Michelle’s program of research seeks to understand the contextual and developmental factors that influence youth of color’s contributions to the family’s everyday survival in low-socioeconomic, resource-poor settings. Specifically, her work considers what youth contributions look like in mixed-status (e.g., U.S. citizen child vs. undocumented parent) Latinx families living in non-traditional (im)migrant destinations; how these contributions may be encouraged or limited by the surrounding micro-, meso-, exo-, and macro-systems; and, consequently, how such contributions may shape the health and development of Latinx youth over the life course. Michelle’s work employs a youth-centered participatory research approach that places emphasis on the voices and lived experiences of youth, especially with experiences relating to immigration and discrimination.
Michelle’s previous work has argued for the conceptualization of Latinx youth involvement in family food practices as a family coping strategy – a practical yet critical resource for the maintenance of family health and functioning. This work identified several implications for dietary health promotion and obesity prevention efforts. Her work also emphasized the need for future research concerned with the development of youth from (im)migrant Latinx backgrounds.