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Welcome to the Youth Development in Context Lab

The Youth Development in Context Lab seeks to better understand the ways that community, school, peer, and family settings combine to shape child and adolescent development. With a special focus on cultural contexts of development, our research covers topics such as the effects of discrimination on socioemotional development, interethnic group social preferences, bicultural identity development, and school attitudes and outcomes among diverse groups of immigrant youth in the US. In addition to the studies housed at Suffolk, our research team maintains strong collaborations with researchers across the country and in Puerto Rico.

People

  • Amy Kerivan Marks, PhD

    Specialty Areas
    Developmental Psychology (Social & Emotional), At-risk Youth, Culture & Immigration, Identity & Mixed Methods.

    How do cultural and social contexts like immigration influence youth development? How do adolescents navigate competing cultural contexts (e.g., home, school, peers) as they form their identities? How can every day social settings such as schools and peer groups promote positive development among at-risk youth? My students and I are interested in exploring person-context interactions such as these, particularly within vulnerable populations. Vulnerability can come in many forms – through poverty, discrimination from being a “minority” group member, or through legal status as an undocumented immigrant, for example. Learning about how children and adolescents from vulnerable groups thrive (or don’t thrive) is a central goal of our research. Because many of our research questions are process and context oriented in nature, our lab draws from a variety of mixed qualitative-quantitative methodological techniques. We also rely heavily on positive youth development and resiliency perspectives to inform our work. Graduate students in my lab have recently applied these methodological and theoretical orientations to dissertation topics related to adolescent female sexual identity development, health behaviors and outcomes among immigrant youth, characteristics of the college context which support ethnic minority student retention, and drug misuse patterns among ethnic minority adolescents.

    Selected Publications:

    Marks, A. K., Ejesi, K., McCullough, M., & Garcia Coll, C. (In press). The development and implications of racism and discrimination. In M. Lamb, C. Garcia Coll, & R. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of Child Psychology, Seventh Edition, Volume Three: Socioemotional Processes. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

    Conn, B. M., & Marks, A. K. (2014). Ethnic/racial group differences in peer and parent influence on adolescent prescription drug misuse. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.35(4), 257-265. DOI: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000058.

    Marks, A. K., Ejesi, K., & Garcia Coll, C. (2014). The U.S. immigrant paradox in childhood and adolescence. Child Development Perspectives, 8(2), 59-64. DOI: 10.1111/cdep.12071

    McCullough, M., & Marks, A. K. (2014). The immigrant paradox and adolescent obesity: Examining health behaviors as potential mediators. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 35(2), 138-143. DOI: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000027.

    Guarini, T. E., Marks, A. K., Patton, F., & Garcia Coll, C. (2013). Number of sexual partners, pregnancy, and the immigrant paradox: Explaining the first generation advantage for Latina adolescents. Journal of Research on Adolescence. DOI: 10.1111/jora.12096

    Marks, A. K., & Abo-Zena, M. (2013). What we might have missed: Lessons from diverse methodologies in the study of immigrant families. Research in Human Development, 10(4), 285-288. DOI: 10.1080/15427609.2013.846040

    Conn, B. M., Marks, A. K., & Coyne, L. (2013). A three-generation study of Chinese immigrant extended family child care-giving experiences in the preschool years. Research in Human Development, 10(4), 308-331. DOI: 10.1080/15427609.2013.846047

    *Marks, A. K., Godoy, C.M., & Garcia Coll, C. (2013). An ecological approach to understanding immigrant child and adolescent developmental competencies. In L. Gershoff, R. Mistry, & D. Crosby (Eds.), The Contexts of Child Development. (pp. 75-89) New York: Oxford University Press.

    Garcia Coll, C., & Marks, A. K. (2012). The Immigrant Paradox in Children and Adolescents: Is becoming American a developmental risk? Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

    García Coll, C., & Marks, A. K. (2009). Immigrant stories: Ethnicity and academics in middle childhood. New York: Oxford University Press.

    * Note this book was awarded the 2013 Social Policy Award for Best Edited Book by the Society for Research in Adolescence.

