Wednesday, March 15th

Michigan League, Hussey Room

Combined Program in Education and Psychology Sponsored Session

12:00 - 1:00 PM

Paulina Guzman

Visiting Scholar, CPEP

Title: Teacher emotions in the classroom: their mediating role between self-efficacy and teachers’ well-being. 

In the school context, teacher self-efficacy beliefs are defined as teachers' individual beliefs in their abilities to perform specific teaching tasks at a given level of quality in a given situation. According to Frenzel (2009; 2014), both positive and negative emotions that a teacher exhibits toward teaching are influenced by the teacher's different experiences in the classroom and influence the teacher's well-being. The present study examines whether teaching emotions, such as enjoyment, anger, and anxiety, plays a role in explaining the relationship between teacher self-efficacy and well-being. A sample of 2698 Chilean teachers between 20 and 80 years of age (M = 41.4, SD = 11.1; primarily women, 73.5%) was used. A mediation analysis was performed using a multiple regression model with a Bootstrap method. The results show that the emotions of enjoyment, anger, and anxiety toward teaching mediate the relationship between Self-Efficacy and teachers' well-being. Thus, the higher the self-efficacy, the greater the enjoyment, which is associated with higher levels of well-being.

On the other hand, the higher the self-efficacy, the lower the anger and anxiety, which are associated with higher levels of well-being. The present study argues that emotions are an essential resource that enhances or decreases teachers' well-being associated with their self-efficacy. 

Saraí Blanco Martinez

Doctoral Candidate, Education & Psychology/ CPEP; Social Work/MSW

Title: Sharing the Burden: Latinx Immigrant Parents and Teens' Socio-political Discussions and their Impact on Youth Mental Health


There is limited research on parent-child discussions about sociopolitical issues in the U.S. and how they take place. There is less known about the role of sociopolitical conversations as a protective factor benefitting immigrant youth and families. We draw on the Ecological Expansion of the Adverse Childhood Experiences framework to better understand how immigrant-origin youth are making sense of restrictive immigration policies coupled with cultural and sociopolitical messaging received from parents. 


Participants engaged in one-hour virtual interviews between 2020 and 2021. We conducted ten interviews with undocumented Latinx parents, and 10 interviews with their adolescents aged 13-17. 


Three main themes emerged from parent interviews: 1) sociopolitical socialization and youth agency; 2) documentation status socialization; and 3) emotional and mental health well-being. Findings show that parents use storytelling to share messages about race, culture, and immigration, and provide counternarratives to the toxic sociopolitical environment. Four themes emerged from youth interviews: 1) sociopolitical awareness and action; 2) youth taking on a protective role; 3) learning about risks, injustices and privileges; and 4) mental health. Youth shared a desire for sociopolitical education, and reported a range of coping mechanisms against anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Conclusion & Implication:

Our findings provide a greater understanding of communication practices within Latinx mixed-status immigrant families, by drawing on both parent and youth reports. These findings can inform practitioners and researchers alike of the amplified systemic barriers felt by immigrant families during the pandemic, and the urgency of supporting them as they fight for their rights and dignity.

Oluwaseun Oyindamola Ogunleye

Master's Student, School of Education, Educational Equity, Justice and Social Transformation (EEJST) | LinkedIn: 

Title: Phenotypic Racial Identification in Socialization of Multiracial individuals

