Las Madres Nuevas (Luecken & Perez)

Las Madres Nuevas (Luecken & Perez)
developmental psychology, mother-child interactions, school, puberty, biological influences on healthy development, body composition, Mexican-American
Lab Area
Clinical Psychology
Developmental Psychology
Lab Director
Linda Luecken, Marisol Perez
Actively Recruiting Undergraduate Researchers

Las Madres Nuevas is a large longitudinal study that has followed 322 Mexican-origin mothers and their children from birth through child age 16 with home visits, lab-based visits, and phone surveys.

Las Madres Nuevas (The New Mothers Project) is a large, NIH-funded longitudinal study that is following 322 Mexican-origin mothers and their children from birth through child age 16 with home visits, ASU visits, and phone surveys. The project examines cultural, contextual, and biological factors that affect mother’s mental health, mother-child interactions, and child development. We have examined how parents and children regulate each other’s mental and behavioral health, and how these processes promote the emergence of child self-regulation and competencies across the transition to school and puberty.  We are particularly interested in understanding how cultural factors promote healthy child development. 

To address potential health inequities among ethnic minority populations in the US, we aim to understand social, cultural, behavioral, and biological influences on the course of healthy development from the prenatal period through infancy and childhood.  Later data collection time points extend the project’s aims to examine how cultural, social, environmental, and psychological factors affect physical health of the mother and child, and the implications for cardiometabolic markers such as blood pressure, body composition, BMI, cholesterol, and inflammation.  A central goal is to evaluate trajectories of weight gain and cardiometabolic health over time among study participants and identify risk and protective influences on child and family health. Our approach emphasizes the cultural embeddedness of healthy development, with the view that health equity can best be achieved by understanding sociocultural and economic forces that shape health and health behaviors.

Data collection currently  involves a 2-3 hour lab visit on campus with both the mom/guardian and adolescent to complete a variety of tasks, surveys and biological collections.

Scientific Team: 

Linda Luecken, Ph.D. - Professor

Linda Luecken received her bachelor's from The Ohio State University, master's from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and doctorate from Duke University. Since 2000, she has been a member of the clinical and developmental psychology faculty at Arizona State University. Her research interests include, broadly, health psychology; women's health; social, developmental, and personality predictors of cardiovascular and hormonal stress reactivity; and the impact of early intervention on the development of biological stress regulation.

Professor Luecken's program of research involves studies of perinatal health in low-income and ethnic minority women; long-term physiological and health correlates of childhood adversity (parental death, parental divorce, maltreatment); and risk and protective influences on the emergence of biological, behavioral, and emotion self-regulation in low income and ethnic minority infants and children.

Marisol Perez, Ph.D. - Professor

Marisol Perez is a professor in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University. Her program of research encompasses both theoretical and applied studies in the area of eating psychopathology, often using a focus on Latino populations.She currently serves as editor for Clinician's Research Digest, is President for the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology, a JEDI Faculty Fellow for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and serving on the Board of Scientific Affairs Task force on Inequities in Academic Tenure and Promotion for the American Psychological Association. 


Jody Southworth Brown - Project Director

Jody Southworth-Brown

Jody has been the project manager for LMN since 2016. She earned her degree in Early Childhood Education and spent 12 years teaching elementary school before changing careers. When she is not working, she spends time with her teenage son, watches the Pittsburgh Penguins and Steelers, and loves finding new places to explore. 

Brandon Clifford

Brandon is a postdoctoral research scholar for Las Madres Nuevas in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University. He received his bachelor's and master's from Brigham Young University and his doctorate in Family and Human Development from ASU. Guided by bioecological models, Brandon examines spheres of socialization that explain individual differences in children's development with a specific focus on children's language and social development. His recent work highlights relations between mothers' and fathers' depressive symptoms, parenting behaviors, and children's language development. He also has expertise in how parent, peer, and media socialization processes relate to the development of emotion understanding, social withdrawal, and cognitive/language skills. Outside of the lab, Brandon enjoys traveling internationally, sitting around with his cat Jynx, gardening, and rock climbing. 

Santiago Swanson

Santiago Swanson smiles at the camera.

Santiago is a bilingual interviewer for the Las Madres Nuevas lab. He received his Bachelors in Conservation Biology and Ecology from Arizona State University. When he is not working, Santi enjoys spending time exploring the outdoors, playing games, visiting with family, and relaxing at home with his cats Emilia and Adrian.

Kenya Torres

Kenya has been a bilingual interviewer for the Las Madres Nuevas Lab since 2021. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Psychology at Arizona State University and is primarily interested in early childhood intervention and developmental research. When she is not working, Kenya reads romance and fantasy novels, spends time with her family and bakes desserts for any occasion.

Michelle Valdez

Michelle has been with the Las Madres Nuevas Lab since 2022 as a bilingual interviewer. She is currently finishing her Bachelor's degree in Psychology with a minor in Family and Human Development. When she is not at the lab, Michelle spends her time at her other job with Tempe's Crisis Response Team - CARE 7, playing the violin with ASU's Mariachi program, spending time with her family and friends, and embracing the opportunities life has to offer.

Graduate Students

Sarah Curci 

Sarah is a 6th-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program. Her research is guided by the goal of elucidating risk and protective factors to inform targets for maternal and child health promotion and early intervention among families facing contextual stress. Her research aims to evaluate how multi-level systems (e.g., family, neighborhood, culture) interact with biology and behavior in longitudinal, bidirectional pathways of maternal and child health, particularly during the perinatal and early childhood periods. Her favorite part about working on the Las Madres Nuevas project is the opportunity to watch our participants grow up and work alongside so many amazing undergraduate students!


Juan C. Hernandez

Juan is a 5th-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program. His research aims to explore the interplay between eating, culture, and mental health across child development. He uses an ecological systems perspective that considers multiple sources of risk and resiliency including sociocultural alignment, food/exercise environments, and family dynamics. Clinically, he is interested in family-based treatments for eating disorders and medical weight-affirming care that celebrates body diversity. 


Maria Wilson

Maria is a 3rd year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology program. She grew up in Miami, FL and received her B.A in Psychology from Florida International University (FIU). Prior to attending ASU, she completed a four-year Post-Baccalaureate Research Coordinator position at the Center for Children and Families at FIU. Maria’s research interests include how to make evidence-based treatments accessible and more engaging to minoritized families, specifically Latinx families. She is also interested in the intersection between somatization and internalizing symptoms in youth, and how physical and mental health overlap. In her spare time, Maria enjoys painting, being in nature, and spending time with friends and loved ones.