RWJF Center for Health Policy at UNM

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Justina Avila, M.A.

Psychology Doctoral Student
505 277-4121
Curriculum Vitae: 

Justina is a first year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at UNM. She received her M.A. in Clinical Psychology and B.A. in Psychology from California State University Northridge. Prior to attending UNM, she was involved in health disparities research as a scholar for the NIH-funded Research Infrastructure in Minority Institutions (RIMI), which prompted her interest in the relationship between lack of access to health and educational resources and cognitive health disparities in understudied minority groups. Justina currently works at the UNMH Center for Neuropsychological Services, providing cognitive assessment services to patients from diverse backgrounds. Her past and recent experiences continue to influence her interest in elucidating the role of cultural factors as determinants of cognitive health outcomes and the influence of culture on the measurement of these outcomes.

Research Interests 

Her current research interests involve examining culture and cognitive test performance in understudied minority groups and addressing health disparities through the development of culturally valid assessments and techniques. Using advanced statistical modeling techniques, she intends to assess the degree to which factors such as SES, quality of education, and acculturation influence test performance and cognitive outcomes. Her findings have the potential to impact the field of clinical neuropsychology, particularly in regard to test development and the training of providers working with diverse populations. Furthermore, she intends to explore the implications of her research regarding educational and health care policy.

Recent Accomplishments 

In 2013, after completing her Master’s thesis project, Justina received the Donald Butler Quantitative Research Award for completing outstanding graduate-level research utilizing advanced quantitative methods of data analysis. In 2015 Justina received the Jose Martin Rodriguez Travel Award, which is given to a psychology graduate student who has been selected to present at a national conference.