Lab Members

Click on a lab member's name to learn more about them.

Principal Investigator
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  • Steven Safren, Ph.D.

    S‌teven Safren, Ph.D., ABPPDr. Steven Safren

    I joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Miami in the Fall of 2015 after 18 years working in the Harvard Medical School system at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), where I was the founding Director of the current Behavioral Medicine Service and track Director of the Behavioral Medicine Internship track. During this time I was also an Affiliated Investigator at Fenway Health where I led studies related to HIV prevention for men who have sex with men (MSM). I am a clinical health psychologist with expertise in health-related behavior change and a particular focus on psychosocial (mental health and substance use) comorbidities related to HIV prevention and treatment in both domestic and international settings. I have been PI or protocol chair of 12 federally funded studies (via NIMH, NIDA, and NIAID), and, in addition to studies where I am PI, I have regularly served as co-PI, co-investigator, or mentor on studies related to HIV prevention and treatment.

    I work with other medical illnesses, and I work on cognitive behavioral approaches to managing adult and adolescent ADHD. My international studies have been via the NIAID-funded AIDS networks (i.e. HIV Prevention Trials Network - HPTN, and the AIDS Clinical Trials Network -ACTG), which span multiple countries, via my own NIH-funded studies, and via the work of my mentees K and R level funded studies in India and Africa. Much of my work on HIV focuses on prevention and treatment with men who have sex with men (MSM), though I have worked extensively with other populations including individuals with depression and those who have struggled with substance use disorders. Finally, during my time at MGH, I worked on studies of cognitive-behavioral therapy for ADHD in adulthood and adolescence.

    Currently, my funded work includes a preliminary study involving treating syndemics (intertwined psychosocial problems such as depression, childhood sexual abuse, substance use, interpersonal violence) in HIV-infected individuals with uncontrolled virus, a study on HIV prevention in men who have sex with men in two sites in India, and an effectiveness study on treating depression and improving adherence in HIV-infected individuals in South Africa who have failed first line antiretroviral therapy. Anticipated future studies, based on prior collaborative pilot work, involve pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) adherence in high risk MSM, interventions to reduce crystal meth and increase safer sex (condoms or PrEP) in MSM who use crystal meth, and additional studies addressing syndemics in individuals with HIV and uncontrolled virus.

    Pronouns: he/him/his

    For my full CV (as of November 2019), please click: CV - Dr. Steven Safren

Clinical Assistant Professor
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  • Marc Puccinelli, Ph.D.‌

    Marc Puccinelli, Ph.D.‌marc headshot

    Clinical Assistant Professor

    Marc earned his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Miami in 2017, prior to joining the HPAC lab as a post-doctoral researcher. Marc also earned his M.Ed. from the University of Miami. His clinical and research interests include addressing mental and physical health disparities by improving the efficacy and effectiveness of manualized interventions. Marc is also interested in cultural factors and comorbidities that may impact treatment response among underserved and minority populations. Prior to and during his graduate training, Marc worked on a number of clinical trials investigating experimental family therapy models for adolescent drug abusers. His dissertation focused on one of these models, and explored the treatment and moderator effects of acculturation and acculturative stress among Hispanic participants in South Florida. His clinical experience includes counseling newly diagnosed cancer patients at the Cancer Support Community, and conducting child and adolescent assessments and intervention at the Mailman Center for Child Development. Marc also completed practica training and a subsequent doctoral internship at the Miami VA medical center in the clinical health psychology track.

    Pronouns: he/him/his

Assistant Professor
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  • Audrey Harkness, Ph.D.

    Audrey Harkness, Ph.D.Audrey Harkness, Ph.D

    Assistant Professor

    School of Nursing and Health Sciences (SONHS)

    Audrey completed her postdoctoral fellowship in the HPAC lab at the University of Miami. Prior to this, she earned her Ph.D. inCounseling, Clinical, and School Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2016. Audrey is currently a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, Prevention Science and Community Health Division, as well as a member of the HPAC lab. Overall, her work is focused on promoting positive mental and physical health for sexual and gender minorityindividuals and communities. She has worked as a project director for the Miami site of the ESTEEM project for the past three years, and also collaborates on other ongoing HIV-prevention and treatment research in the HPAC lab and at UM. She is also beginning a new line of research which seeks to better understand address barriers and facilitators to engaging Latino sexual minority men in HIV-prevention (i.e., HIV testing, PrEP, PEP) and behavioral health services.

    Pronouns: she/her/hers

Graduate Students
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  • Noelle A. Mendez, M.S.

    Noelle A. Mendez, M.S.Noelle A. Mendez

    Fifth-Year Graduate Student

    Noelle is a fifth-year graduate student in the Health Track of the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program. She graduated from the University of Miami with a B.A. double majoring in Psychology and Criminology in 2015. During her undergraduate career, she worked as a Research Assistant in the Program for Anxiety, Stress, & OCD under the direction of Dr. Kiara Timpano where she did a senior honors thesis on how certain cognitive control factors relate to social anxiety. After graduating, she served as the Lab Manager in the Power, Women, & Relationships Lab under the direction of Dr. Asia Eaton at Florida International University. She then served as a Research Associate for the HPAC lab for two years before beginning in the doctorate program. She is broadly interested in health psychology, with a particular interest in HIV prevention and risk reduction among at-risk populations.

