Rising star

Giovanni Ramos

Ramos earns early career award and invite to present his research in Ireland

Giovanni “Gio” Ramos has received the International Society for Research on Internet Interventions Early Career Research Award and an invitation to present some of his work during the 12th ISRII Annual Scientific Meeting June 2-5 in Limerick, Ireland.

“As an equity researcher who uses technology to make mental health services more accessible to racially and ethnically minoritized individuals (REMs), it is an honor that an organization such as ISRII believes my work is making valuable contributions to the field,” says the UC Chancellor’s and Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in UCI’s Technology and Mental Health (TEAM) Lab.

Stephen Schueller, who leads the TEAM Lab, nominated Ramos for the ISRII honor. Asked why, the associate professor of psychological science and informatics replied, “Dr. Ramos is making innovative contributions in scaling culturally relevant and culturally appropriate support through digital mental health interventions. A clear rising star, he’s extremely deserving of this early career recognition.”

Born and raised in Mexico, Ramos received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. After immigrating to the U.S. in 2013, he obtained further training in clinical child and adolescent psychology, completing a BA at Florida International University, a doctorate in clinical psychology at UCLA and a clinical internship at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center in New York. 

The licensed clinical psychologist says digital mental health interventions (DMHIs) will continue to play a central role in the research program he is currently developing as he enters the independent research phase of his career. 

“In my future work, I am interested in using data-driven approaches to improve the contextual and cultural fit of DMHIs and training community members and peers to support REMs who use fully self-guided DMHIs to meet their mental health needs,” Ramos says.

In Ireland, Ramos will explain how the use of DMHIs can be refined to ensure greater engagement universally. 

“Racially and ethnically minoritized groups are less likely to receive mental health services compared with their white counterparts, and DMHIs can play a role in reducing this treatment gap,” he says. “Unfortunately, most DMHIs do not attend to the unique needs of these populations. To solve this problem, I have used a very short onboarding procedure – lasting 30 minutes or less – to help participants download the program, learn how to use it, and discuss potential mismatches between the DHMI content and their cultural backgrounds and needs. This simple approach has led to outstanding uptake and engagement with the program, issues often challenging to overcome in most DMHIs.”

While Mexico City, Miami, the Bronx and Los Angeles have been previous stops along his academic journey, Ramos has found Irvine a special place from which to launch his budding career.

“I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by amazing people here at UCI,” he says. “I am very grateful to Belinda Campos and the Culture, Relationships, and Health Lab, Alyson Zalta and the Trauma and Resilience Lab, Candice Odgers and Gillian Hayes and the Connecting the EdTech Research Ecosystem, and Stephen Schueller and the entire Technology and Mental Health Lab. Stephen has been such an incredibly supportive mentor and role model. Don’t tell him, but I hope to be like him when I grow up.”

- Matt Coker