From left, Roberto Aguilar; Valerie Broderick; Carmen Guzman-Martinez;
Scott Peters; Josephine Vasquez; Sarah Farris; and STIMHR Director Raymond Garza

Graduate students awarded mental health grants

By Chris Johnson
Culture and Policy Institute

(Feb. 22, 2006)--UTSA graduate students representing six academic disciplines recently were chosen as the recipients of the first annual South Texas Initiative for Mental Health Research (STIMHR) Graduate Student Awards.

The recipients are Roberto Aguilar (Ph.D. program in biology); Valarie Broderick (M.A program in communication); Sarah Farris (M.A. program in bicultural-bilingual studies); Carmen Guzman-Martinez (Ph.D. program in culture, literacy and language); Scott Peters (Ph.D. program in counseling) and Josephine Vasquez (M.S. program in psychology).

The research awards of $1,000 recognize graduate students who have been involved in or will be pursuing mental health research during the spring 2006 semester. The awards were based on both the pragmatic value of their proposed research plans and their commitments to focus on significant mental health issues in South Texas.

Recipients will explore a range of topics including growth hormones and neuronal cells implicated in mental diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's; enhancing client-counselor communication at the Battered Women's Shelter; the role of optimism in coping with depression, anger and impending mortality among the elderly; disparities in mental health care among minority groups; and the relationships among culture, environmental factors and mental health perceptions in the Hispanic community.

Directed by UTSA psychology professor Raymond Garza, STIMHR is a grant funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to increase mental health research at UTSA. The program strives to stimulate and enrich the capacity of both faculty and students to conduct research focusing on mental health issues with an emphasis on South Texas.

In addition to providing research awards such as these, other services integral to STIMHR include faculty research awards, a newly opened data lab, access to external sources of funding and the alignment of invaluable community entities -- all of which are aimed at bolstering the number of faculty and student research activities concerning crucial issues related to mental health.

Considering UTSA is in the midst of an exciting transition from an institution dedicated to quality undergraduate education to one that also promotes superior research and scholarship, increased attention to pivotal mental-health issues that are relevant to South Texas will help UTSA achieve top-tier status as a research institution in Texas. The graduate awardees' research aspirations exemplify STIMHR's goals of addressing key mental-health issues and helping to advance mental-health research at UTSA by contributing practical knowledge and original findings to the mental-health arena.

For more information, visit the STIMHR Web Site.

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