Amanda Rosemary Webster

Undergraduate, Psychology 


Sophia Grewal

Undergraduate, Psychology


There is a phenomenon of multiracial individuals expressing a greater association with one of their ethnic-racial identities over another. These associations within Multiracial individuals are the resultant of perceptions of phenotype, which is largely framed by white supremacy (Thekkedam, 2013). This research endeavor aims to contribute to understandings of the effect of  dissociation of identity on strong psychosocial implications by challenging current literature and research by decentering whiteness through framing multiracial identity formation as a resultant of oppression in white supremacy (Miville et al., 2005). Beyond decentering whiteness in our research this is a remediary effort to reduce associations between racial category and phenotype within participants while investigating the role of the proximity to whiteness in the socialization of the participants and its effects on their identity formation. (Khanna, 2016). The methodology involves accessing qualitative interview data with a sample size of (n=5). Participants include individuals that either identify as multiracial and express identification with one aspect of their race or ethnicity over another. The diverse set of participants ranging from Asian American, Hispanic - Black, African American - White mothers, to a mother who identifies as Mulatta and the smaller scale of the research compares across racial compositions and age of the participants by examining the sociological underpinnings provides this research with a novel positionality. Rapid and Rigorous Qualitative Data Analysis (RADaR) technique is the intended modality for analysis (Watkins, 2017)

Bernardette Pinetta

Doctoral Candidate, Joint Program in Education and Psychology | Twitter: @bpinetta_11

Title: “Mis Amores”: Affirming Ethnic-Racial Socialization Practices in School Introduction

Latinx youth are the second largest ethnic/racial youth group in the U.S. and comprise more than one quarter of our nation’s current public K-12 students (Patten, 2016; U.S. Census Bureau, 2019). However, Latinx students (and other youth of color) are also increasingly the subject of racial harassment from peers and teachers (Rogers et al., 2017). Yet, schools can also be sites of affirming explicit and implicit messages about ethnicity and race, thereby affording opportunities for Latinx youth to develop their ethnic-racial identities, multicultural competencies, and critical consciousness to the extent that they are able to learn about their own groups, the experiences of others, and racial inequality and injustice, respectively. Understanding Latinx youths’ racialized experiences at school can thus provide crucial insights to educators and researchers seeking to support the healthy development of Latinx youth. In this qualitative case study, we describe the instructional practices and interpersonal interactions of Ms. Perez, an esteemed educator known for her exemplary instructional practices that uplift youths’ civic capacities while attending to their social and emotional learning needs. Using thematic analysis, we developed three themes of ethnic-racial content integration: (a) cultural content, (b) racialized experiences, and (c) youth empowerment. Our findings come at a pivotal moment, providing specific strategies and practices to inform future research and theorizing on best practices to support Latinx youths’ development as it relates to their identity and critical consciousness.

Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology Sponsored Session

1:30 - 2:30 PM

Vanessa Puñal

Post-Doctoral Scholar, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

Title: Building brains for sensory perception

Detection of environmental stimuli is essential for survival. The total number of sensory stimuli encountered by an organism is unpredictable and nearly limitless, making genetic coding of detectors for all possible stimuli impossible. How then does development build neural circuits capable of processing unforeseen and expansive arrays of sensory input? One strategy is to harness the power of combinations. Consider a palette of 100 colors: when combined, this limited number of colors can paint a rich picture containing ~10^158 hues. Similarly, evolution has selected for amplifying the number of discriminable stimuli from a limited number of genetically encoded sensors to the number of combinations among them. This is achieved by expanding sensory neuron inputs via sparse, combinatorial wiring to higher order neurons involved in perceptual processing. It is not understood in any species what developmental mechanisms give rise to the input sparseness necessary for sensory amplification. To address this knowledge gap, I use the fly olfactory system where 50 odor channels are dispersed, via Projection Neurons, among ~2,500 higher order neurons called Kenyon Cells in the mushroom body calyx. In the absence of Kenyon Cells during development, adult Projection Neuron axons do not provide input to the calyx. This is because developing Projection Neurons never initiate collateral formation when Kenyon Cells are not present. These results have led to the hypothesis that Kenyon Cells dictate their input density via retrograde feedback to Projection Neurons. To test this hypothesis, we generated a bulk RNA sequencing dataset for developing Kenyon Cells and used this as the basis for a candidate screen to search for Kenyon Cell-derived retrograde signals required to produce odor channel inputs. Results suggest a role for WNT ligand secretion by Kenyon Cells as part of a molecular pathway that drives Projection Neurons to meet Kenyon Cell demands to generate odor channel inputs.

