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Alice Cepeda


Alice Cepeda focuses on the social epidemiology of drug use and the related health risk behaviors affecting urban Mexican-origin populations.

Media Contact
Alice Cepeda
Phone:  +1 213.821.6464
Rank:  Tenure Track Faculty

Alice Cepeda


Alice Cepeda focuses on the social epidemiology of drug use and the related health risk behaviors affecting urban Mexican-origin populations.

Media Contact


Alice Cepeda is currently a professor in the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Previously, she was in the Department of Sociology and associate director of the Center for Drug and Social Policy Research at the University of Houston. She received her doctoral degree from the City University of New York, Graduate Center.

Professor Cepeda’s research has focused on generating theoretical and empirical knowledge that contributes to a greater understanding of the association of drug abuse and health disparities across marginalized minority populations. Specifically, her research has highlighted the unique gendered experiences of minority women within the drug use subculture and the unintended consequences on mental and physical health. This research highlights the familial, cultural and environmental factors that either exacerbate or protect individuals from detrimental behavioral risks. She is currently the MPI of a NIMHD study focused on identifying mechanisms by which immigration processes expose “floating immigrant populations” (those who move back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico either voluntarily or forced) to distinct environments, increases their susceptibility to risk behaviors and contributes to mental and physical health disparities. As part of this and her previous NIH studies, Professor Cepeda and her team have developed unique approaches by which to recruit some of the most marginalized and hidden populations of Latino origin individuals and their families who have gone underrepresented in drug abuse research.

Her research publications have explored the complex of social determinants, including familial, neighborhood and socio-ecological factors that contribute to drug use and negative social and health outcomes among vulnerable minority populations. Additionally, Professor Cepeda is committed to the training and mentoring of future Hispanic and other minority investigators that have gone underrepresented in biomedical, behavioral and clinical drug and alcohol abuse addiction research.

To reference the work of Alice Cepeda online, we ask that you directly quote their work where possible and attribute it to "Alice Cepeda, a faculty at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work” (LINK: https://dworakpeck.usc.edu)


City University of New York

PhD 2004

The University of Texas at San Antonio

MS 1999

The University of Texas at San Antonio

BA 1995

Area of Expertise

  • Urban Affairs
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Drug Use and Abuse
  • Social Work
  • Social Work Education
  • Latino Communities
  • Mental Health

Industry Experience

  • Social Services
  • Research
  • Education/Learning
  • Health and Wellness

Research Interest

Behavioral Health Diversity/Cross Cultural Health HIV/AIDS Social Development/Policy Substance Abuse

Articles & Publications

Nowotny, K. M., Valdez, A., & Cepeda, A. (2023). Syndemic Profiles for HIV, Hepatitis C, and Sextually Transmitted Infections Among Mexican American Women Formerly Affiliated with Youth Street Gangs. AIDS and behavior, 27(2), 388–399. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10461-022-03773-8. PMCID: PMC9286305

Valdez, A., Cepeda, A., Frankeberger, J., & Nowotny, K. M.  (2022). The opioid epidemic among the Latino population in California. Drug and alcohol dependence reports, 2, 100029. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dadr.2022.100029. PMCID: PMC9948808.

Cepeda, A., Nowotny, K.M., Frankeberger, J., Ramirez, E., Purdue, T., Valdez, A., Rodriguez, V.E. (2020). Examination of Multilevel Domains of Minority Stress: Implications for Drug Use and Mental and Physical Health among Latina Women who have sex with Women and Men. PLOS One, 15(3): e0230437. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0230437. PMCID: PMC7098621.

Cepeda, A., Nowotny, K.M., Frankeberger, J., Saint Onge, J.M., Valdez, A. (2018) Biological Risk and Infection Profiles of Young Adult Male Mexican American Gang Members. Public Health Reports.

Nowotny, K.M., Frankeberger, J., Rodriguez, V., Valdez, A.,  Cepeda, A. (2018) Mexican American Women Living in a Disadvantaged Community. Behavioral Medicine.

Cepeda, A., Frankeberger, J., Bailey, J.L., Nowotny, K.M., Natera-Rey, G., Valdez, A. (2016) HIV and STI Knowledge, Testing, and Risk Among Adult Crack Users in Mexico City: Baseline Findings from a Feasibility Study. AIDS Care.