Award Winners

2019 Latino Caucus Awards Winners

In 2017, the Latino Caucus Biennial Subcommittee created the Latino Caucus Awards for innovative work that is being done to understand the development of Latino youth and their families.

2019 Mid-Career Award

Dr. Gigliana Melzi, New York University

Dr. Gigliana Melzi’s scholarship has focused on the intersection of cultural and linguistic practices and their relation to Spanish-speaking Latino children’s early development and learning. Her work is situated in the current realities and dilemmas facing Latino families and children, especially from immigrant communities.  Broadly speaking, Gigliana’s work addresses the need to understand the lived experiences of Latino children and families from an emic approach—that is, from an approach that situates children’s learning and development as a culturally, historically, and socially mediated process, and understands Latino families’ beliefs and practices on their own merits (i.e., from the inside out).

In her research, Gigliana asks how Latino parents nurture their children, what role language plays in that process, and how the educational system can leverage these practices to support children’s school-based learning. She has made contributions in three main areas:

(1) discourse and linguistic features in the early literacy interactions (oral narrative interactions and book sharing) between caregivers and children across diverse socio-economic groups, as well as structural features of children’s independent narrations (e.g.,  Melzi, 2000; Melzi & King; 2003; Melzi, Schick & Kennedy, 2011; Melzi, Schick & Bostwick, 2013; Melzi, Schick & Escobar, 2017).

(2) engagement practices of Latino families including assessing the psychometric viability of a measure of family engagement for Spanish and English-speaking Pan-Latino families of pre-schoolers we developed,  examining oth the within-group variability in scores on this family engagement measure as well as its relation to child developmental outcomes (e.g., McWayne, Melzi, Schick, Kennedy, & Mundt, 2013; McWayne & Melzi, 2014; McWayne, Melzi, Limligan & Schick, 2016)

(3) ways to capitalizes on Latino families’ cultural funds of knowledge to support preschoolers’ early literacy skills (e.g., Melzi, Schick & Scarola; 2018).

 To learn more about Dr. Melzi and her research, visit Dr. Melzi’s faculty page.

2019 Early Career Awards

Dr. Rebecca Covarrubias, University of California, Santa Cruz

As a social and cultural psychologist, Dr. Rebecca Covarrubias examines the importance of reflecting the cultural strengths and practices of students from diverse backgrounds in educational settings as a way to foster inclusion and equity. As one example, she develops culturally-grounded strategies and interventions that aim to facilitate the cultural transition to college for low-income, Latinx first-generation college students and their families. Dr. Covarrubias utilizes a variety of methods and an intersectional, asset-based framework to bring visibility to the diversity in the Latinx student experience. With her team of student researchers in the Culture and Achievement Collaborative, she works to translate these findings into actionable practices that can shift the culture of institutions and can help students thrive.

Dr. Covarrubias contributions to the research base include:

  • Covarrubias, R., Valle, I., Laiduc, G., Azmitia, M. (2018). “You never become fully independent”: Family roles and independence in first-generation college students. Journal of Adolescent Research, 1-30.
  • Romero, A., Moreno, M., O’Leary, A., & Covarrubias, R. (2017). Collective efficacy for community change in response to immigrant stigma stress. Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies42(1), 19-44.
  • Covarrubias, R., Herrmann, S., & Fryberg, S. (2016). Affirming the interdependent self: Implications for Latino student performance. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 38(1), 47-57.
  • Covarrubias, R., & Fryberg, S. (2015). Movin’ on up (to college): First-generation college students’ experiences with family achievement guilt. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 21(3), 420-429.

To learn more about Dr. Covarrubias and her research, visit Dr. Covarrubias’ lab website.


Dr. Carlos Santos, University of California, Los Angeles

Drawing on intersectionality and normative developmental theories concerning the development of ethnic/racial minority youth, Dr. Carlos Santos’ explores issues pertaining to diverse groups within the Latinx umbrella that are often overlooked in research with Latinx individuals in the U.S. For example, his research has explored links between identity and stressors among individuals who identify as Latinx as well as a sexual minority (e.g., Santos & VanDaalen, 2016; Santos & VanDaalen, 2018). From his early training and beyond, he has a steadfast commitment to engage in normative research with Latinx youth and families. His research has explored how Latinx youth normatively construct their ethnic-racial identities within the context of peer relationships and across diverse school and geographical contexts (e.g., Santos, Kornienko & Rivas-Drake, 2017), as well as how ethnic-racial identity is linked to academic achievement (e.g., Santos & Collins, 2016). In response to the need for developmental scientists to engage critical policy discussions with import to Latinx youth and families, he has explored Latinx youth’s awareness and the impact of immigration laws on their mental health and academic adjustment (e.g., Santos et al., 2017).

