Below you will find an alphabetical list of the Graduate Fellows of the Urban Ethnography Lab with information about their research and areas of interest. To learn more about UEL’s Graduate Fellow Alumnae/i, please scroll below.
Marta Ascherio is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology. Her research interests include immigration, identity, and crime.
Nino Bariola is a Ph.D student in the Department of Sociology. His research interests include the political and cultural dynamics of markets, institutional emergence, organizational change, and inequality. Nino’s dissertation research is about the emergence and socio-economics of the Peruvian gastronomic boom.
Gwen Berumen Sanchez is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology and a WGS affiliate. She is broadly interested in feminism, collective subjectivities, and racial capitalism. Her current project examines the relationship between self-care and liberation movements. She holds a BA in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Sociology from Brandeis University.
Caitlin Carroll is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Sociology. Her dissertation, “Sexual Violence and Gender Equality in Sweden,” investigates the persistence of gendered sexual violence in a country where gender equality has been a core feature of the political agenda for four decades. Through interviews with activists, state bureaucrats, social service providers, and legal professionals, she challenges the ways in which sexual violence is understood from a socio-legal perspective. Her dissertation fieldwork is funded by a Graduate Research Fellowship from the American-Scandinavian Foundation and a grant from the Swedish Excellence Endowment at UT-Austin.
Alison Coffey is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology. Her research focuses on the politics of climate adaptation and urban development, conflicts over land and property, housing, and social movements. Alison holds a Master’s Degree in City Planning from MIT and a B.A. in Latin American Studies from Tufts University.
Faith Deckard is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology and graduate trainee in the Population Research Center. She is interested in exploring how indebtedness, or financial obligation to expensive institutions, shape social life and health disparities for individuals and their communities. Faith’s dissertation work will center around pretrial release via commercial bail bonds to examine the process(es) of meeting bail from a network perspective. Adopting a mixed-methodological approach that illuminates community and individual experiences, this project aims to extend our understanding of collective justice experiences and its impact on daily life and health profiles of involved communities. Faith is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Fellow. She received a M.A. in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin and her B.A. in Biology from Trinity University.
Alex Diamond is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on the transition in regions in Colombia that were previously under insurgent control. More specifically, he analyzes how the implementation of the peace accords between the Colombian government and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) is opening new spaces for a variety of concurrent and often opposed processes: new kinds of claims-making that challenge and redefine conceptions of citizenship in rural Colombia; projects of political domination and resource extraction; and finally, state-making in real time.
daniel dillon is a PhD Candidate in South Asian Cultures & Languages here at UT. His studies have combined literature, media and cultural sutdies, and ethnography with a heavy dose of queer feminism to document and interrogate “masculine” gender and sexuality. His research brings these lenses to bear on northern Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, about which he is currently writing in his dissertation. That project focuses on the everyday lives of rickshaw drivers in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, ethnographically documenting the relationship between chronic immobility, masculinity, and structural inequalities in the postwar moment.
Ilana Friedman is a PhD candidate and socio-legal scholar in the Department of Sociology at UT-Austin studying the prosecution of police officers. She is a former lawyer specializing in criminal defense & civil rights litigation. She received her J.D. and M.A (sociology-anthropology) from Saint Louis University and her B.A (history) from University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Upasana Garnaik is a graduate student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. Upasana is a lawyer by training and received her LLM from Duke Law School in 2012. Her research focuses on women’s experiences of the legal system in family disputes.
Jess Goldstein-Kral is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology. Their interests include gender, sexuality, intimate relationships, inequality, queer theory, and mixed methods. Their master’s thesis investigates gender expression and relationship dynamics in same-sex and different-sex marriages.
Kathy Hill is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. Katherine Hill is interests lie at the intersection of economic and organizational inequality, race and ethnicity, and gender and sexuality. Katherine is currently working on a project examining legal financial obligations in Texas and how these impositions reproduce inequalities for the poor.
Jaime Hsu is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. Jaime studies racial and gender/sexual inequality in the context of neighborhood and health. Building upon urban, global, and environmental sociology, Jaime’s ethnographic project focuses on how residential patterns and racial boundaries between Asian immigrants and white Americans shape everyday life and perceived environmental risks in a rural industrial town of the American South.
Katarina Huss is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology and a graduate trainee in the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Her interests include immigration, citizenship, and identity. She is currently working on research related to multigenerational processes of identity development and inequality in immigrant families.
