Professor Molina’s work lies at the intersections of race, gender, culture, and citizenship. Her first book, Fit to be Citizens? Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879-1939, explored the ways in which race is constructed relationally and regionally. In that work, which garnered the Noris and Carol Hundley book prize of the PCB-American Historical Association, she argues that race must be understood comparatively in order to see how the laws, practices, and attitudes directed at one racial group affected others. Fit to Be Citizens? demonstrates how both science and public health shaped the meaning of race in the early twentieth century. Her second book, How Race Is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts, examines Mexican immigration--from 1924 when immigration acts drastically reduced immigration to the U.S. to 1965 when many quotas were abolished--to understand how broad themes of race and citizenship are constructed. These years shaped the emergence of what she describes as an immigration regime that defined the racial categories that continue to influence perceptions in the U.S. about Mexican Americans, race, and ethnicity. Through the use of a relational lens, How Race Is Made in America demonstrates that racial scripts are easily adopted and adapted to apply to different racial groups.
Professor Molina serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty Diversity and Equity. She previously served as the Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities and before that as the Director for University of California Education Abroad Program in Granada, Córdoba, and Cádiz, Spain. She is on the board of Cal Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, and recently concluded a five-year term on the American Quarterly, the flagship journal in American Studies, editorial board. She enjoys opportunities for intellectual and cultural exchanges and has traveled extensively for work and pleasure to Canada, Mexico, Central America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, as well as over 30 of the 50 United States. She is currently using Rosetta Stone to learn German (auf Wiedersehen!).
Selected awards: Invited Fellow, The Research Network for Latin America, Cologne, Germany, Spring 2015; Distinguished Teaching Award, Academic Senate, University of California, San Diego, 2014; Faculty-in-Residence, University of Bologna, Italy, April 2009; American Studies Association delegate chosen to participate in the annual Japanese Association for American Studies conference at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, sponsored by the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, 2007; Ford Foundation Post-doctoral Fellowship, 2003-2004; Prize for Promise, Finalist, 2002. The prize is a $100,000 award that recognizes young women of exceptional ability, ambition, intelligence, and dedication within their field of expertise.
Selected courses taught: Chicana/o History (350 student lecture course); Dimensions of Culture: Diversity (350 student lecture course, Thurgood Marshall College, Freshmen course); Gender and Immigration (senior seminar and graduate seminar); The History of Race in the United States; Race and the City (core upper division course for; Race, Disease and Globalization; Race, Health and Inequality (upper division and graduate seminar); Masters Theses Preparation (graduate seminar); Multicultural Pedagogy (Teacher Credential Program)