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Varner, Fatima

Fatima A Varner

Associate Professor, Research Lab Director (Academic)
Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, Population Research Center


Phone: 512-471-8580

Office Location
SEA 2.322D

Postal Address
AUSTIN, TX 78712

Education & Training

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context, University of Michigan

Ph.D., Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University

M.A., Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University

B.A., Psychology, North Carolina State University


Research Interests

Fatima Varner's major research interests include the roles of ethnicity, gender, and context on parenting, family processes, and adolescent outcomes. She is especially interested in the pathways through which racial discrimination and other race-related stressors influence parenting and adolescents’ academic achievement and well-being in Black families. In addition, she studies how contextual factors and coping influence African American parents’ psychological well-being. Currently she is also conducting a meta-analysis funded by the Institute of Education Sciences on the links between school-based marginalization and academic achievement and social-behavioral competencies with Aprile Benner and Tasha Beretvas. 


My current graduate students are:

Lorraine Scott, Gloria Stout, Sophia Lamb, and Ahniah Charles.

I am not accepting new students for Fall 2024.


More about Dr. Varner

In addition to the research interests mentioned in my bio, I teach courses focused on racial and socioeconomic inequities (Educational Inequalities, Socioeconomic Problems of Families). I serve as editorial board reviewer for the journals Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology and Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.  I am a member of the Antiracism Taskforce and the chair of the Inclusion, Equity, and Social Justice committee for Society for Research on Adolescence. Through these activities, I am committed to creating more inclusive and equitable environments in our department, college, and discipline. 


*indicates graduate student. ^indicates undergraduate student.

*Jelsma, E., *Chen, S., & Varner, F. (2022). Working harder than others to prove yourself: High-effort coping as a buffer between teacher-perpetrated racial discrimination and mental health among Black American adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-021-01563-4

*Jelsma, E., Varner, F., & ^Engineer, N. (2022). Adolescent-experienced racial discrimination, racial identity, and depressive symptoms among Black American fathers. Family Relations, 71(1), 163-180. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12613

Varner, F., *Holloway, K., & *Scott, L. (2021). The roles of gender and parenting in the relations between racial discrimination experiences and problem behaviors among African American adolescents. Research in Human Development, 18(4), 256-273. https://doi.org/10.1080/15427609.2021.2020583

*Holloway, K., & Varner, F. (2021). Forms and frequency of vicarious racial discrimination and African American parents’ health. Social Science & Medicine. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2021.114266

*Holloway, K. & Varner, F. (2021). Parenting despite discrimination: Does racial identity matter? Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 27(4), 781-795. https://doi.org/10.1037/cdp0000452.

*Williams, A. C., *Jelsma, E., & +Varner, F. (2021). The role of perceived thought control ability in the psychological functioning of Black American mothers. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 91(2), 246–257.  https://doi.org/10.1037/ort0000540. +corresponding author

*Holloway, K, & Varner, F. (2021). Maternal race-related stressors and African American adolescents’ academic and behavioral outcomes. Family Relations, 70(2), 603-618. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12540

Varner, F., Mandara, J., *Scott, L., & Murray, C. B. (2021). The relationship between neighborhood racial composition and African American parents’ racial socialization.  Journal of Community Psychology, 49, 499-515.  https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.22475

Varner, F., *Hou, Y., Ross, L., Hurd, N. M., & Mattis, J. (2020). Dealing with discrimination: Parents' and adolescents' racial discrimination experiences and parenting in African American families. Cultural diversity & ethnic minority psychology26(2), 215-220. https://doi.org/10.1037/cdp0000281

*Jelsma, E., & Varner, F. (2020). African American adolescent substance use: The roles of racial discrimination and peer pressure. Addictive Behaviors101, 106154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106154

Wittrup, A. R., Hussain, S. B., Albright, J. N., Hurd, N. M., Varner, F. A., & Mattis, J. S. (2019). Natural mentors, racial pride, and academic engagement among Black adolescents: Resilience in the context of perceived discrimination. Youth & Society51(4), 463-483.

Varner, F., *Hou, Y. Hodzic, T., Hurd, N., Butler-Barnes, S., & Rowley, S. (2018). Racial discrimination experiences and black youth adjustment: the role of parenting profiles based on racial socialization and involved-vigilant parenting. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 24, 173-186.

Butler-Barnes, S. T., Varner, F., Williams, A., & Sellers, R. (2017). Academic identity: A longitudinal investigation of African American adolescents’ academic persistence. Journal of Black Psychology, 43, 714–739. doi: 10.1177/0095798416683170

Varner, F., & Mandara, J. (2014). Differential parenting of African American adolescents as an explanation for gender disparities in achievement. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 24, 667 - 680. doi: 10.1111/jora.12063

Hurd, N., Varner, F., Caldwell, C., & Zimmerman, M. (2014). Does perceived racial discrimination predict changes in psychological distress and substance use over time? An examination among Black emerging adults. Developmental Psychology, 50, 1910-1918. doi: 10.1037/a0036438

Varner, F., & Mandara, J. (2013). Discrimination concerns and expectations as explanations of gendered socialization in African American families. Child Development, 84, 875 – 890. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12021

Hurd, N., Varner, F., & Rowley, S. (2013). Promoting developmental competencies and well-being among black youth: caregiver and natural mentor contributions. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42, 1583 - 1595. doi: 10.1007/s10964-012-9819-y (first and second authors made equal contributions)

Butler-Barnes, S. T., Chavous, T. M., Hurd, N., & Varner, F. (2013). African American adolescents’ academic persistence: A strengths-based approach. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42, 1443–1458. doi:10.1007/s10964-013-9962-0.

Destin, M., Richman, S., Varner, F., & Mandara, J. (2012). “Feeling” hierarchy: The pathway from subjective social status to achievement. Journal of Adolescence, 35, 1571 – 1579. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2012.06.006

Mandara, J., Murray, C. B., Telesford, J. M., Varner, F. A., & Richman, S. B. (2012). Observed gender differences in African American mother-child relationships and child behavior. Family Relations, 61, 129–141. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3729.2011.00688.x

Rowley, S. J., Varner, F., Ross, L. L., Williams, A. D., & Banerjee, M. (2012). Toward a model of racial identity and parenting in African Americans. In J. M. Sullivan, A. M. Esmail (Eds.), African American identity: Racial and cultural dimensions of the Black experience (pp. 273-288). Lanham, MD US: Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield.

Mandara, J., Moore, I., Richman, S., & Varner, F. A. (2012). Where should African American parents send their children? Disentangling schools’ racial compositions from their financial resources. In D. T. Slaughter-Defoe, H. C. Stevenson, E. G. Arrington, D. J. Johnson (Eds.), Black educational choice: Assessing the private and public alternatives to traditional K–12 public schools (pp. 255-267). Santa Barbara, CA US: Praeger/ABC-CLIO.

Mandara, J., Varner, F, & Richman, S. (2010). Do African American mothers really “love” their sons and “raise” their daughters? Journal of Family Psychology, 24, 41-50.

Varner, F., & Mandara, J. (2009). Marital transitions and changes in African American mothers’ depressive symptoms: The buffering role of financial resources. Journal of Family Psychology, 23, 839 - 847.


College of Natural Sciences Teaching Excellence Award, Fall 2021