DISI Post-Doctoral Research Associates

Megan Costa

Megan Costa

I am a demographer focused on fertility and family demography; my interests lie at the intersection of maternal characteristics and household determinants of child well-being. These characteristics leave their mark in the childhood years and hold long-term implications for health across the life course. My current projects explore how fertility intentions affect child health in the Tsimané—a population that is experiencing rapid demographic, economic, and dietary transitions in the Bolivian lowlands—and in a high-fertility rural population in Kigoma, Tanzania. I am also working with data from the Young Lives Cohort Study to better understand the intersection of child health, multigenerational living arrangements, and aging in low- and middle-income countries. The central goal of my research is to understand how overlapping life course stages—including fertility decisions, aging, and migration events—affect children within their family contexts.

 

Education:

2016 Ph.D. Demography and Sociology (joint degree) Advisor: Irma T. Elo, Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

2014 A.M. Demography Advisor: Claudia Valeggia University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

2012 M.S.c. Demography Advisor: Ian Timaeus London School of Hygiene and Topical Medicine, London, England

2009 B.A. Anthropology (with Distinction) University of Washington Seattle, WA

Faculty Advisors:

Natalie D. Wilkens, Assistant Professor

Robert Bradley, Professor

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Cassandra Cotton

I am a family demographer whose work primarily investigates the intersections between migration and family dynamics in sub-Saharan Africa. My current research examines the relationship between women's migration, child fostering, and mother-child relationships in urban informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya. My additional ongoing projects explore the influence of migration in adolescence on young migrant women's maternal and reproductive health outcomes and the impact of mothers' migration patterns on child residence and child well-being across sub-Saharan Africa. My other published work has looked at kin support for single mothers in Nairobi, Kenya, family relationships and father engagement in Cape Town, South Africa, and family structures, migration, and transitions to adulthood in Kisumu, Kenya. The overarching goal of my research aims to understand the role of migration in shaping the lives of women and their children throughout sub-Saharan Africa using both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Education:

2017 Ph.D. Sociology McGill University,
Advisor: Shelley Clark, PhD Montreal, Quebec

2008 B.A. International Relations Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick

Faculty Advisors:

Robert Bradley, Professor

Elizabeth Blue Swadener, Professor

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Jenny Padilla

Jenny Padilla

My research focuses on the family as a developmental influence, primarily in adolescence and young adulthood. With respect to the larger contexts of family systems dynamics, I am most interested in the role of culture; my work to date has focused on Mexican-origin families. A major goal of my current and future research program is to advance understanding of diversity that is evident within ethnic groups as well as the cultural practices and values that help to explain differences in family dynamics and youth well-being within those groups. To address questions about changes in multiple individuals, dyads, and larger family subsystems—within their changing contexts—I also explore research methods such as quantitative analysis approaches for capturing complex family systems dynamics.

Education:

2017 Ph.D. Human Development and Family Studies Advisor: Susan M. McHale, Ph.D. The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA

2014 M.S. Human Development and Family Studies Advisor: Susan M. McHale, Ph.D. The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA

2012 B.A. Psychology Minor: Applied Developmental Psychology University of California, Los Angeles, CA

Faculty Advisors:

Kimberly Updegraff, Professor

Justin Jager, Assistant Professor

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