    Pronouns: she/her/hers

  • Jasmyn Sanders‌, M.S.

    Jasmyn Sanders‌, M.S.Jasmyn Sanders‌

    Third-Year Graduate Student

    Jasmyn is a third-year graduate student in the Health Track of the Clinical Psychology Ph.D.program. She earned a B.S. in Psychology from Florida A&M University in 2014. After graduating from FAMU, she volunteered as a hotline operator for Big Bend 2-1-1 and Lifeline and worked as a substitute teacher in Tallahassee, FL, for two years. In 2016, she entered an NIH-funded PREP (Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program) fellowship at IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis) in the Impulsivity Neuroscience laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. Melissa Cyders. There, her research focused on the role of the UPPS-P model of impulsivity in sexual risk behaviors; the relationship between sexual abuse and substance use in detained youth; and risks among victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Currently, she is interested in investigating how substance use, previous trauma, and discrimination may impact sexual risk taking and health outcomes, particularly among MSM (men who have sex with men) and people of color.

    Pronouns: she/her/hers

  • Elliott Weinstein, MPH, M.S.

    Elliott Weinstein, MPH, M.S. 

    Fifth-Year Graduate Student

    weinstein headshot

    Elliott is a fifth-year graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Health Psychology with a concentration in quantitative analysis at the University of Miami. He graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Art History and Psychology from Boston University's Kilachand Honors College and completed his Masters in Public Health from Boston University in 2017. At HPAC, Elliott serves as a study therapist for the IMPACT, TRIDENT, and Syndemics studies, and he is a member of the UM Psychology Department's Graduate Student Organization and Diversity and Equity Committee. Elliott is also a recipient of the 2023-2024 UM Dissertation Fellowship to pursue his dissertation, exploring the role of aging-related syndemic conditions on HIV risk and quality of life among older sexual minority men living in Florida. More broadly, Elliott's current research interests include health psychology, the intersection of HIV-aging-LGBTQ health, risk reduction interventions among high-risk populations, and promoting health equity in the social sciences. Additionally, Elliott completed clinical practica at the UM Psychological Services Center, Bruce Carter Miami VA Hospital, and the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. He also serves as a clinical peer supervisor and coach on the OurRelationship program.

    Pronouns: he/him/his

  • Norik Kirakosian, B.S.

  • Olivia Chen, M.S.

    olivia headshotOlivia Chen, M.S.

    Third-Year Graduate Student

    Olivia is a third-year graduate student in the Health Track of the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program. She received her B.S. in Statistics and Psychology with the Highest Honors and a minor in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. Before joining UM, she worked with individuals with sickle cell disease at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland, which rendered her experiences and perspectives in working with minoritized individuals living with chronic illness. Olivia is very passionate about addressing health disparities and improving health-related outcomes in marginalized communities. Her research focus includes examining various factors impacting healthcare utilization. Her long-term goal is to explore the convergence of health-related stigma and other psychosocial adversities (low SES, ACEs, IPV, etc.) across the intersections of health and other forms of social inequalities among people living with or at risk for HIV.

    Pronouns: she/her/hers

  • Juan Esquivel, MSPH

    Juan Esquivel, MSPH.

    First-Year Graduate Student

    juan esquivel head shot
    Juan Alberto is a first-year graduate student pursuing his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology-Health Major Area of study with an intended concentration in quantitative analysis at the University of Miami. He graduated with a B.A in History from the University of Utah in 2020 and completed his Master of Science in Public Health from the University of Utah in 2022. At HPAC, Juan serves as coordinator on the Life-Steps study. Juan's current research interests are in health psychology, HIV prevention and adherence with a special focus on Spanish speaking populations. He also wants to look at the intersection between HIV, stigma, religion, and family/support systems for at risk men who have sex with men. 
    Pronouns: he/him/his

  • Bharat Bharat, M.A.

    bharat headshotBharat is a first-year graduate student in the Health Track of the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program. He graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an M.A. in Psychological Sciences and a graduate certificate in Data Analysis. His earned his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University with a concentration in Technology Innovation. Before joining the University of Miami, Bharat worked in several research labs at USF, where he focused on exploring the syndemic effect of COVID-19 on youth living with HIV in Kenya through a biopsychosocial lens. He has also worked with Black and Latinx gay/bi/queer/same-gender loving men enrolled in the Tampa Bay version of the Stigma-reduction through Education, Empowerment, and Research (SEERs) study, which was originally implemented in Kenya. Bharat’s experiences in both quantitative and qualitative research methods have allowed him to appreciate the significance of being a mixed methods scholar. His research interests revolve around LGBTQ+ mental health, resilience, intersectionality, implementation science, and developing new interventions aimed at preventing HIV and bolstering resilience in marginalized communities, especially for queer people of color. He is also a passionate advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and aims to help pass legislation banning sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts (commonly known as conversion “therapy”) for LGBTQ+ youth in Florida and beyond.