Dr. Santos’ contributions to the research base include:

  • Santos, C. E., & Collins, M. A. (2016). Ethnic identity, school connectedness, and achievement in standardized tests among Mexican-origin youth. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 22(3), 447-452. doi: 10.1037/cdp0000065 IF = 2.62
  • Santos, C. E., & VanDaalen, R. A. (2016). The associations of sexual and ethnic–racial identity commitment, conflicts in allegiances, and mental health among lesbian, gay, and bisexual racial and ethnic minority adults. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 63(6), 668-676. doi: 10.1037/cou0000170 IF = 4.094
  • Santos, C. E., Menjívar, C., VanDaalen, R. A., Kornienko, O., Updegraff, K. A., & Cruz, S. (2017). Awareness of Arizona’s immigration law SB 1070 predicts classroom behavioural problems among Latino youths during early adolescence. Ethnic and Racial Studies 41(9), 1672-1690. doi: 10.1080/01419870.2017.1311021
  • Santos, C. E., Kornienko, O., & Rivas-Drake, D. (2017). Peer influence on ethnic-racial identity development in adolescence: A multi-site investigation. Child Development, 88(3), 725-742. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12789

To learn more about Dr. Santos and his research, visit Dr. Santos’ faculty page.

2019 Dissertation Awards

Dr. Fiorella Carlos Chavez, University of Missouri

Dr. Fiorella Carlos Chavez’s dissertation pursued to understand the individual and the family expectations contributing to Latino Emancipated Migrant Youth (EMY)’s entrance into the U.S. agricultural workforce, and the physical and psychological consequences of that decision. Specifically, her mixed-methods dissertation (QUAL → quan) consisted of n = 20 in-depth interviews and n = 36 interviewer-administered survey questionnaires with Latino male EMY (ages 15-20). Findings were presented in two papers. In Paper 1, thematic analysis highlighted four core themes: (1) “It was the best thing I could do,” (2) “It was my decision,” (3) “Farmwork just made sense,” (4) “This is just temporary.” In the quantitative component, Latino male EMYs’ decision-making to enter the U.S. agricultural workforce was not associated with level of familism, frequency of financial remittances, or family financial dependency. In Paper 2, thematic analysis highlighted five core themes: (1) “You have to keep pushing forward,” (2) “It feels ugly but it’s all worth it,” (3) “The sun is unbearable, but we have to keep working,” (4) “I just take some medicine and it goes away,” (5) “I have to do everything on my own.” In the quantitative component, higher scores on the Migrant Farmworker Stress Inventory (MFWSI) were positive associated with EMY’s depressive symptoms. In addition, EMYs’ experiences of loneliness and social isolation were positively correlated with depressive symptoms. Results also indicated that the MFWSI, loneliness, and social isolation, were predictors for depressive symptoms among EMY.

Findings highlighted that Latino male EMY saw “no better way” to help their parents and get ahead in life than to enter into the U.S. agricultural workforce. The great majority of EMY were sending financial remittances to their families for food and shelter and were saving money to build a house, buy land, or start their own business. Despite the stressors, EMY faced due to the weather conditions, documentation status, family separation, and living on their own, Latino male EMY continued to press forward. When feeling lonely, EMY could count on their parents’ long-distance emotional support and their peers’ friendship. Yet EMY learned to “watch their own backs” and make decisions in an adult world. Despite longing to be reunited with their families yet having to work to financially provide for them, these youth developed resiliency and learned to see their work in the U.S. as temporary.

