Dean R. Rivera


Dr. Dean Rivera is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Postdoctoral Research Scientist at SIG's T32 Training Program on HIV and Substance Use in the Criminal Justice System.


Dr. Dean Rivera is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and a Postdoctoral Research Scientist. Since 2003, Dr. Rivera’s research and professional experience have centered on system- and individual-level factors that affect the treatment and well-being of individuals and families affected by a substance use disorder (SUD). At Columbia University, Dr. Rivera is receiving advanced implementation science training while working on the HEALing Communities Study, which uses a multisystem and multilevel intervention model (Communities That Heal) to reduce opioid overdose deaths by 40% and increase access to naloxone and medication assisted treatment among 67 communities across four states.

In Los Angeles, California, Dr. Rivera conducted a multisite research study with women’s SUD treatment providers (directors and clinicians) to generate a deeper understanding of how cross-system policies and clinical practices between problem-solving courts (PSC), child welfare (CW), and SUD treatment systems adversely affect treatment processes and outcomes. At the individual level, his research seeks to advance understanding of women’s SUD treatment retention and completion differences and associated psychological risk factors between the three primary SUD treatment entry pathways (PSC, CW, and self-referral).

Through an implementation science framework, Dr. Rivera’s research focuses on multisystem and multilevel implementation of evidence-based interventions and practices that will improve SUD treatment delivery systems, treatment provision, and outcomes for individuals and communities affected by SUDs.

Various grant, scholarship foundations, and universities have supported Dr. Rivera’s future such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) T32 Training Program on HIV and Substance Use in the Criminal Justice System, the University of Southern California Hamovitch Research Center, the California State University Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program Fellowship, the California State University Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, the National Hispanic Science Network, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the Hispanic Community Affairs Council, the National Association of Social Workers (Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship), and the CalSWEC II mental health stipend award.

Dr. Dean Rivera has been honored and recognized by distinguished politicians, including California Attorney General Rob Bonta and California Congresswoman Barbara Lee (13th District) for his community engaged service and advocacy. Being further recognized by President Barack Obama, receiving the President’s Volunteer Service Award, reinforces Dr. Rivera’s passion and commitment to improving SUD treatment delivery systems, policies, and clinical practices through social work science.

Dean holds a PhD from the University of Southern California, an MSW from California State University, East Bay, and a BA in Human Development from California State University, East Bay.