CSUN’s New Health Equity Faculty
As a part of a broader vision to build a Center dedicated to health equity and community-partnered participatory research, four new cluster hired faculty members have arrived on campus and have already hit the ground running! BUILD PODER proposed cluster hired faculty members who would develop interdisciplinary collaborations across campus and in the community around health and health equity. With Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, and California State University, Northridge as our nested laboratories, the cluster hired faculty members have committed to building community-university research partnerships that generate social change. Please welcome them and join us in a community bound and determined for education and health equity!
Meet our new faculty
Claudia Toledo-Corral, PhD
Claudia Toledo-Corral is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Sciences at California State University, Northridge and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California (USC). She has a long-standing research agenda in the field of obesity and associated disease risk in underserved populations. Dr. Toledo-Corral’s past work includes the study of the biological underpinnings of pediatric obesity and diabetes, assessing the efficacy of clinical diagnostic methods of diabetes, and examining the physiological role of stress on obesity and cardiometabolic risk. Her most recent projects include the exploration of psychosocial and environmental stressors as determinants of obesity risk in mother-infant dyads.
Dr. Toledo-Corral is also strongly committed to teaching and mentoring students in research and community outreach. She has been praised as a devoted and enthusiastic instructor with several years of teaching experience at California State University Los Angeles and the USC. In conjunction with USC, she developed a student internship program with the aim of providing interns with practical work experience in research and associated community outreach. Graduates of the program have moved on to successfully secure research jobs and/or gain admittance to graduate programs in epidemiology, environmental health, and public health at John Hopkins University, USC, the University of California (UC) Los Angeles, and UC Irvine.
Kacie Blackman, PhD
Kacie Blackman is an Assistant Professor of Health Sciences at California State University, Northridge. Her work examines chronic disease prevention programs, sexually transmitted diseases programs, and building measures for sustainability within local communities. For example, Dr. Blackman has developed and tested mobile health technologies in vulnerable youth populations for improving healthy behaviors. In her postdoctoral fellowship work at the Institute for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention Research and Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Dr. Blackman focused on the tobacco retail environment located in vulnerable populations and its impact on consumer behavior and retail outlet practices. Dr. Blackman has also worked with the Los Angeles County Public Health Department, medical providers, and non-profit organizations to improve screening and testing services of sexually transmitted diseases primarily in health disparate populations while enhancing health equity among local residents.
Thomas Chan, PhD
I am an Assistant Professor of Psychology at California State University, Northridge. I was a first-generation college student who was raised in a Chinese restaurant by immigrant parents and grandparents who spoke very little English.
As a Developmental and Health Psychologist, I examine the lifestyle, social, and technological interventions that promote positive health and development. My attention is on building resilience and motivating scalable prevention in community settings—such as the role mentorships, community programs, and technologies (wearables, Augmented Reality) play in improving health and developmental outcomes in at-risk aging adults and their families.
To do my work, I have received funding from The National Institute of Health/National Institute on Aging to sponsor my Postdoctoral Fellowship in Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Mental Health of Aging at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (NIA-T32AG000247) and a Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Center for Innovative Care in Aging pilot grant. I also worked with The City of Claremont and communities in DC and Baltimore to improve the enriching services provided to their residents.
I am currently funded by NIH BUILD PODER to investigate the protective factors that combat health disparities.
Yolanda Vasquez-Salgado, PhD
Yolanda Vasquez-Salgado received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, with a minor in Culture, Brain and Development, from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is also a proud graduate of the Bachelors and Masters programs in Psychology at California State University, Northridge. Her research focuses on Latina/o, first-generation college, and low-income student populations during the transition to college. She utilizes various methodologies (qualitative, survey, experimental) to investigate factors that contribute to the academic achievement and health (mental, physical) of these populations, with the goal of designing interventions to help promote their resilience. She is particularly interested in a sense of cultural value conflict or mismatch that students raised in more collectivistic home environments (e.g., first-generation college students) experience with the individualism of the university culture (e.g., conflict between collectivistic behaviors of one peer and individualistic behaviors of another; conflict between collectivistic family obligations and individualistic academic obligations). Her research has been funded by sources such as the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program, the American Psychological Association and American Psychological Foundation. In addition to research, Yolanda has mentored several underrepresented students in research and professional development. Many of the students that she has mentored have moved onto graduate programs and some have had the opportunity to publish with her. Creating opportunities for students to learn and thrive is very important to Yolanda as one of her long-term goals is to increase the number of underrepresented students in science.