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.

Amy Marks, PhD

To learn more about Dr. Amy Marks and her work, please visit her faculty page.

References & 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.


Suarez-Orozco, C., Abo-Zena, M., & Marks, A.K. (2015). Transitions: The Development of Immigrant Children. New York: NYU Press.

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.

More Publications

Marks, A. K., Woolverton, G. A., & Garcia Coll, C. (In press). Children’s migratory paths between cultures: The effects of immigration patterns on the adaptation of children and families. In R. D. Parke & G. H. Elder (Eds.), Children in Changing Worlds: Sociocultural and Temporal Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Marks, A. K., Lindsey, S. V., & Garcia Coll, C. (2019). Prejudice and Discrimination. In S. Hupp & J. Jewell (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Child and Adolescent Development: Volume on Child Emotion. New Jersey: Wiley Blackwell.

Suarez-Orozco, C., & Marks, A. K. (2016). Immigrant students in the U.S.: Addressing their possibilities and challenges. In J. Banks, M. Suarez-Orozco, & M. Ben Perez (Eds.), Global Migration, Diversity, & Civic Education. (pp. 107-131) New York: Teacher’s College Press.

Suarez-Orozco, C., Marks, A. K., & Abo-Zena, M. (2015). Unique and shared experiences of immigrant-origin children and youth. In C. Suarez-Orozco, M. Abo-Zena, & A. K. Marks (Eds.), Transitions: The Development of Children of Immigrants. (pp. 1-26) New York: NYU Press.

Marks, A. K., & Pieloch, K. (2015). The school contexts of U.S. immigrant children and adolescents. In C.

Suarez-Orozco, M. Abo-Zena, & A. K. Marks (Eds.), Transitions: The Development of Children of Immigrants. (pp. 47-60) New York: NYU Press.

Bedard-Thomas, K. K., McKenna, J. L., Pantalone, D.W., Fireman, G., & Marks, A. K. (2019). A mixed-methods measurement study of female adolescent sexuality stress and support. Psychology & Sexuality. DOI: 10.1080/19419899.2019.1596972

Marks, A.K., & Garcia Coll, C. (2018). Education and developmental competencies of ethnic minority children: Recent theoretical and methodological advances. Developmental Review, 50, 90-98.

Suarez-Orozco, C., Motti-Stefanidi, F., Marks, A.K., & Katsiaficas, D. (2018). An integrative risk and resilience model for understanding the development and adaptation of immigrant origin children and youth. American Psychologist, 73(6), 781-796. DOI: 10.1037/amp0000265

Marks, A. K., McKenna, J., & Garcia Coll, C. (2018). National receiving contexts: A critical aspect of native-born, immigrant, and refugee youth well-being. European Psychologist, 23(1), 6-20. DOI: 10.1027/1016-9040/a000311

Pieloch, K. A., Marks, A. K., & Garcia Coll, C. (2018). A person-centered exploration of children of immigrants’ social experiences and their school-based well-being. Applied Developmental Science. DOI: 10.1080/10888691.2016.1225500

Conn, B. M., & Marks, A. K. (2017). An ecological approach to understanding adolescent prescription drug misuse. Journal of Adolescent Research, 32(2), 183-204. DOI: 10.1177/0743558415589369

Pieloch, K. A., McCullough, M. B., & Marks, A. K. (2016). Resilience of children with refugee statuses: A research review. Canadian Psychology. 57(4).

Interested in joining the lab?

If you are an undergraduate seeking a volunteer or independent research experience (Psych 510), please email Dr. Amy Marks directly

Current Graduate Students

I grew up in the Philippines and came to Boston to get my Masters Degree. In 2010, I graduated with a degree in Psychology from the University of the Philippines. My work as a Guidance Counselor for middle school students, as well as interning at the Center for Teen Empowerment in Somerville led me to my interest in working with youth and developmental psychology. I recently graduated from Boston College with a Masters in Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology, where I developed an interest in Positive Youth Development. I eventually want to do research on how media/social media positively and negatively affect adolescent development.

Research Interests: Child and adolescent development, positive youth development, media, social media

Publications and presentations:

Suzuki, S., Benavidez, S.J., Quinn, S., Gill, S., Fu, Y., Worg, C., Rojas, A.G., Johnson, S., & Lerner, J. (2018, October). Youth contribution: Relations between youth’s activity participation and their life goals. Poster session presented at the Society for Research in Child Development special topic meeting, Philadelphia, PA.

Quema, P., Ventosa, A.R., Benavidez, S.J., & Batican, A.A.M. (2013, February). Ina, anak, apo: How prior experience influences a mother’s view of her adolescent daughter’s pregnancy. Paper presented at PSYnergy 7, Manila, Philippines.

I am a third year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at Suffolk. I am originally from Illinois and moved to Boston to attend the program. I graduated from Bradley University in 2014 with a B.S. in Psychology, and graduated with a M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Valparaiso University in 2016. After receiving my master's I worked with children and adolescents in a community mental health center for one year before beginning the program at Suffolk.

Research Interests

Trauma, adversity, and individual differences in clinical presentation following exposure to these types of events.

