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Jessica P Cerdena, PhD

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Jessica P Cerdena, PhD


With insights from biological and sociocultural anthropology, Jes studies the intersection of adversity and health. Her dissertation research centered the experiences of women who migrated from Latin America to build lives for themselves and their children in southern Connecticut. This research will be published as a book by the University of California Press entitled Pressing Onward: The Imperative Resilience of Latina Migrant Mothers in May 2023. In the book, Jes describes how migrant mothers enact "imperative resilience," or cognitive and social strategies that enable women to press onward, or seguir adelante, despite traumatic histories and ongoing oppression. She emphasizes the need for more supportive policy environments to help migrant mothers to live more fully.

Jes has enjoyed funding support from the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Recently, Jes received recognition through the Pisacano Leadership Program in Family Medicine, the P.E.O. Scholars Award, and the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation Emerging Leaders Program.

Jes enrolled in the MD/PhD program in 2014 after graduating magna cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis with an A.B. in International Studies and Spanish. She plans to apply her training as a family physician-anthropologist and health policy advocate.

Education & Training

  • PhD
    Yale University, Anthropology (2021)
  • MPhil
    Yale University, Anthropology (2018)

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
P.E.O. Scholar AwardP.E.O. International2022
American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Foundation Emerging LeaderAmerican Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Foundation Emerging Leader2022
Edward A. Bouchet National Graduate Honor Society MemberEdward A. Bouchet National Graduate Honor Society2022
Society for Medical Anthropology Charles Hughes Graduate Student Paper PrizeAmerican Anthropological Association2022
Pisacano ScholarPisacano Leadership Foundation2022
Sam Dubal Memorial Award for Anti-Colonialism and Racial Justice in AnthropologyAmerican Anthropological Association2022
Health Policy Research Scholars Outstanding Policy MemoRobert Wood Johnson Foundation2018
Marguerite-Rush Lerner Creative Writing AwardProgram for the Humanities in Medicine2015
Victor H. Farwell Student Leadership AwardWashington University in St. Louis2014

Departments & Organizations