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Current, ongoing research projects at MARTI include the following topics:

  • Developing and Assessing Family Based Interventions for Young Veterans' Readjustment to Civilian Life

    Dr. Christian Vaccaro is leading an interdisciplinary project approved by the President’s Research Cluster Initiative called the Veterans’ Reintegration Research Cluster. Members of the Research Cluster are also MARTI research associates: Dr. Demond Mullins, Dr. Michelle Papakie, Dr. Michele Sandhoff, Dr. Brandon Vick and Dr. Susan Boser. Other members include MARTI Associate Director Dr. Alex Heckert and MARTI Director Dr. Victor Garcia.The goals of the research cluster are to provide innovative research insights for therapeutic and preventive interventions that will lead to a reduction in a variety of reintegration issues for veterans such as college dropout, unemployment, homelessness, substance abuse, domestic violence, divorce, and mental health problems. The cluster is currently discussing the development of different projects which will be used to develop reliable and valid instruments for larger quantitative and qualitative external grant funded studies. Veterans' Reintegration Research Cluster Faculty

  • “Use of Mutual Help Recovery Houses by Latino Migrant Laborers with Substance Use Disorders”  

    Dr. Garcia, with Dr. Anna Pagano at the Prevention Research Center at Berkeley, California, have been funded by the National Institute of Health for their R21 Grant Application—titled “Mutual-Help Recovery Houses for Mexican and Central American Migrant Laborers with Substance Use Disorders”—which has been submitted through the National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse and is currently under review. The qualitative grant work will focus on exploring the structure and practices of transnational recovery programs—specifically anexos (annexes), a mutual-help substance abuse recovery model that originated in Mexico—as well as how and why Latino migrant laborers access these programs. To accomplish their research goals, Dr. Garcia and his colleagues will employ ethnographic research methods to gather qualitative exploratory data at three California anexos.
  • "A Community-Based Approach to Reduce Alcohol Use in Women of Mexican Origin (Submitted to NIH; funding pending)The two-year proposed project, “A Community-Based Approach to Reduce Alcohol Use in Women of Mexican Origin” will be conducted by a team of experienced researchers and clinicians at IUP, University of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson University, and Delaware University. The overarching purpose of the project is to obtain knowledge on the drinking of women of Mexican heritage (Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans) and to support the cultural redesign and implementation of a community based intervention to prevent or reduce harmful alcohol use among the women in US agricultural areas. Increased levels of health literacy have resulted in a reduction of health risks in other underserved communities by applying novel methods; however, information on the transferring of these intervention technologies to women in agricultural areas is sparse. For women, according to the American Cancer Society, unhealthy drinking is defined as more than one drink per day. Epidemiological studies have unequivocally identified unhealthy drinking over time as a major risk factor for the development of various types of cancers and other health problems. To provide health education on alcohol use, proposed intervention programs need to depart from conventional approaches, such as impersonal health workshops led by health professionals in public places, and begin to include safe and familiar venues. It must also be culturally sensitive; that is, it must include traditional values, beliefs, and gendered immigrant experiences; in addition to being conveyed in the Spanish language. Towards this end, the research team will modify a novel health education model designed for African American women that is effective in increasing health awareness and reducing health risk behaviors. They will redesign the model to be culturally appropriate for women of Mexican heritage, adopt it, and assess its use in raising alcohol awareness. The intervention included in the novel model, centered on salon stylists administering health education on breast cancer and other health problems as the women were having their hair done. The hairstylists are trained to be lay health providers, who in turn educate women about health problems during their appointments, and are then recruited for additional health sessions. The hairstylists proved to be effective lay health advisors, and hair salons appropriate venues contributed to the promotion of positive health behaviors.
  • "Fulfilling the Promise: Empowering Farmworkers and Overcoming Pesticide-Related Environmental and Health Challenges in Northwester Pennsylvania"

