Black Families Research Group Mia A. smith bynum, phd, director


Discovery & Dissemination

The mission of the Black Families Research Group is to conduct high quality research on African American families and disseminate research findings to scholarly, policy, and lay outlets.


We train undergraduate students in the use of culturally relevant research methods, expose students to research activities that will be relevant to and enhance competitiveness for graduate school, and teach them how to be critical consumers of research on ethnic minority families.

Graduate students learn and utilize culturally relevant research methods, equipping them with the skills necessary to design and execute family research studies with ethnic minority populations; they are trained in writing for scholarly publications and equipped with the skills needed to be competitive in academic and private sector job markets.


The research group maximizes the potential of students at all levels of training by “meeting students where they are,” and providing them with opportunities to build on existing strengths and competencies in addition to developing new research skills incrementally through exposure to more complex research activities.

Parenting, Parent-Adolescent Relationships, and Racial Socialization

We are interested in understanding the cultural factors that underlie Black parenting strategies. We also study the ways that Black parents prepare their children to cope with life in a race-conscious society.

Racial Identity, Mental Health, and Positive Development in Black Youth and Young Adults

We are interested in understanding the developmental and contextual factors that promote positive psychological adjustment and well being in Black youth and young adults. We study racial identity processes and other variables impacting development in Black youth through a risk-and-resilience framework.

Health Effects of Racism and Discrimination

We also investigate the ways that institutionalized racism and discrimination affects the health of Black youth and adults. We are also interested in understanding how to conceptualize and measure racism and discrimination.

Race, Ethnicity, Family Life, and Youth Outcomes

As scholars interested in race and ethnicity more broadly, we also consider the ways in the ways race, ethnicity, and culture is measured in families from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. We are also interested in how culturally relevant constructs impact the development of youth from different backgrounds.

Selected Publications

Sellers, R. M., Smith, M. A., Shelton, J. N., Johnson, S. A. J. & Chavous, T. M. (1998). Multidimensional model of racial identity: A reconceptualization of African American Racial Identity. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 2, 18-39. doi: https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/1099-9809.14.4.297

Smith-Bynum, M. A. (Ed.). (2018). Families in daily life: Macro and micro perspectives. San Diego, CA: Cognella Academic Press.

Edited textbook

Mia A. Smith Bynum, Ph.D.

Mia A. Smith-Bynum, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Family Science in the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland-College Park. A clinical psychologist by training, Dr. Smith Bynum is an expert in African American mental health, family interaction and communication in ethnic minority families, parenting, and racial identity. She also has expertise in adolescent mental health, adolescent sexual behavior, and parent-adolescent communication about difficult topics. Dr. Smith Bynum earned a bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology from the Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia. She completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in child and family development at the University of Georgia before joining the faculty in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Purdue University in 2001. In 2008, Dr. Smith Bynum was promoted to Associate Professor of Psychological Sciences. She joined the Department of Family Science at the University of Maryland in 2010 where she is currently Director of the Black Families Research Group. Dr. Smith Bynum is one of the co-authors of the Multidimensional Model of Racial Identity (MMRI) and the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity (MIBI-R). Her research has been supported by external grants from several entities, including the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Her work is published in several professional research journals in psychology and family studies.

Contact us

Department of Family Science, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742 | msbynum@umd.edu


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