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Maria De Jesus Professor Environment, Development & Health

Contact
Maria De Jesus
SIS | Environment, Development & Health
School of International Service 244
Additional Positions at AU
Affiliate Faculty at the Center on Health, Risk, and Society
Faculty Fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Center
Degrees
PhD, Applied Developmental Psychology, Boston College
Post-doctoral research fellowship, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
MA, Developmental and Counseling Psychology, First Class Honors, Boston College BA, Psychology, summa cum laude (Honors Program), McGill University

Languages Spoken
English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Bio
Dr. Maria De Jesus brings to AU a wealth of research and teaching experiences in the area of global health, a critical area of focus in interstate and transnational relations. Her research focuses on health inequities, especially as they affect im/migrant and diaspora communities, the social determinants of health, and the role of culturally responsive and strategic communication. As globalization and migration have created a demographic imperative for the development of effective health communication strategies and technologies, her scholarship responds to the world-wide interest in the health of members of im/migrant and diaspora communities and pointedly connects health to the key dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, class, culture, religion, immigration, migration, communication, and inequalities. Her overarching goal is to generate knowledge particularly on underrepresented populations that can then inform health practice and policy.


Prior to her appointment at AU, she was a post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Center for Community-based Research, where she served as co-investigator on several NIH-funded cancer disparities research studies. She also taught at Boston University and Boston College. At AU, she was awarded several NIH grants and internal grants. She was also awarded a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to examine the application of technology in disseminating m-Health educational messages and to reduce disparities by addressing socio-economic, literacy, access, and psycho-social barriers among underserved Latina populations. In addition, she was awarded a grant from the District of Columbia Center for AIDS Research to conduct a community-based study that examines and compares the culture-specific HIV and HIV testing perceptions and communication norms of East African-born and African American women in Washington, DC, who are disproportionately affected by HIV. She has also conducted field research on im/migrant health in Central America, Mexico, the U.S., and more recently in France.
For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

Teaching

Spring 2024

  • SISU-250 Env Sustainblty/Global Health

  • SISU-250 Env Sustainblty/Global Health

  • SISU-350 Topics in Env Sustain/Glb Hlth: Health Comm Across Borders

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Selected Publications

  • De Jesus, M., Sullivan N., Hopman, W., et al. (2023). Examining the role of quality of institutionalized healthcare on maternal mortality in the Dominican Republic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(14):6413:1-11.

  • De Jesus, M., Warnock, B., Moumni, Z., et al. The impact of social capital and social environmental factors on mental health and flourishing: the experiences of asylum-seekers in France. Conflict and Health, 17, epub ahead of print (April 7, 2023).

  • De Jesus M., Moumni, Z., Sougui, Z.H., et al. (2022). “Living in confinement, stopped in time”: Migrant social vulnerability, coping, and health during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in France.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(16):10084:1-15.

  • De Jesus M., Ramachandra, S.S., Jafflin, Z., et al. (2021). The environmental and social determinants of health matter in a pandemic: Predictors of COVID-19 case and death rates in New York City. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18:1-17.
  • De Jesus M., Rodrigue, C., Rahmani, S., & Balamou C. (2021). Addressing cancer inequities by promoting cancer prevention knowledge, awareness, self-efficacy, and screening uptake among low-income and illiterate women in France. International Journal of Public Health, 66:1-12.
  • De Jesus M., Ramachandra, S., De Silva, A., et al. (2021). A mobile health breast cancer educational and screening intervention tailored for low-income, uninsured Latina immigrants. Women’s Health Reports, 2.1: 325-336.
  • De Jesus M., Ware D., Brown A.L et al. (2021). Social-environmental resiliencies protect against loneliness among HIV-positive and HIV-negative older men who have sex with men: Results from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS). Social Science and Medicine, 272:1-30.
  • De Jesus, M. & Hernandes, C. (2019). Generalized Violence as a Threat to Health and Well-Being: A Qualitative Study of Youth Living in Urban Settings in Central America’s “Northern Triangle.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(18):3465-3482.
  • De Jesus, M. & Williams, D.R. (2018). The Care and Prevention in the United States Demonstration Project: A call for more focus on the social determinants of HIV/AIDS. Public Health Reports, 133(Supplement 2):28S-33S.
  • De Jesus, M., Taylor, J., Maine, C., & Nalls, P. (2016). A one-size-fits-all HIV prevention and education approach?: Interpreting divergent HIV risk perceptions between African American and East African immigrant women in Washington, DC using the proximate-determinants conceptual framework. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 43(2):78-83.
  • De Jesus, M. (2016). How religiosity shapes health perceptions and behaviors of Latina immigrants: Is it an enabling or prohibitive factor? Psychology, Health, and Medicine, 21(1):128-133.
  • Palazzolo, S., Yamanis, T., De Jesus, M., Maguire-Marshall, M., & Barker, S. (2016). Documentation status as a contextual determinant of HIV risk among young transgender Latinas. LGBT Health, 3(2): 132-138.
  • De Jesus, M., Carrete, C., Maine, C., & Nalls, P. (2015). Attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors toward HIV testing among African American and East African immigrant women in Washington, D.C.: Implications for targeted HIV testing promotion and communication strategies. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 91(8):569-575.
  • De Jesus, M., Carrete, C., Maine, C., & Nalls, P. (2015). ‘Getting tested is almost like going to the Salem witch trials’: Discordant discourses between western public health messages and sociocultural expectations surrounding HIV testing among East African immigrant women. AIDS Care: Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV, 27(5):604-611.
  • De Jesus, M. & Miller, E.B. (2015). Examining breast cancer screening barriers among Central American and Mexican immigrant women: Fatalistic beliefs or structural factors? Health Care for Women International, 36(5):593-607.
  • De Jesus, M. & Kim, K. (2014). Bridging the gap in health communication: U.S. biomedical and immigrant Latina ethnomedical models of healthcare. Intercultural Management Quarterly, 15(3):7-9.
  •  De Jesus, M. & Xiao, C. (2014). Predicting health care utilization among Latinos: Health locus of control beliefs or access factors? Health Education & Behavior, 41(4):423-430.  
  • De Jesus, M. & Earl, T. R. (2014). Perspectives on quality mental health care from Brazilian and Cape Verdean outpatients: Implications for effective patient-centered policies and models of care. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being, 9:228-239.
  • Greaney, M.L., De Jesus, M. et al. (2014). Designing audience-centered interactive voice response messages to promote cancer screenings among low-income Latinas. Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy, 11:230-239.
  • De Jesus, M. & Xiao, C. (2013). Cross-border health care utilization among the Hispanic population in the United States: implications for closing the health care access gap. Ethnicity & Health, 18(3):297-314.

