Home » People » Our Graduate Students

Our Graduate Students

PhD Students

Wallis Adams


Wallis Adams is a doctoral candidate in Sociology at Northeastern University. Her dissertation is a mixed methods study of the field of Forensic Peer Support, in which individuals with lived experience support clients in their recovery in mental health and in their involvement with the criminal justice system. This work explores the management of multiple stigmas, as well as the professionalization of the peer support workforce. Wallis has taught undergraduate courses (in both criminology and the sociology of health) throughout the Boston area, and previously served as a Graduate Research Assistant on two large interdisciplinary federally funded research grants. She has seven peer-reviewed publications, including articles in Qualitative Inquiry and Sociology of Health and Illness. Wallis earned her Bachelors degree from Oberlin College and completed a Masters in Public Health (MPH) at California State University, Northridge in 2011.

Areas of Research/Interest: Health and illness, sociology of diagnosis, deviance, criminology, health disparities, mental health, and social control

Lauren Contorno


Lauren Contorno is a 4th year PhD student and a member of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI) and the Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative (NJERC). Her dissertation research examines the social and cultural impacts of coal plant closures at the community level, decision-making processes surrounding redevelopment in these "transition towns," and the broader political economic dynamics of the transition to a renewable energy economy.

Areas of Research/Interest: Environmental justice, socio-technical transitions, political ecology

Sarah Faude


Sarah Faude is a PhD Candidate with research interests in urban educational equity and access. Her dissertation explores the ways that an urban district discusses, maintains, and resists school segregation through student assignment policies and practices. She has also contributed to several projects related to equity and access gaps in education in Massachusetts, spanning from preschool to public higher education, all of which emphasize bridging research with practitioners. Before arriving at Northeastern, Sarah received her B.A. in 2009 from Skidmore College, her M.S.Ed in Urban Education from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011, and several years teaching middle and high school English in Philadelphia.

Areas of Research/Interest: School Choice and Assignment Policies, Neighborhood and School Segregation, Urban Education, Qualitative Methods, Intersectionality, Program Evaluation

Anjuli Fahlberg


Anjuli Fahlberg is a PhD candidate in Sociology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University. Her research examines the effects of urban violence and uneven development on citizenship and social change in Latin America. With funding from the National Science Foundation and several university grants, Anjuli’s dissertation research documented the effects of armed conflict between drug traffickers and the military police on the possibilities for social action among non-violent residents in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, or marginalized low-income neighborhoods. Anjuli is currently working on a second research project utilizing a participatory action research approach to measure social resilience in conflict zones. The project is a collaboration with Thomas Vicino and Deitmar Offenhuber, as well as with residents from the City of God, one of Rio’s most dangerous and vibrant favelas. She plans to extend this model into several Latin American cities in the future. Anjuli has published her research in Habitat International, the Journal of Urban Affairs and Sociology Compass, among others. She received best paper awards from the Latin American Studies Association and the Society for the Study of Social Problems and Northeastern University’s 2016 Outstanding Graduate Research Award. She was selected for the 2017-2018 Dean’s Graduate Fellowship in the Humanities Center at Northeastern University and was awarded the Urban Affairs Association’s 2017 Alma J. Young Emerging Scholar Award. For a more detailed overview of her work, please see her Spotlights article by the College of Social Sciences and Humanities: https://cssh.northeastern.edu/spotlight/anjuli-fahlberg

Areas of Research/Interest: Urban sociology, sociology of violence, women’s and gender studies, family violence, informal settlements in Brazil, community-based participatory research

Lisa Ferruccio Pal


Lisa Ferruccio Pal entered Northeastern University’s Sociology Doctoral Program in 2008. She received her BA in 2001 from Syracuse University where she had a dual major in sociology and public relations. After graduation, Lisa spent six years working in marketing and client services for institutional investment management firms in Boston and Los Angeles. She received her MA in sociology from Northeastern University in 2010.

Areas of Research/Interest: Globalization, economic sociology, biotech and economic development

Baran Karsak


Baran Karsak received his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Boğaziçi University of Istanbul in January 2015. Before entering the PhD program in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University, he worked as a research assistant at the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, examining longitudinal data on Turkish family structures through multiple correspondence analysis (MCA). His current research focuses on the role of collective emotions and local histories in environmental resistance movements. He is also interested in exploring the relationship between alternative moralities and global food movements.