Hector Mendoza

Post-Doctoral Scholar, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology | LinkedIn: 

Title: Maintaining balance: Mechanisms behind sex chromosome regulation

Sexual dimorphism, facilitated by sex chromosomes, represents a critical point in the evolutionary history of sex, as progeny is produced by balanced genetic contributions from each parent. Alterations to this balance are associated with developmental and metabolic defects, as seen in human autosomal aneuploidies. The concept of sex chromosomes, however, implies intrinsic genetic differences between the biological sexes. This predicament is rectified by dosage compensation, a mechanism that essentially equalizes sex chromosome gene expression. The Caenorhabditis elegans system is a powerful model to study dosage compensation due to its ease of maintenance in the laboratory setting and its extensive genetic manipulation toolbox. In C. elegans, the ratio of X chromosomes to autosomes determines biological sex. Correspondingly, XX and X animals develop as hermaphrodites and males, respectively. The mechanism of dosage compensation in C. elegans involves X chromosome compaction and sequestration at the nuclear lamina, as well as chromatin modifications that dampen gene expression of both hermaphrodite X chromosomes to match the single male X chromosome. Understanding the regulatory mechanisms that govern sex chromosome maintenance will allow for the independent examination of sex determination and dosage compensation to determine their contributions to the evolutionary history of sex. More importantly, the main protagonists of the dosage compensation pathway in C. elegans have been extensively studied, with some having functional counterparts in mammalian systems that can encourage interdisciplinary applications.

Latina/Latino Studies Program Sponsored Session

3:00 - 4:00 PM

Dr. William A. Calvo-Quirós

Assistant Professor, Latina/Latino Studies Program

Mini Lecture on "Latinx vs. Latine" followed by a community conversation

Medical School Sponsored Session

4:30 - 5:30 PM

patricia arizaca-dileo, md

Faculty Speaker

Evelyn Londoño

Student Panel Participant

Gabriela maica

Student Panel Participant

Marco costanza

Student Panel Participant

Puentes Oral Presentations Session A

6:00 - 7:15 PM

Mirella Hernandez

Doctoral Candidate, Neuroscience Graduate Program

Title: Regulation Mechanisms of Proteins and Signaling Pathways: What we can learn from the nematode C. elegans

Post-translational protein modifications (PTMs) are fundamental components of the proteome that enhance functional diversity and play critical roles in the regulation of several biological processes in health and disease state. Recently, there has been an emerging regulatory mechanism in the field of PTMs, AMPylation.  In AMPylation, an adenosine monophosphate (AMP) is added to a target protein. This modification process relies on the capability of the FIC (filamentation induced by cyclic AMP) domain containing (FICD/HYPE) AMPylase to catalyze the transfer of AMP from a donor ATP molecule. While the functional roles and biological outcomes of others PTMs have been well characterize, less is known about AMPylation.  To date, excessive AMPylation caused by over-expression of constitutive fic AMPylase has been shown to be lethal for humans, S.cerevisiae cells, drosophila, and C. elegans embryos. However, the understanding of the broader physiological and mechanistic implications of excessive AMPylation remains limited. 

We explored the physiological consequences of FIC-1  using C. elegans, a free-living nematode whose genome possesses homologs of about two-thirds of all human genes. In the present study, we used a worm strain developed by our team that allows for inducible whole-body expression of FIC-1. Our studies showed that inducible whole-body over-expression of FIC-1 inhibited pathogen avoidance behavior by selectively suppressing production of the Transforming Growth Factor-β (TGF-β) ligands DAF-7 and DBL-1 in ASI sensory neurons.  

In C. elegans, five TGF-β ligands with non-redundant functions that share at least 70% sequence homology with human superfamily members have been identified: DAF-7, DBL-1, UNC-129, TIG-2, and TIG-3. DAF-7  regulates the physiological traits  of diapause stage (dauer) entry as well as metabolism, whereas DBL-1 controls body morphology, innate immunity, and reproductive aging. In addition to the suppression of TGF- β ligands DAF-7 and DBL-1 in ASI neurons, our findings further show that over-expression  of the constitutive AMPylase FIC-1 alters C. elegans body size, reproduction, cholinergic neuron function, and larval entry into dauer stage; all processes controlled by TGF-β signaling. 

