Dr. Valdez is currently a professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. He was previously a professor at the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston and Director of the Center for Drug & Social Policy Research. He obtained his Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
A primary focus of his research has been on the relationship between substance abuse and violence and health issues among high-risk groups. His research projects have been among “hidden populations” such as youth and prison gang members, injecting and non-injecting heroin users and sex workers on the U.S./Mexico border. He has published over 75 journal articles and chapters and academic publications including two books. His most recent book is entitled Mexican American Girls and Gang Violence: Beyond Risk (2007).
He is a recipient of federal grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). His current NIH funded grant focuses on examining the long-term consequences of adolescent gang membership among Mexican Americans in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Valdez is also a recipient of a NIDA Minority Institution Drug Abuse Research Development Program grant and a NIDA Interdisciplinary Research Training Institute on Hispanic Drug Abuse.
Dr. Valdez received the Award for Excellence in Mentorship from the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse (NHSN) for his role in directing the NHSN Summer Training Institute. He is the recipient of numerous other awards including the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Scott Geer Award for Post Graduate Achievement in Advancing Understanding of Urban Social Institutions. He is a founding member of the NHSN National Steering Committee. He is a recent recipient (2009) of the Senior Scholar Award for the Society for the Study of Social Problems, Drinking and Drugs Division.