Cassandra Knaff is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Her work intersects sociolinguistics, anthropological linguistics, and the sociology of language . Her interests include language, class, race and ethnicity, citizenship, inequality, and mixed methods. She is currently working on a project that investigates the impact of social hierarchies and meanings on the varied language, clothing, and spatial choices made by Mexican-American speakers in Austin, TX.
Daniel Krasnicki is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology. His interests include surveillance, social movements, policing, and qualitative methods. His current research focuses on how police training impacts use of force and shapes the culture of policing in the United States. He received his B.A. in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin.
Eldad J. Levy Guerrero is a Ph.D student in the Department of Sociology. His research interests include political and cultural dimensions of collective action, political violence, organized crime and Neoliberalism in Latin American societies. Eldad’s research centers around the cultural changes in understanding of violence in everyday Mexico and the role of the state in providing security.
Chen Liang is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology. Chen received her M.A in Social Sciences from Humboldt-University of Berlin, Germany, and her BA in Political Science and Sociology from National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan. Chen’s research interests include gender, race and ethnicity, political sociology and immigration in the German and the U.S. context. Her ongoing project is a qualitative research of conservative Asian immigrants in the United States and Germany and the first-generation East Asian immigrants’ attitude toward racial politics.
Vrinda Marwah is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology at UT Austin. Her research interests are in reproductive health and technologies, state and civil society in contemporary India, and gender and sexuality. She has worked previously at CREA and Sama, Delhi, and has studied at the Universities of London and Delhi.
Annie Murphy is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology. Her research focuses on prefigurative politics, inequality, and social movements. Annie holds a MA in Sociology from UT Austin and a BA in Sociology and History from Amherst College.
Águeda Ortega is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology. Her research interests include food politics, toxicity, climate change, and agricultural models. Águeda’s Masters thesis project examines the growth of agroecology in Argentina. She holds a BA in Sociology and Latin American Studies from Wesleyan University.
Jamie O’Quinn is a doctoral candidate in the Department Sociology and a former manager of the Urban Ethnography Lab. She studies sexualities, gender, youth, and inequality. Jamie has an MA in Sexuality Studies from San Francisco State University. Her current research examines U.S. child marriage, exploring how state efforts to regulate young people’s sexualities are gendered and racialized.
Ruijie Peng is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. Ruijie received her MA in Latin American Studies at the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies. For her master’s thesis, Ruijie has conducted fieldwork in Ecuador. She examined the social organization of work in a Chinese-sponsored hydroelectric construction project where Chinese and Ecuadorian workers worked together. She is a Graduate Fellow of the Urban Ethnography Lab. She is also a Graduate Coordinator of the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice. Ruijie’s research interests include labor, gender, race and ethnicity, political sociology, development, political economy, and global sociology. Her ongoing dissertation research is an ethnographic study of home support and women’s labor against the backdrop of rural-urban migration in southwest China. In it, she focuses on how economic changes influence resource transfers between rural family members and urban workers, and how gender relations are affected in that process. She has won NSF DDRIG Award, IJURR Fellowship, Firebird Fellowship, and MAXQDA research grant to support her ongoing fieldwork. She discusses her research methodology using qualitative data analysis software in blog posts here.
Beth Prosnitz is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her primary research interests are in the relationships between property rights, citizenship, and social movements in South Asia. Beth earned her BA in Religion from Smith College and MA in International Affairs from the New School.
Katie Kaufman Rogers is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, where she is also an affiliate of the Urban Ethnography Lab. Her research and teaching address the intersections of gender, race, work inequality, and the criminal-legal system. In her dissertation, “Breaking the Grass Ceiling: Gender, Race, and Class in the U.S. Legal Cannabis Industry,” she uses in-depth interviews, ethnographic observations, and content analysis to examine women’s labor experiences in an historically criminalized, masculinized cannabis industry. This work is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, and the UT Austin College of Liberal Arts. Her research has been recognized with awards from the American Sociological Association and from Sociologists for Women in Society. She holds an M.A. in sociology from UT Austin and a B.A. in sociology from Colorado College.
Bradley Silberzahn is a 3rd year Graduate Student in the Department of Sociology. Prior to coming to UT Austin, Bradley attended Harford Community College and West Virginia University and worked as a research coordinator at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Previous projects include ethnographic work with police departments, as well as cross-sectional and prospective cohort studies with people who inject drugs and people who sell sex in Baltimore City, Maryland and Huntington, West Virginia. Brad currently works as a graduate research assistant under Dr. Debra J. Umberson.