Our results describe for the first time a direct behavioral consequence of altered FIC-1-mediated protein modification as well as a novel link between AMPylation and TGF-β signaling through the modulation of two processes:  TGF-β Dauer pathway and DBL-1 Sma/Mab pathway. By discovering how AMPylation controls TGF-β proteins in worms, we can thus learn new information relevant to human health.

Stephanie Morales

Doctoral Candidate, Survey and Data Science

Title: Assessing Cross-Cultural Comparability of Self-Rated Health and Its Conceptualization through Web Probing

Self-rated health (SRH) is a widely used question across different fields, as it is simple to administer yet has been shown to predict mortality. SRH asks respondents to rate their overall health typically using Likert-type response scales (i.e., excellent, very good, good, fair, poor). Although SRH is commonly used, few studies have examined its conceptualization from the respondents’ point of view and even less so for differences in its conceptualization across diverse populations.

This study aims to assess the comparability of SRH across different cultural groups by investigating the factors that respondents consider when responding to the SRH question. We included an open-ended probe asking what respondents thought when responding to SRH in web surveys conducted in five countries: Great Britain, Germany, the U.S., Spain, and Mexico. In the U.S., we targeted six racial/ethnic and linguistic groups: English-dominant Koreans, Korean-dominant Koreans, English-dominant Latinos, Spanish-dominant Latinos, non-Latino Black Americans, and non-Latino White Americans. Our coding was first developed for English responses and adapted to fit additional countries and languages. Among four English-speaking coders, 2 were fluent in Spanish, 1 in German, and 1 in Korean. Coders translated non-English responses into English and then coded. All responses were coded. One novelty of our study is allowing multiple attribute codes (e.g., health behaviors, illness) per respondent and tone (e.g., in the direction of positive or negative health or neutral) of the probing responses for each attribute, allowing us 1) to assess respondents’ thinking process holistically and 2) to examine whether and how respondents mix attributes. Our study compares the number of reported attributes and tone by cultural groups and integrates SRH responses in the analysis. This study aims to provide a deeper understanding of SRH by revealing the cognitive processes among diverse populations and is expected to shed light on its cross-cultural comparability.

Savannah Sturla

Doctoral Candidate, Environmental Health Sciences | LinkedIn: 

Title: The impact of youth participatory action research programs on perceptions of environmental justice among youth with asthma in Richmond, CA  

Participatory action research (PAR) is an important strategy to address health disparities by incorporating cultural and experiential knowledge in science and broadening lenses used to assess health and social conditions. PAR programs also equip and empower community members with research and leadership training, while advancing research translation. This qualitative study conducted semi-structured interviews with predominantly Latino youth with asthma who recently participated in a research study in Richmond, CA, a community impacted by environmental injustices related to multiple pollution sources. The goal was to investigate youth perceptions on the interrelatedness of stress and the environment, as well as how research involvement may benefit participants as they cope with asthma. Of the 13 youth interviewed, 6 participants additionally participated in Youth PAR (YPAR). Those participating in YPAR expressed a greater literacy around environmental health and justice themes related to air pollution, when compared to the 7 youth whose experience with research was limited to involvement as a research participant. Prevailing differences across the two groups showed that the YPAR participants more often described specific sources of community pollution, structural drivers of environmental injustice, and systemic and collective environmental solutions. In addition, YPAR participants tended to express a greater, more detailed sense of agency over their asthma and more positive feelings about their community. Community engagement and involvement are a vital lens through which to further understand the disproportionate impacts of air pollution, to provide experiential information for policy change, and to empower participants. This study demonstrates that YPAR is a feasible way to engage and partner with youth in approaching environmental contributors to asthma. 

