Jennifer Kam

Department Vice-Chair and Professor
Interpersonal-Health-Culture Communication

Office Location

SSMS 4407


Stress, Coping, and Resilience of Immigrant Youth; Culturally-Grounded Interpersonal Health Communication


Dr. Kam uses quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the ways in which stressors—stemming from racial/ethnic marginalization, immigration, and acculturation—relate to immigrant youth’s academic, mental, and physical well-being. Although many stressors exist, she focuses on undocumented immigration status, interpreting for adult family members under stressful conditions, and perceived racial/ethnic discrimination. Much of Dr. Kam’s work utilizes a stress-resilience-thriving framework to identify individual (e.g., psychological and individual actions), interpersonal (e.g., communication with family, teachers, counselors, friends), and institutional (e.g., schools and universities) level factors that can attenuate the negative effects of stressors (i.e., buffer against the stress) and/or directly promote academic, mental, and physical well-being (i.e., thriving). She hopes her research findings can inform the design of culturally-grounded programs, services, and other resources intended to enhance the health and well-being of immigrant youth from underserved backgrounds. 

Dr. Kam has published over 45 peer-reviewed journal articles, most of which can be found in top communication, prevention, and adolescent journals such as Communication MonographsCommunication ResearchCommunication YearbookHuman Communication ResearchJournal of CommunicationHealth Communication, Journal of Counseling Psychology, Prevention Science, and Journal of Research on Adolescence. In addition, she has presented over 50 papers at national and international conferences and has received 10 top paper awards. In 2016, she received the Early Career Award from the Interpersonal Division at the National Communication Association. Dr. Kam is Immediate Past Chair of the National Communication Association's Health Communication Division. 

Related to her research interests, Dr. Kam teaches undergraduate courses in interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, and risk communication. She also has taught graduate seminars in interpersonal communication, relational communication, health communication, communication and race/ethnicity, and lifespan communication.