Promoting Psychological Research and Training on Health Disparities Issues at Ethnic Minority Serving Institutions (ProDIGs)

This small grant program supports early career faculty for specific, limited and highly focused activities related to the preparation of a federal or foundation funding proposal.

Deadline: May 15, 2015

Sponsor: Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs


The ProDIGs initiative seeks to increase the capacity of ethnic minority-serving postsecondary institutions and faculty to engage in health disparities research and to encourage student involvement in health disparities research training. ProDIGs offers small grants and a program of professional development activities targeted to early career faculty at these institutions to support activities associated with the preparation of an initial research or program/curriculum development application for federal or foundation funding.


Faculty at ethnic minority serving post-secondary institutions (e.g., Hispanic-serving institutions, historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, and those community colleges serving primarily minority student populations) are eligible. Please see complete eligibility requirements.

How to Apply

While there is no formal application to complete, applicants should include the following materials with their submission:

  • Cover memo and recent curriculum vitae.

  • Letter(s) of support from your respective academic department/program.

  • A detailed budget of your proposed research or program/curriculum development effort.

Details of the grants program can be found in the request for proposals (PDF, 121KB).

For further information please contact:

Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs
American Psychological Association
Attention: ProDIGS Grant
750 First St., NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
Phone: (202) 336-6029
Fax: (202) 336-6040

Past Recipients

The 2014 Promoting Psychological Research and Training on Health Disparities Issues at Ethnic Minority Serving Institutions Grant awardees have been selected. The three awardees will attend a mandatory seven-day Minority Fellowship Program Psychology Summer Institute professional development institute held here in Washington, D.C., July 20-26, 2014, at which concept papers will be critiqued, major trends in health disparities research will be discussed and opportunities to network with federal funding program directors and federal research institute staff will be provided. It is expected that awardees will submit a funding application to a federal agency or private foundation within 24 months after award of the small grant. The awardees for 2014 are Erlanger A. Turner, PhD, Hsiu-Lan Cheng, PhD, and Cixin Wang, PhD.


Erlanger A. Turner, PhD, assistant professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University in the Department of Psychiatry, project entitled "Predictors of Intentions to Seek Psychotherapy Among African American Parents."

Hsiu-Lan Cheng, PhD, assistant professor of Counseling Psychology at New Mexico State University, project entitled "Development and Validation of a Measure of Patients' Perceived Racial/Ethnic Discrimination in the Health Care Setting."

Cixin Wang, PhD, assistant professor in School Psychology at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) project entitled "Promote Mental Health Literacy among Minority Adolescents and Their Teachers."


Yuying Tsong, PhD, assistant professor in the department of human services at California State University in Fullerton proposed research on “Culturally Specific Risk and Protective Factors of Eating Disordered Behaviors and Attitudes among Asian American Women and Men.” The proposed project attempts to bridge the gap in the literature and examine the between-and within-ethnic group differences of Asian American women and men in their eating disordered attitudes and behaviors and their experiences and/or attitude toward seeking help. Approximately 300 Asian American men and women 18 and above were recruited. Tsong was awarded $6,500.

Dionne Stephens, PhD, and Asia Eaton, PhD, assistant professors of psychology at Florida International University proposed research on “identifying intimate partner relationship scripts to reduce verbal sexual coercion among Hispanic emerging adults.” This study sought to identify the beliefs and attitudes that Hispanic emerging adults hold regarding male to female verbal sexual coercion in intimate relationship contexts. Stephens and Eaton anticipate that this research will provide health disparities information regarding verbal sexual coercion specifically, and dating violence broadly. The long-term goal of this research will develop a quantitative measure of verbal sexual coercion specific to this population’s belief systems, and to implement a large-scale culturally appropriate intervention to decrease the rates of dating violence in diverse Hispanic communities. This research project was awarded $6,500.

Huijun Li, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Florida A&M University proposed research on “Enhancing Mental Health Literacy among African American Young Adults: A critical Step to Reduce Mental Health Disparities.” Li’s project is aimed at improving mental health knowledge and access to clinical services for African-Americans, who experience significant mental health disparities with psycho-educational workshops. Li recruited 400 college students to participate, with 200 attending the psycho-educational workshop and 200 as controls. Li was awarded $6,500.


