Research Focus

My research has three main goals:

  1. Improve understanding of how exposure to stress and trauma among populations of color impacts youth mental health and development.

  2. Identify specific resilience factors that reduce mental health disparities stemming from exposure to adversity.

  3. Develop and contribute to interventions that disrupt pathways from adversity to mental health risk among youth of color.

I use quantitative and qualitative methods, community-based participatory research, and implementation science .

Further, much of my research is conducted through multidisciplinary partnerships, for example with local community mental health agencies, hospitals, and safety net medical clinics.

My work has garnered honors such as the University of California Presidents’ Dissertation Fellowship and the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Division 56 Outstanding Dissertation in Trauma Psychology award.

I aim for my research to be community and culturally-informed and relevant to intervention, prevention, and policy.

Past Project Examples:

  • Studying psychological risk and resilience after exposure to a wide range of traumatic events, including natural disasters, community and mass violence, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and racism

  • Researching the development and implementation of innovative mental health treatment models for youth in Goa, India, Santa Barbara, CA, and Cambridge, MA.

  • Examining how mothers’ exposure to racism-related stress and adversity during pregnancy may transmit physical and mental health vulnerability to their children, as well factors that mitigate this risk.

Peer-Reviewed Publications


  1. Liu, S.R., Sandman, C.A.., Davis, E.P., & Glynn, L.M. (2022). Intergenerational Risk and Resilience Pathways from Discrimination and Acculturative Stress to Infant Mental Health. Development & Psychopathology, 1–13, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579422000141

  2. Liu, S.R., Davis, E. P., Palma, A. M., Sandman, C. A., & Glynn, L. M. (2021). The Acute and Persisting Impact of COVID-19 on Trajectories of Adolescent Depression: Sex Differences and Social Connectedness. Journal of Affective Disorders, 299(February 2021), 246–255. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2021.11.030

  3. Liu, S. R., & Glynn, L. M. (2021). The Contribution of Racism-Related Stress and Adversity to Disparities in Birth Outcomes: Evidence and Research Recommendations. F&S Reports. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xfre.2021.10.003

  4. Liu, S.R., Grimes, K.E., Creedon, T.B., Pathak, P., DiBona, L.A., & Hagan, G. N. (2021). Pediatric ACEs Screening within a Collaborative Practice Model: Implications for Health Equity. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1037/ort0000536

  5. Barnett, M. L., Sheldrick, R. C., Liu, S. R., Kia-Keating, M., & Negriff, S. (2021). Implications of Adverse Childhood Experiences Screening on Behavioral Health Services : A Scoping Review and Systems Modeling Analysis. American Psychologist, 76(2), 364–378. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0000756

  6. Sims, G. M., Kia-Keating, M., Liu, S. R., & Taghavi, I. (2020). Political Climate and Sense of Belonging in Higher Education : Latina Undergraduates and Mental Health. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 26(4), 356–364.

  7. Liu, S. R., & Modir, S. (2020). The outbreak that was always here: Racial trauma in the context of COVID-19 and implications for mental health providers. Psychological Trauma : Theory, Research, Practice and Policy. https://doi.org/10.1037/tra0000784

  8. Liu, S. R., Kia-Keating, M., Nylund-Gibson, K., & Barnett, M. L. (2019). Co-Occurring Youth Profiles of Adverse Childhood Experiences and Protective Factors: Associations with Health, Resilience, and Racial Disparities. American Journal of Community Psychology, 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajcp.12387

  9. Lambert, S. F., Tache, R. M., Liu, S. R., Nylund-Gibson, K., & Ialongo, N. S. (2019). Individual Differences in Patterns of Community Violence Exposure and Internalizing and Externalizing Behaviors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260519867148

  10. Kia-Keating, M., Barnett, M. L., Liu, S. R., Sims, G. M., & Ruth, A. B. (2019). Trauma‐Responsive Care in a Pediatric Setting: Feasibility and Acceptability of Screening for Adverse Childhood Experiences. American Journal of Community Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajcp.12366

  11. Liu, S.R., Kia-Keating, M., & Nylund-Gibson, K. (2019). Patterns of Family, School, and Community Promotive Factors and Health Disparities Among Youth: Implications for Prevention Science. Prevention Science. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajcp.12387

  12. Felix, E. D., Nylund-Gibson, K., Kia-Keating, M., Liu, S. R., Binmoeller, C., & Terzieva, A. (2019). The Influence of Flood Exposure and Subsequent Stressors on Youth Social-Emotional Health. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ort0000418.

