HEALTH–FAST Scholars are Postdoctoral Fellows, Early Stage Investigators, and Doctoral Scholars, committed to conducting research
focused on mitigating alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD) use and the chronic health conditions that result.
The goal of the HEALTH–FAST Program is to train
the next generation of talented ATOD researchers, particularly scholars from groups traditionally underrepresented in or historically excluded from
Dr. Cassidy LoParco is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. Her research is devoted to understanding the etiology of youth and young adult alcohol, cannabis, and novel/new psychoactive substance (e.g., Delta-8 THC, kratom) use to inform policy to reduce the population impact of these substances, particularly among disproportionately impacted populations. In her free time, she enjoys reading, embroidery, and hiking.
Dr. Kumaraswamy Naidu Chitrala is an Assistant professor in Biotechnology, Department of Engineering Technology at the University of Houston. His research mainly focuses on Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Statistical Genetics, Epidemiology, Epigenetics, Cancer Biology, Health Disparities, Neurological Disorders, and Aging with a special focus on ATOD. Outside of work, he enjoys exploring new restaurants, traveling and spending time with his family, and gardening.
Dr. Lorra Garey is a research assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Houston. Her research focuses on developing and testing culturally sensitive and appropriate mobile health interventions for mental health and addiction. The goal of her program of work is to improve access to and engagement with effective interventions, improve overall quality of life, and reduce health disparities among marginalized and underserved populations. In her free time, Dr. Garey enjoys traveling, live music, camping, and spending time with his family and friends.
Dr. Mai-Ly Steers is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at Duquesne University and an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Houston. As an applied social psychologist, she has developed two parallel research trajectories in the addictions field: 1) examining psychosocial factors, particularly social norms, in relation to drinking, and 2) exploring the influences of social media on health and well-being. These two lines of research stem from her educational background in psychology, health, and communication studies. Her current research involves systematically integrating her two complementary interests in addictions and social media use in relation to health and well-being into a programmatic line of research dedicated to developing novel interventions, targeting at-risk drinkers who are also avid social media users. During her free time, she enjoys spending quality time with her family, traveling, writing blog posts for Psychology Today, and listening to audiobooks.
Gowri Kalyani, B.S.
Gowri Kalyani is a rising second year student at the University of Houston College of Pharmacy. I was born in Englewood, Colorado and lived there until my junior year of high school before moving to Austin, Texas. I completed my B.S. in Healthcare Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas before beginning my Doctor of Pharmacy at the University of Houston College of Pharmacy. My research interest is the mechanisms of action of medications prescribed to help alcohol and drug addiction. I also want to understand the formulation science behind these medications and how that impacts physicians to prescribe one over another for patients struggling with addiction. In my free time, I enjoy reading, cooking, outdoor activities, and spending time with family and friends.
Christina Segura, B.S.
Chrisitina Segura is a first-year doctoral student working under the mentorship of Dr. Blake Allan and a HEALTH-FAST doctoral scholar at the University of Houston. I received my B.S. in corporate communication from Lamar University and started my M. Ed. in counseling at the University of Houston, which I plan to complete during my doctoral training. As a McNair scholar at Lamar, I established an interest in environmental stress, how trauma relates to mental health, and the process of resilience, which continue to be my primary clinical interests. My research interests broadly include access to meaningful and fulfilling work and equity in higher education and the workforce. I am further interested in how work precarity affects working mothers, particularly the intersections of work precarity, substance use, and health disparities among Hispanic/Latina mothers. In my free time, I love spending quality time with my family and friends, running and working out, and trying new restaurants in the Houston area. Feel free to reach out to me at: email@example.com
Terra Ousely, M.Ed.
Terra Ousley is a first year doctoral student in the counseling psychology program at the University of Houston, working with Dr. Ezemenari Obasi. I earned my B.S. in psychology from Texas A&M University-Commerce and my M.Ed. in educational psychology and counselor education from The University of Texas at Austin. I have worked in various settings including group private practice, a university/research hospital trauma therapy clinic, and college settings. My primary research interests include investigating the biopsychosocial factors that impact health outcomes for systemically marginalized populations managing chronic conditions like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family or being outdoors with my dog Blue.