Tomas Cabeza De Baca

Tomas Cabeza De Baca's picture
Teaching Faculty
Postdoctoral Fellow, Social Epidemiology and Cardiovascular Disease Risk, University of California, San Francisco
Postdoctoral Fellow, Psychology and Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
PhD, Family Studies and Human Development – University of Arizona
MS, Family Studies and Human Development – University of Arizona
BA, Psychology – University of Texas at El Paso
Psychology 101
Research Interests: 


My research program seeks to examine the role contextual factors play on social and physical functioning and to examine whether there are common underlying mechanisms that impact both. Life history theory guides my research, which highlights the importance of environmental and early experiences in the coordination of individual development, behavior, and health. Individual differences that emerge through this process are called life history strategies. Fast life history strategies are oriented toward functioning in unpredictable and uncontrollable environments; they regulate individuals toward investing less in parenting and health-maintaining behavior. Conversely, slow life history strategies are oriented toward functioning in stable and controllable environments; they regulate individuals to invest more in parenting and health-maintaining behavior. Based on this framework, I reinterpret early adversity and stressors as salient events that convey key information about the physical and social environment. Through this reinterpretation, life stressors modify development via physiological systems. These developmental trajectories meant to “adjust” for these environments later have upstream effects on social behavior, health, and the construction of their respective households for their children. I plan to build a research program that focuses on the transactional conversation between physical health and socioemotional functioning and competence, focusing on women and minority populations. Ultimately, my research will focus on association of early experiences and health, examining mediating and moderating role of psychosocial factors, biological markers and the unpredictability schema on that association. It is my personal goal to highlight contextual and individual resiliency factors that may improve the quality of life and health of disadvantaged groups.

Selected Publications: 

Cabeza de Baca, T., Durazo, E. M., & Rodriguez, F. (2018). Achieving optimal cardiovascular health: A social epidemiological approach. Current epidemiology reports. DOI: 10.1007/s40471-018-0154-z

Cabeza de Baca, T., Wojcicki, J. M.,  Epel, E. & Adler, N. A. (2018).  Lack of partner impacts newborn health through maternal depression: A study of low income immigrant Latina women. Midwifery, 64, 63-68. DOI:

Cabeza de Baca, T., & Ellis, B. J. (2017). Early Stress, parental motivation, and reproductive decision-making: Applications of life history theory to parental behavior. Current Opinion in Psychology, 15, 1-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2017.02.005

Cabeza de Baca, T., Epel, E., Robles, T. F., Coccia, M., Gilbert, A., Puterman, E., Prather, A. A. (2017). Partnered Sexual Intimacy is Associated with Longer Telomere Length. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 81, 46-51. DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.03.022

Cabeza de Baca, T., Barnett, M. A., & Ellis, B. J. (2016).  The development of the child unpredictability schema: The correlates of maternal life history tradeoffs on reproductive effort. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 10, 43-55.

Cabeza de Baca, T., Wahl, R. A.,  Barnett, M. A., Figueredo, A. J., & Ellis, B. J. (2016). Adversity, Adaptive Calibration, and Health: The case of disadvantaged families. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 2, 93-115. DOI: 10.1007/s40750-016-0042-z

Courses Taught: 
Psy 150 Structure of Mind and Behavior
Psy 230 Psychological Measurement and Statistics