  13. Okazaki, S., Guler, J., Haarlammert, M., & Liu, S. R. (2019). Translating psychological research on immigrants and refugees [Editorial]. Translational Issues in Psychological Science, 5(1), 1–3. https://doi.org/10.1037/tps0000188

  14. Kia-Keating, M., Liu, S.R., & Sims, G. (2018). Between the devil and the deep blue sea: Refugee youth in resettlement. Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118900772.etrds0460

  15. Liu, S. R., Kia-Keating, M., & Nylund-Gibson, K. (2018). Patterns of adversity and pathways to health among White, Black, and Latinx youth. Child Abuse & Neglect, 86(2018), 89–99. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2018.09.007

  16. Liu, S. R., Kia-Keating, M., Santacrose, D. E., & Modir, S. (2018). Linking profiles of neighborhood elements to health and related outcomes among children across the United States. Health & Place, 53(August), 203–209. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2018.08.013

  17. Liu, S. R., & Kia-Keating, M. (2018). A novel examination of exposure patterns and posttraumatic stress after a university mass murder. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 11(2), 176–183. https://doi.org/10.1037/tra0000354

  18. Kia-Keating, M., No, U., Moore, S., Furlong, M. J., Liu, S., & You, S. (2017). Structural Validity of the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scales-21 Adapted for U.S. Undergraduates. Emerging Adulthood, 216769681774540. http://doi.org/10.1177/2167696817745407

  19. Liu, S.R., & Kia-Keating, M. (2017). Improving Coping Self-Efficacy Among Distressed Students After Exposure to University Mass Violence: A Pilot Online Intervention. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 0(0), 1–21. http://doi.org/10.1080/87568225.2017.1388754

  20. Liu, S.R., Kia-Keating, M., & Modir, S. (2017). Hope & Adjustment to College in the Context of Collective Trauma. Journal of American College Health. http://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2017.1312412

  21. Kia-Keating, M., Santacrose, D.E., & Liu, S. (2017). Photography & Social Media Use in Community-Based Participatory Research with Youth: Ethical Considerations. American Journal of Community Psychology. http://doi.org/10.1002/ajcp.12189

  22. Kia-Keating, M., Santacrose, D. E., Liu, S.R., & Adams, J. (2017). Community-Based Participatory Research & Human Centered Design to Address Violence Related Health Disparities Among Latino/a Youth. Family & Community Health, 40(2), 160–169. http://doi.org/10.1097/FCH.0000000000000145

  23. Liu, S.R., Schulz, M.S, & Waldinger, R.J. (2015). Cumulative Contribution of Child Maltreatment to Emotional Experience and Regulatory Intent in Intimate Adult Interactions. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 24:6, 636-655, http://doi.org/10.1080/10926771.2015.1049768

  24. Malone, J. C., Liu, S.R., Vaillant, G. E., Rentz, D. M., & Waldinger, R. J. (2015). Midlife Eriksonian Psychosocial Development: Setting the Stage for Late-Life Cognitive & Emotional Health. Developmental Psychology, http://doi.org/10.1037/a0039875

  25. Cohen, S., Schulz, M. S., Liu, S.R., Halassa, M. & Waldinger, R. J. (2015), Empathic Accuracy & Aggression in Couples: Individual & Dyadic Links. Journal of Marriage & Family. http://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12184

  26. Liu, S., Dore, M., & Amrani-Cohen, I. (2013). Treating the effects of interpersonal violence: A comparison of two group models. Social Work With Groups: A Journal Of Community & Clinical Practice, 36(1), 59-72. http://doi.org/10.1080/01609513.2012.725156

  27. Malone, J. C., Cohen, S., Liu, S.R., Vaillant, G. E., & Waldinger, R.J. (2013). Adaptive midlife defense mechanisms & late-life health. Personality & Individual Differences, 55(2), 85-89. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2013.01.025