  • Kida Ejesi

    My name is Kida Ejesi and I am a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at Suffolk University. I was born and raised in Western Massachusetts, however, I decided to move eastward for college. I graduated from Tufts University in 2011 with a B.S. in Psychology and Child Development. My research interests lie in the developmental, psychological and socioemotional challenges faced by minority youth, as well as the processes surrounding ethnic identity formation, particularly in multiracial adolescents and emerging adults. My Early Research Project, entitled "Relationships Among Parental Attachment and Ethnic/Racial Identity Exploration and Commitment in Emerging Adulthood" aims to look at the relationship between one's attachment to their parent/caregiver and their feelings of attachment toward their ethnic identity. I also have an active line of research activity and interests around the effects of discrimination in childhood and adolescence. My lived experiences as a biracial individual—my father West African and my mother is a fair-skinned, half French, half German New Jerseyan—as well as my work with multicultural/multiethnic at-risk youth have only furthered my research interest in these areas.

    Research Interests: 

    Child & adolescent development; ethnic identity; biracial youth development

    Publications:

    Marks, A. K., Ejesi, K., McCullough, M., & Garcia Coll, C. (In press). The development and implications of racism and discrimination. In M. Lamb, C. Garcia Coll, & R. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of Child Psychology, Seventh Edition, Volume Three: Socioemotional Processes. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

    Marks, A. K., Ejesi, K., & Garcia Coll, C. (2014). The U.S. immigrant paradox in childhood and adolescence. Child Development Perspectives, 8(2), 59-64. DOI: 10.1111/cdep.12071


  • Camila Godoy

    My name is Camila Godoy, and I am a graduate student at Suffolk University in the Clinical Ph.D. program. I was raised in Puerto Rico, born to a Salvadoran mother and Argentinean father. I moved to Boston in 2009 after graduating from Columbia University with an M.A. in Psychology. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Amy Marks. My research interests surfaced from and are continuously informed by my experiences living and working in Latin America as a multicultural and multilingual individual. They have been furthered through my constant strive to understand the bidirectional influence of culture on development. My Early Research Project, for example, considered the influence of neighborhood characteristics on the “immigrant paradox”—a phenomenon where youths who are less acculturated to mainstream North American culture display better outcomes than more acculturated or native born. For my dissertation, I am studying some of the unique family psychological experiences related to immigration documentation statuses.

    Research Interests:

    Ethnic identity, immigration, acculturation, segmented assimilation theory, the immigrant paradox

    Publications & Presentations:

    Marks, A.K., Godoy-Delgado, C.M. & Garcia Coll, C. (2013). An ecological approach to understanding immigrant child and adolescent developmental competencies. In L. Gershoff, R. Mistry, & D. Crosby (Eds.), The Contexts of Child Development (pp. 75-89). Oxford University Press.

    Godoy-Delgado, C.M. (2012). Ethnic identity. Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health. Springer.

    Godoy-Delgado, C.M., Marks, A.K., Swenson, L.P., Katsifiacas, D., & Sirin, S.R. (April, 2011) The immigrant paradox and Hispanic youth: A meta-analytic investigation of segmented assimilation theory. Poster presentation at the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

  • Kerrie Pieloch

    I am a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program at Suffolk University. I am originally from Long Island, New York but I have been living in the Boston area for the past seven years. I graduated from Boston College in 2011 with a B.A. in Psychology with a clinical concentration, and after college I worked for two years as the lab manager for the Social Cognitive Development Lab at Harvard University. My training is in both developmental and clinical psychology and my research focuses on risk and resiliency factors of immigrant and refugee children in the Boston area. 

    My Master’s project, “Immigrant Children’s Perceptions of Discrimination”, investigates the discrimination experiences of immigrant children from Cambodia, Portugal, and the Dominican Republic. My other research interests include children’s experiences with interpersonal violence, trauma, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder. 

    Research Interests:

    Child and adolescent development, child and family psychopathology, trauma, immigrant and refugee risk and resilience factors 

    Publications & Presentations: 

    Marks, A. K., & Pieloch, K. (Under review). The school contexts of immigrant children and adolescents. In M. Abo-Zena, A. K. Marks, & C. Suarez-Orozco (Eds.), Immigrant child development: A Contextual Approach. New York: NYU Press.

