Ethel Nicdao

Ethel Nicdao, a medical sociology professor in the College of the Pacific, was recently honored by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine as one of a dozen “Emerging Scholars” in the nation.

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Pacific Sociology Professor Among the Nation’s Rising Academic Stars

Feb 25, 2013

A University of the Pacific medical sociology professor has been recognized by a leading academic publication as one of a dozen "rising academic stars" from across the nation who have emerged as leaders in their fields. Ethel Nicdao, an assistant professor in sociology whose research examines racial, ethnic and cultural health disparities, especially in Stockton's Hmong communities, was highlighted in Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine's "Emerging Scholars" issue in January.

"It came as such a surprise when the editor emailed me to tell me I had been selected as one of the emerging scholars," Nicdao said. "I'm humbled. If you look at the other 11 scholars you'll see they are doing some very amazing things."

Nicdao was included in the issue with academics from Tufts University School of Medicine, Princeton University, Clemson University, the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, University of Southern California and others. Nicdao was quick to commend the faculty in the College of the Pacific and the wider Pacific community.

"I just happened to be recognized," she said. "It's not just me. There are many faculty here [at Pacific] doing extraordinary work."

Nicdao does not work for the accolades, she said, but rather to give back to the greater community. For her, that means community-based research working with two local Hmong groups.  With the Lao Khmu Association, she examined Type 2 diabetes among the Stockton Hmong community from 2007-09. Since 2011, she has worked with the Lao Family Community Empowerment Inc. focusing on breast and cervical cancer data and seeking grants to improve early detection and treatment in the community.

Nicdao, who immigrated with her family to San Francisco from the Philippines when she was 8, decided to research the Hmong community because, to an extent, they are somewhat "invisible" because Asian cultures tend to be grouped together.

"Ethel is extremely deserving of recognition as an emerging scholar," said Felipe Gonzales, a sociology professor and one of Nicdao's mentors. "She has the mind of the analyst and the heart of a community-concerned individual. Both are essential for an effective medical sociologist." 

Nicdao earned a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and gained more training in medical sociology as a research fellow at the University of Michigan's Racial, Ethnic, and Cultural Disparities in Mental Health Training Program.