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The Research Enhancing Access to Culturally Informed Mental Health Services (REACH) Laboratory, located in the Department of Psychological Science at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, is co-directed by Juventino Hernandez Rodriguez, PhD and Bianca T Villalobos, PhD.


Meet ABCT’s Featured Lab

The Research Enhancing Access to Culturally Informed Mental Health Services (REACH) Laboratory, located in the Department of Psychological Science at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, is co-directed by Juventino Hernandez Rodriguez, PhD and Bianca T Villalobos, PhD.



Trainee Lab Members


We asked each of the REACH Lab student/trainee members:

  1. What is your area of research interest?
  2. How has ABCT been helpful to you?
  3. If a student were thinking about joining ABCT, what activities would you recommend they get involved in?


Rebeca “Becky” Zapata, B.A.

  1. Broadly, I am interested in Latinx mental health. More specifically, I am focused on research regarding discrimination and prejudice and its impact on the wellbeing of Latinx youth.


Miriam Ortiz, B.S.

  1. I am interested in mental health disparities that affect ethnic minorities and the influence of cultural values on mental health, especially in Latinx and immigrant communities.


Sandra “Mariely” Estrada Gonzalez, B.A.

  1.  I’m interested in understanding and addressing mental health disparities by developing interventions that are evidence-based, transportable, culturally informed, and effectively implemented in various community settings that benefit individuals with immigrant and linguistic minority backgrounds. I’m particularly interested in developing these interventions for survivors of violence (e.g., immigration trauma, domestic violence, human trafficking).
  2. Being a member of ABCT has allowed me to network, present my research, learn through its publications, and make a difference with the organization through the Student Membership Committee.
  3. I would recommend getting involved in the Student Membership Committee. Through the committee, you can help develop resources and make a change. Additionally, going to conferences, presenting research, and getting involved in a SIG are other ways you can benefit from ABCT. You can also attend webinars, read ABCT journals, and follow ABCT on social media.


Christina Logan, M.A.

  1. My main research interests include understanding the etiology, maintenance, and treatment of anxiety, depression, somatic, and related disorders in children, adolescents, and young adults, with a specific interest in how culture and ethnicity contribute to the risk and protection of these disorders. In addition, I am interested in cross-cultural and cross-ethnic research. In the future, I hope to develop culturally sensitive and culturally appropriate interventions for such disorders among underrepresented and underserved communities.
  2. As a new member, ABCT has helped me integrate knowledge from research into therapeutic practice.
  3. If you are presenting or simply attending an ABCT convention, I would recommend attending any poster sessions, symposiums, and panel discussions that pique your interest. Engaging in lively discussion and sharing ideas can be quite fun!


Ruby Reyes, B.A.

  1. My primary research interest is the disparities in receiving mental health services for Latinx undocumented and immigrant populations.



Joceline Mena Teran, B.S.

  1. I am primarily interested in exploring parent-child relationships, psychological stress, and internalizing problems, with a focus on Latinx youth.


Juventino Hernandez Rodriguez, Ph.D., and ​​Bianca T Villalobos, Ph.D.


Dr. Juventino Hernandez Rodriguez and Dr. Bianca Villalobos are bilingual (English-Spanish) Licensed Psychologists and Assistant Professors in the Department of Psychological Science at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Dr. Hernandez Rodriguez received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Arkansas in 2018 and completed his clinical internship at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). Dr. Villalobos received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Arkansas in 2017 and completed her clinical internship at Yale University. Both completed postdoctoral fellowships at MUSC in mental health disparities among trauma-exposed youth.


The overall aim of the REACH lab is to increase access to evidence-based and culturally sensitive mental health services to underserved populations, with a particular emphasis on Latinxs. We actively collaborate with community partners to build programs that can help reduce mental health disparities and improve the delivery of mental health services. Our work focuses on developing, implementing, and evaluating community- and school-based prevention and intervention programs for traditionally underserved youth and families. In addition, we examine cultural and structural barriers to mental health services and how service delivery models like telehealth and primary care behavioral health can increase access.


How long have you been a member of ABCT?

Drs. Hernandez Rodriguez and Villalobos have been members of ABCT since 2013.


How often and why do you attend the ABCT convention?

Dr. Hernandez Rodriguez: I try to attend ABCT every year. It is a great place to learn, connect with old friends and colleagues, and generate new ideas and collaborations.

Dr. Villalobos: I attended frequently when I was a graduate student up until the pandemic. I’m happy to come back in-person to reconnect with others and hear about new advancements in interventions and implementation strategies.


How do you stay current with developments in the field?

Dr. Hernandez Rodriguez: I think my job requires me to stay abreast of new developments in the field. I teach and mentor graduate students, conduct research, provide clinical supervision, deliver trainings and workshops, and engage in service to the profession and public. Attending conferences, like ABCT, and having leadership roles within organizations also help me stay current.

Dr. Villalobos: For me, teaching courses like ethics and adult psychopathology, as well as providing clinical supervision, really help me stay current with the literature since I update my syllabi every year with new readings. Being a member of a professional organization like ABCT has also helped me stay abreast of new policy, research, and practice issues because colleagues can share information with one another through scheduled webinars, in-depth workshops, and listserve emails.


How has ABCT helped you/your lab professionally?

Dr. Hernandez Rodriguez: ABCT has helped me and my lab network and meet professionals with similar research interests. The SIGs have been particularly rewarding experiences as it provides students opportunities to present their research, connect with others, and be involved. In fact, I met my first PhD student during the ABCT SIG Expo!

Dr. Villalobos: ABCT conferences have allowed us to network with other colleagues that we can form collaborations with and recruit doctoral applicants to our lab. We attended the PhD program meet and greet, which is a great opportunity to put a face to a name. In addition, I have published a couple of articles in the Behavior Therapist, which has also been a great resource for staying current with the literature in my field.


Does your lab have any traditions? Does your lab do anything together for fun?

Our lab is fairly new (established in 2019), so we are still building traditions. Right now, we have end-of-the-semester lab parties where we play games, eat homemade food, and review accomplishments.


What advice would you give prospective trainees?

Dr. Hernandez Rodriguez: It is important to find a supportive mentor. A mentor who knows the field can help students learn the hidden curriculum, prepare for milestones, and stay motivated. Mentors can also help students find their professional identity and introduce new perspectives. This advice is particularly true for first-generation and Latinx college students as some may feel lost in the process – I know I did when I was an undergrad! It wasn’t until I joined my first lab and found supportive graduate students and faculty who were Latino that I felt I could achieve my goals.

Dr. Villalobos: Ask questions, be curious, and don’t be afraid to also show your expertise in an area. Demonstrating that intellectual curiosity stimulates wonderful discussions about research and inspires new ideas. For prospective students applying to our lab, you don’t have to be Latinx to want to research Latinx health disparities; allies are vital to furthering our mission to reduce disparities.

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