    Widen, S., Pochedly, J. Pieloch, K., & Russell, J. (2013). Introducing the sick face. Motivation and Emotion, 37(3), 550-557. doi: 10.1007/s11031-013-9353-6

    Pieloch, K. & Winner, E. (2012). Detail oriented: Deaf adolescents surpass hearing adolescents in realistic drawing. New England Psychological Association Annual Meeting, Worchester, MA. Paper.


  • Eva Woodward

    I am an advanced graduate student in the clinical psychology PhD program at Suffolk University. Before locating to Boston, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology at Oklahoma State University. My foundational background in basic science and health, and clinical experience in integrated primary care have influenced my current clinical interests in health psychology. Specifically, I am very interested in strengthening the application of psychologists’ skills in behavioral health to a wide range of physical health issues (e.g., chronic pain, medication adherence). As a first generation college student, another of my primary interests is improving the quality of life of underrepresented populations. This interest has manifested most in my research on sexual minority (lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer [LGBQ]) mental and physical health. Specifically, I am involved in a number of projects related to suicide, HIV, and resilience among the sexual minority community.

    Research Interests:

    Health psychology, HIV, sexual minority mental and physical health, resilience, minority stress theory

    Publications & Presentations:

    Woodward, E. N., Pantalone, D. W., & Bradford, J. (2013). Differences in rates of suicidal ideation and attempts in a sexual minority sample. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health, published online first Jan. 2013. doi/abs/10.1080/19359705.2012.763081

    Bloom, J. M., Woodward, E. N., Susmaras, T., & Pantalone, D. W. (2012).  A systematic review of dialectical behavior therapy strategies for treating borderline personality disorder in inpatient settings. Psychiatric Services, 63, 881-888.

    Woodward, E. N. & Pantalone, D. W. (2012). The role of social support and negative affect in medication adherence for sexual minority men living with HIV. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, 23, 388-396. doi:10.1016/j.jana.2011.09.004

    Newcomb, M. E. (chair), Garcia, S. C., Pachankis, J. E., Schwartz, D. R., & Woodward, E. N. (2013, November). Advancing the science of sexual minority stress from multiple disciplines: Measurement issues, mental health associations, and implications for CBT treatment. Symposium at the 47th Annual Convention of the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Nashville, TN. 

    Valentine, S. E., Pantalone, D. W., Woodward, E. N., & O’Cleirigh ,C. M. (2013, March). Syndemic indicators predict poor medication adherence and increased health care utilization for urban HIV-positive sexual minority men. Poster presentation at the 34th Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, San Francisco, CA. 

    Woodward, E. N., Pantalone, D. W., & Gray, T. W. (2013, January). Evaluation of an interpersonal theory of suicide in a sexual minority sample. Poster presentation at the 8th Biennial National Multicultural Summit, Houston, TX.

    Woodward, E.N., & Pantalone, D.W. (2011, August). The role of social support and negative affect in medication adherence for HIV-positive men who have sex with men. Poster presentation at the 119th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.

    Woodward, E.N., & Wingate, L. (2009, April). The effect of outness on mental health in gay and lesbian people. Poster presentation at the Annual Convention of the Southwestern Psychological Association, San Antonio, TX.


Projects

  • The Immigrant Paradox in Childhood & Adolescence

    Would you find it surprising to learn that some of the most high-achieving and healthiest members of the U.S.’s childhood population are also its newest members? The immigrant paradox is a population-level phenomenon in which newly-immigrated children and adolescents – who typically have fewer family economic resources than children born in the U.S. – tend to have better health or academic success than their wealthier, more highly acculturated (or native born) peers. This pattern has been coined a “paradox” because researchers usually observe that poverty leads to poor health, and because many decades ago scholars used to believe that fully acculturating to the U.S. (i.e., becoming “more American”, speaking English without an accent, etc.), meant that families and children should be healthier and more successful. Mounting research evidence starting predominantly during the 1980’s is challenging these traditional notions, and showing that many different groups of newly-immigrated children and adolescents are thriving. In our own research we find that newcomer immigrant youth are oftentimes doing better in school, having fewer pregnancies, and experience fewer delinquency problems than their U.S. born peers from similar ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. 

    In the spring of 2007 we began a course of research funded in part by the W.T. Grant Foundation and the Jacobs Foundation, which seeks to understand the contextual factors underlying the immigrant paradox in health, behavior and educational/occupational outcomes. Results from this collaborative study have led to numerous presentations and publications, including a recently released co-edited volume from APA Press entitled The Immigrant Paradox in Children and Adolescents: Is becoming American a developmental risk? We are also currently working on a meta-analysis of the paradox related to risk behaviors in adolescence.