Areas of Research/Interest: collective behavior, group emotions, political ecology, food movements, Actor-network Theory (ANT)

Ran Keren


Ran Keren entered the sociology PhD program at Northeastern in the Fall of 2016. He received a BA in Science in 2002 from The Hebrew University in Israel, a BA in sociology in 2010 from The Open University in Israel, and an MA in applied sociology in 2015 from University of Massachusetts Boston. He studied migration and gender, and during his masters’ studies conducted an ethnographic study on the trailing spouses of elite scholars. Ran currently is conducting a research project on humor and comedy, focusing on the ways gender, race, age, and ethnicity intersect, how they are constructed, and how they are being challenged.

Areas of Research/Interest: gender, migration, sociological theory, semiotics, the sociology of humor.

Rachael Lee


Rachael Lee entered the Sociology PhD program in the Fall of 2013 after receiving a Masters degree in Sociology from East Carolina University in 2013 and a Bachelors degree in Sociology and Applied Social Relations from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2011. She is interested in how medical professionals perceive important areas relevant to health and wellbeing that have traditionally fallen outside of the realm of clinical medicine, including environmental health concerns. Specifically, she is interested in the processes through which environmental health concerns can and have been integrated into medical and nursing school curriculums and continuing education for medical professionals.

Areas of Research/Interest: Quantitative methods, medical sociology, health and illness, social epidemiology

Sam Maron


Sam Maron is a PhD student in sociology focusing on globalization and social movements. His dissertation uses recent bids for the Olympic Games in Boston and Los Angeles to explore how global cultural institutions shape the city. Sam entered the PhD program in the fall of 2014. He received his Master of Science degree in Environmental Studies from Antioch University New England. His master's thesis looked at how non-Tibetan activists in the Tibetan freedom movement constructed collective identity. He also spent a year studying Tibetan language at the College for Higher Tibetan Studies in Dharamsala, India. Sam is working on a project about the local opposition to Boston's bid for the 2024 Olympics. Sam is interested in studying global institutions, mega-events, global cities, and transnational social movements.

Areas of Research/Interests: Social movements, globalization, transnational solidarity activism, and identity

Autumn Mathias


Autumn Mathias, is a PhD candidate in sociology. She received a BSW/BS in Bible magna cum laude from Cairn University in 2002. In 2004, she received her MSW with a concentration in community organization and a certificate in international issues from the University of Connecticut. She received her MA in sociology from Northeastern in 2010. Prior to beginning at Northeastern, Autumn worked in diverse fields such as services to refugees and asylum seekers, foster care/adoption, elder services, and political advocacy/community organizing around issues impacting immigrants. Autumn’s research interests have been inspired by her international travels and her experiences as a social worker. She has completed comprehensive exams in ethnonationalist and religious conflict and violence and globalization and transnational processes. In particular, she is interested in studying transnational human rights activism spearheaded by diverse South Asian diasporas. Autumn has served as both a teaching assistant and a research assistant at Northeastern. Currently, she works as an adjunct instructor at another university.

Areas of Research/Interest: Ethnonationalist and religious conflict violence, collective identity formation, globalization, transnational human rights activism, diaspora politics, South Asia

Ethel Mickey


Ethel Mickey is a Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology, focusing on gender, work & organizations, and social networks. Her research draws on a qualitative case study of a high-tech firm in the United States to explore gendered practices, experiences, and outcomes of professional networking. Her project reveals the exclusionary nature of networking, and how networking can reinforce intersecting institutional inequalities in one of the country’s leading industries. She recently received the Northeastern University Dissertation Completion Fellowship to support this project. She has been awarded by the department for her teaching and service, and most recently earned the department’s 2017 Outstanding Graduate Research Paper Award for her paper titled, “‘Eat, Pray, Love Bullshit’: Individualism, Meritocracy, and Empowerment at an Elite Women’s Networking Conference.” In addition to her dissertation, she has collaborated with Linda Blum on a project on second-wave feminist campus activism around sexual harassment. Prior to entering Northeastern, she completed a BA in Sociology and English from Vanderbilt University, summa cum laude.

Areas of Research/Interest: Gender; work and organizations; social networks; science, knowledge & technology

Miguel Montalva


Miguel Montalva was born in Mexico City and moved to the U.S. in 1992. In 2007, he received a dual BA in music and sociology and in 2011 a Master of Arts in sociology from California State University, Los Angeles. Currently, he is a community organizer working on intersection organizing. Miguel’s research focuses are race and ethnic relations, moving beyond the black/white binary, urban sociology, and qualitative methodologies.

