FIU ReACH Lab | Research on Adolescent and Child Health
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Innovative scientists

The ReACH Lab is committed to understanding how problem behavior including alcohol and drug use develops among children and adolescents.


Identify early risk and protective factors

We aim to identify key biological, social, and individual risk and protective factors that contribute to alcohol and drug use so that youths ReACH their full potential.


Cutting-edge research

The ReACH Lab collaborates with fellow scientists and recruits students who have a passion for learning and critical thinking.


Message Framing to Inform Cancer Prevention Pricing Interventions in the UK and US: A Factorial Experiment, 2019

ReACH LAB Director, Dr. Elisa Trucco, alongside ReACH Lab Graduate Student, Julie Cristello, M.S., and colleagues at East Carolina University, University of Glasgow, University College London, and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, have published an article that aimed to advance research in message framing, and how this can maximize public support to change pricing policies for alcohol, tobacco, and sugary drinks/food, in the hopes of preventing consumption of cancer-causing products. The field of message framing “suggests that how information is presented changes how it is received and interpreted,” with support indicating that message framing can play an important role in implementation of policy changes. The study used samples drawn from both the UK and US and found that frames relating to children showed promise, suggesting that mentioning or including children in the message regarding policy had higher levels of support. There was also evidence that messages about tobacco products resulted in more support for raising the price of products compared to alcohol or sugary drinks/food. The results of this study highlights the importance of “bridging the research-practice gap” between research on message framing and how advocacy groups message to the public. 

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Do Parents Still Matter? The Impact of Parents and Peers on Adolescent Electronic Cigarette Use

A new study conducted by ReACH Lab Director Dr. Elisa Trucco in collaboration with ReACH Lab Graduate Student Julie Cristello and ACE Project Co-PI Dr. Matthew Sutherland explored the effect of peer norms and parental attitudes towards e-cigarettes on adolescent e-cigarette intentions, future use, and positive expectancies of use. Using data from the ongoing ACE Project, results found that, while peer norms were associated with positive expectancies of e-cigarette use, positive expectancies did not mediate the association between peer norms and later e-cigarette use. Furthermore, researchers found that parents’ perceptions of the harms of e-cigarette use not only influence adolescent e-cigarette use intentions (when controlling for adolescent attitudes and perceived peer norms), but also predict lower rates of e-cigarette use via e-cigarette use intentions. Results from the study indicate that parents still play an active role in influencing early stages of e-cigarette use among their adolescent children.

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Prevalence of Alcohol Use Disorder Among Individuals who Binge Eat: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

A new study conducted by ReACH Lab Director Dr. Elisa Trucco in collaboration with colleagues at Nowowiejski Hospital, the Medical University of Warsaw, Florida International University, and Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw recently published a meta-analysis exploring the rates of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) among individuals with Binge Eating Disorder (BED). The study found that, in a sample of nearly 70,000 participants, individuals with BED were more than 1.5 times at risk for developing life-time AUD compared to controls. Overall life-time prevalence of AUD among individuals who binge eat is 19.9%, nearly one in five patients. Results may be explained by neurobiological reward pathways, both of which are activated by food and alcohol. 

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We are seeking talented students who are eager to contribute to science!


The ReACH Lab is comprised of scientists committed to interdisciplinary and innovative research.

Elisa Trucco, Ph.D.

Lab Director

Sarah Hartmann

Graduate Research Assistant

Nasreen Hidmi, M.S.

ACE Project Program Coordinator

Betsy Alas

ACE Project Research Assistant

Aileen Abreu

Post-Bac Research Assistant

Katherine Rivas

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Nathalie Delvalle

Research Intern

Julie Cristello, M.S.

Graduate Research Assistant

Benjelene Sutherland

ACE Project Graduate Research Assistant

Brigitte Madan

ACE Project Senior Research Assistant

Maria Zapata

Post-Bac Research Assistant

Michelle Rodriguez

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Kevin Leiva

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Nilofar Fallah-Sohy

Graduate Research Assistant

Michelle Villar

ReACH Lab Manager and Post-Bac Research Assistant

Odette Manresa, M.S.

ACE Project Intake Specialist

Luis Diaz Carrasco

Post-Bac Research Assistant

Victoria De Barros

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Alexandra Sawczak

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Mari Kumar

Research Intern


  • ReACH Lab Welcomes New Research Assistants

    This upcoming Fall semester, the ACE Project will be welcoming three new Research Assistants: Luis Diaz, Alexandra Sawczak, and Kevin Leiva. Luis Diaz Carrasco is a Post-Bac Research Assistant who received a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Florida International University. Through volunteering and working as a medical scribe, Luis confirmed his passion for the field of medicine. More specifically preventive medicine, which focuses on promoting health and preventing disease in individuals and communities. He plans on attending medical school and obtaining his M.D. degree, with the goal of using his skills to help build a healthcare system based on the prevention of diseases. Alexandra Sawczak is an Undergraduate Honors student at Florida International University majoring in Biological Sciences. She is very passionate about furthering her education in medicine and pursuing a career in pulmonology. As president and founder of Be The Match On Campus, she fundraises and registers donors for the National Bone Marrow Registry in order to save lives of patients with blood cancers. Alexandra is an executive board member of Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Health Honor Society and a member of Phi Delta Epsilon Pre-Medical Fraternity, where she has been able to enhance her knowledge and skills in the medical field and raises funds for the Children’s Miracle Network. Kevin Leiva, who will work closely with ReACH Lab graduate student Julie Cristello, is an undergraduate student majoring in biological sciences with a minor in business. Kevin is a QBIC scholar and a member of the international medical Fraternity, Phi Delta Epsilon. Being a part of these organizations has allowed Kevin to spend more time helping others and bringing joy to those in need, and in the future, plans to attend medical school and become a physician to better serve the people in this community, focusing on minorities. Thank you to all ReACH Lab RAs for your hard work and your interest in our research!...

  • ReACH Lab Members to Present at ABCT 2021 Annual Conference

    The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) 2021 Annual Conference will take place from November 18th to the 21st in New Orleans, LA. The conference seeks to promote cognitive and behavioral practice and science regarding public health, social justice, policy, research, practice, and training. ReACH Lab members Nasreen Hidmi, Odette Manresa, and Sarah Hartmann collaborated on and received two poster presentation acceptances for this current year’s ABCT conference. The first poster acceptance is titled “The continued benefit of distress tolerance during the COVID-19 pandemic,” which assesses the changes in distress tolerance impact on adolescent mental health and perceived quality of life outcomes across the course of the pandemic. Findings suggested that pandemic-associated stressors negatively affecting adolescent mental health and quality of life can be mitigated by distress tolerance. On the other hand, the second poster acceptance titled “Coping activities during COVID-19 ameliorate the lack of technical resources’ negative impact on adolescent mental health” examined the association between lack of technical resources and mental health in adolescents, and whether this relationship is moderated by positive coping activities. Research findings suggested that the negative effects on adolescent mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic might be partially mitigated by positive coping activities ​​but even more so, a focus on increasing universal student access to technical resources for remote learning. Congratulations to Nasreen, Odette, and Sarah on both acceptances!...