  • Ethnic Identity Development in Childhood, Adolescence & Emerging Adulthood

    Developing a positive sense of one’s self is one of the fundamental psychological tasks of the developing child. For ethnic and/or racial multicultural or minority youth, developing health ethnic/racial identities (how you experience and understand yourself as a member of a particular ethnic or racial group) is of central importance to the child’s health. This course of research aims to contribute to both process and content research on ethnic identity development from childhood through emerging adulthood. We have a particular interest in bicultural and multicultural youth, as well as conducting mixed methods work in this area. Our studies have combined experimental, implicit, psychophysiological, longitudinal, and qualitative approaches to this important topic. 

    From our studies, supported in part by the National Science Foundation, we are learning more about emerging ethnic identity in middle childhood, how bicultural adolescents and young adults form their ethnic/racial identities in the school context, and how other important psychological processes like attachment, overall identity development, and psychological flexibility inform healthy ethnic identities during emerging adulthood.

  • The Impact of Discrimination on Well-Being

    Did you know that adolescents who feel discriminated against are more likely to be obese, start smoking at a young age, and experience a multitude of behavioral and mental health problems? From depression to low self-esteem to the general mistrust of others, experiencing discrimination can have a profound impact on children’s well-being. As such, another central series of studies in our group focuses on the impact of discrimination for children and adolescent’s development. Although many researchers have long noted the harmful effects of discrimination for adult health and happiness, researchers are only recently beginning to understand the various impacts discrimination has on the developing child. Our work in this area started with a recent systematic review of the literature – part of an upcoming Handbook of Child Psychology published by Wiley – and is continuing with several new studies in progress as a result. 

References and Materials

On this page you will find a list of recent publications with links, whenever possible, to help you locate research content. Please feel free to contact Amy Marks (PI) for copies of articles, conference presentations, or any of the research materials/instruments used in our studies.

Books:

García Coll, C., & Marks, A. K. (2011). The Immigrant Paradox in Children and Adolescents: Is becoming American a developmental risk? Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

García Coll, C., & Marks, A. K. (2009). Immigrant stories: Ethnicity and academics in middle childhood. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Recent Book Chapters:

Marks, A. K., Ejesi, K., McCullough, M., & Garcia Coll, C. (In press). The development and implications of racism and discrimination. In M. Lamb, C. Garcia Coll, & R. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of Child Psychology, Seventh Edition, Volume Three: Socioemotional Processes. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

*Marks, A. K., Godoy, C.M., & Garcia Coll, C. (2013). An ecological approach to understanding immigrant child and adolescent developmental competencies. In L. Gershoff, R. Mistry, & D. Crosby (Eds.), The Contexts of Child Development. (pp. 75-89) New York: Oxford University Press.

* Note this book was awarded the 2013 Social Policy Award for Best Edited Book by the Society for Research in Adolescence.

García Coll, C., Patton, F., Marks, A. K., Dimitrova, R., Yang, H., Suarez-Aviles, G., & Batchelor, A. (2012). Understanding the immigrant paradox in youth: Developmental and contextual considerations. In A. Masten (Ed.), Realizing the Potential of Immigrant Youth. (pp. 159-180). Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press.

Marks, A. K., Patton, F., & Coyne, L.C. (2011). Acculturation-related conflict across generations in immigrant families. In R. Moreno & S. S. Chuang (Eds.), Immigrant Children: Change, adaptation and cultural transformation. (pp. 255-270). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Recent Peer-Reviewed Publications:

Conn, B. M., & Marks, A. K. (2014). Ethnic/racial group differences in peer and parent influence on adolescent prescription drug misuse. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.35(4), 257-265. DOI: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000058.

Marks, A. K., Ejesi, K., & Garcia Coll, C. (2014). The U.S. immigrant paradox in childhood and adolescence. Child Development Perspectives, 8(2), 59-64. DOI: 10.1111/cdep.12071

McCullough, M., & Marks, A. K. (2014). The immigrant paradox and adolescent obesity: Examining health behaviors as potential mediators. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 35(2), 138-143. DOI: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000027.