Mislael Valentin-Cortes

Doctoral Candidate, Epidemiology | Twitter: @mislaelvc | LinkedIn: 

Title: The Public Health Consequences of Compounding Disasters in Puerto Rico

In the past decade, the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico has faced considerable challenges after being affected by multiple disaster events (i.e., hurricanes, earthquakes, and the COVID-19 pandemic. While disaster literature has established that individual disasters result in harmful health impact, there is scarce research on the potential effect of multiple events in a single population. This study aims to analyze and describe the relationship between multiple disaster exposure, self-reported health, and potential effect modifiers by examining time trends. We will examine data from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) to examine the relationship between multiple disaster exposure and self-reported health among residents of Puerto Rico who were interviewed between January 2015 and March 2022. Specifically, we examine health outcomes associated with poor mental health, poor physical health, self-perception of general health status, and self-reported smoking, alcohol consumption, and exercise. Multivariate regression models controlling for potential confounders will be utilized to examine the relationship between disaster exposure and self-reported health outcomes. Our findings mostly suggest non-significant associations comparing pre-disaster periods to post-disaster periods, except in the first 6 months post-hurricane, which were particularly harmful across health outcomes; however, interestingly, we found that the post-COVID period appeared to be protective with several outcomes. Overall, the findings of this study can be used to help inform policy and interventions to address disaster preparedness, mitigation, and recovery, and ultimately improve health outcomes associated with these events.

Puentes Oral Presentations Session B

7:15 - 8:30 PM

Kristen Leer

Doctoral Candidate, Communication and Media | Twitter: kristenl37

Title: Social Media Activism and Trauma: How Activists Manage the Emotional Effects of Traumatic Media Content

Within the past 20 years, social justice activism has evolved from protests on the streets to advocacy on social media platforms. The COVID-19 pandemic forced even more activism online, providing new opportunities to those who could not access physical spaces to practice their activism. However, online activism is not without its risks. For this project, I am interested in how social media activists, particularly those from marginalized demographics, negotiate their activism practices online. I am especially interested in learning about how they manage vicarious trauma from exposure to news depicting traumatizing content, such as police brutality, or hostile and threatening community comments on activism-relevant posts. At present, little is known about how activists on social media balance the risks and benefits of online activism and deal with the emotional fallout of exposure to traumatizing media content (TMC). Participants, who identify as social media activists and do social justice work, will participate in an in-depth interview that focuses on asking them questions about their activism online, exposure to TMC, social media rumination, shared experience and identity, a trauma in the form of psychological distress, and methods of supporting resilience. Currently, I have interviewed 15 social media activists (25% of who identify as Latine). Each of these interviews have been coded to evaluate how trauma media content has impacted their activism and their personal well-being. This research is supported by the Anti-Racist Graduate Research Grant which aims to support research that includes an anti-racist agenda and initiatives. 

Ylexia Padilla

Master's Student, SEAS


Luke Allen

Master's Student, SEAS 


Sally Phipps

Master's Student, SEAS 


Jared Mandelbaum

Master's Student, Ford School of Public Policy & SEAS 


Antonio Morsette

Master's Student, SEAS 


Title: Supporting Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods in the Tropical Dry Forest of Manabí, Ecuador 

Ecuador is recognized as one of seventeen megadiverse countries, among the world’s richest for living organisms. Tropical dry forests within Ecuador are a critical source of biodiversity as well as ecosystem services which have significant benefits for both local communities and global conservation efforts. Yet tropical dry forests are also among the most threatened ecosystems on Earth, with 86% of Ecuador’s tropical dry forests classified as highly threatened. Many remnant tropical dry forest fragments in western Ecuador exist today alongside working agricultural lands with different effects on ecosystems and wildlife. Reconciling landowners’ needs with sustainable land uses that support biodiversity and associated ecosystem services in the region has proved challenging. Our team set out to inform the efforts of our partner organization, the Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation, on how to collaborate with local landowners to support biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods. We conducted qualitative and quantitative data collection through community interviews of farmers employing sustainable methods to understand the benefits and challenges associated with sustainable agricultural practices as well as trends in changing ecosystems. In addition, our team conducted ecological surveys of different land-use types (monoculture, agroforestry, and primary forest) to evaluate linkages between management practices and biodiversity. Finally, our team assembled a preliminary prioritization scheme to inform outreach efforts to local landowners around reforestation and restoration. 