This work reflects Dr. Carlos Chavez’s body of research, which focuses on the effects of various stressors (e.g., work, family, life, environment, culture) on Latino Emancipated Migrant Youth (EMY)’s psycho-social adjustment. Her dissertation provided a unique and much needed foundation by highlighting the contributing factors for migration and work in the U.S, as well as the stressors Latino Emancipated Migrant Youth go through while living on their own without their parents. At her mixed-methods research lab, Dr. Carlos Chavez is currently working with her undergraduate research team on analyzing cross-sectional mixed-methods data from her grant on  “The Health and Cultural Challenges of Male Latino/Hispanic Emancipated Migrant Farmworker Youth (EMY): A Pilot Study.” Dr. Fiorella Carlos Chavez is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at the University of Missouri, where she is also a fellow of the Preparing Future Faculty Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity.

To learn more about Dr. Carlos Chavez and her research, visit Dr. Carlos Chavez’s faculty page.


Dr. Diamond Bravo, Harvard University

Dr. Diamond Bravo’s dissertation was composed of two longitudinal studies that investigated the role of salient cultural factors among Mexican-origin adolescent mothers. Findings from Study 1 underscored the dual role of familism values as both a promotive and protective factor throughout the achievement motivation process. Findings highlight familism as an important cultural asset to consider as a potential facilitator of Mexican-origin adolescent mothers’ postpartum educational attainment. In addition to examining the promotive and protective function of familism, Study 2 explored how constellations of culturally informed promotive and protective factors, based on familism values, familial ethnic socialization, mothers’ and adolescents’ education aspirations, and social support (from family, peers, and dating partners), directly informed Mexican-origin adolescent mothers’ educational adjustment postpartum. Three distinct profiles emerged across social, aspirational, and familial domains, when adolescents were in their third trimester of pregnancy. Profiles were distinguished by unique patterns among study variables as a function of different levels of assets and resources. Furthermore, membership in specific profile groups significantly predicted educational attainment, five years postpartum. Patterns of promotive/protective factors identified illustrate the importance of considering how the combination of multiple factors, across culturally salient domains, work in tandem to inform Mexican-origin adolescent mothers’ long-term educational attainment. Overall study findings offer a comprehensive insight into how familism values and other culturally informed factors contribute to the achievement motivation process and educational adjustment of pregnant and parenting Mexican-origin adolescent.

This dissertation advances our knowledge of how cultural factors can promote at-risk Latina adolescents’ developmental and educational trajectories. This work highlights Dr. Bravo’s program of research, which utilizes a holistic approach to investigate the role of culturally salient  risk and resiliency factors in relation to youths’ adjustment. Dr. Bravo is working as a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is currently applying findings from her dissertation study to expand views of STEM motivation and psychosocial adjustment among at-risk youth. She plans to continue to advance this line of research using cultural and technological nuances in applied settings with diverse adolescent youth.

To learn more about Dr. Bravo and her research, visit Dr. Bravo’s faculty page.



2017 Latino Caucus Awards Winners

Dr. Linda Halgunseth, 2017 Early Career Award

Dr. Linda Halgunseth’s research embodies the mission of the SRCD Latino caucus in its goal to raise understanding on Mexican immigrant parenting and informs practitioners and policy makers on how they can work more effectively with Mexican immigrant families.  For example, her work sheds light on how a combination of cultural values and psychological resources underlie and motivate the caregiving decisions of Mexican immigrant parenting. She has also introduced a more culturally valid instrument to measure Mexican immigrant parenting.  Lastly, Dr. Halgunseth’s research promotes academic achievement and feelings of school belongingness in ethnic minority children by strengthening stronger family engagement practices and family-school partnerships.

Dr. Halgunseth has made contributions to the research base on:

  • Halgunseth, L. C., Ispa, J. M., & Rudy, D. (2006). Parental control in Latino families: An integrated review in the literature. Child Development, 77 (5), 1282-1297. (1st Research Interest)
  • Halgunseth, L.C. & Ispa, J. (2012). Mexican Parenting Questionnaire (MPQ). Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 34 (2), 232-250.
  • Halgunseth, L.C. (2009). Family engagement, diverse families, and early childhood education programs: An integrated review of the literature. Young Children, 64 (5), 56-58.

For more about Dr. Halgunseth and her research, visit Dr. Halgunseth’s faculty webpage, as well as her Google Scholar Profile.