Sercan Tas is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology. His research interests include economic sociology, finance, charity giving and university endowments. Sercan holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from Bogazici University.
Amy Velchoff is a Ph.D. student at the University of Texas at Austin.
Graduate Fellow Alumnae/i
Kate Averett received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2016. She is an Assistant Professor at the State University of New York at Albany. She studies gender, sexuality, and the social construction of childhood in the U.S. Her dissertation research is on discourses and practices of homeschooling in Texas, specifically examining how gendered beliefs about childhood impact what we think children need out of education – and who can best provide it. She is a recipient of the 2014 Martin P. Levine Memorial Dissertation Award from the ASA Section on Sociology of Sexualities, and her paper “Queer Parenting at the Gender Buffet: LGBTQ Parents Resisting Heteronormativity” won the 2015 Norval Glenn Prize.
Riad Azar holds a PhD in Sociology from UT Austin. He is a User Experience Researcher at Facebook.
Anna Veronica Banchik is a Sociology doctoral student interested in science and technology studies (STS), human rights fact-finding and advocacy, expertise, and visual culture. Her dissertation draws on ethnographic methods to examine the processes and techniques by which human rights practitioners evaluate open source and social media data linked to claims of human rights abuse. Previous work focused on how cultural scholarship and courtroom actors in the context of Freedom of Information Act disclosure disputes differently approach and esteem the probative value and prejudicial impacts of graphic visual media. Anna is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and a Fulbright scholar. She received a M.A. in Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and a B.S. in Economics at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA.
Shantel Gabrieal Buggs received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas in 2017 and is joining the Florida State University as an Assistant Professor of Sociology and African American Studies. Her research interests are in race and ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, with a focus on intimate relationships, multiracial/mixed-race life course processes, and popular culture. Her dissertation, “Utopic Subjects, Post-Racial Desires: Mixed-Race, Intimacy, and the On-Line Dating Experience,” investigates the impact of racial identity and the notion of the “post-racial” on the dating experiences of multiracial and multiethnic women in Central Texas as a means of illuminating the shifting meanings of race, sex, and gender within relationships that initiate through the online dating platform, OK Cupid. At UT, Shantel was also the editor of UTAustinSOC, the official blog of the graduate program in the Department of Sociology. For more information about Shantel and her work, see her website or follow her on Twitter.
Caitlyn Collins received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2016 and joined the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis as an Assistant Professor of Sociology. She studies gender inequality in the context of families and the workplace, both in the US and abroad. For her dissertation, she is conducting a comparative study of working mothers’ experiences in Germany, Sweden, Italy, and the United States. She examines how working mothers negotiate motherhood and employment in different work-family policy regimes, seeking to better understand the relationship between the welfare state, policy, and social inequality. Her research has been published in Social Science and Medicine, the Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, Michigan Family Review, and in the book Childhood and Consumer Culture. Caitlyn is also a co-author of Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in an American City (UT Press); see here for more information on that collaborative book project. She has received fellowships from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), among others. Learn more about Caitlyn’s work here.
Jacinto Cuvi received his Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin in 2017. He specializes in mixed-methods research on urban informal economies in Latin America, especially Brazil. His interests include informal economy, urban policy, social inequality, and development. Jacinto’s work has been published in Social Problems (forthcoming) and the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. He is also a contributor to Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in an American City (UT Press) edited by Javier Auyero. Jacinto has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, among others. For more information about his work, please visit Jacinto’s website.
Jorge Derpic received his Ph.D. in Sociology in 2017. He is examining state-civil society relations through the analysis of what precedes and follows the lynching of alleged criminals in marginal urban areas of El Alto, Bolivia. His work has been published in the Population Research and Policy Review and the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, as well as featured in the digital magazine Revista Anfibia. He is a recipient of dissertation fellowships from the Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies (FURS), Oxford University as well as the Inter-American Foundation (IAF).
Jessica Dunning-Lozano received her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin in 2014 and is now an Assistant Professor at Ithaca College. Jessica’s research interests are in race, education, incarceration, and class inequality. Her dissertation investigates the intersection of the criminal justice system with public schooling through a 27 month-long ethnography of a public Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP) in Texas. She examines the on-the-ground enforcement of zero tolerance school policies with a specific focus on the form, variation, extent, and effects that school discipline assumes in punitive schooling spaces. For more information, see her website.
