Doctoral students Soroya McFarlane and Kerli Kirch were each awarded the Miami Institute for the Americas’ (MIA) Summer Field Research Grants to work on a joint project that investigates how culture influences health, focusing on adolescent pregnancy in Jamaica.

The project aims to create a cultural taxonomy of factors related to teen pregnancy. This will include an analysis of current campaigns and community media to evaluate the cultural relevance of messages and develop hypotheses about media effects. 

In early August, McFarlane and Kirch are traveling to three locations in Jamaica for two weeks. While on location, the doctoral student research team will conduct focus groups, interviews, and facilitate community dialogue discussions with Jamaican teenagers, their extended families, communities, and representatives of the government and NGOs.

After collecting their data and returning to Coral Gables, Fla., the students will collaborate with third-year doctoral student, Sheeva Dubey and Dr. Soyoon Kim of the University of Miami School of Communication’s Department of Communication Studies who will be advising this project.