Dr. Natalia Palacios, 2017 Early Career Award

Dr. Natalia Palacio’s research addresses a critical challenge facing U.S. education. She studies low-income, immigrant populations and the ways in which families and schools promote (or inhibit) children’s development. Her work concentrates primarily on Latino children and families. There is substantial research on Latino children that focuses on the achievement gap comparing Latino and White children at kindergarten entry and through the early elementary period. Natalia’s work, however, recognizes that this type of comparative work does little to teach us about the heterogeneity that exists among Latino children and families. Her works focuses on leveraging this heterogeneity to consider promising, culturally-relevant approaches to the study of developmental processes and outcomes of Latino children.

 Specifically, Dr. Palacios examines within-group differences in achievement among Latino children in family and school contexts. She also examines immigrant children’s academic trajectories, with particular attention to language development, to understand how the home environment and classroom context influence Latino children’s academic and social development. Overall, her research makes an important contribution to the research base on Latino children and families and is shaping our understanding of how to leverage the strengths within this growing populations of students across contexts.


Dr. Palacios has made contributions to the research base on:

  • The development of models of immigrant children’s experiences (Chase-Lansdale, Valdovinos D’Angelo, & Palacios, 2007; Palacios, 2012; Palacios, Guttmannova, & Chase-Lansdale, 2008)
  • Examinations of the achievement of immigrant and emergent bilingual children in classroom contexts (Banse, Palacios, Merritt, & Rimm-Kaufman, 2016; Banse, Palacios, Merritt, & Rimm-Kaufman, 2016; Palacios & Kibler, 2016; Merritt, Palacios, Banse, Leis, & Rimm-Kaufman, 2016)
  • Explorations of the linguistic development of Latino immigrant and emergent bilingual children (Bohlmann, Maier, & Palacios, 2015; Maier, Bohlmann, & Palacios, 2016; Simpson Baird, Palacios, & Kibler, 2016)
  • Investigations of children’s language development in the context of Latino immigrant families (Kibler, Palacios, & Simpson Baird, 2014; Kibler, Palacios, Simpson Baird, Bergey, & Yoder, 2016; Palacios, Kibler, Simpson Baird, Parr, & Bergey, 2015; Palacios, Kibler, Yoder, Simpson Baird, & Bergey, 2016).

For more about Dr. Palacios and her research, visit Dr. Palacios’ faculty webpage as well as her Google Scholar Profile.

Dr. Chelsea Derlan, 2017 Dissertation Award

Dr. Chelsea Derlan’s dissertation examined the intergenerational transmission of ethnic–racial identity/ identification and cultural orientation among Mexican-origin adolescent young mothers and their children (N 161 dyads). Findings from this longitudinal study indicated that mothers’ ethnic–racial identity and their cultural involvement were significantly associated with children’s ethnic–racial identification via mothers’ cultural socialization; however, associations varied significantly by children’s gender and skin tone. For example, mothers’ ethnic–racial centrality was positively associated with cultural socialization efforts among mothers with sons (regardless of skin tone); but with daughters, a positive association only emerged among those with lighter skin tones. Associations between cultural socialization and children’s ethnic–racial identification also varied by children’s gender and skin tone. For example, the relation between mothers’ cultural socialization and children’s self-labeling as Mexican was positive for girls regardless of skin tone, and for boys with lighter skin tones, but was not significant for boys with darker skin tones. Findings highlight the critical role of children’s own characteristics, mothers’ ethnic–racial identity and adaptive cultural characteristics, and mothers’ cultural socialization efforts in the formation of young Mexican-origin children’s ethnic–racial identification.

This work aligns well with Dr. Derlan’s program of research, which focuses on understanding how cultural experiences (e.g., discrimination, colorism) and cultural strengths (e.g., family cultural socialization efforts) impact Latina/o and African American youths’ ethnic-racial identity/identification and positive development. Her dissertation provided an important foundation by demonstrating that children as young as 5 years of age are processing messages about their culture and forming views about being a member of their ethnic-racial group, and families play a critical role in these processes. Dr. Derlan is currently adapting her dissertation measures and recruiting families for her next study on the impact of children’s race-related experiences and ethnic-racial identification on academic and health outcomes during early childhood. Dr. Derlan is a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Developmental Psychology Program at Virginia Commonwealth University and Director of the EMPOWER Youth Lab.

To learn more about Dr. Derlan and her research, visit Dr. Derlan’s Faculty Page.


2017 Latino Caucus Award recipients receiving their award from Dr. Gabriela Livas Stein at the SRCD 2017 Biennial Meeting in Austin, Texas, USA.