 

Other publications

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • Fulbright Canada U.S. Scholar Research Award (2022-23)       
  • Leadership Appointment – Editorial Board of the American Journal of Public Health (2019-21)
  • Research Fellow, Université de Lyon (2019-21)
  • Research Fellow, Center on Health, Risk, and Society, American University (2019-21)
  • AU’s Outstanding Scholarship, Research, Creative Activity, and Other Professional Contributions Award (2023)
  • F. Gunther Eyck Teaching and Mentoring Award (2022) 
  • William Cromwell SIS Award for Outstanding Teaching (2015)                                         

 

Grants and Sponsored Research

  • Principal Investigator, with DC-based community-based DC partner and NY-based technology partner, National Institutes of Health (NIH) (2022-2024), “Latinas CaPACES: Connecting and Promoting Active Cancer Engagement Successfully using a Culturally-Tailored Digital Tool to Reduce Delays in Breast Cancer Diagnostic Follow-up Testing and Treatment
  • Principal Investigator, Platelet Disorder Support Association (PDSA) (2022-2024), “Centering Youth Voices and Experiences: Improving the Quality of Life Among Adolescent Patients Living with Chronic Diseases"
  • Principal Investigator, Dean’s Research Award (2022-2023), “Using the Digital Storytelling Method to Explore Illness Experience, Health Inequities, and Quality of Life Outcomes Among Ethnically/Racially Diverse Youth Patients
  • Principal Investigator, Deputy Provost & Dean of Faculty’s Pilot Grant Award for faculty-student scholarly and creative collaboration (2022-2023), “Maternal Care Inequities in the Dominican Republic
  • Center on Health, Risk, and Society (CHRS) Research Fellow, CHRS (2022-2023), “Phase 2 CHRS Research Fellowship"
  • Co-Investigator, (with Nueva Vida, DC), Bright Pink cancer organization (2022-2023), “From Mothers to Daughters (De Madres a Hijas): Exploring Best Educational Tools for Genetic Counseling Among Latina Breast Cancer Survivors and their Daughters"
  • Principal Investigator, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Supplement Grant (2019-2021), “The role and mechanisms of mobility on care and treatment outcomes among female sex workers living with HIV in the Dominican Republic"
  • Principal Investigator, Office of the Provost’s Competitive Intramural Faculty Research Support Grant, American University, (2015-2016), “Impact of Social & Economic Conditions on Health, Healthcare Access, & Migration among Mexicans & Central Americans in Urban Contexts"
  • Co-Investigator, (with Michael Bader, PI, College of Arts and Sciences, Sociology, American University), Office of the Provost’s Competitive Intramural Faculty Research Support Grant, American University, (2015-2016), “DC Area Survey Pilot Study of Latino Immigrant and Global Neighborhoods"
  • Principal Investigator, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Academic-Community Research Partnership with Nueva Vida, (2014-2016), “The Role of Mobile Health (m-Health) Technology and Patient Navigators in Breast Cancer Prevention Among Hispanic Women"
  • Principal Investigator, Dean’s Competitive Intramural Summer Research Award, Academic-Community Research Partnership with DC-based organization, The Women’s Collective, (2012), “Feasibility Study: HIV-Related Perceptions, Barriers, and Facilitators to HIV Testing, and HIV-Related Communication Norms Among East African Immigrant and African American Women in Washington, DC
  • Principal Investigator, DC Developmental Center for AIDS Research (DC D-CFAR), National Institutes of Health, Academic-Community Research Partnership with DC-based organization, The Women’s Collective, (2012-2013), “HIV-Related Perceptions, Barriers and Facilitators to HIV Testing, and HIV-Related Communication Norms Among East African Immigrant and African American Women in Washington, DC”

AU Experts

Area of Expertise

Health inequalities; cross-cultural communication and health promotion

Additional Information

Maria De Jesus brings to AU a wealth of research and teaching experiences in the area of health inequalities, with a particular focus on cross-cultural communication and health promotion. While serving as a Yerby post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Center for Community-based Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, she served as coinvestigator on several NIH-funded cancer disparities research studies examining how ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and migration status interact to affect health outcomes. Among other recent awards and honors, De Jesus received the Davis Putter Grant in 2008 for activist scholarship that contributes to the elimination of social and health disparities. Her dissertation, "Ethnic Community Health Promotion and Well-being: Relational and Cultural Praxis of Cape Verdean Women Health Advocates," resulted from her research on developing a health promotion model in which community health workers recognized and acted on the importance of cross-cultural communication and relationship building in their work. Prior to joining AU, De Jesus taught at Boston University and Boston College, where she received her PhD in applied developmental psychology and an MA in counseling psychology.

For the Media

To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

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