Sarah Killoren, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Missouri

Personal Spotlight
We asked scholars to describe some of the following questions: What drew you to do work on Latinx youth and families, or another topic that is important to you now? Who was an important mentor to you in this work, or was there a particularly influential study in the field or in a related field?

I began studying Latinx youth and families in graduate school at Arizona State University. I was very fortunate to have Dr. Kim Updegraff and Dr. Adriana Umaña-Taylor as mentors, and the other students in their research labs have become life-long friends and colleagues. There is a large group of us, including Drs. Edna Alfaro, Lorey Wheeler, Melissa Delgado, Mindy Gonzales-Backen, and Mayra Bamaca-Colbert, who still collaborate on research on Latinx youth and families.

Research Spotlight
We invited scholars to describe a recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes them excited about it.

One of my primary research interests is how sibling relationships can promote Latinx youth’s well-being and reduce their adjustment problems. Recently, I started examining how siblings can help one another cope (called dyadic coping) with stress in an effort to reduce their internalizing symptoms. My first study involved 192 Latina young women reporting on their relationships with their sisters. Preliminary analyses show that the more sisters engage in positive dyadic coping (giving advice, providing empathy, taking over responsibilities), the fewer depressive symptoms they report. Further, when sisters are high in negative dyadic coping (downplaying stress, insincere support), the positive association between family conflict and young women’s depressive symptoms is strengthened. These findings are promising; it is possible that teaching coping strategies, by increasing positive dyadic coping and decreasing negative dyadic coping, will lead to Latinx youth’s positive adjustment and reduce their internalizing symptoms.

Any upcoming talks, presentations, or publications we should know about?

My colleagues and I have a new paper, “Associations among Mexican-origin youth’s sibling relationships, familism and positive values, and adjustment problems”, that is available online in the Journal of Family Psychology.

Reflections on Latinx Caucus Experiences
Finally, we asked about experiences with the SRCD Latinx Caucus: Why is the caucus important and/or your views on the role of the Latinx Caucus vis-à-vis SRCD, research on child development, policy/practice.

I really enjoy being involved in the Latinx Caucus. I think it is an important way to network with other Latinx developmental and family scholars. I also think that the position statements and papers, such as the research-to-policy paper on the negative consequences of separating immigrant families at the border, can have a strong impact on policy and public opinion.


Website: Dr. Killoren’s Faculty Page

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