Contact Information

Assistant Professor
Boston University
School of Social Work
264 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215

Office (617) 353-3750



Membership Information

Membership Category:
Research Scientists

Member Since: 2013


Christopher Salas-Wright, Ph.D.

Christopher Salas-Wright, Ph.D.


BA, Santa Clara University, Philosophy
MA, Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry
MSW, University of Washington, School of Social Work
PhD, Boston College, Graduate School of Social Work

Research Statement

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.

About Me

Christopher Salas-Wright is an Assistant Professor in the Boston University School of Social Work and a Research Fellow with the National Hispanic Science Network’s (NHSN) Early Stage Career Mentoring for NIDA Research program. His research interests include: drug abuse and violence prevention; immigration and the role of cultural processes in the development of Latino youth; and the epidemiology of high-risk and antisocial behavior.
Since 2012, Dr. Salas-Wright has authored more than 90 scholarly publications that have appeared in journals such as Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Addictive Behaviors, Journal of Substance Use Treatment, Journal of Adolescent Health, Developmental Psychology, Journal of Psychiatric Research, Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, and Annals of Epidemiology. He recently completed funded research projects on the bio × social factors related to substance use and violence among Hispanic youth as well as the development of a substance use prevention program for college student veterans. Dr. Salas-Wright serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Journal of Criminal Justice, and Research on Social Work Practice and serves as a reviewer for more than 40 journals and publishers across the disciplines of Public Health, Psychiatry, Developmental Psychology, Social Work, and Criminology. His research has appeared in numerous television and print sources, including: MSNBC/NBS News, USA TODAY, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star Telegram, Fox News, Fox News Latino, Fox Business, Cosmopolitan, Yahoo!, Teen Vogue, New York Magazine, New York Daily News, La Opinión, and Conan.
Dr. Salas-Wright received his PhD in Social Work from the Boston College School of Social Work in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. After his doctoral studies, he completed an NIH (T32) Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies (CAAS) and was also a cross-training fellow at Brown University’s Alcohol Research Center on HIV (ARCH). He completed a NIDA-funded research training fellowship with the National Hispanic Science Network’s Interdisciplinary Research Training Institute on Hispanic Drug Abuse as well. In addition to his research training, Dr. Salas-Wright received graduate training as a Clinical Social Worker from the University of Washington School of Social Work as well as training 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.
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.

View Curriculum Vitae