Sinead Younge, PhD, assistant professor at Morehouse College proposed research on "Development of an Urban Community Garden as a Teaching Tool to Promote Health in Underserved Communities." Younge's proposed project was designed to integrate program and curriculum development into community-based behavioral and health research experiences — specifically, to use community based participatory action research strategies to help define the needs of Atlanta's diverse community, West End. A community garden in West End would not only be a valuable asset to residents, but it would promote university and community partnerships. The project tasked Morehouse College students to assist in identifying the needs of residents in regards to their sustainability needs and practices. Younge was awarded $6,500.

Lesia M. Ruglass, PhD, of The City College of New York proposed research on "Racial/Ethnic Differences in Marijuana Cue Reactivity." Ruglass' proposed project was designed to examine the racial and ethnic differences among marijuana cues and cue reactivity found in individuals with marijuana use disorders. Although substance abuse rates seem to be constant amongst all racial groups, there is an outsized amount of differences many ethnic minorities experience socially and medically. Many illnesses unreasonably affect minorities as a consequence of drug/substance use. Ruglass proposed to research why racial/ethnic minorities experience health disparities in substance abuse by delving into the major racial/ethnic differences between marijuana cues and cue reactivity. Rugless recruited a diverse population from The City College and The Psychological Center at The City College of New York, located in Harlem, to assess three phases of craving, anxiety, mood states, pictorial stimuli, EEG measurement, executive control and cue reactivity over an 18-month period. Ruglass was awarded $6,500.

Nhan L. Truong, PhD, of Tougaloo College proposed research on "HIV Sexual Risk Behaviors Among Gay Identified and Non-Gay Identified African-American Men Who Have Sex With Men in the Jackson, Miss., Area." Truong's project was designed to investigate factors that affect the decision-making processes in regards to HIV risk, such as sexual identity, race, gender, family, religion and spirituality. He targeted a population of young African-American men living in Jackson, Miss., who have sex with men. Due to the differences in how these men identify themselves, the project was created to explore what social psychological factors play a role in contributing to gay identified and non-gay identified African-American males engaging in HIV sexual risk activities/behaviors, in order to identify the similarities and differences each group shares when deciding to engage in risky sexual behavior. Truong developed structured interviews over an eighteen-month period to determine participants' perceptions of masculinity amongst young black men who have sex with men, and their thoughts on HIV sexual risk behaviors. The findings were promised to be integrated into a National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) grant, then evolved into an intervention study to assist in creating successful HIV intervention programs that target gay identified and non-gay identified African-American populations. Truong was awarded $6,500.


Toni Stepter Harris, PhD, assistant professor at Virginia State University proposed research on “Predictors of Obesity in a Cross Section of African Americans: A Multifaceted and Longitudinal Approach.” Harris sought to provide strategies for the prevention of obesity and subsequent chronic illness by addressing unhealthy behaviors from a biocultural co-constructivism perspective and creating a database of health statistics for investigators at Virginia State University.

Torhonda Corliss Lee, PhD, assistant professor at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University proposed research on “Cultivating a Culturally Competent Public Health Force: Development and Implementation of a Continuing Education Curriculum.” Lee intended to conduct vigorous research and ongoing continuing education and training in the area of cultural competence at Florida A & M University’s Institute of Public Health.

Munyi Shea, PhD, assistant professor at California State University, Los Angeles focused on “Parenting Influences on Bullying Involvement in Asian and Latino Immigrant Children.” Shea intended to examine parenting behaviors — including parenting styles and parental involvement — of Asian and Latino immigrant parents and the subsequent effect on their child’s bullying involvement (perpetration, victimization or both) and health outcomes.


Maureen A. Allwood, PhD, a psychologist at City University of New York's (CUNY) John Jay College of Criminal Justice focused on "Stress, trauma and physiological reactivity among minority youth" and sought to further our understanding of the developmental aspects of stress response by examining trauma exposures, posttraumatic stress symptoms, delinquent behaviors and psychophysiological stress reactivity among 4 groups (trauma-exposed, delinquent youth, a combined group and controls) of 12- to 17-year-old urban youth.

Russ Espinoza, PhD, a counseling psychologist at California State University, Fullerton proposed to examine "Latino student usage of counseling and health services at California State University, Fullerton." Espinoza sought to both determine why Latino students significantly underutilize university counseling and health services, and test an intervention for increasing such usage.

Mariann Weierich, PhD, a psychologist at CUNY's Hunter College, proposed to focus her efforts on "Race-related differences in neural process of affect in trauma-exposed adults," and training students to fully incorporate ethnicity and race within a comprehensive clinical neuroscience approach to trauma-related stress. The study focused on examining neural processing of affective information in African-American and Caucasian adults without PTSD who are exposed to trauma through use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).