The Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy

Maps & Directions

Meet the Staff

Dr. Maria Idali Torres, Director

Maria Idalí Torres is the current director of the Gastón Institute, 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 over 20 years of experience in planning, implementing and evaluating health programs in schools and community settings. Dr. Torres’ 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 trans-disciplinary 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. (full bio).

Core Staff

Michael Berardino
Research Associate for Education

Daniela Bravo
Administrative Assistant

Keisha Dixon
Business and Operations Manager

Pablo Goldbarg
Research Communication and Dissemination Coordinator

Phillip Granberry
Senior Research Associate (bio)

Jim O'Brien

Eduardo Siqueira
Coordinator of Transnational Brazilian Project (bio & works)

Leandra Smollin
Research Associate

María Idalí Torres


Research Assistants


Joseli Alonzo
Alejandro Belalcazar
Melissa Correa
Iria Dopazo
Chanel Fields
Andrew Flannery Aguilar
Josibel García
Nathalie Gonzales
Patricia Guardado
Tomás Hernández
Crys Jimenez
Ivan Lozano
Natalia Medina
Francisco Rodriguez
Lina Rosario
Ana María Sánchez
Ethan Schein
Rachel Tsavalakoglou
Carlos Alberto Velázquez

Previous Years

Cristina Araujo Brinkerhoff
Patricia Buzelli
Angel Cosme
Franci DaLuz
Aline Da Fonseca
Norma Fuentes
Diego Gómez Aristizabal
Mayara Fontes
Carolina Gonzalez
Sophia Grimm
Eriliza Guerrero
Tariana V. Little
Diana Mercado
Anjuli Manrique
Luis Natal
Aida Palencia
Beninson Peña
Riqueldys Peña
Kevin Valencia