Areas of Research/Interest: Class, race, and ethnicity, sociology of immigration, urban sociology

Brett Nava-Coulter

ext: navacoulter.b@husky.neu.edu

Brett Nava-Coulter graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a BA in sociology and received his MA in sociology from Northeastern in 2009. His current work focuses on how LGBT activist organizations define their goals and implement their strategies. Previously he worked as a researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research on several studies pertaining to youth health, and is currently working on a project based out of Children’s Hospital examining the psychotherapuetic needs of families with transgender children.

Areas of Research/Interest: Gender, sexuality, political sociology, social movements

Behice Pehlivan

900 Renaissance Park


Mollie Pepper


Mollie Pepper entered Northeastern University’s Sociology PhD program in the fall of 2013. She earned her MA in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and BA from Sarah Lawrence College. Practical work experience has been primarily in the areas of poverty alleviation, humanitarian action, and women’s empowerment in Bolivia and Thailand. Research conducted for the International Rescue Committee in Thailand formed the basis of her master’s thesis, which focused on gender violence and livelihoods experiences of Burmese refugees in Thailand.

Areas of Research/Interest: Gender and sexuality, conflict and violence, globalization, political economy, digital culture

Camille Petersen


Alex Press


Alex Press entered the sociology doctoral program at Northeastern in the Fall of 2014. Her research interests include urban sociology, globalization studies, political economy, political sociology, and social movements. In particular, she is interested in intellectual property regimes and the privatization of seeds, along with the consequences of this process for communities. She recently finished an article on the role of the newspaper in mega-event bids, taking the Boston Globe's coverage of Boston's recent Summer Olympics bid as a case study. She is conducting ongoing dissertation research on the high tech industry's relationship to local governance structures and extra-local economic forces in Pittsburgh, PA. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Alex received her MA in Sociology from Northeastern in May 2016 and before that, graduated from Boston University summa cum laude with a B.A. in International Relations.

Areas of Research/Interest: Urban sociology, globalization studies, social movements, political economy, qualitative methods

Mia Renauld


Mia Renauld received her Bachelor’s degrees in Anthropology and Political Ecology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She plans on continuing her environmental justice and political ecology work at Northeastern while working with the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute and the Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative. Renauld's research investigates issues of environmental justice, community development, environmental risk perception, and oil in San Francisco's East Bay in addition to exploring California's environmental justice and cumulative impact policies and instruments.

Areas of Research/Interest: Political ecology, environmental sociology, urban sociology, environmental justice, globalization, race, ethnicity, and poverty

Lauren Richter


Lauren Richter is a Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology, focusing on knowledge production, environmental health, and inequality. Her dissertation, "Unseen Science: The Social Re-Discovery of Per- and Polyfluorinated Compounds", investigates the politics of scientific knowledge production by tracking efforts to promote and restrict a class of widely used hazardous chemicals, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). Funded by a 2017 National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement grant, this project is distinct in examining the intentional production of ignorance by elite actors positioned to truncate the accumulation of information necessary to produce analyzable data. Lauren’s second area of research draws on critical race theory to examine the failures of institutional recourse in contaminated communities of color. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D. she worked at the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment in California, and completed an M.A. in Sociology from Washington State University. She serves on the board of directors at Alternatives for Community and Environment, a Roxbury-based environmental justice organization. In 2015 she received the graduate department’s Outstanding Public and Applied Research Award. Lauren was selected for the 2017-2018 Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation Environmental Fellowship.

Areas of Research/Interest: Environmental sociology, environmental justice, social inequality, qualitative methods

Edgar Benitez Salcedo


Edgar Benitez Salcedo is an assistant professor at the Social Sciences Department at Icesi University in Cali, Colombia. He received his BA in economics (magna cum laude) in 2004 from Icesi University. He worked at Central Bank of Colombia as a junior researcher in a project focused on economic history of agriculture in Colombia. Since 2005 he has taught undergraduate courses in ethics, development economics, microeconomics, and social philosophy at Icesi University. As a researcher affiliated at CIES-Interdisciplinary Research Center of Social Studies, Edgar has conducted research projects related to social intervention, cognitive psychology applied to economic behavior, and corporate social responsibility. As a consultant Edgar designed and implemented evaluation programs of social responsibility in companies such as MAC S.A., Sociedad Portuaria de Buenaventura S.A., Semillas del Valle S.A. as well as in some non-profit organizations. In 2012 he got the Colciencias-Fullbright PhD scholarship, and now he lives in Boston with his wife.

