Director of Doctoral Studies
Department of Urban-Global Public Health
Cancer health disparities; cancer health outcomes in incarcerated populations; tobacco control; criminal justice and health.
Dr. Valera is an Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health and also an Affiliated Faculty in the School of Social Work at Rutgers University. She earned her PhD in Social Work from the University of South Carolina, College of Social Work. Dr. Valera completed a three-year postdoctoral research fellowship in human immunodeficiency virus prevention and human sexuality from Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and a one-year clinical fellowship in cancer health disparities from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She has sustained several years of NIH-funded research in cancer health disparities among men with criminal justice histories at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, and Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. In addition, Dr. Valera is a certified tobacco treatment specialist and the co-chair/co-founder of the Bronx Reentry Working Group, a coalition of returning citizens, friends, and family members supporting each other through community reintegration.
Dr. Valera’s research uses a public health and social work lens to explore health behaviors and health promotion strategies to reduce the detrimental effects of incarceration, cancer burden, (particularly cigarette smoking/tobacco use) and HIV in men. Specifically, she engages in scholarship that explores how situational and contextual factors influence the health of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men. Moreover, the theoretical foundation that frames her research is rooted in public health and social work. Dr. Valera’s research falls into three broad topic areas: 1) Cancer-health disparities and incarcerated populations: Much of her scholarship in this area focuses on tobacco smoke and smoking cessation among formerly incarcerated and incarcerated men. These studies point to the urgent need to provide prison-based smoking cessation programs in criminal justice settings to reduce the detrimental effects of cigarette smoking.
2006 – 2009 Chief Postdoctoral Fellow; (2008-2009) Mentor: Rogério M. Pinto and Nabila El-Bassel, Columbia University/New York Psychiatric Institute. Postdoctoral research training program in HIV infection and prevention.
2009 – 2010 Postdoctoral Fellow, Mentor: Bruce D. Rapkin, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Division of Community Collaboration and Implementation Science. Research training in cancer prevention, screening, and control.
2013 – 2014 Research Fellow, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health (Program to Increase Diversity in Cardiovascular Health-Related Research), SUNY Downstate Medical Center.
Valera, P., Burkholder, G., Clark, C. B., Raper, J. L., Saag, M., Cropsey, K. L. (2017) "A pilot trial examining racial difference in response to algorithm-guiding smoking cessation treatment selection in persons living with HIV/AIDS", AIDS & Behavior Vol. 21
Valera, P., Chang, Y., Lian, Z. (2017) "HIV risk inside U.S. prisons: a systematic review of risk reduction interventions conducted in U.S. prisons", AIDS Care Vol. 29 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09540121.2016.1271102
Cook, S. H., Valera, P., Caleb, B., Wilson, P. (2017) "Adult attachment as a moderator of the association between childhood interpersonal traumatic experiences and depressive symptoms among young Black gay and bisexual men", Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology Vol. 23 https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2016-49338-001
Valera, P., Bachman, L., Rucker, J. (2016) "A Qualitative Study of Smoking Behaviors among Newly Released Justice-Involved Men and Women in New York City", Health & Social Work Vol. 41 https://academic.oup.com/hsw/article/41/2/121/2356366
Valera, P., Kates-Benman, C. L. (2016) "Exploring the Use of Special Housing Units by Men Released From New York Correctional Facilities: A Small Mixed-Methods Study.", American Journal of Men’s Health Vol. 10 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=25759366&report=abstract
Armstrong, B., Kalmuss, D., Cushman, L., Bjarnadottir, R., Peters, Z., Valera, P., Cohall, A. (2016) "Academic Health Center–Community Justice Program Partnerships: Linking Men in the Justice System to Health Care", Project MUSE Vol. 10 https://muse.jhu.edu/article/621707/summary
Martos, A. J., Valera, P., Bockting, W. O., Wilson, P. A. (2016) "Exploring sexual health among young Black men who have sex with men in New York City.", Health Education Research Vol. 31 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=27081188&report=abstract
Motanya, N. C., Valera, P. (2016) "Public Health Management, Climate Change, and Incarceration: What Is the Connection?", Journal of Public Health Management and Practice Vol. 22 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=25974409&report=abstract
Co-Editor, The Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology (2013)