Erika Denisse Grajeda received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2016. She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the City University of New York. Her research interests are in gender, immigration, race and intimate labor. Her dissertation, “On the Corner: Gender, Immigrant Illegality, and the Making of Informal Day Labor Markets,” examines migrant women’s participation in informal day labor markets in New York and San Francisco, as well as day labor organizing. As a comparative ethnography of an informal street-corner market in south Williamsburg, Brooklyn and a day labor center in San Francisco’s Mission District, her dissertation examines how the street corner emerges as a social institution, and how these labor markets are produced and maintained through a multiplicity of state and non-state actors, social relations, and arrangements. Her research shows that although these markets have become the object of community battles over the appropriate use of public space, and a target of immigration control and police harassment, they are also spaces where migrant workers seek out daily survival and subsistence.
Maricarmen Hernandez received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2020 and joined the faculty at the University of New Mexico as an Assistant Professor.
Hyun Jeong Ha is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Sociology at UT-Austin.
Katherine Jensen received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. She will be joining the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an Assistant Professor of Sociology and International Studies in 2019, after a one-year Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research at Tulane University (2018-2019). She studies race/racism, the state, and forced migration. Her dissertation investigates the everyday practices through which the Brazilian state decides asylum claims, and with what consequences for those seeking safe haven. Her work has been published in such venues as Ethnic and Racial Studies, Qualitative Sociology, Social Currents, City & Community, Contexts, and the Huffington Post. Katie is also a co-author of Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in an American City (UT Press); see here for more information on that collaborative book project. She is a former Fulbright Fellow and P.E.O. Scholar. Learn more about her work here.
Kristine Kilanski received her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin in 2015. She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University. She uses mixed methods, including ethnography, interviews, and survey data, to study gender, work, and poverty. Specifically, her research focuses on gender and racial inequality in the labor market, changes to the configuration of work and workplaces, and poverty. For her dissertation, she completed fieldwork in an oil and gas “boom town.” Her work has been published in such journals as Gender & Society and Work & Occupations. Kristine is also a co-author of Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in an American City (UT Press); see here for more information on that collaborative book project. She was a recipient of the 2014 UT Women’s and Gender Studies Dissertation Fellowship.
Dr. Corey James McZeal will be joining the faculty in the department of Sociology and Criminology & Law at the University of Florida in Fall 2018. He is an alumnus of the Urban Ethnography Lab in the sociology department at the University of Texas at Austin.
Originally from Lafayette, LA, Corey received his undergraduate degree in sociology from Louisiana State University in 2012, and received his master’s degree and doctorate from UT Austin in 2015 and 2018, respectively.
Corey’s M.A. thesis was an ethnographic study of the rock climbing culture in Austin, exploring the meaning climbers attach to their activity and the processes that lead them into and keep them involved in the sport. His dissertation research focuses on the unpaid caregiving of elderly or infirmed family members. Through 18 months of field work at an adult day center for those with early memory loss, supplemented by 19 interviews with families of care recipients, Corey explored the transformations in role expectations and family dynamics that take place during the progression of care and how families readjust and adapt to these changes.
Shannon Malone Gonzalez received her PhD in Sociology at UT Austin in 2021. She is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at UNC Chapel Hill. Her research examines police violence against black women and girls in the United States. Drawing from interdisciplinary scholarship on the sociology of race and ethnicity, women’s and gender studies, and criminology, Shannon incorporates an intersectional analysis into the study of police surveillance and violence. Her dissertation uses both qualitative and quantitative methods to interrogate the social conditions that shape and marginalize black women and girls’ experiences with police across cultural and institutional contexts. Shannon received her M.S. in Nonprofit and NGO Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania and her B.A. in English from Tougaloo College.
Megan Tobias Neely received her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin in 2017 and will join the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University as aPostdoctoral Fellow. Her research interests are in gender, race, and class inequality in the workplace and political systems. She is currently working on her dissertation research on gender, race, work, and organizations, in the finance industry. Using the hedge fund industry as a case study, her dissertation examines how workplace conditions in the new economy have changed from the point-of-view of high-wage workers and how their workplaces influence relations of inequality among workers.
