The number one nutritional problem in the U.S., childhood obesity, is associated with exponential increases in life-threatening health problems. The Sanos y Fuertes (Healthy and Strong) project will establish a permanent graduate certificate in Latino Health and Nutrition Education at CSULB. The program’s goal is to enhance graduate student preparedness to envision, design, implement, and evaluate health-related, community-based, participatory research information about interventions to address childhood obesity. Thirty-five bilingual/bicultural Latino health professionals are receiving specific training, tools, and skills needed to provide culturally and linguistically relevant and science-based childhood nutrition, overweight and obesity education, and chronic disease prevention to Latino communities.



  • Gail Frank, DrPH, MPH, RD, CHES
  • Co-Principal Investigator
  • gail.frank@csulb.edu
  • Mara Bird, PhD
  • Co-Principal Investigator
  • mara.bird@csulb.edu
  • Natalia Gatdula
  • Project Coordinator
  • natalia.gatdula@csulb.edu
  • Dr. Selena Nguyen-Rodriguez, Ph.D
  • Evaluator
  • selana.nguyen-rodriguez@csulb.edu
  • Erika Bonilla
  • Intervention Supervisor
  • erika.bonilla@csulb.edu
  • Toni Espinoza-Ferrell, MPH
  • Curriculum Development Coordinator
  • Toni.Espinoza-Ferrell@csulb.edu

Graduate Research Fellow


  • Rosalva Salazar
  • Public Health
  • Diana Aguirre
  • Public Health
  • Vanessa Avila
  • Nutrition
  • Noemi Fernandez
  • Social Work
  • Lorena Rodriguez
  • Social Work
  • Kaylee Rivera
  • Public Health
  • Cynthia Magaña
  • Social Work


  • Lizette Alvarez
  • Graduate Research Fellow
  • ms.lizettealvarez@gmail.com
  • Rita Heng
  • Gradute Research Fellow
  • rita.heng@student.csulb.edu
  • Nancy Lopez
  • Graduate Research Fellow
  • NancyLopez85@gmail.com
  • Cristian Quiroz
  • Graduate Research Fellow
  • Cristian.Quiroz@student.csulb.edu
  • Minerva Torres
  • Gradute Research Fellow
  • minerva.torres@student.csulb.edu
  • Lupita Cardenas
  • Graduate Research Fellow
  • Lupitagcc@gmail.com
  • Safieh Ajine
  • Graduate Research Fellow
  • s.ajine@gmail.com

Promotoras de Salud / Community Health Workers

  • Maria Cristina Chaple
  • maria.chaple@csulb.edu
  • Concepcion Garcia
  • c.garcia@csulb.edu
  • Virginia Mata
  • virgim42@yahoo.com
  • Maricela Parga
  • maricela.parga@csulb.edu


  1. Provide 35 graduate fellowship opportunities to prepare participating students for careers leading to improvements in health, nutrition, and reduction of obesity among Latinos
  2. Institutionalize a 6-course graduate level Latino Health and Nutrition Studies Certificate
  3. Create a culturally and linguistically relevant Sanos y Fuertes toolkit to be administered to 375 Latino families with children ages 2-8

Graduate Certificate in Latino Health and Nutrition Studies

This certificate focuses on enhancing the academic development and training of health and human service professionals to provide culturally and linguistically relevant care and education for the Latino population through their respective job placements. The certificate is comprised of 18 units. Components of the program include analysis of the health status and access issues affecting Latinos, development of culturally and linguistically relevant interventions, and implementation of chronic disease prevention best practices and community based participatory research. The certificate incorporates a thorough overview of Latino health from early childhood development to the multiple chronic diseases that continue to impact this population. This program must be completed in conjunction with a CSULB degree program. [Download: Graduate Certificate Application]

HSC 507 Health Equity and Health Disparities Research in the U.S. (3 Units)
Factors Explored: Structural-environmental factors associated with health issues and disease, evidence-based research and programs affecting access to healthcare, and positive health outcomes among underserved populations.
HHS 634 Advanced Latino Community Health (3 Units)
Factors Explored: Current policies, epidemiology, and cultural & linguistic factors that influence the etiologies of disease, health status, and access.
HHS 635 Latino Health Promotion and Disease Prevention: Focus on the Child (3 Units)
Factors Explored: Cultural, structural-enviromental, and genetic factors that impact the well-being of the Latino child at different development stages.