. She went on to the University of New Mexico where she obtained her M.A. degree in Sociology with a focus on mental health among the children of Mexican immigrant mothers. Currently Vasquez Guzman is pursuing her Ph.D. in Sociology with a concentration on Racial/Ethnic Health Inequities and using an equity framework to develop stronger health policy promoting a more equitable healthcare system.

Research Interests 

C. Estela Vasquez Guzman research interest concerns with how the social structure influences health outcomes and processes. Her broader research agenda engages with literature on the medical profession, models of health, and inequities in the delivery of health care.

Her dissertation evaluates how medical students are trained to work with diverse populations. This research contributes to the field of sociology, specifically to the literature on the medical professions and the socialization of medical students. How do we teach social-cultural issues to future medical providers? Recent changes to the MCAT and revisions to the LCME accreditation standards have placed medical education reform as a top priority for the medical community. Vasquez Guzman utilizes a range of qualitative methods in her research, including interviews, focus groups, and case study data to analyze the emergence, adoption, and implementation of culture competency training. Her research will help the medical field to better understand how students are trained to work with diverse communities in order to foster a workforce that can effectively deliver high quality care to diverse and marginalized communities. 

Her training in health policy and sociology aims to bridge these two realms in order to contribute to the body of knowledge and build a more responsive healthcare system. For more information about my research and teaching interest, please contact me at vasqueze@unm.edu

Recent Accomplishments 

C. Estela Vasquez Guzman was recently elected as the incoming student representative on the Section on Medical Sociology Council at the American Sociological Association (ASA) and looks forward to serving in that capacity. She is excited to currently serve as the Southwest Graduate Fellow of the Scholars Strategy Network (SSN) assisting with the organization of the 3rd Annual LGBTQ Health Summit in Albuquerque, NM. Vasquez-Guzman engagement in service has strengthened her leadership and positively contributes to her professional identity.
 
Vasquez Guzman has furthermore been a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Fellow at the University of New Mexico since 2010. In the last two years she has been part of a larger research team funded by the National Institute of Health investigating medical decision making and bias. This team administered a national survey to medical students and recently traveled all over the nation to conduct case studies documenting the various medical school environments and how they facilitate the training future providers to work with diverse communities. Vasquez Guzman adds the sociological perspective to this interdisciplinary collaborative research project, which makes her a well-rounded researcher with quantitative and qualitative research experience.  

Patricia Rodriguez Espinosa, MS

Patricia
Rodriguez
RWJF Center for Health Policy Doctoral Fellow
Psychology and Public Health
Biography 

Patricia Rodriguez Espinosa, M.S., is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Psychology at the University of New Mexico and Dissertation Fellow at the RWJF Center for Health Policy. Ms. Rodriguez Espinosa is pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology as well as Masters of Public Health in the School of Medicine. A native of Habana, Cuba, Patricia moved to the United States in 2007, going on to graduate with a B.S. in Psychology in 2010 and immediately starting her doctoral degree. She received her Master’s in Science degree in Psychology in 2013 after defending her thesis with distinctions in the Department of Psychology at UNM. Patricia’s direct experiences with immigration have become the starting point for her research agenda focusing on immigrant and Latino health in the United Stated. 

Research Interests 

Ms. Rodriguez Espinosa’s research concentrates on immigrant Latinos, minority health and health disparities. Her current research investigates the interaction between cultural adaptation processes, social mobility trajectories, and social determinants of health, particularly the role of neighborhood-level factors in determining immigrant Latino health. Some of her research has also centered on discrimination, racial/ethnic identity and health, as well as the role of research orientations such as Community-Based Participatory Research in advancing Latino health and reducing the health disparities gap. Additionally, she is interested in how advanced statistical models such as growth mixture models can be applied to the study of both Latino and immigrant health over time and the Latino paradox. 