Pamela Neumann received her Ph.D. from UT Sociology in 2016 and joined the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University in New Orleans as a Postdoctoral Fellow beginning in July 2016. Her current research examines women’s experiences navigating the judicial process in Nicaragua in cases of domestic violence. She is especially interested in the ways in which both local officials and women’s organizations shape women’s experiences in such cases. Her work has been published in Gender & Society, Social Problems, Qualitative Sociology, and Latin American Politics and Society. Pamela is also a co-author of Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in an American City (UT Press); see here for more information about that project. Her paper “‘We are not retarded’: Explaining Collective Inaction in a Company Town” won the SSSP’s Conflict, Social Action, and Change Graduate Student Paper Award.
Emily Allen Paine studies how ideas about gender, sex, and sexuality are shaping health through social institutions, with emphases on LGBTQ people, medicine, and the family. She will be an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Marcos Pérez received his Ph.D. from the UT Department of Sociology in 2016. His main areas of interest are social inequality and social movements. He uses participant observation and life-history interviews to study the experiences of activists in a poor people’s movement in Argentina. He explores the ways in which the background of each participant interacts with his or her involvement in collective action, seeking to understand the process by which people develop commitment to an organization or cause. Marcos is also a co-author of Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in an American City (UT Press); see here for more information on that collaborative book project. He was a recipient of a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for his dissertation research in Argentina. His article “Becoming a Piquetero: Past, Novel and Current Routines in the Development of Activist Dispositions” won the Mayer Zald Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Award from the Collective Behavior and Social Movements section of the American Sociological Association. For more information, visit his website.
Jen Scott received her Ph.D. from the UT School of Social Work in 2016. She is now Assistant Professor in the College of Human Sciences & Education School of Social Work at Louisiana State University. Her research interests include poverty, labor and immigration. She currently focuses on how people deal with economic hardship, and particularly how they work collectively to improve their situations. Her dissertation project focuses on these experiences for undocumented immigrants in Austin, Texas. Jen is also a co-author of Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in an American City (UT Press); see here for more information on that collaborative book project. She has received awards and fellowships from the Society for Social Work & Research, the National Association of Social Workers, the P.E.O. International, the American Association of University Women (Austin Branch), and the Center for Poverty Research at UC Davis.
Samantha Simon received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2020 and joined the faculty at the University of Missouri – St. Louis as an Assistant Professor. Her research interests include gender, race, workplace inequality, the criminal justice system, and violence. In her dissertation work, Samantha examines how police officers are recruited, hired, and trained. She completed a year of field work conducting participant observation and in-depth interviews with four police departments to better understand how they are implementing diversity initiatives in their hiring and incorporating de-escalation training in their academies. Previously, Samantha has worked on projects examining race and gender inequality in Hollywood talent agencies, and gun schools and training in Texas. Samantha is also working with Dr. Jennifer Glass on a project investigating the low retention rates among women and racial minorities in STEM employment, and the association between workplace benefits and gender in the United States. Samantha earned her M.A. in sociology from The University of Texas at Austin and her B.A. in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mary Ellen Stitt received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2020 and joined the faculty at the University at Albany – State University of New York as an Assistant Professor. Her research investigates state punishment and inequality across a range of institutional domains. Her dissertation, “Therapeutic Alternatives in the Criminal Courts,” examines the growing use of therapy and drug testing as an alternative to criminal prosecution in the United States. She draws on qualitative and quantitative data to analyze the impacts of pretrial diversion programs on defendants, the processes shaping their administration, and their implications for decarceration, mental healthcare provision, and social inequality.
Vivian Shaw earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Relations in the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations. She is the author of “‘We Are Already Living Together’: Race, Collective Struggle, and the Reawakened Nation in Post-3/11 Japan” in Precarious Belongings: Affect and Nationalism in Asia (2017, Rowman & Littlefield), and “Anti-racism Before and After Fukushima” in Alternative Politics: Ethnographic Studies of Activist Cultures and Social Movements in Contemporary Japan (forthcoming, University of Hawaiʻi Press). She has received grants and awards from the National Science Foundation, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (jointly awarded by the Social Science Research Council), the U.S. Department of State, and other institutions. Vivian is currently developing a book manuscript out of her dissertation, “Post-disaster Citizenship: The Politics of Race, Belonging, and Activism after Fukushima.” This project is is based on a multiyear ethnographic study tracing the dual emergence of hate speech and anti-racism social movement networks in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Ilya Slavinski received his Ph.D. in Department of Sociology at UT Austin in 2021. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of MS in Criminology in the Department of Sociology at SUNY Buffalo. Ilya received his MS in Non-Government Organizations and Development from the London School of Economics and his BA in Philosophy from Rutgers University. He studies the field of carceral policy decisions in Texas and how these decisions lead to unequal outcomes along class and racial lines. He is currently working on a research project with Dr. Becky Pettit documenting the scope and unequal distribution of Legal Financial Obligations in Texas counties.
