Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Jessica Perrotte

jessica perrotte

Dr. Jessica Perrotte, an Assistant Professor who joined our Psychology Department in 2019, has been awarded a highly competitive 5-year K01 Research Career Development Award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) of the National Institutes of Health. The planned research activities during this grant are a direct extension of the work Dr. Perrotte conducted as a doctoral student shortly before beginning her appointment at Texas State, which was supported through an NIAAA fellowship. That work examined how traditional Latin American gender roles contributed to alcohol use and misuse among Latina/o young men and women across their first year of college. Motivated by the health disparities that disproportionately burden Latina/o Americans, Dr. Perrotte’s broader and primary research program focuses on examining sociocultural and cognitive factors that contribute to alcohol use and misuse among Latinas/os, particularly young adults.

This K01 Award will provide Dr. Perrotte with mentorship, resources, and time to immerse herself in researching alcohol use, misuse, and related problems among Latina Americans. She will work with Dr. Ty Schepis and a team of researchers from UT Austin, UT El Paso, and the Alcohol Research Group in Emeryville, California, throughout the duration of the award period. This grant focuses on Latina Americans rather than Latina/o men and women because of the added alcohol-related health disparities faced by women compared to men, particularly those from minoritized ethnic groups. For the first two years of the grant, she will explore drinking behaviors among Latina Americans at the population level through secondary quantitative analyses of several existing national datasets. For the last three years, she will combine both qualitative and quantitative methods to develop, pilot test, and validate a new questionnaire that will measure bicultural gender role expectations that contribute to drinking behaviors specifically within the U.S. Latina young adult population (approximately 18-29 years old). This will involve conducting focus groups with Latina young adult participants to better understand the drinking-related gender role expectations that are experienced by Latinas in the U.S. stemming from both traditional Latin American and mainstream U.S. cultures. Dr. Perrotte will then identify specific themes to be incorporated into the questionnaire that she is developing into a measure of bicultural gender role expectations that contribute to Latina drinking behaviors. Once developed, the questionnaire will be pilot-tested in both English and Spanish, and validated in multiple representative samples.

A long-term goal underlying Dr. Perrotte’s research program is to effectively inform culturally tailored alcohol prevention and intervention programs which can protect against the negative consequences of hazardous alcohol use, particularly among populations with intersecting minoritized identities. The U.S. Latina population is over 30 million, and research shows that young Latina women are drinking more and engaging in more hazardous alcohol behaviors than in the past. Therefore, the research that Dr. Perrotte is conducting on alcohol use and misuse during this K01 award is a public health priority.