Gail M. Ferguson

Gail M. Ferguson, Ph.D.

Dr. Ferguson is a 2016 Outstanding Early Career Psychologist of the American Psychological Association and has been recognized for excellence in research (2018 Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, UIUC) and in advising (2021 Excellence in Academic Advising Award, UMN). As an Associate Professor in the Institute of Child Development, her interests reside at the interface of cross-cultural psychology, developmental psychology, and clinical psychology, with a particular focus on youth in the Majority World (i.e., developing countries), especially those in and from the Caribbean.

A major aim of Dr. Ferguson’s research is to identify and target risk and protective factors in prevention programs that promote the resilience and positive development of youth and families in and from the globalizing Majority World (i.e., both non-migrants globally, and U.S. immigrants). She is particularly interested in the psychological impact of 21st Century globalization (e.g., media, information and communication technologies, consumer goods, and migration) on adolescent identity, family relations, and health.

Using Jamaica as a case study, Dr. Ferguson’s research has identified a new globalization-related cultural determinant of health for Majority World families called “remote acculturation” – internalizing a foreign culture from afar without migration. For example, Jamaicans on the island who internalize U.S. cultural identity, values, and lifestyle also watch more U.S. cable and, in turn, eat more unhealthy food.

Through an international transdisciplinary collaboration spanning psychology, human development, advertising, and nutrition, she has translated these findings into an innovative transdisciplinary global health family intervention for youth and families in Jamaica. This intervention is called the J(amaican and) U(nited) S(tates) Media? Programme or JUS Media? Programme in short. See Dr. Ferguson’s faculty profile for more information.