Katherine Sobering received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018 and is joining the faculty at the University of North Texas as an Assistant Professor of Sociology. Her research focuses on politics and inequality in the U.S. and Latin America. Supported by the Fulbright Commission and the National Science Foundation, her dissertation is an ethnographic study of worker-recuperated businesses in Argentina, and she is currently writing a book on collusion and violence in Argentina with Javier Auyero. Her work has been published in Sociological Forum, The Sociological Quarterly, and Sociology Compass, among other journals. Katie is also a co-author of Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in an American City (2015, UT Press). Learn more about Katie and her work here.
Emily Spangenberg is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology. Her research interests are in environmental justice, human rights, critical development studies, and political sociology. Her work focuses on how environmental and rights conflicts take shape during boom and bust cycles of extractive activity. Since 2009, she has worked with communities affected by lead, silver, and lithium mining in northern Argentina, particularly in areas where raw materials are transported and processed. Emily’s dissertation analyzes how environmental conflict in these sites is embedded in daily routines, politics, and power dynamics.
Esther Sullivan received her Ph.D. from the UT Sociology Department in 2015, and is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Denver. Her interests include urban sociology, poverty, and housing insecurity. For her dissertation she conducted a two-year comparative ethnography living within and being evicted from closing mobile home parks in the U.S. in order to examine how low-income residents individually and collectively respond to their forced relocation and how their eviction is managed under different state and local regulatory regimes. She is an American Association of University Women (AAUW) Fellow, A UT Powers Fellow, and a Hogg Foundation Moore Fellow. Her research has been published in Law & Social Inquiry, Urban Studies and Habitat International. For more information, see her website.
Maggie Tate received her Ph.D. from the UT Sociology department in 2016. She is interested in qualitative methods, visual studies, and urban sociology in relation to the topics of race, gender, culture, surveillance and inequality. Her dissertation, “Wasteland to Wonderland: The Politics of Aesthetics and Homeless Management in Austin’s Urban Core,” looks at the changing conditions of homelessness in Austin produced by the “cleaning up” of the downtown urban core. She co-authored a chapter with Les Back in the edited volume Racism and Sociology. Maggie is also a co-author of Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in an American City (UT Press); see here for more information on that collaborative book project.
Kara Takasaki received her PhD from UT Austin Sociology in 2021. She is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the IC2 Institute at UT Austin. She studies race and gender inequality in workplaces and in personal relationships. She recently helped to launch the reporting center for hate crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islanders in California. She is also part of an interdisciplinary and national research team investigating Covid-19’s effects on the AAPI community. Kara has written about friendship & kinship in the Michigan Family Review, representation of Asian American women in television at Racism Review, and Filipino identity construction through college language courses in Hawaii in the Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity. She is writing her dissertation on how families experiencing immigration and racialization shape Asian American masculinities.
Christine Wheatley received her Ph.D. from the UT Sociology department in 2016 and joined the faculty at Southern Methodist University as an Assistant Professor. Her research primarily concerns the role of law in defining national borders, particularly its role in the nation-state’s exercise of territorial sovereignty, and the consequences for the people within and beyond them. Her dissertation, “No Place Like Home: The American Deportation Regime and Returning Migrants in Mexico,” examines the social impacts of contemporary US immigration laws and enforcement practices on the processes of removal of non-citizens from the US and on deported migrants and their returning migrants who have gone back to Mexico after living and working in the US. Her research sites include immigration detention centers and deportation hearings held in immigration courts in Texas and several hometowns of returning migrants in Jalisco and Oaxaca, Mexico.
Maro Youssef received her Ph.D. in Sociology at UT Austin in 2021. Her research is on gender politics, social movements, and democratic transitions.
Amina Zarrugh received her Ph.D. from the UT Sociology department in 2016 and joined the faculty at Texas Christian University as an Assistant Professor. Her research interests focus on gender, nationalism, and religion in North Africa and the Middle East from a postcolonial perspective. Her dissertation examines regime violence in Libya and the mobilization of women in a family movement that developed in response to a contested prison massacre at Abu Salim Prison in Tripoli.