Program Faculty


Marguerita Lightfoot, PhD

Professor in Residence, Co-Director of CAPS

Dr. Marguerita Lightfoot is co-director of the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) and director of the Technology and Information Exchange (TIE) Core. Dr. Lightfoot is a counseling psychologist whose research has included HIV prevention work in the juvenile justice system and with runaway and homeless youths in Los Angeles. A particular focus of her research with adolescents has been to adapt and utilize interactive and engaging delivery of HIV-preventive activities on computers. In addition, she has worked as a mental health clinician at a clinic serving primarily low-income people of color. She has conducted psychotherapy with predominately African American and Latino adults, couples, and families infected or affected by HIV.

She is especially interested in developing cost-effective interventions easily translatable and usable in community settings and in utilizing new technologies to engage disenfranchised individuals in health-promotion activities. Dr. Lightfoot has a unique ability to determine the programmatic needs of the most vulnerable populations and develop programs that are cutting-edge and successfully engage these populations to increase mental health functioning and well-being. A notable, ongoing research project of Dr. Lightfoot’s adapts interventions to reduce HIV-related risk among urban street youths and youths living with HIV in Uganda.

Click here for more information on Dr. Lightfoot.

Diane Binson, PhD

Professor, Department of Medicine

Dr. Diane Binson is a sociologist with expertise in research methods and research related to the social context of HIV risk.  She has been at CAPS since 1991 and has mentored colleagues in various capacities.  She has conducted multiple studies related to the context of sexual risk among men who have sex with men (MSM) using both quantitative and qualitative methods, has published widely, and has a long history of research collaboration with community partners.

Dr. Binson’s methodological studies have focused on issues related to measurement error and participation bias in sample surveys and on the use of cognitive interviewing techniques (e.g., “think-alouds” and concurrent and retrospective verbal reports) to evaluate item and survey design. She has examined respondents’ understanding of sexual behavior terms used in surveys and has studied the effects of question wording and interviewer gender on responses to sexual-behavior questions. She is in the process of analyzing data from an R01 study that examined an alternative method of survey administration.

Dr. Binson’s work on sexual risk has focused on how the physical, social, and normative environments of risk settings condition individuals’ HIV-related risk behavior.  Several NIMH grants provided funding to examine the process by which HIV/AIDS prevention policies and programs are incorporated into risk settings and sex-club environments, resulting in varied outcomes of risk and preventive behaviors. In a recent multimethod study, Dr. Binson examined how participants script their sexual encounters in different types of sex venues and how the venue environments differentially influence risk.

In collaborative research with community partners, Dr. Binson has conducted a number of evaluation studies to assess the efficacy of programs to reduce HIV-related risk among MSM, counseling and testing programs in minority communities, and HIV/STD risk–reduction programs among young men being released from prison. She recently completed an evaluation study of a program designed to reduce sexual and drug-related risk among non-gay-identified Latino MSM.

Torsten B. Neilands, PhD [Quantitative Methods, Social Psychology]

Associate Professor, Department of Medicine

Dr. Tor Neilands has served as a data analyst and statistical consultant at CAPS since January 2000 and has directed the CAPS Methods Core since 2003. Dr. Neilands obtained a bachelor’s degree in English literature and psychology at University of California, Santa Cruz in 1988. He received a master’s degree equivalent in quantitative methods and psychometrics from the University of Texas at Austin and a PhD in social psychology in 1993 from the same institution. His post-graduate work comprised eight years of full-time statistical consulting for researchers in a wide variety of academic disciplines at the UT Austin academic computing center. During this time Dr. Neilands received funding from the Norwegian Research Council as a co-principal investigator for a three-year study.

