Raul Gonzalez, Ph.D.

Phone:   305-348-4921
Dr.Gonzalez’ CV

Dr. Gonzalez is an Associate Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Immunology at Florida International University (FIU) and Director of the Substance Use and HIV Neuropsychology Lab. He is a faculty member of the Department of Psychology Clinical Science and Cognitive Neuroscience Programs and the Center for Children and Families.

Dr. Gonzalez graduated with his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the San Diego State University / University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program, where he specialized in Clinical Neuropsychology. He has approximately 17 years of experience conducting research on neurocognitive contributors and consequences of substance use and addiction among individuals with and without HIV. Most of his research efforts have been supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse / National Institutes of Health.

Through his research, Dr. Gonzalez aims to identify neurocognitive differences that may place individuals at risk for substance use disorders or that emerge from their use, in order to better understand their impact and inform interventions designed to reduce drug addiction and the risky behaviors that may contribute to the spread of HIV. He is currently the Principal Investigator of several large studies in this area, including (as FIU site PI) the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study: a landmark project that brings together scientists and clinicians from across the United States with a broad range of knowledge and expertise to enroll 10,000+ healthy children and follow them from age 9-10 into early adulthood in order to better understand biological and environmental contributors to weight, growth, sleep quality, injury, mental health and substance use, and other life experiences such as academic success, sports and other physical activity.

Dr. Gonzalez is a licensed Clinical Psychologist in the State of Florida and the State of Illinois, with substantial experience conducting neuropsychological evaluations in English and Spanish.



Samuel Hawes, PhD.
Research Assistant Professor

Phone:   305-348-5439
Dr. Hawes’ research is focused on understanding the affective and neurocognitive mechanisms underlying the early-onset and developmental course of distinct facets of psychopathology (e.g., callous-unemotional features, psychopathy, negative emotionality) across childhood and adolescence. His work is particularly targeted toward identifying how these processes contribute to the onset, maintenance and desistance from high-risk behaviors (e.g., conduct problems/antisocial behaviors, impulsivity, substance use, violence) via unique etiological pathways. Dr. Hawes also has a strong methodological interest and his work uses a combination of MRI-based functional and structural imaging and advanced latent variable modeling (e.g., Bayesian SEM, growth mixture modeling) techniques.

Catalina Lopez-Quintero, MD, MPH, PhD.
Postdoctoral Associate

Phone:   305-348-5399
Dr. Lopez-Quintero is a post-doctoral fellow at the SUHN lab and the recipient of a NIDA minority research supplement that aims to investigate the complex associations between neighborhood-level factors and decision-making on cannabis use outcomes. Her prior research in Colombia, Israel, and the United States has focused on investigating the impact that factors at different levels of influence have on the transitions from the early stages of drug use involvement to drug dependence. Her current projects aim to elucidate potential mechanisms that explain drug use and HIV/AIDS disparities by examining the intersection between neurocognitive processes and sociocultural factors. Other areas of research interest include mental health and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) & health.

Project Coordinators

Dayana Paula, M.P.H.

Phone:   305-348-6638
Ms. Paula is the Project Coordinator for the Choices and ABCD projects. She has a Master of Public Health from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. As the Choices Coordinator, Ms. Paula maintains effective working relationships with schools, recruits adolescents for the study, and coordinates all aspects of the research. She came to FIU with years of experience in the areas of adolescent risky health behaviors and assisting in managing a large scale study in Ecuador.


Brenda_LernerBrenda Daryl Lerner, Psy.D., R.N.

Phone:    305-456-2967
Dr. Lerner is the Project Coordinator for the Mind Matters Project. She is a licensed psychologist and registered nurse and has conducted HIV prevention research since 1999 with over fourteen years of clinical experience administering cognitive behavioral HIV prevention interventions as well as experience in coordinating and implementing research projects. Dr. Lerner has conducted prevention activities and recruitment among severely mentally ill adults at various community centers for grants that both involved alcohol, drugs, and HIV involvement and has had direct patient contact with adolescents with psychiatric disorders and drug abuse. She maintains excellent relations with community resources and has a great deal of experience coordinating research and research-clinical interface aspects of all the studies she has worked on and it is her goal to continue to do so.


