Dr. Isabel Cuervo is a Senior Research Associate at the Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment at Queens College, City University of New York. She co-leads bilingual (Spanish), inter-institutional community-engaged research, evaluation, and service projects focused on Latinx immigrant and other precarious workers’ health. Isabel is a qualitative methodologies specialist in a transdisciplinary occupational and environmental health team. Most projects take participatory, culturally responsive, and empowerment approaches to promote equity among historically marginalized communities (more here). Since graduating, she received additional training from competitive programs at the University of Michigan in community-based participatory research, and through the Leaders in Equitable Evaluation and Diversity program (LEEAD) formerly sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
A current major project is about documenting the exposure levels of toxic cleaning chemicals among immigrant Latinx household cleaners in New York; another is a cross-national project on understanding the health and well-being of workers in non-standard and precarious employment, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Isabel also develops and manages ethics compliance protocols, contributes to grant proposal development, and assists overseeing research staff and interns.
Her interest in improving quality of life of immigrant and marginalized communities drew her to completing a doctorate in Environmental Psychology at The Graduate Center of CUNY in 2013. Isabel’s dissertation research, “The different meanings of home for residents and professionals in the planning and design of social housing in Colombia,” was a qualitative study to investigate meaning influences of multiple actors in large-scale master-planned social housing developments. Although her current work is in public health and is applied in nature, she continues her interest in meaning-making as a way to approach interventions in her latest publication:
Cuervo, I., Tsui, E. K., Islam, N. S., Harari, H., & Baron, S. (2021). Exploring the Link Between the Hazards and Value of Work, and Overcoming Risk for Community-Based Health Interventions for Immigrant Latinx Low-Wage Workers. Qualitative Health Research, 31(1), 3–15. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732320964262
Isabel is a second-generation immigrant Latina and the first to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, as well as pursue an advanced degree, in her entire extended family. She was born and raised in NYC, and attended public schools and Barnard College at Columbia University.