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Research Interests

University of Michigan seal Dr. Carla received her doctoral training at the University of Michigan (U-M).  Her research interests include women’s and adolescent health, sexuality, and relationships; girlhood in America; hip hop and youth culture; youth violence prevention, and Internet-based gender and sexuality research. Her work explores intersections of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, and age with mass media, youth culture and social media.

Dr. Carla has examined these topics through a number of scholarly and community-based sexuality education activities, including her pioneering dissertation research study, which investigated sexuality, hip hop, and self-definition in social networking profiles constructed by 216 black adolescent girls residing in southern states with the highest rates of HIV/AIDS.  She conducted her dissertation study in consultation with an expert panel of adolescent girls residing in the Atlanta metropolitan area.

Dr. Carla’s research highlighted the significance of social media and hip hop culture in shaping the sexual development of black adolescent girls coming of age in the HIV/AIDS era and was one of the first empirical studies to uncover the nuances of cyberbullying, online harassment and sexualization among adolescent girls.  As the first published study of black adolescent girls’ social networking profiles, this research won honorable mention in the ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards competition in recognition of exceptional and unusually interesting scholarly work produced by doctoral students (selected from 660 eligible dissertations published at the University of Michigan in 2004).

Fellowships & Grants

CDC logoDr. Carla completed a two-year post-doctoral research fellowship appointment at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, where she investigated HIV prevention in communities of color and further explored the ways in which adolescent girls use media and hip hop culture to negotiate their sexuality, construct identity, and navigate adolescence. Her research has been supported by a number of institutions, fellowships, and grants, including:
NIH logo

Selected Publications by Dr. Carla

Girl Wide Web 2.0Stokes, C.E. (2010). “Get on my level!”: How black American adolescent girls construct identity and negotiate sexuality on the Internet. In Sharon R. Mazzarella (Ed.). Girl Wide Web 2.0: Revisiting girls, the Internet, and the negotiation of identity. Peter Lang Publishers.

Stokes, C.E. (2007, March-April). Representin’ in cyberspace: Sexual scripts, self-definition, and hip hop culture in black American adolescent girls’ home pagesCulture, Health & Sexuality, 9(2): 169-184.

Stokes, C.E. (2004) Representin’ In Cyberspace: Sexuality, Hip Hop, and Self-Definition In Home Pages Constructed By Black Adolescent Girls In The HIV/AIDS Era. Doctoral Dissertation, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Stokes C.E. & Gant L.M. (2002). Turning the tables on the HIV/AIDS epidemic: Hip hop as a tool for reaching African-American adolescent girls. African American Research Perspectives, 8(2), 70-81.


Dr. Carla is developing a curriculum and educational materials based on her pioneering research and work with young women and girls.

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