Faculty & Staff

Maria Idalí Torres, PhD

Associate Professor of Anthropology and Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy Director


photo of Maria Idalí Torres


PhD, University of Connecticut
MS, public health, University of Massachusetts
BA, health education, University of Puerto Rico

Additional Information

Maria Idalí Torres is the current director of the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy, and an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She is an applied anthropologist with a specialty in community health education, community participatory action research, and qualitative methodologies. She obtained a PhD from the University of Connecticut, a MS in public health from the University of Massachusetts, and a BA in health education from the University of Puerto Rico. Prior to her current position she spent 17 years as a professor of public health at the UMass Amherst campus, and another 15 years practicing health education in community and school settings. She has more than 20 years of experience in planning, implementing, and evaluating health programs in schools and community settings. Professor Torres's research and publications have focused on the promotion, protection, and maintenance of health in Puerto Rico and Massachusetts. Most recently, she has been working on Latino youth sexual health disparities and the prevention of teenage pregnancy. Her scholarship promotes community capacity, combines transdisciplinary orientations and uses participatory research methodologies and partnerships with community residents and organizations. Professor Torres has served as consultant on health projects at the local, state and national levels and is an active member of the Society for Applied Anthropology and the American Public Health Association. She has received numerous grants and awards for her work at the local, state, and national levels.

Research interests include sexual health education, cultural explanatory models of health, participatory health education and intervention research in Puerto Rican communities, community organizing and health development, and Latina women's health.

Selected Publications


Granberry P, Torres MI, Allison J, Rosal M, Colon M, Fuentes M, Cruz I, Puerto Rican Cultural Center Research Team. Developing research and community literacies to recruit Latino researchers and practitioners to address health disparities. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. (Accepted, in press)

Allen, J. D., Torres, MI., Leyva, B., Tom, L., Rustan, S., Linnan L., Jandorf L., Ospino H. (2015). Enhancing organizational capacity to provide cancer control programs among Latino churches: design and baseline findings of the CRUZA Study. BMC Health Services.

Allen, J., D., Pérez, J., E, Tom, L., Leyva, B., Diaz, D., & Torres, M., Idalí. (2014). A pilot test of a church-based intervention to promote multiple cancer-screening behaviors among Latinas. Journal of Cancer Education, 29(1), 136-143. doi:10.1007/s13187 0130560-3

Allen, J, Levya, B, Torres, MI, Ospino, H, Tom, L, Rustan, S, Bartholomew, A. (2014). Religious beliefs and cancer screening behaviors among catholic Latinos: Implications for faith-based interventions. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 25(2), 503-526.

Leyva, B., Allen, J. D., Tom, L. S., Ospino, H., Torres, M. I., & Abraido-Lanza, A. F. (2014). Religion, Fatalism, and Cancer Control: A Qualitative Study among Hispanic Catholics. American Journal of Health Behavior, 38(6), 839-849.

Gubrium, A., C., & Torres, M., I. (2013). The message is in the bottle: Latino youth communicating double standard ideologies through photovoice. American Journal of Health Education, 44(3), 146-155. doi:10.1080/19325037.2013.767735

Gubrium, A. C., & Torres, M. I. (2011). “S-T-R-8 up” Latinas: Affirming an alternative sexual identity. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 6(3), 281-305. doi:10.1080/15546128.2011.601956

Torres, M. I. (2005). Organizing, Educating, and Advocating for Health and Human Rights in Vieques, Puerto Rico. American Journal of Public Health, 95(1), 9–12. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2003.025700

Torres, M. I., Marquez, D. X., Carbone, E. T., Stacciarini, J. M. R., & Foster, J. W. (2008). Culturally responsive health promotion in Puerto Rican communities: a structuralist approach. Health Promotion Practice, 9(2), 149-158.


Granberry, Phillip and Torres, María Idalí. (2010). The growing Latino population of Massachusetts: A demographic and economic portrait. (Research No. 156). University of Massachusetts Boston: Gastón Institute Publications.


Granberry P, Torres MI. (2015).  Foreign- and native-born workers in the U.S. Food Production Chain. In: K. Albala, (Ed.), The Sage Encyclopedia Food Issues. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Torres, M. I., & Cernada, G. P. (2003). Sexual and reproductive health promotion in Latino populations. Parteras, promotoras y poetas: case studies across the Americas. Baywood Publishing Company Inc.