Health Notes: Hispanics Face Unique Challenges

Hispanic Heritage month runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 to celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of Hispanics. Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin are available to discuss topics ranging from language development to health services and treatment for minority populations.

Sex and the Immigrant Communities
Gloria González-López
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

González-López researches the sexual, romantic and life experiences of adults with histories of incest from urbanized areas in Mexico. She is the author of "Erotic Journeys: Mexican Immigrants and Their Sex Lives."

Race, Social Class and Academic Achievement
Chandra Muller
Professor, Department of Sociology

Catherine Riegle-Crumb
Assistant Professor, College of Education

Muller and Crumb earned a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for their study "Gender Differences in Science and Math: Diversity and the Role of Social Context," an investigation of how schools structure opportunities for children of different races, ethnicities, social classes and immigrant generational statuses as they prepare for careers in science and math.

Pregnancy and Childbirth in Brazil and Along the U.S Borderlands
Joe Potter
Professor, Department of Sociology

Kristine Hopkins
Research Associate, Department of Sociology

Hopkins and Potter examine reproductive health issues in Latin America and along the U.S.-Mexico border, particularly the overuse of cesarean section in Brazil and Mexico. Hopkins co-produced the documentary "Born In Brazil," which examines Brazilian women's childbirth experiences in a country with staggering cesarean rates, illustrating the incentives for doctors to perform surgeries.

Challenges in Health Care for Elderly Mexican Americans
Jacqueline Angel
Professor, Department of Sociology

Angel examines the social and economic causes and consequences of health problems among the Hispanic population in the United States. She studies how cultural heterogeneity among the elderly affects the design of programs for the cost-effective delivery of health services and for the provision of long-term care. Her recent book "The Health of Aging Hispanics: The Mexican-Origin Population" explores the complex connection between immigration and health.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Life Expectancy
Mark Hayward
Director, Population Research Center and Professor, Department of Sociology

Hayward leads research on health and aging. He studies the origins of health disparities at older ages and ethnic disparities in healthy life expectancy in several projects funded by the National Institute on Aging.

Multicultural Therapy and Counseling
Manuel Ramirez III
Professor, Department of Psychology

Ramirez researches mental health in Latino families, children and adolescents. He studies cross-cultural psychology and values. In his book, "Multicultural Psychotherapy an Approach to Individual and Cultural Differences," he incorporates case studies of multiracial populations to address issues relevant to mental health for minorities.

Language Development Among Spanish-English Speaking Children
Lisa Bedore
Associate Professor, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Bedore researches child language and phonological development and disorders with a special interest in Spanish-speaking children.

Elizabeth Pena
Professor, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Pena researches child language and phonological development and disorders. She created a culturally appropriate test to more accurately assess language acquisition among Hispanic children who speak English as a second language.

Anita Perez
Research Associate, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Perez studies bilingual special education and Spanish/English literacy issues. She has extensive experience working with infants, toddlers and school-age children from bilingual backgrounds. She also is a researcher for the Bilingual Clinical Researcher Training and the Language, Poverty and Culture Projects at the university.

Folic Acid Use Among Hispanic Immigrants
Michael Mackert
Assistant Professor, Department of Advertising

Mackert studies health communication, including the best strategies for delivering health information to communities who have low health literacy. His research involves promoting the use of folic acid among Hispanic immigrants to improve their nutrient intake and prevent birth defects. He also examines cultural and social challenges that parents face in raising healthy children.

Academic Performance and the Effects of High-Stakes Testing
Angela Valenzuela
Associate Professor, Departments of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Administration

Valenzuela studies how minorities perform academically. She researches the detrimental effects of high-stakes testing on Hispanic students' scholastic achievement. She was chosen for the National Education Task Force, a congressional task force that evaluated the No Child Left Behind Act and reported on reauthorization of that legislation.

Julian Vasquez Heilig
Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Administration

Heilig examines how high-stakes testing and accountability-based education reforms affect urban minority students. His study, "Accountability, Texas-Style," documents the damage that accountability-focused education reforms have done to low-income and minority students. Heilig also studies issues of access and diversity in higher education.

Identity Development in Hispanic Youth
Luis Urrieta
Assistant Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Urrieta, part of the College of Education's Cultural Studies in Education program, researches the effects of Latino educators who assume an activist role in the classroom. He examines ethnic identity development and how cultural background affects educators' teaching styles and how students learn. In a recent study, he examined minority students' identity development in a predominantly white school.

Kidnappings and Murders in Mexico
Ricardo Ainslie
Professor, Department of Educational Psychology

Ainslie studies the effects of ethnic conflicts on communities and the psychological experiences of immigrants. He produced the documentary "Ya Basta! Kidnapped in Mexico," which investigates a wave of kidnappings and violent crime that has plagued Mexico during the past decade.

Immigration and Human Rights
Angela Valenzuela
Associate Professor, Departments of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Administration

Valenzuela won a Fulbright scholarship to work with the Mexican government and educational institutions to expand human rights and improve educational opportunities for Mexican immigrants to the United States. Last year she introduced the Texas Center for Education Policy and was named associate vice president for the university's Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

College Enrollment and the Top 10 Percent Law
Victor Saenz
Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Administration

Saenz's research and writings have focused on the benefits of racially diverse college campuses, examining problems Hispanic students may have in advancing from high school to college. He examines learning outcomes of affirmative action and remedial education policies. Saenz also studies how the top 10 percent law has affected access for ethnic minorities to flagship Texas universities.