March 2019 Spotlight, Virginia Huynh, Ph.D.

This month, we are delighted to introduce Dr. Virginia Huynh ( as our member in spotlight.  Dr. Huynh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Development at California State University, Northridge. Her research focuses on understanding social and cultural factors—such as discrimination and ethnic socialization—that influence the academic, psychological, and physical well-being of ethnic minority and immigrant children and adolescents.


1) What drew you to do work on Asians, Asian American children and youth, or another topic that is important to you now? who was an important mentor to you in this work, or an influential particular study in the field or in a related field?

My current research primarily focuses on ethnic racial socialization and discrimination. My interest in these topics stem from my experience as a child of Vietnamese refugees. Despite being born in the U.S., it was clear to me that people saw me as a foreigner (e.g., commented on my English skills; bowed at me; greeted me in any Asian language). People also made assumptions about my interests and abilities based solely on my ethnicity. In college, I connected with other Asian Americans who had similar experiences, but was dismayed that the content taught in psychology and child development classes did not reflect our realities. Thus, I pursued a doctoral program that allowed me to unpack the immigrant experience. First I examined parental ethnic racial socialization of Latinx and Asian American adolescents. This led to my interest in examining impact of ethnic discrimination on a variety of outcomes (e.g., academic, mental health, physical health, health behaviors) among Asian American and Latinx youth. My research has circled back to racial ethnic socialization and how parents can proactively prepare children of all backgrounds to recognize and deal with bias (both as a victim and as a bystander) in order for children to function in our increasingly diverse society.

2) A short paragraph describing a particular recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes you excited about it.  

With racialized recent events such as the Charlottesville White nationalist rally in 2017 and the separation of migrant children and parents in 2018, it is critical to examine children’s developing ideas of race and racism. To date, most of the onus for dealing with racism has been shouldered by people of color, yet the burden of addressing racism should fall to those who benefit from it. With my colleague Dr. Gillen-O’Neel, Assistant Professor at Macalester College, I am conducting a mixed-methods study to examine if, when, and how White parents or children in K-8th grade engage in ethnic racial socialization. I am excited about the applied nature of this work as we will share findings directly with participating teachers and parents to inform their goals of raising racially unbiased children.

3) Your thoughts about your experiences with the Asian Caucus.

It has been a great experience working with the steering committee as Treasurer. I am thankful for the opportunity to network with leaders in the Asian, Black and Latinx Caucuses, as well as SRCD. I gained a strong appreciation for the important work that the caucus engages in to advocate for diversity, inclusion, and recognition.

4) Any upcoming talks or presentations?

I am presenting a poster at SRCD with the initial findings from my study on ethnic racial socialization among White families. The poster will present whether parents’ racial attitudes are associated with those of their children, and whether these parents and children accurately predict each others’ racial attitudes.

I am also part of a SRCD Roundtable with Drs. Adriana Umaña-Taylor and Margaret Hagerman, moderated by Eleanor Seaton, titled “The Future of Racial Discrimination Research in Developmental Science“.

5) A preferred weblink

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