Emerging Scholar Spotlight

November 2020

About Me
Michael A. Medina is a postdoctoral scholar in the Human Ecology department at the University of California, Davis. He received his PhD in Education and Psychology from the University of Michigan in 2020, and his BS with Honors in Psychology from Brown University in 2008. He was a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow and Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow, and was recently awarded an NSF RAPID Grant regarding student ethnic identity development during the COVID-19 pandemic.SRA Emerging Scholar.jpg

Research Journey
Growing up Puerto Rican in an entirely Latinx neighborhood, Dr. Medina was always curious about ethnicity and race. He pursued this interest via an undergraduate thesis, which identified a positive link between Latinx students’ ethnic identity beliefs and their self-esteem. During graduate school, he expanded this research to include the social contexts of ethnic identity development, including students’ diverse friend groups, classrooms, and families. As a postdoctoral scholar, Dr. Medina’s research agenda emphasizes ethnic identity development, socialization, and discrimination. In other words, he explores what young people think about their ethnic group, how they came to feel that way, and the hardships they may face along the way.

Current Projects
Dr. Medina works alongside Dr. Adrienne Nishina in the Peer Relation Lab. He helps lead the Daily Experiences with Diversity Project, tracking ethnic identity beliefs among a national cohort of students from 6th grade through 12th grade. This data was collected before and after COVID-related school closures, providing the opportunity to examine the impact of the pandemic on students’ well-being. His upcoming publications use this data to identify changes in students’ identity beliefs relative to their relationships with teachers, STEM interest, and peer interactions. Dr. Medina also collaborates with his longtime mentor, Dr. Deborah Rivas-Drake, and the CASA Lab at the University of Michigan. They currently study how students’ friend diversity may predict their future academic adjustment. 

Advice for Emerging Scholars
  • Find a hobby! Our work can be overwhelming and it takes time to see results. Personally, I spend my free time playing Dungeons & Dragons, biking through the city, and occasionally tweeting.
  • Be open-minded. You may not always be able to pursue your immediate research interest, but the most exciting projects often come from saying yes to unusual opportunities.
  • Build your community. We all got here with help, and we will need more help to get where we’re going. Lift up others as you rise and keep your people close.

Featured Publications
  • Medina, M. A., Constante, K., Mendez. L., Cross, F., & Rivas-Drake, D. (revise and resubmit). The role of relationship quality on adolescent perceptions of parental ethnic-racial socialization.
  • Medina, M. A., Rivas-Drake, D., Jagers, R. & Rowley, S. (2019). Friends matter: Ethnic-racial identity and school adjustment among African American and Latino early adolescents. Applied Developmental Science, 1-16. DOI: 10.1080/10888691.2018.1524712
  • Medina, M. A., McDermott, E. R., Medina, A., Miller, S., Rivas-Drake, D., Ison, A., & Umaña-Taylor, A. (2019). Discrimination and Racial Identity among Multiracial Youth. International Convention of Psychological Science. Paris, France.
  • Mathews, C., Medina, M. A., Banales, J., Pinetta, B., Marchand, A., Agi, A. C.,…Rivas-Drake, D. (2019). Bridging critical consciousness and ethnic-racial identity during adolescence: intersections and future directions. Adolescent Research Review, 1-12. DOI: 10.1007/s40894-019-00122-0