Recent Accomplishments 

Ms. Rodriguez Espinosa has recently submitted her dissertation research in application for a NIH F31 Fellowship with the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Patricia was awarded the RWJF Fellow of the Year Leadership award for the 2014-2015 academic year. She is also a recent recipient of the American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship. As part of this program, she spent a week in Washington DC at the APA and had the opportunity to advocate in Capitol Hill for programs investing in training of racial/ethnic minority researchers and practitioners. 

Yoshira D. Macias Mejia

Yoshira
Mejia
RWJF Center for Health Policy Doctoral Fellow
Political Science
Biography 

Yoshira D. Macias Mejia is a doctoral student in the department of political science. She is a first generation Mexican American and Southern California native. She graduated from California State University, Northridge with her bachelor’s degree in Political Science. She also holds a M.A. in American Politics and Public Policy from the University of New Mexico. She has been graduate intern at the New Mexico State Department of Health. Through this internship she was able to gain insight as to how health policies affect non-English language speakers in New Mexico. This informs her research because she is able to use this knowledge for her future field work in New Mexico. Her rationale for pursuing health equity issues stem primarily from personal experience with family members.

Research Interests 

Yoshira’s research interests focus on the subfields of American Politics and Comparative Politics within the larger field of Political Science. Her research examines how Latina immigrant women balance work and family life and the effects of family policies have on promoting easier work balance. Her research seeks to examine work and family balance given the current shifts in family structures. Her research centers on examining what policies the United States has passed historically and the contemporary consequences of these policies on the modern Latino immigrant family. Her methodological approach is a mixed-methods research design to gauge both individual and demographic family factors. She will contribute to the field of American Politics and Social and Health Policy through her research.

Kristina Nicole Piorkowski MA, Economics

Kristina
Piorkowski
RWJF Center for Health Policy Doctoral Fellow
Biography 

Kristina Piorkowski is a doctoral student in the Department of Economics at the University of New Mexico. She recently earned her Master’s degree in Economics in spring of 2015 and obtained her Bachelors in Economics in 2013, also at the University of New Mexico. Her undergraduate honors thesis focused on rural health in Nepal, specifically on the factors affecting birthing location decisions. Her interest in health equity issues began in high school when she decided she wanted to be a medical doctor to provide care to underserved populations. After discovering she had a squeamish stomach and, eventually, a passion for economics, she decided to use her research in health economics as a tool to analyze and inform policy to eliminate health disparities.

Research Interests 

In 2010 the CDC announced six “winnable battles” in public health, including tobacco use, obesity, and teen pregnancy. Five of what has grown to now seven battles concern attempting to alter behavioral patterns. In order to achieve these goals, detailed research is required on understudied segments of the U.S. population. Kristina’s research focuses on filling the gap in the literature about why women engage in risky health behaviors, including smoking and obesity, and why they do or do not respond to canonical economic incentives and policies. This research will contribute to the field of health economics with implications for feminist economics and public policy.

Recent Accomplishments 

RWJF Center for Health Policy Doctoral Fellowship 2013-2018

Melina Juárez

Melina
Juárez
RWJF Center for Health Policy Doctoral Fellow
Biography 

Melina was born and raised in a small, rural, farm community in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Her parents are Mexican immigrants from Guanajuato, Mexico who have inspired and pushed her to continue her education.
She received her B.A. in political science from California State University, Stanislaus and completed her M.A. in Trans-Atlantic Politics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her M.A. thesis explored South-North migration with a focus on Mexico-U.S. and Morocco-Spain immigration issues. Her thesis analyzed push-and-pull factors of immigration, immigration policies, and the politics behind reclassifying immigrants as economic refugees.
Along with her academic work, Melina is also an active part of her community. She is part of the Raza Graduate Student Association and various grassroots organizations and campaigns that tackle issues relating to immigration/immigrant rights, ethnic studies and education access, and LGBTQ issues.

