The University of Texas at Austin Latino Research Initiative

Research Team

Laura DelfausseLaura Delfausse | Health Educator

Laura Delfausse is the Health Educator for the Healthy Frio Project at The University of Texas at Austin. She has experience in community nutrition, medical nutrition therapy and clinical research. She holds a M.S. from Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA and a B.A. from Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL. Her graduate school research focused on childhood obesity and she just completed a dairy and blood pressure research project in the Kinesiology and Health Education Department at The University of Texas at Austin. Laura is a registered and licensed dietitian, and believes that a balanced lifestyle is the key to achieving lifelong health.

Vanessa ErrisurizVanessa Errisuriz | Research Associate

Vanessa Errisuriz is a Research Associate with the Latino Research Institute at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Errisuriz’s research focuses on using a socioecological-based approach to identify significant contributors to child obesity, rural health disparities, and program implementation. She has extensive training in the assessment of physical activity and dietary behaviors as well as a broad background in psychology, with knowledge to assess theoretically-related constructs associated with health behaviors and program implementation. Currently, Dr. Errisuriz serves as project coordinator for two, NIH-funded R01s entitled. “Healthy Frio: A Rural Partnership to Advance Latino Obesity Research” and “¡Miranos! Look at Us, We are Healthy”, both of which focus on providing theoretically-based, culturally competent health interventions to Latino families. She received her Ph.D. in Health Behavior and Health Education from The University of Texas at Austin, a M.A. in Health Psychology from Texas State University - San Marcos, and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Eva González VillanuevaEva González Villanueva | Research Associate

Eva González Villanueva is a bilingual, research associate at the Latino Research Institute with over five years of experience in data collection and project management. Eva is a current dual-degree, graduate student working towards a Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) at the University of Texas at Austin, alongside a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) from UTHealth School of Public Health. Eva is committed to working with underserved populations using a socio-ecological framework, and her research interests intersect with child and adolescent mental health, sleep health; cultural adaptation of evidence-based interventions (with an emphasis on immigrant and Latino populations), and health communication. Eva also holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. 

Cristina Leal | Measurement Coordinator, Healthy Rural TX 

Christina Leal obtained her Bachelor's and Master's degree from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Her educational background is concentrated in direct practice with Latino individuals, families, and groups. Her interests are increasing mental health awareness and increasing knowledge of mental health resources to reduce the stigma associated with mental health in the Rio Grande Valley. She has experience in engaging, assessing, intervening, and evaluating individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities in social service agencies. She was formerly a Research Associate in the Entre Familia project which aims at increasing HPV vaccination among Hispanic adolescents and young adults.

Desiree Ledet | Senior Grants and Contracts Specialist

Desireé Ledet is a Senior Grants & Contracts Specialist at the Latino Research Institute at the University of Texas at Austin. She has more than ten years of experience in the advanced management of federal and charitable grants in the public and nonprofit sectors. She provides pre-award and post-award management for the LRI’s research team and Data Services Group. Desireé holds a Master’s in Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at UT and dual B.A.s in International Studies and Spanish from Texas A&M University in College Station. She is also a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, specializing in community and environmental health in Northern Peru from 2005-2008. She is currently studying to become a Certified Research Administrator and aspires to become a Project Management Professional (PMP).

Marisol McDanielMarisol McDaniel | Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Marisol McDaniel is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow (T32) at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin promoting equity in cardiovascular disease research. Her research interests include the built environment, water and food access, and health equity. She has experience with implementing and evaluating family healthy lifestyle interventions and managing eHealth applications, and is involved in several of the Latino Research Institute’s projects, including Health4Kids, ELCIR, and Healthy Frio. Dr. McDaniel graduated with a Dr.P.H. in Community Health Practice from the UT School of Public Health. She holds a M.P.H. degree from the UT School of Public Health and a B.A. from Rice University. She is interested in how the built environment and the perception of the built environment may lead to health disparities among ethnic minorities and ways to implement sustainable positive changes in the built environment through community-based participatory strategies.

Fran Peña| Administrative Program Coordinator
Jamie Turcios-VillaltaJamie Turcios-Villalta | Data Collection Coordinator, Healthy Rural TX

Jamie is a first-generation student who completed her undergraduate degree in Health and Society in December 2020. She was born in Canada and immigrated to the United States with her Salvadoran parents at the age of two. She is an immigration activist passionate about making higher education more accessible to undocumented students. Her research interests include understanding the connection between eating disorders and trauma among people of color, the undocumented movement, healing and identity, and identifying pathways linking racial discrimination and health outcomes. Her ultimate goal is to apply human-centered design framework to advance solutions to challenge today’s education and health inequities.

Alice VillatoroAlice Villatoro | Research Assistant Professor

Alice Villatoro is a Research Scientist at the Latino Research Institute at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Villatoro’s research centers on understanding the psychosocial, cultural, and attitudinal factors that influence racial/ethnic disparities in mental health care access and utilization. Her approach to this research is multidisciplinary in that it fuses theory-driven basic research common in health policy, psychology, and sociology with an applied population health orientation that is the hallmark of public health. As a result, Dr. Villatoro’s work identifies significant points of intervention for improving help-seeking behaviors among underserved populations and reducing disparities in mental health treatment. Dr. Villatoro has extensive experience with analyzing large epidemiologic data sets as well as running and managing longitudinal research studies. She received her Ph.D. in Health Services with a cognate in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles and completed her postdoctoral training in Psychiatric Epidemiology at Columbia University in the City of New York.

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    The University of Texas at Austin
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    GWB 2.102
    Austin, Texas 78712