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Cleopatra Mariam Abdou, (also Cleopatra Mariam Abdou-Kamperveen) is an Egyptian-American psychologist, author, and professor, best known for her work on health, human flourishing, and culture. Abdou is an assistant professor in the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and Department of Psychology at the University of Southern California (USC).
Life and career
Prior to joining the faculty at USC, Abdou completed a postdoctoral fellowship in social epidemiology and population health as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at the University of Michigan. Abdou received her Ph.D. in social and health psychology, minoring in statistics, from UCLA in 2008. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Miami in 2000 with a degree in psychology and art.
Abdou has spent almost two decades conducting interdisciplinary research on how individuals, families, communities, and organizations manage to be healthy, happy, and successful against the odds. She is the author of nearly two-dozen book chapters and scientific articles in the fields of psychology, public health, medicine, sociology, and aging. Abdou served as an associate editor for the Handbook of Minority Aging1 published by Springer in 2013. She launched Healthy Egypt2 in 2011.
Abdou developed the Culture and Social Identity Health Theory3 and the related conceptual framework, Aging Before Birth and Beyond.3 With collaborator, Dr. Adam Fingerhut, Abdou was the first to develop experimental methods for applying the social psychological theory of stereotype threat to the health sciences, empirically demonstrating that stereotype threat is an overlooked contributor to disparities in health care utilization and related decision-making.
Abdou was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Clearwater, Florida. She and her four siblings, including an identical twin sister, are the children of Coptic Egyptian immigrants. Abdou lost her mother, Mariam Abdou, at birth due to labor and delivery complications and poor medical care, leading Abdou to commit in childhood to making health and human flourishing her life’s work.
1. Whitfield, K. E. & Baker, T. (2013) Handbook of Minority Aging. Springer Publishing: New York.
3. Abdou, C. M. (2013). Aging before birth and beyond: Lifespan and intergenerational adaptation through positive resources. In K. E. Whitfield and T. Baker (Eds.) Handbook of Minority Aging. Springer Publishing: New York.
4. Abdou, Cleopatra M. Reconsidering the Role of Social Disadvantage in Physical and Mental Health: Stressful Life Events, Health Behaviors, Race, and Depression. American journal of epidemiology. 2010. 172(11)pg.1238-1249. 10.1093/aje/kwq283
Mezuk, B. (2013). "“White Box” Epidemiology and the Social Neuroscience of Health Behaviors: The Environmental Affordances Model". Society and mental health (2156-8693), 3(2), p. 79.
Lee, Hedwig (2013). "Cardiovascular disease among black Americans: comparison between the U.S. Virgin Islands and the 50 U.S. states". Public Health Reports (0033-3549), 128(3), p. 170.