    Pronouns: he/him/his

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  • Kima Bormey, B.A.

    Kima Bormey, B.A.

    Research Associate

    Kima headshot

    Kima graduated from the University of Miami in 2022 with a B.A. in Psychology and Criminology.  As an undergraduate student, Kima served as a research assistant where they co-authored a final report on the effectiveness of South Florida’s re-entry court (CARE). In addition, her interest in health services for marginalized populations led to the presentation of her own research, “A Landscape Analysis of Re-Entry Services for Formerly Incarcerated People with Substance Use”. Kima is currently interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a neuropsychology concentration to investigate health disparities within underserved communities.                                                                           


    Pronouns: all/any 

  • Alexandra Porras, B.A.

    Alexandra Porras, B.A.

    Research Associate

    Pronouns: she/her/hers

  • Hanna Vasconcello, B.A.

    Hanna Vasconcello, B.A.

    Research Associate

    Pronouns: she/her/hers

  • Alex Moro, B.A.

    Alex Moro, B.A.

    Community Outreach Coordinator‌

    Alex graduated from New York University in 2020 with a B.A in Psychology and a minor in Philosophy. After graduating, Alex started working at Latinos Salud in Miami Beach as a Test Counselor and PrEP Navigator, and was then promoted to Health and Culture Specialist. Here he was able to realize his passion for working with sexual and gender minority populations.

    Alex is interested in pursuing a career as a Physician's Assistant, wanting to work in mental health, and continuing to with sexual and gender minority populations.

    Pronouns: he/him/his

  • Kaitlyn Carino, B.S.

    Kaitlyn Carino, B.S.

    Part-Time Research Associate

    Kaitlyn graduated from the University of Miami in December 2022 with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Nutrition and minors in Psychology, Public Health, and Chemistry. She has been working with HPAC for the last 2 years as an Undergraduate Research Assistant and now as a part-time RA. Kaitlyn has a passion for advocating for mental health awareness, education, and de-stigmatization and was an active member and 2x Executive Member of UMiami's Counseling Outreach Peer Education (COPE). Her other passions include health equity, medicine, and working with minority and vulnerable populations. She is interested in pursuing a career in medicine and would like to continue to advocate for health equity in the future while practicing medicine from a holistic, public health point of view. 


    Pronouns: she/her/hers

Lab Collaborators
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  • Daniel HA Maya, B.S.‌‌‌

    Daniel HA Maya, B.S.‌‌‌

    Research Associate

    Dan head shot

    Daniel completed his B.S. in Psychology at the University of Colorado Denver in 2019. He worked as a Research Associate for the HPAC Lab from 2019-2021 and the REACH Equity Team from 2021-2023. Since then, he has transitioned to the Division of Biostatistics at the University of Miami, where his work still focuses on HIV prevention and treatment among sexual and gender minorities. Daniel is interested in pursuing a career in biostatistics to improve his data science skills and further contribute to HIV prevention and treatment research.

    Pronouns: he/him/his

  • Rosana Smith-Alvarez, B.A.

    Rosana Smith-Alvarez Chinigo, M.S. Ed.

    Manager, Research Support

    Rosana headshot

    Rosana is a graduate from the University of Miami (2017, B.A. in Psychology; 2023, M.S. Ed in Mental Health Counseling). She worked as a Research Associate in HPAC Lab from 2017-2020. Rosana is now working as the Manager of Research Support of CHARM’s Administrative Core, as well as a liaison between the CHARM and HPAC teams. Rosana has a particular interest in HIV prevention and care, social determinants of health, and mental health disparities among sexual, gender, racial and ethnic minority populations. Rosana also works with the HPAC Lab as a study therapist and independent assessor on various studies.

    Pronouns: she/her/hers

  • Kyle J. Self, B.S

    Study Therapist and Neuropsychological Assessor

    Kyle is a doctoral candidate in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Miami and has collaborated with the HPAC Lab since 2022. His work as a Study Therapist involves Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Adherence and Depression (CBT-AD) on the TRIDENT study and group-based Cognitive Behavioral Stress Management (CBSM) on the SMARTManage study. He also conducts psychodiagnostic assessments and neuropsychological testing with TRIDENT participants.

Lab Alum
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  • Lab Alum

    Ivan Ivardic, M.S. 

    Brooke G. Rogers, Ph.D.

    Christopher Albright, B.S.

    Tomás Delgado Jr., B.A.‌‌‌

    Daniel Mayo, B.S.

    Joey Waknin, B.A

    Tiffany R. Glynn, Ph.D.

    Jasper S. Lee‌, Ph.D.

    Satyanand Satyanarayana, J.D.‌‌‌‌

    Megan Jones, MPH

    Nicolas Cardenas, B.S.