Kristine Molina, PhD
University of Illinois at Chicago
RISE Cohort 4
I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, and Faculty Affiliate of the Latin American and Latino Studies Program and the Community Health Sciences Division (School of Public Health) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). I am also a Scholar in the NIH-funded Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) K12 program at UIC. I received a joint PhD in Psychology (Personality & Social Contexts) and Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan and completed an NHLBI-funded post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Miami’s Behavioral Medicine in Cardiovascular Disease Research program in the Psychology Department. My program of research centers on social stress, resilience, and health among Latino populations, with a specific focus on the role of discrimination stress and cardiovascular health-related disease risks, including health-damaging behaviors and poor mental and physical health. I also focus on investigating the psychosocial and contextual factors that might mitigate the deleterious effects of discrimination on health.
I chose to pursue my line of research primarily because I have seen first-hand how stress tied to experiences of structural and interpersonal discrimination has manifested itself in the lives, particularly the mental and physical health, of the women in my family. And yet at the same time, I have been fascinated by how some targets of discrimination manage to thrive and build resilience in the face of social marginality. Indeed, my personal experiences have given life and meaning to my work and drive me to find solutions aimed at enhancing the health and quality of life of Latinos. Thus, I have always been keen to acknowledge the role social forces and structures play on the health of Latinos, as well as in understanding what factors may inoculate against the deleterious health effects of discrimination. In essence, pursuing this line of work allows me to take into account the full context of Latinos’ lives—a group of which I am a member and in which I am deeply invested. I am excited about the prospect of translating my research findings into developing interventions that empower Latinos and that will contribute to reducing and ultimately eliminating health disparities for this population. Equally significant, as a first-generation college graduate and Latina from a low-income immigrant background, I am a passionate advocate for empowering underrepresented students through research mentorship and training. Working on health disparities-focused research allows me the opportunity to mentor, train, and empower students like myself who are from groups that are directly impacted by health inequities—making the work in which I engage both personally and professionally meaningful because I am actively working to increase thediversity of our future researchers as well as the perspectives in our scholarship.