Maria Cecilia is a research officer at the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science, working on the ESRC funded research project entitled “Pathways to Reconciliation: Investigating the impact of the Schools for Forgiveness and Reconciliation on psychological and social wellbeing”. This project evaluates an intervention with people who were exposed to violence in the context of the Colombian political conflict. This work is being carried out in 5 municipalities prioritized by the Colombian Peace Accords.
Maria Cecilia's research focuses on adolescent development under contextual adversity. She is particularly interested in understanding the group and cultural level dynamics that shape both, positive and negative developmental outcomes in these contexts.
Maria Cecilia completed her PhD at the LSE. Her project focused on violent and non-violent socialization processes among youth in Colombia, looking comparatively at resilient youth and youth who are involved in gangs with the aim to identify the similarities and the differences between “positive” and “negative” youth groups, the key differences in moral reasoning about violence between members of these groups, and what works for violence prevention. To do this, I employed mixed methods, including in-depth interviews, fieldwork, and surveys.
Before joining the LSE, Maria Cecilia worked for several years doing research on mental health and the experiences of disease among culturally diverse populations in the United States. She has conducted research on moral development, identity formation, and resilience among indigenous children in Perú, Afro-descendants and internally displaced young adults in Colombia, and undocumented young adults in the U.S.
She holds a master’s degree in the social sciences from the University of Chicago and a degree in clinical psychology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Perú