Graduate Students

Jacqueline Duperrouzel, B.S. in Psychology

Jacqueline is a doctoral student in both the Clinical Science PhD Program & Cognitive Neuroscience Program. Her current research interests focus on studying the effects of cannabis in different age groups and susceptible populations, such as individuals with HIV. She is also interested in the integration of neuroimaging techniques, specifically fMRI, in understanding substance use disorders from a physiological, developmental, and neurological perspective.


Ileana Pacheco-Colon, B.S. in Psychology

Ileana is a doctoral student in the Clinical Science and Cognitive Neuroscience programs. Her current research efforts focus on two main areas: the associations between cannabis use and motivation among adolescents, and the associations between exercise, cannabis use, and neurocognition.


Research Assistants

Veronica Abello, B.S. in Psychology & Minor in Biology

Veronica is a Research Assistant for the ABCD Study at FIU. She graduated from Florida State University. She is working towards a career in medicine, she is especially interested in pediatrics. Her other hobbies include preparing new recipes and bumming it out on the beach with her dog, Luke.
Phone:   305-348-3390

DenisseDenisse Acosta, B.A. in Psychology

Denisse is the Participant Recruiter for the ABCD project. She is an FIU alumna and a graduate student of the School Psychology program at FIU. Her interests lie primarily in the social sciences with a special focus in psychology and education. Denisse enjoys traveling and learning about new cultures.
Phone:   305-348-1720

Laritza Diaz, B.A. in Evolutionary Biology of the Human Species

Laritza is a Columbia University alumna who, although she enjoyed her time in New York, is glad to be back home in Miami. She is interested in continuing to pursue her research interests in neurology and psychology while working as a medical professional. In her free time she enjoys fawning over her dog and trying out new restaurants.
Phone:   305-348-3247

RobertoRoberto Gonzalez, B.S. in Biology & B.A in Women’s Studies & Minor in Chemistry

Roberto graduated from FIU in 2017 and will be starting medical school in August of 2018. On his free time, he enjoys attending concerts and going to Disney World.
Phone:   305-348-1347

Karen Granja, B.A. in Psychology & Minor in Biology

Karen is an FIU alumna from Miami, FL. Her interdisciplinary background has fueled her plans to go on to grad school and obtain a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology. Her other interests include finding new music to listen to and going to concerts.
Phone:   305-348-3545

IMG_4918 (2)William Pulido, B.S. in Biology & Minor in Psychology and Religious Studies

William is a Research Assistant for the ABCD Study at FIU. William is a FIU alumnus born in Colombia, but raised in Miami, FL. He is currently on the pre-optometry track. Some of his interest include trying different types of foods, playing with his dog, and relaxing when time allotted.
Phone:   305-348-6637

Deborah Pulido, B.A. in Psychology

Deborah works for the Mind Matters Project as an FIU alumna. She previously helped with several research projects at FIU-Bridge focusing on school and community health promotion. She was also a counselor for CCF’s summer treatment program at FIU. She hopes to become a clinical neuropsychologist in the future.
Phone:   305-456-0452

Maria Salamanca, B.S. in Biology and Sociology

Maria graduated from FIU and will be pursuing a Masters in Public Health with the intention of subsequently applying to medical school. On her free time, she enjoys cooking, reading new books, and biking.
Phone:   305-348-4311



Jorge Limia

Carolina Rodriguez

Regina Ramirez

Leonardo Sosa


Lab Alumni

Augusto Cividini
Alejandra Alvarado
Alysha Thomas
Amanda Costales
Ana Bravo
Ana Gonzalez
Angelica Pizarro
Angelica Rojas
Angelica Taube
Carol Sanchez
Cary Alvarez
Claudine Hernandez
Danielle Rammo
Darlene Carmichael
Diana Martinez
Elizabeth Rodriguez
Erin Hedemann
Giovana Basmagi
Ifrah Waheed
Ingrid Gonzalez
Jalesa Menzie
J. Megan Ross
Jessica Arguello
Jessica Jaramillo
Jose Taque
Julia Schwarz
Laura Cebollero
Linda Bustos
Katheleen Ortuno
Kayla Caine
Kayla Pickarski
Keylanni Jane-Alvarez
Maryanne Vaca
Melanie Vega
Melisa Alonso
Natalia Guzman
Natasha Aurobindo