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Molly A. Martin

Associate Professor of Sociology & Demography

513 Oswald Tower
University Park , PA 16802
Office Phone: (814) 863-5508

Curriculum Vitae

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  1. Ph.D. in Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2003
  2. M.A. in Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1998
  3. B.A. in Sociology, University of Texas at Austin, 1995


Research Interests

Fundamentally, my research seeks to understand how inequalities are produced and reproduced across generations. My training in social inequality and family demography led to projects investigating family influences on educational attainment, adult welfare use, and income inequality. After participating in the Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars program, my research portfolio expanded to consider the role of family status characteristics and family processes for children’s health, with an emphasis on adolescent obesity. 

Current Research Projects

With funding from the Russell Sage Foundation, I am leading an interdisciplinary team of scholars to estimate the causal effect of increasing family income on several indicators of children’s health and well-being, as well as fertility and women's pregnancy behaviors, using a natural experiment study design.

Research and Teaching Interests

Dr. Martin’s research examines the intersection of family processes with social, economic and health inequalities.  Dr. Martin teaches courses on social stratification, sociology of families, and the social determinants of health.

Professional Awards and Achievements

  • Spring Commencement Faculty Marshal for the College of Liberal Arts’ Student Marshal, Pennsylvania State University, 2020

  • Integrative Studies Seed Grant, Office for General Education, Pennsylvania State University, 2017

  • Children, Youth, and Families Consortium Faculty Fellows Program, Penn State University, 2010-11

  • Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Fellowship, Columbia University, 2003-2005
  • Graduate Student Mentor Award, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2002
  • NICHD Predoctoral Trainee in Demography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1996-98, 2001-03


  • Russell Sage Foundation "Marcellus Shale Income Gains Natural Experiment," Primary Investigator, 2014-18
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development P01 “Mexican Children of Immigrants.” Program PI: Nancy Landale. Embedded R01 “Obesity among Mexican Children of Immigrants," Co-Investigator, 2011-16
  • Marcellus Center for Outreach & Research Seed Grant, Pennsylvania State University. “Implications of Marcellus Shale Development for the Well-Being of Resident Parents and Children: Community, Natural Environment, and Family Pathways,” Co-Investigator, 2010-11
  • Population Research Institute Seed Grant, Penn State University “A Life Course Analysis of the Causes & Consequences of Obesity,” Co-Investigator, 2006
  • NICHD R-01 “Social Demography and Adolescent Obesity,” Co-investigator, 2005-09
  • Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars Program Seed Grant “A Preliminary Investigation of the Causes and Consequences of Adolescent Obesity,” Co-investigator, 2003-04

Selected Publications

  • Martin, Molly A., Tori Thomas, Gary J. Adler, jr., and Derek A. Kreager. (2020). "Are Feminine Body Weight Norms Different for Black Students or in Black Schools? Girls' Weight-Related Peer Acceptance Across Racialized School Contexts." Journal of Health and Social Behavior 61(2): 239-58.
  • Martin, Molly A. (2015) "The Health Significance of Families Seen through the Recent Measles Outbreak." Epidemiology: Open Access 5(3): 197. Access here
  • Martin, Molly A. and Adam L. Lippert. (2012) "Feeding Her Children, but Risking Her Health: The Intersection of Gender, Food Insecurity and Obesity," Social Science & Medicine. 74(11): 1754-64. (PMID:  22245381).
  • Martin, Molly A., Michelle L. Frisco, Claudia Nau, and Kristen Burnett. (2012) "Social Stratification and Adolescent Overweight in the United States: How Income and Educational Resources Matter across Families and Schools," Social Science & Medicine, 74(4): 597-606. (PMID: 22240451).
  • Martin, Molly A. (2012) “Family Structure and the Intergenerational Transmission of Educational Advantage. “ Social Science Research, 41:33-47.
  • Martin, Molly A. (2008) “The Intergenerational Correlation in Weight: How Genetic Resemblance Reveals the Social Role of Families.”American Journal of Sociology, 114 (Suppl.): S67-S105.
  • Martin, Molly A. (2006) “Family Structure and Income Inequality in Families with Children: 1976 to 2000.” Demography, 43: 421-445.
  • Martin, Molly A. (2003) “The Role of Family Income in the Intergenerational Association of AFDC Receipt.” Journal of Marriage and Family, 65: 326-340.

Research Interests:

Social inequality, family, demography, health

Research Interests:

Family and Relationships:

Social inequality, family, demography, health


Family and adolescent obesity, inter-generational social class

Social Inequality:

Family and adolescent obesity, inter-generational social class

Quantitative Methods:

Structural equation models, twin models

Health and Life Course:

child obesity, family processes & child health