I am a second-year student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program at Suffolk University. I am originally from Seattle, WA, where I pursued my B.A. in Medical Anthropology and Global Health at the University of Washington. After completing my undergraduate degree, I was an AmeriCorps service member for Communities In Schools of Kent at a Title-1 middle school for a year and was subsequently hired on as full time staff for three years. My responsibilities ranged from case management and behavioral interventions to school wide program implementation. During this time, I further developed my passion for working with youth and serving under resourced and marginalized communities. Additionally, mental health was a key common thread that I identified and prompted my interest in pursuing a clinical psychology doctoral program. My first and current clinical training placement is at Suffolk University’s Counseling Center, where I will build foundational skills in individual therapy with undergraduate and graduate students. My Master’s project will examine adjustment profiles of incoming college freshman through person centered analysis, with an emphasis on ethnic-racial minority experiences.

Research Interests: risk and resilience factors, positive youth development, developmental impacts of poverty, ethnic-racial identity, restorative justice, education, discrimination particularly in school contexts, child and adolescent identity development.

Publications & Presentations

Murry, M.D., Harkins, D., Williams, M., Pottinger, K., Viquez-Salas, A. (March, 2019).
Stakeholders Voices in Service Learning. Workshop Presentation at Eastern Region Campus Compact Conference, Providence, RI.

I am a first-year student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program at Suffolk University. I am originally from Chicago, Illinois but have been living in the Boston area since 2013. I attended Brandeis University, where I majored in Psychology and Hispanic Studies, with minors in International Global Studies and Legal Studies. During college I was a research assistant in Brandeis University’s Memory and Cognition Lab and at Massachusetts General Hospital’s OCD & Related Disorders Program. After college I worked as a clinical research coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital Depression Clinical and Research Program, where I coordinated treatment studies for English and Spanish-speaking adults with Major Depressive Disorder. This experience further strengthened my interest in immigrant youth mental health, particularly focusing on intervention work targeted at preventing emotional disorders in marginalized, at-risk youth during periods of transition.

Research Interests

Immigrant and refugee family dynamics and their role in adolescent psychosocial development, immigrant adolescent risk and resilience factors during periods of transition, transgenerational trauma, immigrant college student mental health.

I am a third-year student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program at Suffolk University. I am originally from Newton, MA and graduated with a B.A. in English from Amherst College and an M.S. in Medical Sciences with a concentration in mental health counseling and behavioral neuroscience from Boston University. Prior to beginning my PhD at Suffolk, I worked as a clinical research specialist in Boston Children's Hospital's Adolescent Medicine division, a role that developed my interest in research that directly benefits the needs of underserved and diverse youth in our city. My Master's project at Suffolk explored how high school students of color and white students self-described their ethnicity/race and experienced their ethnic-racial identities, including feelings of pride and experiences of discrimination, at school. My first clinical training placement was in Suffolk's Counseling Center where I gained skills as an individual therapist working with undergraduate and graduate students. My second clinical training placement will be at Angier Elementary School, where I will gain individual and group therapeutic skills, as well as assessment experience, working with youth.

Research Interests: Child and adolescent identity development, ethnic-racial identity, racial socialization processes, risk and resilience factors, acculturative processes among immigrant youth, gender identity, mixed qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Publications & Presentations:

Woolverton, G. A., Kawai, P.L., & Marks, A.K. (2019, October). A mixed-methods exploration of adolescents’ cultural and ethnicity/race identifications with open-ended and check-box assessments. Poster session presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for the Study of Human Development, Portland, OR.

Marks, A. K, Woolverton, G. A., & García Coll, C. (2019). Children’s migratory paths between cultures: The effects of migration experiences on the adjustment of children and families. In Parke, R. D. & Elder, G. H. Children in Changing Worlds: Socio-Cultural and Temporal Perspectives. Cambridge University Press.

Guss, C. E., Woolverton, G. A., Borus, J., Austin, S. B., Reisner, S. L., & Katz-Wise, S. L. (2019). Transgender Adolescents' Experiences in Primary Care: A Qualitative Study. Journal of Adolescent Health.

Woolverton, G. A., Cantor, A., Berghuis, J., Estela, M. L., Evans, W. E., Sonneville, K., & Richmond, T. K. (2018, March). How to counsel adolescent patients regarding weight-related outcomes and behaviors with minimal harm. Poster session presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Minneapolis, MN.

Guss, C. E., Woolverton, G. A., Borus, J., Reisner, S. L., Austin, S. B, & Katz-Wise, S. L. (2017). “Just Step Up:” Transgender Adolescents’ Experiences in Primary Care, a Qualitative Study. Journal of Adolescent Health, 60(2), S28-S29. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.10.074.

Richmond, T. K., Woolverton, G. A., Spalding, A. L., Mammel, K., Ornstein, R., Rome, E., Woods, E., Kennedy, G., & Forman, S.F. (2017, June). Defining Recovery: a qualitative study of patients with eating disorders, their parents and clinicians. Poster session presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Conference on Eating Disorders, Prague, Czech Republic.

Woolverton, G. A., Spalding, A. L., Warikoo, N. K, Dunn, E. C, & Richmond, T. K. (2016). Body Shape and Size Concerns and Diet Culture in Urban Adolescents Attending Suburban High Schools. Journal of Adolescent Health, 58(2), S63. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.10.138

Current Research Projects

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.

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 also just released a new paper in European Psychologist examining paradox-like patterns in nations outside the U.S.

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 the Handbook of Child Psychology published by Wiley – and is continuing with several new studies in progress as a result.