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Elizabeth (Libby) Salerno Valdez, PhD, MPH

Elizabeth Valdez headshot

Assistant Professor
Community Health and Prevention
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PhD, Health Behavior Health Promotion, University of Arizona
MPH, MPH Health Behavior Health Promotion, University of Arizona
BA, Latin American Studies, University of Arizona


Dr. Elizabeth “Libby” Salerno Valdez is an assistant professor in the Department of Community Health & Prevention. Her research program fosters ethical and mutually beneficial academic-community partnerships using participatory, social justice-oriented approaches to examine the structural factors that influence health inequities among historically marginalized and racialized adolescents, emerging adults, and pregnant and parenting people.

Dr. Valdez’s current research is focused on developing community-led health equity structural interventions that attempt to change the social, physical, economic or political environments that affect the health of young people from historically marginalized backgrounds. Relatedly, she is also interested in testing participatory action research as an intervention to combat the negative effects of structural violence on health. Central to her work is the use of community-led study findings to initiate local and state policy and systems change in the areas of sexual and reproductive health, housing, transportation, childcare, financial security, and other social services.

Dr. Valdez is currently PI of the study “Needs and Barriers to Access of Medical Cannabis by Parenting Women by Race” and co-PI of the Philly Joy Bank Evaluation, a mixed methods study to understand whether and how receipt of guaranteed income during and after pregnancy impacts parental mental health and prematurity (as well as other intermediate outcomes). She recently completed the four-year study “Using Participatory Methods to Assess Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) Outcomes Among Diverse Youth in Massachusetts” which examined how structural racism, in combination with other systems of oppression, contributes to inequitable adolescent sexual and reproductive health outcomes.

Dr. Valdez received her doctoral degree in Health Behavior Health Promotion from the University of Arizona in 2019 and completed a postdoctoral training fellowship at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Research Interests

  • Community-led Health Equity Structural Interventions
  • Participatory Action Research
  • Adolescent Health
  • Maternal and Child Health
  • Mental Health
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health
  • Substance Use
  • Latinx Immigrant Health
  • U.S.-Mexico Border Health


Valdez, Elizabeth & Chan, Jazmine & Donis, Andrea & Collins-Lovell, Camille & Dixon, Saharra & Beatriz, Elizabeth & Gubrium, Aline. (2022). Structural Racism and Its Influence On Sexual and Reproductive Health Inequities Among Immigrant Youth. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. 10.1007/s10903-022-01385-x.

Lovell, Camille & Valdez, Elizabeth & Chan, Jazmine & Beatriz, Elizabeth & Gubrium, Aline. (2022). ‘It’s whether or not you got people’: school-based social support to address adolescent sexual and reproductive health inequities. Sex Education. 1-16. 10.1080/14681811.2022.2106560.

Lohr, Abby & Raygoza, Jhenitza & Valdez, Elizabeth & Hassett, Leslie & Gubrium, Aline & Fiddian-Green, Alice & Larkey, Linda & Sia, Irene & Wieland, Mark. (2022). The use of digital stories as a health promotion intervention: a scoping review. BMC Public Health. 22. 10.1186/s12889-022-13595-x.

Lohr, Abby & Mantina, Namoonga & Valdez, Elizabeth & Iglesias, Charisse & Ingram, Maia & Valdez, Luis & Zapien, Jill & Rosales, Cecilia. (2022). Service Learning on the U.S./Mexico Border: Transforming Student Paradigms. Pedagogy in Health Promotion. 8. 207-215. 10.1177/23733799221085250.

Caruso, Isabella & Valdez, Elizabeth & Lovell, Camille & Chan, Jazmine & Beatriz, Elizabeth & Gubrium, Aline. (2022). The Need for Community-Responsive and Flexible Sex Ed for Historically Marginalized Youth. Sexuality Research and Social Policy. 10.1007/s13178-022-00717-8.

Valdez, E. S., Valdez, L., & Garcia, D. O. (2021). Using participatory methods to enhance youth engagement in substance use research. Health Promotion Practice, 1524839921990005. Advance online publication. PMID: 33611963

Simmons, William & Menjívar, Cecilia & Valdez, Elizabeth. (2020). The Gendered Effects of Local Immigration Enforcement: Latinas’ Social Isolation in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. International Migration Review. 55. 019791832090550. 10.1177/0197918320905504.

Valdez, Elizabeth & Gubrium, Aline. (2020). Shifting to Virtual CBPR Protocols in the Time of Corona Virus/COVID-19. International Journal of Qualitative Methods. 19. 160940692097731. 10.1177/1609406920977315.

Valdez, Elizabeth & Korchmaros, Josephine & Sabo, Samantha & Garcia, David & Carvajal, Scott & Stevens, Sally. (2019). How the U.S.-Mexico border influences adolescent substance use: Youth participatory action research using photovoice. International Journal of Drug Policy. 73. 10.1016/j.drugpo.2019.07.011.

Valdez, Elizabeth & Sabo, Samantha & Butler, Matthew & Camplain, Ricky & Simpson, Rosi & Castro, Yara. (2019). Perinatal depression symptom prevalence on the U.S.–Mexico border. Journal of Rural Mental Health. 43. 38-44. 10.1037/rmh0000107.

See Dr. Valdez's complete list of publications on Google Scholar