Dr. Neilands is conversant with multivariate statistical models, with a special interest in structural equation modeling and confirmatory factor analysis of survey scale and behavioral sciences data. He has considerable experience with longitudinal data analysis methods such as growth curve analysis and multilevel (hierarchical linear) modeling. He maintains an active interest in advanced likelihood-based methods for handling missing data in applied research settings, methods for handling non-normal outcome data in structural equation and mixed-effects models, and influential case diagnostic methods in regression analysis. Dr. Neilands serves as a co-investigator on multiple behavioral research projects at CAPS. His interests include STD awareness, education, and prevention; HIV medication adherence issues; and stress and coping theory.

Dr. Neilands serves as a quantitative and methodological resource to participants in the program by reviewing data analysis sections of participants’ grant proposals and working with program participants and their home institution statisticians to craft grant proposal data analysis sections. He also assists program participants with sample size calculations and provides guidance in survey instrument development, hypothesis generation, and study design issues.

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Program Faculty Mentors

Emily Arnold, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor, Department of Medicine

Dr. Arnold’s research agenda is primarily devoted to reducing HIV-related health disparities for African American men who have sex with men, with a strong emphasis on community collaborative research designs and building HIV-prevention intervention programs. Dr. Arnold has a great deal of experience in conducting and teaching others to do qualitative and mixed methods research and she has worked with various research teams, as well as post-doctoral research fellows, international trainees, graduate students, medical students, and community members to implement these research designs. Building community collaborative partnerships has been an essential part of Dr. Arnold’s research agenda, from the point of forming community advisory boards to weigh in on data collection instruments to disseminating findings back to community members. Her current studies include testing an HIV-prevention intervention for African American men who have sex with men and women using a randomized controlled trial, building community and academic partnerships to alleviate HIV-related health disparities for African Americans, examining social support and social network-based forms of HIV prevention among African American LGBT youth, using mixed methods to examine HIV-related diffusion of innovations through social networks among African American MSM, and a policy-related study looking at the impact of health care reform on PLWHA and the agencies that serve them.

Judith C. Barker, PhD [Medical Anthropology]

Professor, Department of Anthropology, History & Social Medicine

Dr. Barker is a sociocultural anthropologist. She is professor in the Department of Anthropology, History & Social Medicine and associate director of the Center to Address Disparities in Children’s Oral Health at the University of California, San Francisco. Her 20-year research career, primarily qualitative in approach, has examined the experience and meaning of health and illness, its day-to-day management by those who are ill or frail, and the social organization of access to and delivery of informal health care. Understanding how lay people conceptualize risks to health or well-being and act (or not) to prevent risks from materializing has been an interest threaded throughout many of her projects examining frailty in the elderly, gender and ethnic differences in health beliefs, access to health care, substance use, homelessness, HIV/AIDS, family issues, and oral health. Dr. Barker is widely published in the gerontological, medical, and anthropological literatures. She teaches graduate students, health professional students, clinical scholars and residents, and post-doctoral fellows and regularly engages in faculty-level training in geriatrics and qualitative research methods.

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Cherrie B. Boyer, PhD [Psychology]

Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent Medicine

Dr. Cherrie Boyer is professor of pediatrics and director of interdisciplinary training in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She is an internationally recognized health psychologist with over 20 years of research experience in the area of adolescent and young-adult health. Dr. Boyer has been the recipient of many grant awards and has been a productive investigator, publishing widely in the area of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV prevention. Dr. Boyer’s program of research focuses on biopsychosocial antecedents of sexual risk behaviors and the role that these factors play in STIs, and their sequelae. Her research has also focused extensively on the development and evaluation of cognitive-behavioral interventions to prevent and reduce the risk of STIs and HIV in adolescents and young adults in a variety of settings, including schools, teen and STD clinics, and community-based organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as nationally and internationally among military personnel.

Dr. Boyer is currently principal investigator of a large, multisite, randomized, controlled cognitive-behavioral intervention trial to prevent and reduce risk for STIs, unintended pregnancies, alcohol and other substance misuse, and exposure to or involvement with sexual violence among military recruits and enlisted personnel. This research seeks to establish the best training practices for educating young troops about these sensitive health issues. She is also developing and evaluating an intervention to prevent HIV and other STIs among military personnel in Angola. Dr. Boyer is also involved in research as a member of the Adolescent Medicine and Community Prevention Leadership Groups of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s (NICHD) Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions, which addresses a broad adolescent- and young adult–focused intervention agenda.

