Mentors, consultants, and staff

The co-directors and program faculty of the Visiting Professor program serve as a mentor to one or more of the CAPS Visiting Professors.

Co-director  Marguerita Lightfoot, PhD

Co-director  Tor Neilands, PhD

Program faculty  Emily Arnold, PhD, MPH

Program faculty  Cherrie Boyer, PhD

Program faculty  Mallory Johnson, PhD

Program faculty  Jim Sorensen, PhD

Program faculty  Bill Woods, PhD

Program consultant  Sonya Arreola, PhD, MPH

Program staff  Dale Danley, MPH


Marguerita Lightfoot Marguerita Lightfoot, PhD

Professor | Director of CAPS  Dr. Lightfoot is Professor of Medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine, Chief for the Division of Prevention Science, and Director of the Center for Prevention Studies (CAPS) and UCSF Prevention Research Center (PRC). She has an established research career conducting community-involved research, receiving awards for my community partnership efforts. She has considerable experience designing and implementing preventive interventions and has developed culturally competent, efficacious HIV interventions for delinquent adolescents, runaway/homeless youth, youth living with HIV, and young MSM, including developing interventions for delivery via technology (e.g., computers, websites, mobile phone, video games). In particular, she developed an efficacious computer-based intervention to reduce the sexual risk behaviors of delinquent youth (published in the American Journal of Public Health), successfully adapted an intervention for youth living with HIV to youth in Uganda (published in Prevention Science), and developed a computer-based intervention implemented in medical settings to reduce the HIV transmission risk behavior of adults living with HIV (published in JAIDS). She is particularly interested in developing cost-effective interventions that are easily translatable with utility in community settings and utilizes new technologies to engage disenfranchised individuals in health promotion activities. She has also conducted psychotherapy with predominately African American and Latino adolescents, adults, and families infected and/or affected by HIV. Click here for more information on Dr. Lightfoot.

Torsten Neilands Torsten B. Neilands, PhD

Professor, Department of Medicine  Dr. Neilands is the Director of the CAPS Methods Core, which provides technical support to CAPS scientists in qualitative and quantitative methods and in behavioral and biomedical measurement. Since beginning work at CAPS in 2001, he has been a data analyst, statistical consultant, and co-investigator on more than sixty research projects, most of which were NIH-sponsored. His areas of interest include social and behavioral science statistical methods (e.g., mediation analysis, latent variable methods, and scale development) and approaches for analyzing longitudinal and clustered data. Dr. Neilands obtained bachelor’s degrees in English Literature and Psychology at the University of California at Santa Cruz. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a PhD in Social Psychology with a concentration in quantitative methods, he worked for eight years as a full-time statistical consultant and trainer for researchers in a wide variety of academic disciplines. Dr. Neilands serves as a resource to participants in the program by helping them design quantitative studies, peer-reviewing their grant proposals and working to craft data analysis sections for proposals. He also assists program participants with sample size calculations, survey instrument development, hypothesis generation, and study design issues. Click here for more information on Dr. Neilands.

Program Faculty Mentors

Emily Arnold 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. As an anthropologist, 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 have 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, developing an intervention to promote sexual health through social networks among sexual and ethnic minority youth involved in house ball communities and gay families, understanding barriers to integrate behavioral health and HIV-related services for people with severe mental illness, and several policy-related studies on the impact of a changing health care delivery system on PLWHA and the agencies that serve them. Click here for more information on Dr. Arnold.

 Cherrie B. Boyer, PhD

Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent Medicine Dr. Boyer is a Professor of Pediatrics based in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine where she serves as the Associate Division Director for Research and Academic Affairs. She is an internationally recognized health psychologist with nearly 30 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 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention in adolescents and young adults. Her program of research focuses on the development and evaluation of cognitive-behavioral and community-level intervention strategies utilizing both culturally competent and positive youth development frameworks to promote sexual health and to reduce the risk of STIs, HIV, and unintended pregnancy and their sequelae in adolescents and young adults (youth). Such interventions have been implemented in various groups, including high school students, teen and STD clinic patients, among at-risk youth residing in high STI prevalent urban neighborhoods, and military personnel, both domestically and internationally. Moreover, for the past 10 years, Dr. Boyer was a member of the NIH-funded Adolescent Trials Network (ATN) where she served as a lead investigator and collaborated on a number of community-based participatory research community mobilization studies to examine social determinants and structural barriers to improve HIV prevention for at risk youth and linkage, engagement and retention in long-term HIV healthcare for HIV-infected youth. She is currently working with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Community Health Equity and Promotion Branch to conduct community-engaged research to better understand social determinants associated with increased rates of STIs in San Francisco youth with the end goal of designing age-appropriate and culturally-tailored prevention strategies to reduce their risk and acquisition of STIs. Click here for more information on Dr. Boyer.

 Mallory Johnson, PhD

Professor, Department of Medicine Dr. Johnson is a licensed clinical health psychologist whose research has focused on understanding, measuring, and improving the health of patients with chronic diseases such as HIV. His program of multidisciplinary collaborative research is focused on improving HIV treatment outcomes through patient empowerment. His teaching mission is primarily achieved through mentoring of early-career investigators. He is the Co-Director of the NIH-funded Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) and Director the CAPS Developmental Core. Click here for more information on Dr. Johnson.  

James L. Sorensen, PhD

Professor In Residence, Department of Psychiatry Dr. Sorensen began work in substance abuse treatment research more than twenty-five years ago, directing 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, evaluated the impact of case management for substance abusers with HIV/AIDS, investigated the utility of treating methadone maintenance patients in a therapeutic community, and conducted several studies of how to help people who inject drugs to better adhere to their HIV medications. Dr. Sorensen also leads the Western States Node of the NIDA Clinical Trials Network and a NIDA T32 training program in substance use treatment research. His research has focused on how to improve the treatment that we provide to people with substance use disorders. Click here for more information on Dr. Sorensen.

Bill Woods Bill Woods, PhD

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 a 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. Click here for more information on Dr. Woods.


 Sonya Arreola, PhD, MPH

Consultant Dr. Arreola is a clinical psychologist and epidemiologist by training with expertise in community-based participatory action research, education, and advocacy focused on the sexual health of sexually and ethnically marginalized groups. As the Senior Research Advisor at the Global Forum on MSM and HIV, her work focuses on examining and reducing social and health inequalities that contribute to disproportionately poorer health among marginalized populations nationally and internationally. She has served as principal investigator of federally funded and foundation-funded studies focused on sexual health among marginalized populations. Her research projects include development of sexual health theory regarding how sexual stigma, sexual initiation, and other contextual and sociocultural factors conspire to create unhealthy conditions for Latino gay men in adulthood along with the resiliency factors that ameliorate the negative consequences of these conditions; a mixed-methods study on the structural factors that impact the sexual health of migrant day laborers; and global community-based mixed methods study exploring barriers and facilitators of access to HIV services as well as the development of a sexual health theory among gay men and other men who have sex with men.


 Dale Danley, MPH

Staff Dale Danley began working as a program staff for the Visiting Professor program in 2011. Since completing a Masters of Public Health in 1998, he has conducted clinical research studies, managed health access programs, and worked at a foundation making grants. Click here for Dale's UCSF profile.