Melissa Avila


Doctoral Student (on internship at Patton State Hospital)

Home department:

VCU Department of Psychology

Doctoral program:

Clinical Psychology

Concentration: Behavioral Medicine

Faculty adviser:

Rosalie Corona, Ph.D.

I completed my bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) and joined the clinical psychology program at VCU in 2016. I am interested in addiction and community-based research with underrepresented populations or specific individuals with a history of drug abuse in order to (1) pinpoint behavioral health resources that can be used to promote health, and (2) determine what types of treatment methods and insulating factors—especially how illness attitudes or use of health services—can reduce health disparities and promote positive resilience mechanisms within mixed-status/generational families. I am also interested in cultural factors (i.e., machismo, familismo, etc.), acculturation processes, preventive interventions and the integration of cultural/behavioral health strategies in primary care. In the future, I would also like to translate my graduate work into informed health policy and continue to conduct research internationally. In addition, I am the current study coordinator for Drs. Rosalie Corona and Shelby McDonald’s community engagement project.