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

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.

Suarez-Orozco, C., Abo-Zena, M., & Marks, A. K. (2015). Contexts of development: An ecological framework. In C. Suarez-Orozco, M. Abo-Zena, & A. K. Marks (Eds.), Transitions: The Development of Children of Immigrants. (pp. 27-31) 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.

Marks, A. K., Seaboyer, L., & Garcia Coll, C. (2015). The academic achievement 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. 259-275) New York: NYU Press.

Marks, A. K., Ejesi, K., McCullough, M., & Garcia Coll, C. (2015). 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.

Pieloch, K. A., Marks, A. K., & Garcia Coll, C. (In press). 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

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

Conn, B. M., & Marks, A. K. (2015 Online 1st publication). An ecological approach to understanding adolescent prescription drug misuse. Journal of Adolescent Research.

Guarini, T. E., Marks, A. K., Patton, F., & Garcia Coll, C. (2015). Number of sexual partners, pregnancy, and the immigrant paradox: Explaining the first generation advantage for Latina adolescents. Journal of Research on Adolescence. 25(1), 14-19. DOI: 10.1111/jora.12096

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.

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

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 am originally from Nicaragua and currently reside in Los Angeles, California. In 2010, I graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno and soon after, moved to Boston to begin my graduate studies at Suffolk University. Through coursework and clinical training, I developed an interest in working with children and adolescents, including those diagnosed with developmental disorders. At the Center for Children and Families in Providence, Rhode Island, I assisted with the clinical and diagnostic assessments of autism and related disorders. My research focuses on examining the issues and barriers Latino college students face towards degree persistence and completion, another area of passion. Currently, my dissertation examines classroom engagement within community colleges and how these institutions can better serve and retain Latino college students. In addition to my clinical and research work, I also have an interest in psychological assessment and have attended clinical workshops geared towards assessing and diagnosing autism using The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, 2nd Edition (ADOS-2).

Research Interests:

Child and adolescent psychopathology; Autism spectrum disorders; Persistence and engagement among Latino college students


Publications & Presentations:

Arauz, J.L., Danitz, S.B., Orsillo, S. M., & Coyne, L.W. (2017). An examination of

psychological distress, acceptance, and academic values among majority and minority first- year

college students.


Rivera, C., André, M. C., Arauz, J., & Coyne, L. (2015). Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. In

Flanagan, R. Editor (Ed). A Practical Guide to Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Schools. Springer.


Arauz, J.L., Pistorello, J., & Suvak, M. (June 2014). Experiential avoidance and studyaholism:

Relationship to valuing studying and mental health. In C. Stromberg (Chair), The Role of

Psychological Flexibility and its Applications to College Students. Symposium conducted at the

Association for Contextual Behavioral Science World Conference, Minneapolis, MN.

I am a sixth-year student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program at Suffolk University, currently on my APA-accredited internship at Franciscan Children's hospital in Boston, MA. I am originally from Long Island, New York but I have been living in the Boston area since 2007. 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 resilience factors of underserved children and families in the Boston area. My dissertation investigates resilience at the individual, family, community levels for children with trauma histories who have received in-home therapeutic services. Other research projects include a study of discrimination with children of immigrants (my Master's project) and a review of resilience characteristics for children with refugee statuses.

In addition to my research, my clinical work is with children and adolescents with a variety of emotional and behavioral difficulties, with a focus on children with trauma histories. On internship at Franciscan Children's I work on the CBAT unit and in the outpatient department with children and their families. In the past I have worked as a clinician and assessor at the Boston Child Study Center, Child Assessment Unit (inpatient) at Cambridge Hospital, the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders – Child Program, Family Services of Greater Boston, and Angier Elementary School.


Research Interests:

Child and adolescent development, child and family psychopathology, trauma, underserved youth, risk and resilience factors


Publications & Presentations:


Pieloch, K. A., Marks, A. K., & García Coll, C. (2018). A person-centered exploration of children of immigrants’ social experiences and their school-based well-being. Applied Developmental Science. 22(2), 110-124. doi: 10.1080/10888691.2016.1225500, Published online, Sept. 23 2016.


Almazan, I., Pieloch, K.A., & Marks. A.K. (2017). Examining the effect of trauma on community-level resilience in children. Poster presented at the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference, Atlanta, GA.


Pieloch, K.A., McCullough, M. B., & Marks, A. K. (2017). Body image satisfaction, assimilation, and health of immigrant adolescents: a person-centered analysis. Poster presented at the Society for the Study of Human Development Biennial Meeting, Providence, RI.


Pieloch, K. A., McCullough, M. B., & Marks, A. K. (2016). Resilience of children with refugee statuses: A research review. Canadian Psychology/ Psychologie canadienne, 57(4), 330-339. doi:10.1037/cap0000073


Marks, A. K., & Pieloch, K. (2015). School contexts. In C. Suarez-Orozco, M. M. Abo-Zena, & A. K. Marks (Eds.), Transitions: The development of children of immigrants. 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

I am a second-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 training 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 will explore how ethnic origin and American/U.S. pride affect experiences at school among adolescents who identify as monocultural and bicultural. My first clinical training placement is in Suffolk's Counseling Center where I will gain therapeutic skills with a wide range of Suffolk community members.


Research Interests: Child and adolescent identity development, risk and resilience factors, acculturative processes, mixed qualitative and quantitative research methods.


Publications & Presentations:

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.