Jennifer Kam

Department Vice-Chair and Professor
Interpersonal-Health-Culture Communication


Stress, Coping, and Resilience of Immigrant Youth; Culturally-Grounded Health Communication


Dr. Jennifer Kam is Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), and she is a Faculty Affiliate with the Chicano Studies Institute and the Migration Initiative at UCSB. She also currently directs the Division of Social Sciences Faculty Mentoring Program.

Guided by a social ecological model of resilience, Dr. Kam uses quantitative and qualitative methods to examine how stressors, rooted in structural barriers, are associated with the health and wellbeing of immigrant youth. She focuses on undocumented immigration, migration-based family separation, interpreting for adult family members under stressful conditions, and racial/ethnic discrimination. In addition, she conducts research that identifies promotive factors at different levels (e.g., individual, interpersonal, community, institutional, cultural, state, and federal) to enact resilience and promote thriving.

Dr. Kam has published over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, most of which can be found in top communication, prevention, and adolescent journals such as Communication MonographsCommunication ResearchHuman Communication ResearchJournal of CommunicationHealth Communication, Journal of Counseling Psychology, Prevention Science, and Journal of Research on Adolescence. In addition, she has presented over 50 papers at national and international conferences and has received 11 top paper awards. 

She is the former Chair of the Health Communication Division at the National Communication Association, and she received the 2016 Early Career Award from the Interpersonal Communication Division and the 2022 Promoting Equity and Inclusivity Award from the Health Communication Division at the National Communication Association. She is currently on the editorial boards of Journal of Communication, Human Communication Research, Communication Research, and Communication Monographs.   

Related to her research interests, Dr. Kam teaches undergraduate courses in communication and immigration, interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, and risk communication. She also has taught graduate seminars in health communication, interpersonal communication, relational communication, communication and race/ethnicity, and lifespan communication.