Guarini, T. E., Marks, A. K., Patton, F., & Garcia Coll, C. (2013). Number of sexual partners, pregnancy, and the immigrant paradox: Explaining the first generation advantage for Latina adolescents. Journal of Research on Adolescence. DOI: 10.1111/jora.12096

Marks, A. K., & Abo-Zena, M. (2013). What we might have missed: Lessons from diverse methodologies in the study of immigrant families. Research in Human Development, 10(4), 285-288. DOI: 10.1080/15427609.2013.846040

Conn, B. M., Marks, A. K., & Coyne, L. (2013). A three-generation study of Chinese immigrant extended family child care-giving experiences in the preschool years. Research in Human Development, 10(4), 308-331. DOI: 10.1080/15427609.2013.846047

Ablow, J. C., Marks, A. K., Feldman, S. S., & Huffman, L. C. (2013). Associations between first-time expectant women’s representations of attachment and their physiological reactivity to infant cry. Child Development, 84(4), 1373-1391. DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12135

Sullivan, M.C., Barcelos Winchester, S., Parker, J.G., & Marks, A.K. (2012). Characteristic processes of close peer friendships of preterm infants at age 12. Scientifica. Article ID 657923, 10 pages. http://dx.doi.org/10.6064/2012/657923

Marks, A. K., Patton, F., & Garcia Coll, C. (2011) Being Bicultural: A mixed-methods study of adolescents’ implicitly and explicitly measured multiethnic identities. Developmental Psychology, 47(1), 270-288. DOI: 10.1037/a0020730

Guarini, T. E., Marks, A. K., Patton, F., & Garcia Coll, C. (2011). The immigrant paradox in sexual risk behavior among Latino adolescents: Impact of immigrant generation and gender. Applied Developmental Science, 15(4), 201-209. DOI: 10.1080/10888691.2011.618100

Lab Alumni

This section is devoted to proudly acknowledging the legacy of the YDC Lab’s growing family of colleagues. 

Bridgid Mariko Conn, Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology 2014

Master's Thesis: Intergenerational family care-giving among urban Chinese immigrants in a Boston Head Start program.

Doctoral Thesis: A cross-sectional and mixed methods investigation of non-medical use of prescription drugs among adolescents.

Internship: Primary Children's Hospital/University of Utah (APA Accredited Pre-doctoral Internship)

Post-Doctoral Training in Adolescent Medicine: Children’s Hospital Los Angeles/USC UCEDD (APA Accredited Post-doctoral Fellowship)

Mary Beth McCullough, Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology 2014

Master’s Thesis: What did the doctor say? Examining adolescents’ memory for medical instructions.

Doctoral Thesis: Health behaviors and weight gain among immigrant youth: A novel approach to understanding immigrant adolescent health.

Internship: Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Child Clinical Track, Pediatric Specialty (APA Accredited Pre-Doctoral Internship)

Post-Doctoral Training: NIH T32 Child Behavior and Nutrition Research Fellowship, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Katherine K. Bedard, Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology 2013

Master’s Thesis: Ethnic identities and the school context: A qualitative analysis of bicultural adolescents’ school experiences.

Doctoral Thesis: Mixed-methods development of the Female Adolescent Sexual Identity in Context (FASIC) measure.

Internship: University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital, Pediatric Behavioral Medicine Intern (APA Accredited Pre-doctoral Internship)

Post-Doctoral Training: Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Tristan Guarini, Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology 2013

Master’s Thesis: Who’s at risk? The impact of immigrant generation and gender on the risky sexual behavior of Latino adolescents. 

Doctoral Thesis: Psychological well-being among transgender-identified college students: Support for a person-centered classification system.

Internship: University of Pennsylvania CAPS (APA Accredited Pre-doctoral Internship)

Post-Doctoral Training: New York University Counseling & Wellness Services

Krystle Rivera, Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology 2013

Master’s Thesis: Cultural transmission and the internationally adopted child: How non-traditional families discuss, identify, and participate in culture.

Doctoral Thesis: Psychological adaptability, immigrant generation status, and ethnic identity development across the college years.

Internship: University of California, Irvine Counseling Center (APA Accredited Pre-doctoral Internship)

Post-Doctoral Training: University of California, San Diego's Counseling and Psychological Services