From Survival to Success: Exploring Resilience & The Immigrant Experience with Justine Gatt Ph.D., Lan Cao & Harlan Lan Cao

Justine Gatt Ph.D., Lan Cao & Harlan Lan Cao


Moving residences, whether elective or forced, is known to be one of the most stressful things humans can do. Dealing with the trauma of new places and new faces can be difficult for both parents and children. Why do some people bounce back after a change and others sink into themselves? What about when a family moves into a different culture? How do individuals maintain a sense of well-being in the face of 180-degree life change? To determine the role genetics and environment have in calculating survival or success, Positive Psychology Podcast Host Lisa Cypers Kamen speaks with three women about the resilience across cultures and the immigrant experience. Justine Gatt is the Lead Scientist at Gatt Wellbeing and Resilience group. She describes the multiple studies she has been a part of that measure wellbeing and resilience in various cultures and with varying stressors. Mother, Lan Cao and Daughter, Harlan Lan Cao, co-authored Family in Six Tones: A Refugee Mother, An American Daughter. Each describes how her experience differed from the other in school, society, and when writing the book.

About Lisa’s guests:

Associate Professor Justine Gatt is Lead Scientist of the Gatt Wellbeing & Resilience Group at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and the School of Psychology at the University of New South Wales. She obtained her Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Sydney. Professor Gatt currently leads several national and international projects in resilience and well-being. Her work has been recognized by multiple awards including the Worldwide University Network (WUN) Success Story, the Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research (2014), and the NHMRC Excellence Award for Top Ranked CDF Applicant (2014). Professor Gatt also serves as an Editorial Member for several scientific journals.


Lan Cao is the author of Monkey Bridge and The Lotus and the Storm, and most recently of the scholarly work Culture in Law and Development: Nurturing Positive Change. She is a professor of law at the Chapman University School of Law, and an internationally recognized expert specializing in international business and trade, international law, and development. She has taught at Brooklyn Law School, Duke University School of Law, University of Michigan Law School, and William & Mary Law School. 

Harlan Margaret Van Cao graduated from high school in June 2020 and will be attending UCLA. She was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, and moved to Southern California when she was ten. 

Book: Family in Six Tones: A Refugee Mother, An American Daughter 

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