November/December 2022 Spotlight – Nestor Tulagan, PhD

This month, we are delighted to introduce Dr. Nestor Tulugan ( as our member in the spotlight. Nestor Tulugan is a National Science Foundation Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Education at the University of California – Irvine. His research examines the dynamic relations between family academic support and adolescents’ academic motivation and achievement, with a specific focus on families and adolescents from historically minoritized communities. He is also interested in attaining a comprehensive understanding of academic support within racial/ethnic minority families, exploring culturally grounded family supports within cultural groups, and examining the specific aims and rationales behind parents’ support.

Can you write a couple sentences on some aspect of your career development: feel free to pick one or any other related question among these: a) what drew you to do work on Asians, Asian American children and youth, or another topic that is important to you now? b) any particular advice or tips to someone starting out in the field who is doing work in your area?

  • My research examines the role of families (e.g., parents and older siblings) in the academic development of youth, especially those from historically minoritized communities. What primarily drew me to this work is how much I enjoyed working with diverse students and parents as a managing tutor in a learning center in San Diego, CA. This experience led me to think deeply about the ways in which families leverage their resources and strengths to shape how youths think about their education and future careers. Also, as a first-generation scholar from a lower-income, Filipino-American, immigrant background, attaining an education hasn’t come easy for me, and the support from my parents and grandparents were so crucial for me to persist through my education. As such, my research has a personal meaning to me, especially in its mission to help level the educational playing field for families and youth who are often excluded from education. My studies have focused on families from Black and Latinx backgrounds, examining positive pathways from family’s academic supports and adolescents’ academic motivation and achievement. As my research program develops, I also hope to examine academic socialization processes within families from Filipinx and other Southeast Asian backgrounds—families who are often overlooked in this area of research.
  • As an early career scholar, I’ve been blessed with an academic village, consisting of colleagues and mentors from many different disciplines, that have empowered me and provided me with opportunities in all aspects of my scholarship. My advice for burgeoning scholars is to make efforts to gain authentic academic allies from diverse fields. One’s career should neither be a lonely process, nor siloed within one’s field. One can gain so much more of an understanding of human phenomena by engaging with friends and colleagues from diverse perspectives!

A short paragraph describing a particular recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes you excited about it.  Feel free to describe its importance from any one or more of these lenses: a) research contribution; b) our knowledge about Asian or Asian American populations; c) our knowledge about other [understudied?] populations; d) practice or policy relevance.

  • My recent works have been focused on examining dynamic associations between family academic supports and adolescent academic functioning. In one recent publication, I tested the promotive role of family science conversations and Latinx high school adolescents’ science motivational beliefs (Tulagan et al., 2022). We found that adolescents were more likely to have higher science motivational beliefs when parents specifically initiated science conversations, but not when adolescents initiated these conversations. These findings have implications for the ways in which Latinx families can still support their children’s academic development during a period when adolescents have increasing needs for autonomy over their lives. I have also explored how parents address, circumvent, and overcome the academic challenges they and their adolescent children face within Black and Latinx families (Tulagan & Eccles, 2021, Tulagan et al., SRA 2022, AERA 2022). I am excited to engage in research examining the positive roles of families on youth’s academic motivation and achievement.
  • Check out our study here:

If you have any thoughts about your experiences with the Asian Caucus, that would be great! These can be just for the Caucus leadership to know, and/or a message to the Caucus community.

  • The SRCD Asian Caucus, along with the larger SRCD Quad-Caucus, has been an incredible source of resources and support in my career development. Beginning in the Tri-Caucus PreConference in 2018 that I attended as a doctoral student, I have been so empowered by the usefulness of the programs and the diversity of scholars I have met in these caucuses. I look forward to being more involved in future programs and events by the Asian Caucus.

Any upcoming talks or presentations we should know about?

  • I’m excited to present my ongoing research projects at SRA and SRCD next spring!

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