Assistant Professor and Faculty Affiliate, Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS)
Dr. Christopher Salas-Wright is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work and a Faculty Affiliate at the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS) at the University of Texas at Austin.
Background and Training:
Prior to his graduate training, Dr. Salas-Wright lived and worked in El Salvador, Central America for several years and traveled during that time throughout Central and South America. While living in Latin America, he worked in the fields of youth development, addictions treatment, and international higher education. Inspired by these experiences, he sought out graduate training as a Clinical Social Worker from the University of Washington School of Social Work and as a Pastoral Minister from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. In these capacities, he gained field experience as a mental health counselor, addictions therapist, and hospital chaplain. Building upon this clinical training, Dr. Salas-Wright earned his PhD in Social Work from the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work and later completed an NIH (T32) Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies (CAAS) and was a cross-training fellow at Brown University’s Alcohol Research Center on HIV (ARCH).
Dr. Salas-Wright’s research focuses on the etiology and prevention of substance use and associated risk behavior, particularly among Latino youth in both the United States and in Latin America. Within that broad domain, specific areas of research include: the etiology of adolescent alcohol and drug use; the intersection of substance use and HIV risk behavior; the examination of the dynamics of youth violence and juvenile delinquency; and the role of religiosity and spirituality in positive youth development.
Using national data files as well as samples of high-risk youth in the United States, Dr. Salas-Wright has examined risk and protective correlates for problem behavior among youth across differences of developmental age, race/ethnicity, and gender. He has also conducted a number of studies examining the externalizing profiles of adolescents and young adults involved in substance use, drug dealing, truancy, school dropout, violence, and crime. This research has been published in journals such as Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Journal of Adolescence, Addictive Behaviors, and Annals of Epidemiology. It has also resulted in two conceptual chapters examining the biosocial nature of substance use and crime. Currently, building upon his postdoctoral training at Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies (CAAS) and the Alcohol Research Center on HIV (ARCH), Dr. Salas-Wright has begun to extend this etiological work into the development of preventative interventions for substance use and HIV risk behavior in high-violence Latino communities.
Building upon his practice experience in Central America, Dr. Salas-Wright he has developed a line of research examining the risk and protective factors associated with substance use, violence, and delinquency among young people in El Salvador’s marginalized communities. This research has highlighted the role of salient protective factors such as spirituality and religious coping, compared the prevalence of externalizing behavior among youth in El Salvador and the United States, and established psychometric validity for measures of key constructs. This research has been published in a variety of criminological, substance use, and social work journals, including: Criminal Justice and Behavior, Substance Use and Misuse, and Revista de Trabajo Social (Santiago, Chile). Currently, Dr. Salas-Wright is developing a study to examine the interrelatedness of substance use, violence, and HIV risk behavior in marginalized communities in San Salvador, El Salvador.
Curriculum Vitae (PDF)
Etiology of adolescent alcohol and drug use; the intersection of substance use and HIV risk behavior; the examination of the dynamics of youth violence and juvenile delinquency; the role of religiosity and spirituality in positive youth development.
- Ph.D., Boston College
- MSW, University of Washington
- MA, Boston College
Social Work BuildingRoom:3.106F
Mailing AddressThe University of Texas
School of Social Work
1925 San Jacinto Blvd D3500
Austin, TX 78712-0358