Qin, Desiree Baolian Ed.D.

Associate Professor

552 W. Circle Drive, 103E Human Ecology, East Lansing, MI 48824



Ed.D., Human Development & Psychology, Harvard University, 2004; Ed.M., Human Development & Psychology, Harvard University, 1999; M.A., English Linguistics, Heilongjiang University, 1996; B.A., English Lit. & Linguistics, Heilongjiang University, 1993


Dr. Desiree Baolian Qin is Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Michigan State University. She completed her doctorate degree at Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2004 and held postdoc positions at New York University and Teachers College at Columbia University. Dr. Qin’s research focuses on globalization, immigration, education, family, mental health, and adolescent and emerging adult development. The main question underlying her work is: How do globalization, immigration, culture, gender, and important ecological contexts like family, peers, school, and local community impact adolescent and emerging adult development?

Dr. Qin is the recipient of the 2013 Early Career Award from the Asian Caucus of Society of Research on child Development. She is currently involved in three lines of research. In her first line of research, she tries to understand the "achievement-adjustment paradox": While Asian American students tend to do better than students from other ethnic groups in terms of educational outcomes, they tend to report more psychological distress than expected based on their educational achievement. She analyzed longitudinal qualitative data on 80 Chinese immigrant adolescents in the Longitudinal Immigrant Adaptation (LISA) study directed by Marcelo and Carola Suarez-Orozco. She focused on two important ecological contexts: their family and peer relations and found a variety of challenges Chinese students from immigrant families face both at home and at school. At home, students struggled with alienation in parent-child relations resulting from migration and cultural differences. At school, peer harassment and discrimination occurred at surprisingly high rates. Results from this line of research have appeared in Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Sex Roles, Journal of Adolescent Research, International Migration Review, and Anthropology and Education Quarterly.

Dr. Qin's second line of research is a project she started to further understand this achievement/adjustment paradox. It is a mixed-method, longitudinal study on the emotional and social development of high-achieving students in a highly selective New York magnet school. In this project, funded by the William T. Grant Foundation, she collected two waves of survey data from 750 students, completed over 150 hours of ethnographic fieldwork, and conducted in-depth interviews with teachers, staff members and students. Her findings suggest tremendous psychosocial challenges facing high-achieving students in a pressure cooker environment. She found that Chinese American students reported significantly higher levels of depression and anxiety, lower levels of self-esteem, lower levels of family cohesion, and higher levels of conflicts compared to the European American students in the same school. Results from this project have been published by Journal of Adolescence and New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development. Dr. Qin is currently working on a number of new papers based on data from this study with her graduate students. 

Her most recent line of research focuses on the adaptation experiences of Chinese international students in US universities. She and her collaborators just completed a pilot study with over 300 Chinese undergraduate students at MSU, focusing on challenges in their academic, psychosocial and cultural adaptation. The research team will expand and continue their project in the next few years.

Dr. Qin received an Integrative Social Studies (ISS) Teaching Award from the College of Social Sciences. She teaches three graduate seminars: Theories of Human Development, Adolescent Development, and Immigration, Family and Child Development. She also teaches an undergraduate ISS course on National Diversity and Change focusing on globalization and post-1965 New Immigration

In her service to the broader academic communities, Dr. Qin served as Co-Chair of the Young Scholars Program for the Society for Research on Adolescence from 2010-2014.  She is an Associate Editor of Journal of Adolescent Research. She is on the editorial board of Applied Developmental Science and Asian American Journal of Psychology. She has also served as an ad hoc reviewer for over 20 journals, including many top-tier journals in developmental psychology, family studies, migration studies and education, e.g., Child Development, Developmental Psychology, Journal of Family PsychologyAmerican Journal of Community Psychology, International Migration Review and American Educational Research Journal.

Finally, Dr. Qin’s research on mental health of high achieving Asian American students have been covered by a variety of media outlets in the U.S. (e.g., New York Times, Time magazine, the Atlantic), UK (e.g., BBC world news, Times of London), Australia, and many Asian countries such as India, Singapore, Korea, and China. She was also a frequent guest for a Voice of America Chinese language TV show on parenting.

Focus Area

Adolescent Development, Family Diversity

Areas of Interest

  • Cultural adaptation of adolescents and emerging adults from immigrant/sojourner backgrounds
  • Parenting, tiger moms, and children’s developmental outcomes across cultural contexts
  • Mental health of high achieving students