Maria is a health services mixed-methods researcher with experience in various clinical disease topics as well as mental health and substance use related disorders. She obtained her PhD in Health Behavior Research from the University of Southern California within the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences in September 2022.
As a graduate student, Maria conducted various research studies and collaborated with clinicians and researchers from various disciplines. She gained expertise in conducting evidence-based systematic literature reviews on various disease topics through a three-year research assistantship with the USC Evidence Review Center team.
She also assisted in various quality improvement initiatives and was a clinical study project coordinator at Los Angeles County Hospital to improve medication prescribing for people who use drugs. Her dissertation consisted of three separate studies with the goal to evaluate multi-level factors within interacting ecological systems that influenced uptake of medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) for people who use opioids.
Maria has designed, executed, and analyzed numerous studies, resulting in multiple peer-reviewed publications throughout her career. She has years of experience conducting qualitative research, particularly utilizing clinician interviews and person-centered community-based research. Prior to beginning her graduate studies, Maria earned Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Anthropology from the University of Florida, where she also went on to work as a research assistant in the Department of Psychiatry on various medical device clinical trials.