My research aims to provide a more accurate and complete account of the individual and contextual factors that are linked to the development and outcomes of ethnic minority and immigrant youth, with an emphasis on Latinos. Grounded in developmental, ecological, and culturally informed theoretical frameworks, my research focuses on the interplay among contextual factors (i.e., interpersonal, cultural, and place) in informing youth outcomes (e.g., mental health and substance use) across development (early-, middle-, late-adolescence). My work pays particular attention to parenting and the parent-adolescent relationship (e.g., parent-adolescent conflict) and the conditions under these interpersonal factors contributes to youth outcomes, focusing on individual and contextual mediating and moderating processes as well as changes across development. I have examined the role that the parent-adolescent relationship and family-level acculturation processes have on Mexican-origin female adolescent depressive symptoms and timing of sexual initiation. I have also examined the interplay between parenting and neighborhood risk. I am also interested in the changing influence of parent-adolescent relationship factors as youth move across adolescence and beyond. Because youth’s social worlds expand during adolescence, some of my work has looked at adolescents’ experiences with non-family members such as peers, friends, and romantic partners and their role in Latino adolescent outcomes. Because Latinos make sense of their lives at the intersection of their cultural experiences at home, school, and other contexts, I pay particular attention to the role of culture. My expertise in this area center on acculturation and enculturation processes at the intersection of adolescents and parents (i.e., acculturation and enculturation gaps) and the conditions under which parent-child cultural gaps are linked to family and adjustment outcomes. My current work in this area is looking at the role of the acculturation gaps across developmental stages (e.g., early vs. middle adolescence). I am collaborating with Drs. Congers and Robins at UC Davis in their ongoing NIDA- 10-year funded longitudinal study that is following over 600 Mexican-origin families since the target child was in 5th grade. With this data, I am currently examining latent classes of mother-child and father-child acculturation-enculturation gaps and their link to parent-child relationship and substance use from pre-adolescent to late-adolescence. Because Latinos are moving to new destinations, I am also collaborating with Dr. Dawn Witherspoon in the Psychology Department to explore the connections among family-level acculturation processes and place domains (e.g., neighborhoods) in an emerging Latino community in Pennsylvania (18% of population is Latino) to address questions at the interaction of parent-child acculturation gap, place-based domains, and adolescent behavioral patterns.

Research Interests

Adolescent Development; Adjustment Among Ethnic Minority Youth; Latino Adolescents Living in the U.S.


  • Ph.D., Family and Human Development, Arizona State University, 2008
  • M.S., Human and Community Development, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003
  • B.A., Psychology (Summa cum laude), California State University-Northridge, 2001