Dr Vanessa Volpe

Assistant Professor

Picture of Dr Vanessa Volpe

Teaching and Research Interests

Dr. Volpe is an applied health psychologist with a focus on the reduction of racial/ethnic health disparities by employing critical psychological and social justice lenses. Her research aims to explicate the processes by which and the contexts in which individuals resist and protect themselves against forms of individual-, cultural- and structural-level marginalization (e.g., racism, sexism, heterosexism), with specific attention to the preservation of health in Black and Latinx communities. She employs an eclectic set of methodologies to answer research questions about health and oppression, from laboratory-based physiological studies to community-engaged research, encompassing quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods analytic approaches. She aims to use critical strengths- and community-based contextual approaches to use the knowledge gleaned from research as the springboard for healing programming and policy.

Specific research areas: stress and coping, psychophysiology, cardiovascular health, health behaviors, health care, racism, online contexts and technology, strengths/protective factors.


Volpe, V. V., Willis, H. A., Joseph, P., & Tynes, B. M. (2020). Liberatory media literacy as protective against trauma for emerging adults of color. Journal of Traumatic Stress. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22640

Volpe, V. V., Dawson, D. N., Laurent, H. K. (2020). Gender discrimination and women’s HPA activation to psychosocial stress during the postnatal period. Journal of Health Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105320953470

Volpe, V. V., Katsiaficas, D., Benson, G. P.,* & Zelaya Rivera, S.* (2020). A mixed methods investigation of Black college-attending emerging adults’ experiences with multilevel racism. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/ort0000503

Bernard, D. L., Jones, S. C. T., & Volpe, V. V. (2020). Impostor phenomenon and psychological well-being: The moderating roles of John Henryism and school racial composition among Black college students. Advance online publication. Journal of Black Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1177/0095798420924529

Volpe, V. V., Dawson, D. N.*, Rahal, D.*, Wiley, K.*, & Vesslee, S.* (2019). Bringing psychological science to bear on racial health disparities: The promise of centering Black health through a Critical Race framework. Translational Issues in Psychological Science, 5, 302-314. https://doi.org/10.1037/tps0000205

Volpe, V. V., Beacham, A.*, & Olafunmiloye, O.* (2019). Cognitive flexibility and the health of Black college-attending young adults experiencing interpersonal racial discrimination. Journal of Health Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105319869812 

Hoggard, L. S., Volpe, V. V., Thomas, A., Wallace, E., Jones, L., & Ellis, K. (2019). The role of eating behaviors in the links between racial discrimination and physical and mental health. Journal of Behavioral Medicine. https://doi.org/ 10.1007/s10865-019-00044-1

Volpe, V. V., Lee, D., Hoggard, L., & Rahal, D.* (2019). Racial discrimination and acute physiological responses among Black young adults: The role of racial identity. Journal of Adolescent Health, 64, 179-185. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2018.09.004 

Volpe, V. V., Rahal, D.*, Holmes, M.*, & Zelaya Rivera, S.* (2018; epub ahead of print). Is hard work and high effort always healthy for Black college students? John Henryism in the face of racial discrimination. Emerging Adulthood. https://doi.org/10.1177/2167696818804936 

Katsiaficas, D., Volpe, V. V., Raza, S.*, & Garcia, Y.* (2017). The role of campus support, undocumented identity, and DACA on civic engagement for Latinx undocumented undergraduates. Child Development, 90, 790-807. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12933


  • B.S. in Applied Psychology from New York University, 2011
  • M.A. in Psychology from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2013
  • Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2016