January 2023 Spotlight – Michelle Pasco, PhD

This month, we are delighted to introduce Dr. Michelle Pasco (she/her/hers). Dr. Pasco is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Social Science, in the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development. Dr. Pasco’s research focuses on 1) advancing methods to examine neighborhood environments, 2) how neighborhoods impact adolescent development, and 3) neighborhood and family influences on cultural processes and experiences (e.g, ethnic-racial identity, discrimination).

Can you write a couple sentences on some aspect of your career development?
I became interested in this line of research from my own experiences of being a second-generation Filipina-American growing up in a predominantly Latinx neighborhood in the suburbs of Los Angeles. I was aware of systemic inequities across neighborhoods and also how my parents would drive to a different city to go to a Filipino grocery store since we did not have one in our neighborhood. These experiences inspired me to understand the lived experiences that youth of color have in their neighborhoods. I aim to raise the voices of youth of color in my work. Furthermore, I take a strengths-based approach in examining neighborhoods that are ethnically, racially, and socioeconomically stratified. I do this by using culturally-informed theoretical models (García Coll et al., 1996; Spencer, 2007) and using different methods (e.g., qualitative interviews, systematic social observations, photovoice) to gather a nuanced view of youth’s experiences in their neighborhood. 
I have been fortunate to have incredible mentors during my undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral training including Dr. Rebecca M.B. White and Dr. Nilda Flores-Gonzalez. My advice to someone starting out in the field is to (1) find passion in your work that has meaning to you, (2) find multiple mentors that can support different facets of your identity, and (3) read outside of your discipline—there is great work being done outside of our field that is relevant to us and will continue to help innovate our work! 

Please describe a particular recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes you excited about it. 
In my prior work, I had adapted a systematic social observations protocol that assessed levels of physical disorder, physical decay, street safety, and sociocultural symbols (i.e., presence of culturally-relevant murals, businesses, resources for Latinx residents), using Google Street View in neighborhoods in the Phoenix metropolitan area. As a new assistant professor at the University of Minnesota, I am adapting this systematic social observations protocol to be contextually and culturally-informed for Minneapolis and St. Paul neighborhoods. I am excited to adapt my measure on sociocultural symbols to include Asian and Asian American populations in this work and to have more representations of Asian and Asian American ethnic groups in neighborhood research. This work will shed light on both the promoting and inhibiting characteristics that exist across these neighborhoods. 
See systemic social observations protocol here: 
Pasco, M. C. & White R. M. B. (2020). A mixed-method approach to examining Mexican-origin adolescents use of ethnic-racial labels in neighborhood context. Journal of Adolescent Research, 35(4), 489-520. doi: 10.1177/0743558419868220

Any thoughts about your experiences with the Asian Caucus?
The Asian Caucus is such a great community and does a great job in collaborating with the Latinx and Black Caucus. They create a space where scholars, both in the U.S. and internationally, can feel at home and share their work across this space. It is also great to see familiar faces at conferences through the Asian Caucus. I feel honored to be asked to be a part of the member spotlight series!

Any upcoming talks or presentations we should know about?
I hope to be presenting some new work at SRA 2023 where I use photovoice to highlight how young adults in Arizona use photos to show what represents their neighborhood and what are aspects they would like to change about their neighborhood. Interestingly, multiple young adults would like more diversity in their neighborhood!

Preferred contact email and weblink:



Other social media:Twitter: @drmichellepasco. 
College and department twitters: @umnfsos and @umn_cehd.

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