    Pending funding, Dr. Molina is scheduled to launch an outreach and environmental health initiative, entitled “Fulfilling the Promise: Empowering Farmworkers and Overcoming Pesticide-Related Environmental and Health Challenges in Northwestern Pennsylvania” in June.  The project, developed in collaboration with FOF, is under funding review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With over seven years of field research experience with under-represented and underserved populations, especially Latinos/as, Dr. Molina will serve as the project manager. Aside from his academic credentials, for most of his youth Dr. Molina was himself a migrant farmworker; and as such, has first-hand experience on the many challenges and issues farmworkers face. Annually, Dr. Molina, his parents and siblings, migrated from southern Texas to Ohio, North Carolina and Florida where they harvested tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, tobacco, green peppers and cherry tomatoes.  Dr. Molina brings not only his impressive academic credentials to the project, but also important first-hand knowledge of the many environmental hazards that farmworker families face.

    The two part objective of this project is to (1) educate farmworkers about the health risks of pesticide exposure and to inform them about their legal rights in cases of exposure and (2) to prepare community leaders to become pesticide educators. The initiative will achieve these results in three phases over the course of a year. The three phases are proposed with the knowledge that farm work in Erie County is seasonal and is the heaviest during the harvest (typically from late June-October). Phase one is from June to September, the peak harvest period. Phase two is from October through December when the harvests will be waning and centers on training farmworkers to become pesticide educators. The third phase will take place from January through May and will focus on making farmworker pesticide educators the principal facilitators of future pesticide education workshops. The workshops will be designed to inform farmworkers about pesticide dangers, protections against exposure, measures to be taken in cases of exposure, and last but not least, legal rights and recourse in cases of exposure. It will also prepare farmworkers to be educators on pesticide exposure, including pesticide contamination of water sources.

    In addition, Dr. Molina, together with students of Tlacuilo Latino Honor Society at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, will develop language-appropriate resources to be used in the pesticide education workshops. Some of the planned resources will be an image-rich Spanish language pamphlet that explains pesticide exposure and related health risks; Spanish language CDs with narrations of pesticide exposure and workers’ rights in obtaining health and medical care and legal recourse; and a bilingual (English-Spanish languages) pocket-sized resource card with contact information of local, state, and federal agencies that support and aid farmworkers with pesticide exposure and other health issues. FOF lawyers will review all materials for accuracy in the presentation of legal issues.

    Through the project, farmworkers in Erie County, PA and the surrounding area will benefit first and foremost by learning about the health risks associated with pesticide exposure; knowing and understanding the laws intended to protect them and the willingness of Friends of Farmworkers to help; and becoming aware of the importance of environmental sustainability for the health of both the farmworker community and the general population. With the provided educator workshops, farmworker leaders will take ownership of the workshops and will administer them. In the process, they will become advocates for environmental and social justice. The project will also result in more fair treatment of an under-represented group who suffer disproportionately from immediate negative environmental conditions. In addition, farmworkers will be empowered to become major stakeholders in the education of their community about environmental threats to the public food source.

    About Friends of Farmworkers

    Established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1975, FOF works to improve the lives of of Pennsylvania’s farmworkers. They fulfill this goal through community education, advocacy and the provision of free legal aid designed to empower the agricultural workers among us to earn a living wage, and to ensure that they and their families have the opportunity to lead productive, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

    FOF focuses on helping workers with employment-related problems – most commonly wage theft, harassment, discrimination and unsafe or unhealthy work conditions.  We do this most often by helping individual workers, but also by educating community members and advocating for better laws and policies.  FOF focuses on client-centered lawyering and aims to provide workers and communities with all of the information they need to make informed decisions.

     FOF is one of only a handful of legal aid agencies operating in the Commonwealth without  restrictions on the ability to assist clients based on their immigration status, and the only legal  services organization in the state with an entirely Spanish-speaking staff. In the last three years  FOF has recovered $293,669.35 on behalf of low-wage agricultural workers from across  Pennsylvania.   We also won a judgment for an additional $100,000 that we are working to  recover.
  • "Fulfilling the Promise: Empowering Farmworkers and Overcoming Pesticide-Related Environmental and Health Challenges in Northwestern Pennsylvania"
  • Mid-Atlantic Addiction Research and Training Institute
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