In addition to her ongoing research program, Dr. Boyer is an international consultant to the Department of Defense HIV/AIDS Program. Her activities include leading workshops and giving state-of-the-science lectures on STI/HIV prevention strategies in Africa. She has conducted formative research and directed the production of educational videos in Ethiopia. Dr. Boyer is also a standing member of the National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review’s Social Science and Population Studies study section and is a member of UCSF’s Committee on Human Research.

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James L. Sorensen, PhD

Professor in Residence, Department of Psychiatry

Dr. James Sorensen is adjunct professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. His work in substance abuse treatment research began over 20 years ago as director of a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)–funded, double-blind investigation of detoxification from heroin. He developed and evaluated a community network approach to drug abuse treatment, assessed family therapy’s efficacy with methadone maintenance patients, tested the efficacy of small-group HIV education with drug users in three treatment modalities, and evaluated the impact of case management for substance abusers with HIV/AIDS. Currently, he is investigating the utility of treating methadone maintenance patients in a therapeutic community setting. Dr. Sorensen also leads the California-Arizona research node of the NIDA Clinical Trials Network. This effort joins researchers and clinical treatment programs in conducting clinical trials of treatments that have been found to be useful in research but have not yet experienced widespread dissemination to the field.

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Bill Woods, PhD [Clinical Psychology]

Professor, Department of Medicine

Dr. Woods has been at CAPS since 1987, and has played a significant role in the writing and submission of fourteen federally funded grants. His principal research interests are in three areas of HIV prevention: substance use and treatment, HIV counseling and testing, and sexual risk environments such as bathhouses. His recent work tends to combine these areas, looking primarily at the risk environment with some focus on the presence of drug use and the impact of HIV testing in these environments.

As a licensed psychologist with a part-time private practice serving gay men between 1988 and 1998, Dr. Woods frequently used that clinical experience to inform and shape the research projects with which he was involved. For example, his clinical work among gay men suggested the value of measuring the impact of protease inhibitor medications on sexual risk behaviors, resulting in a 1997 publication in New England Journal of Medicine, “Are advances in treatment changing views about high-risk sex?” Dr. Woods’ additional areas of research activity are health risk and prevention behavior of gay and bisexual men, environmental influences on behavior, and environmental and cognitive interventions in health promotion.


Affiliated Faculty

Olga Grinstead Reznick, PhD, MPH [Clinical Psychology, Public Health – Epidemiology]

Professor Emeritus, Department of Medicine

Dr. Olga Reznick has been a researcher at CAPS since 1990, first as a fellow in the Traineeship in AIDS Prevention Studies program and now as professor emeritus in the Department of Medicine. She received her PhD in clinical psychology from UCLA in 1981, completed her internship at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, and has been a licensed psychologist in California since 1983. After working as a clinician in community mental health, in student health, and for Kaiser Permanente, she left her clinical career to enter the TAPS fellowship program in 1990. She received her MPH in epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1991 and earned a certificate in alcohol and drug abuse studies from UC Berkeley Extension in 1993.

Dr. Reznick was one of the original faculty mentors for this program, returning to it in 2004 after an absence of several years. She directed the program in 2006. Her primary research interest is in the development and evaluation of HIV and STI prevention programs in communities of color. Her research has focused on interventions for incarcerated persons and their families. Initially trained in quantitative methods, Dr. Resnick has also conducted several qualitative interview studies and has published both quantitative and qualitative research findings. She also led the CAPS Technology and Information Exchange (TIE) Core, which is responsible for providing technical assistance to researchers and service providers wishing to apply HIV prevention science to the development of effective programs. The TIE Core is also focused on the development of methods to disseminate CAPS science and the development and support of community-academic research partnerships.

Click here for more information on Dr. Reznick.

Last modified: April 24, 2013