Research Interests 

Her parents and family inspire Melina’s research. Growing up in an immigrant household and community, working side by side with her parents in the fields, and having to be their guide through a system that she barely understood, made her realize the important implications of ill-informed policy for immigrant communities and communities of color. 
Melina studies the effects of public policy on immigrant health, focusing on immigrants of Latin American origin and specifically on the health of women and youth. Because having immigrant status places you in a complex and subordinate position in our society, Melina believes that traditional or mainstream theories of political science are often not enough to explain the realities of the immigrant experience. She therefore utilizes theories that speak to and incorporate the lived realities of marginalized peoples, including theories of embodiment, historical trauma, Critical Race Theory, and Marxism. Her work aims to develop a critical understanding of the structures of power and privilege that inform policy and ultimately affect immigrant health. 
In addition to her work at UNM and the Robert Wood Johnson Center for Health Policy, Melina is part of an international, interdisciplinary research group studying labor gray zones. Here she focuses on analyzing the confluence of labor and immigration laws and regulations and how the convergence of these policy spheres produces sociopolitical gray zones that ultimately affect the health and well-being of Latinxs and immigrants.

Recent Accomplishments 
  • Fall 2015: Visiting Graduate Fellow Center for Poverty Research, University of California, Davis 
  • Fall 2015. “Under Siege: Mexican Immigrant Women in the United States,” in Gerard Gomez and Donna Kesselman, Dossier: Femmes au travail dans les Ameriques, Presses Universitaires de Provence.
  • Summer 2015: Fund for Latino Scholarship Recipient
  • Summer 2015: “Transgender Rights and Communities of Color.” Politics of Color blog, Journal of Race, Ethnicity, & Politics.

Veronica Salinas

Veronica
Salinas
RWJF Center for Heath Policy Doctoral Fellow
505 277-5304
Biography 

Ms. Salinas is a doctoral student in the department of economics.

Angelina González-Aller

Angelina
González-Aller
RWJF Center for Health Policy Doctoral Fellow
505 272-5098
Biography 

Angelina is a doctoral student in political science. She obtained her bachelor's degree from the University of New Mexico, graduating summa cum laude in political science. Angelina has also studied in universities in both Spain and Mexico, where she obtained a second degree in Spanish.

Research Interests 

Angelina is a doctoral student in political science. She obtained her bachelor's degree from the University of New Mexico, graduating summa cum laude in political science. Angelina has also studied in universities in both Spain and Mexico, where she obtained a second degree in Spanish. During her undergraduate career Angelina completed the Ronald E. McNair scholars program and interned for the United States Congress in Washington D.C. While in Washington, Angelina completed extensive research in the field of political science and resolved to continue her education at the graduate level. A native New Mexican, Angelina grew up assisting her parents with the care of her special needs sister, an experience that drove her to adopt the study of health policy. As a scholar of American government Angelina focuses on the relationship between representation of racial and ethnic minorities and public policy.

Alma Angelica Hernandez

Alma Angelica
Hernandez
RWJF Center for Health Policy Doctoral Fellow
Curriculum Vitae: 
Biography 

Alma Angelica Hernandez was born in El Paso, TX, but lived in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico until the age of 10. Since, Alma has resided in the United States but commutes between Ciudad Juárez and El Paso frequently. Alma has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Texas at El Paso and will be receiving her Masters Degree in Sociology in May of 2011. 
Research Interests 

Alma Angelica Hernandez was born in El Paso, TX, but lived in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico until the age of 10. Since, Alma has resided in the United States but commutes between Ciudad Juárez and El Paso frequently.  Alma has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Texas at El Paso and will be receiving her Masters Degree in Sociology in May of 2011. Since April of 2009, she has received three research grants from the Hispanic Health Disparities Research Center Student Pilot Project. She was also published at Family and Community Health journal. In addition she has been presenting for the Southwestern Social Science Association’s Annual meetings since 2008, and will be attending a roundtable discussion at the American Sociological Association in August of 2011 to discuss the findings of her thesis. Alma has also been accepted to the Sociology PhD program at the University of New Mexico with a fellowship with The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Center for Health Policy at UNM.

 

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