Austin Polanco

Doctoral Candidate, Physics

Title: Hierarchical core-periphery structure in networks

 We study core-periphery structure in networks using inference methods based on a flexible network model that allows for traditional onion-like cores within cores, but also for hierarchical tree-like structures and more general non-nested types of structure. We propose an efficient Monte Carlo scheme for fitting the model to observed networks and report results for a selection of real-world data sets. Among other things, we observe an empirical distinction between networks showing traditional core-periphery structure with a dense core weakly connected to a sparse periphery, and an alternative structure in which the core is strongly connected both within itself and to the periphery. Networks vary in whether they are better represented by one type of structure or the other. We also observe structures that are a hybrid between core-periphery structure and community structure, in which networks have a set of non-overlapping cores that correspond roughly to communities, surrounded by a single undifferentiated periphery.

Jonathan Sarasa

Undergraduate Student, School of Public Health | LinkedIn: 

Title: Associations Between Disease Variants and Differential Methylation Among Ancestry Groups

DNA methylation is an epigenetic change that plays a crucial role in gene expression and regulation. Unlike genetic variation, methylation is heritable and can vary between populations. Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) are the most widely studied form of genetic variation and their frequency can vary among populations. However, the majority of studies in the GWAS Catalog, which compiles all studies reporting associations between SNPs and diseases, have focused on European populations. This over-representation makes it difficult to understand the genetic basis of disease-risk in non-European populations. Additionally, methylation differences may explain why polygenic risk scores do not transfer across populations. Our study aims to address these limitations by quantifying differences in methylation across populations and evaluating the relationship between SNPs and regions of methylation that differ signficiantly by ancestry. This will provide valuable insight into the role of methylation in disease risk and expand our understanding of the complex interplay between genetics and epigenetics. By incorporating data from non-European populations, we will create a more comprehensive and representative view of the relationship between methylation and disease. Ultimately, this will help to improve our ability to diagnose and treat diseases in diverse populations.

Cecilia Solís-Barroso

Doctoral Candidate, Linguistics

Title: Una persona tiene cada idea: Scope ambiguity intuitions by Spanish/English bilinguals

 This research examines the understudied question of how Spanish/English bilinguals interpret ambiguous sentences. In some languages like English and Spanish, sentences with two expressions specifying quantity, or quantifiers (for instance, ‘every’, ‘some’, and ‘a’), are syntactically ambiguous, meaning their structure permits two possible interpretations (see example 1). Although the construction is ambiguous, research suggests that speakers of these languages tend to prefer one interpretation that is more instinctive. Furthermore, some studies suggest that bilinguals may have a different intuitions of the sentence interpretation for each of their languages (Lee, 2009; Scontras et al., 2017). Importantly, language dominance, language proficiency and order of acquisition have been suggested as possible predictors of whether bilinguals do have a divergence between their two languages.

(1) A person bought every book

Interpretation 1: Say there are 10 books and all were bought by a single person

     Interpretation 2: Say there are 10 books and each was bought by a different person

To date, research has not investigated how Spanish/English bilinguals interpret syntactically ambiguous sentences of quantifier scope. The current study therefore advances this research and also asks whether Spanish/English bilinguals show divergence in the two languages. Furthermore, this work attempts to determine whether a given factor (language proficiency, order of acquisition, etc) better predicts divergence in the two languages, if divergence arises. To answer these questions, an experimental study is being conducted with 60 Mexican-Spanish/English heritage bilinguals. Participants complete three tasks: Judging whether a sentence is true or false to determine how instinctive the two possible interpretations are, (2) a proficiency test in both languages, and (3) a language background questionnaire to collect linguistic information of the participants. Pending complete data collection, t-test and correlation analyses will be used to examine the results.