Areas of Research/Interest: Development, intervention, economic sociology, poverty, Latin America

Jeff Sternberg


Jeffrey L. Sternberg joined the PhD program in Sociology at Northeastern University in the Fall of 2015. He received his Bachelors degree in Philosophy, with concentrations in Political Theory and Media Studies, from Michigan State University. His senior thesis focused on trying to reclaim the political in Marx and pursue forms of constructive political action that seek to create alternative social structures in modern society that counter the oppressive and dominant institutions of globalized capital. After graduation, Jeff spent 10 months volunteering with AmeriCorps NCCC, working on a team of 10-12 people travelling the country completing community service projects. After that he worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Austin, TX with Texas Impact where he partnered with community groups and places of worship to expand enrollment in state social services. While there, he also helped out during the 2015 Legislative session, working as a policy intern writing policy one-pagers, briefing constituent groups on Texas politics, and performing legislative visits at the Capitol. Jeff took these experiences with him to Northeastern, where he is interested in the building of collective spaces, specifically in urban space. He spent the summer of 2016 conducting ethnographic research on a co-living space in Los Angeles, where he was looking specifically at the ways that macro-processes such as post-industrialism and post-modern urbanization are coming together in particular built-environment arrangements that both make these processes possible while they are at the same time responding to and shaping the way these processes play out on the micro- and macro- levels. He is planning on continuing this research, conducting a comparative multi-site study on co-living spaces around the globe. Areas of Research/Interests: Political Economy, Post-Industrialism, Urban Sociology, , Co-Living/Co- Working, Geographic Mobility and its relation to Social and Economic Mobility, Social Theory, Public Policy, Ethnography, Quantitative Methods

Liana Tuller


Liana Tuller is a third-year graduate student in sociology. She studies urban youth and education, gang violence, and the intersection between post-conflict reconciliation, social cohesion, and community healing in both international and local contexts. With eleven years as a high school teacher and administrator in Boston, as well as experience working with and conducting research for the Boston Police Department, Suffolk County House of Corrections, and the National Planning Department of Colombia, she aims to integrate rigorous sociological research with public policy applications. While at Northeastern, Liana has taught Social Theory to undergraduates and has served as a research assistant at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy and for Professor Ineke Haen Marshall on the International Self-Report Delinquency Study. Liana earned her BA in social studies at Harvard College in 1999 and a Master of Public Policy degree from the Kennedy School of Government in 2006.

Areas of Research/Interest: Urban education, urban social movements, conflict and violence, post-conflict reconciliation, prisoner reentry, social networks

Elisabeth Wilder


Elisabeth Wilder received her Bachelor’s degree in political science from the Pennsylvania State University and her Master’s degree in sociology from Portland State University. Her thesis project, entitled “‘Game Over’ for the Climate: The Keystone XL Pipeline on TV News,” seeks to determine what kind of information leading media sources provide about the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, the context within which the information is presented, how the pipeline proposal is framed, and what the relationship between these frames and the political economy of the mass media might be. For her dissertation, she plans to investigate the social impacts of transnational pipelines on vulnerable communities using an environmental justice framework.

Areas of Research/Interest: Environmental sociology, political economy, globalization, sustainability, inequality

Yingchan Zhang


Yingchan Zhang entered the Northeastern graduate program in the fall of 2009. She received her Bachelor’s degree in economics from Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (China) in 2007, and her MA in regional economic and social development from the University of Massachusetts Lowell in 2009. For her master’s thesis, she did a case study on the experiences of immigrant nurses in Lowell, Massachusetts. From 2007 to 2009, she served as a research assistant for the project An Ethnographic Study of Lowell, MA: Immigration, Globalization and Enterprise in the ‘All-American City’. As a graduate student in sociology at Northeastern University, Yingchan’s research interests are focused on globalization, immigration, race and ethnicity, gender, urban sociology, and economic sociology. In the fall of 2009, she is a Teaching Assistant for the course Peoples and Cultures. She believes that “the best form of saying is doing” (by José Martí) and loves cooking, practicing yoga, taking long walks, and traveling.

Areas of Research/Interest: Social stratification, globalization, urban economic development, transnational immigration

MA Students