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Our Graduate Students

PhD Students

Wallis Adams


Wallis Adams is a PhD candidate currently completing her mixed-methods dissertation "Recovery and Reentry: Multiple Stigmas and Professionalization Within Forensic Peer Support." Originally from California, she holds an MPH from California State University, Northridge. Wallis is a collaborative researcher focusing on health equity and inclusion.

Areas of Research/Interest: Health and Illness; Community Inclusion; Health Professions; Intersectional Stigma; Reentry

Alexandra Alden


Alex Alden received her bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In the fall of 2015, she entered Northeastern University as a sociology doctorate student. For her research assistantship, she works for the Institute for Health Equity and Social Justice Research (IHESJR) on literacy interventions for mental health service users and evaluation projects.

Areas of Research/Interest: Mental health services, political-economy, critical race theory, mixed methods

Edgar Benitez Salcedo


Taylor Braswell


Taylor Harris Braswell joined the sociology PhD program in Fall 2017. His primary interest is in using geographic information science tools to study the political economy of urbanization and natural resource extraction. He is particularly focused on the linkages between urbanization and energy infrastructures, as well as how urbanization processes create conflictual land uses on urban peripheries. Before joining Northeastern, Taylor earned an MA in sociology from Saint Louis University, where he researched local demographic trends and land use practices, and a BA in economics from Georgia State University in Atlanta.

Areas of Research/Interest: Areas of interest: Economic Geography, Urbanization, Energy, GIS

Jesse Card


Jesse Card is a first-year PhD student, coming to Northeastern after completing his M.A. of Sociology at Howard University. He is a member of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI), where he pursues his interest in social/environmental interactions, particularly where people or communities are being negatively affected by human-caused environmental conditions. He is particularly interested in conducting social science research that responds to the needs of disadvantaged communities and informs public policy, especially in the urban environments.

Areas of Research/Interest: Environmental Health/Justice, Social Justice, Urban Sociology, Political Economy

Lauren Contorno


Lauren Contorno is a 5th 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, social movements

Elicia Cousins


Elicia Mayuri Cousins joined the sociology PhD program in the fall of 2015, and she is also a member of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI). Her dissertation research focuses on contested narratives about radiation health effects after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011. This research draws largely from extensive volunteer experience and participant observation at nature-focused recuperation retreats for children and mothers still living in contaminated areas, and sheds light on the gendered burdens of daily mitigation of toxic exposures. Through her work with SSEHRI, Elicia also conducts research on voluntary corporate commitments to reduce the use of perfluorinated chemicals (PFASs) in consumer products.

Areas of Research/Interest: Environmental sociology, environmental health, gender, social movements, science and technology studies

Tibrine Da Fonseca


Tibrine da Fonseca joined the PhD program in the Fall of 2016. Prior to entering the program, Tibrine worked as lead paralegal with the Medical-Legal Partnership Boston, where she advocated on behalf of low-income individuals with medically-complex conditions and unmet legal needs, and contributed to several innovative research collaborations examining the social determinants of health. In addition, she served for two-years with the Mennonite Central Committee in Quito, Ecuador, where she managed a welcome center for urban refugees. Her current research traces the development of subnational immigration policies and examines how the politics of place shape the everyday experiences of mixed-status immigrant families. In 2018, Tibrine was awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Areas of Research/Interest: Social Stratification, Migration and Immigrant Incorporation, Urban Sociology, Health Inequality

Sarah Faude


Sarah Faude 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

Madelyn Glasco


Madelyn R. Wisniewski Glasco entered the Sociology PhD program in the fall of 2017. She/They have a Bachelor's degree in History from Seattle University. Her/Their research interests are rooted in an interdisciplinary exploration of the social and interpersonal aspects of sexuality and gender identity formation. Currently, she/they are researching the role of social scripting in cultivating and sustaining LGB/TQ+ allyship in institutions of higher education.

Areas of Research/Interest: Queer Theory, Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, Qualitative Methods, Gender, Identity

Kevin Jun Ha


Kevin Ha entered the Sociology PhD program in Fall 2018 with a Graduate Certificate in Research Methods and a Bachelor's in Sociology from Montclair State University. His main research interests focus on the migration patterns of first and second generation immigrants, especially in cities, as well as their individual negotiations with ethnicity and race as it relates to a larger group narrative. Prior to entering the program, Kevin worked as an Institutional Research Analyst at Hunter College, CUNY in New York City and as a Research Assistant for Pyong Gap Min at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Areas of Research/Interest: Immigration, transnationalism, racial classification, urban sociology

Baran Karsak


Baran Karsak received his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Boğaziçi University in 2015. He started the PhD program at Northeastern University in the same year. Earlier on in the program, he studied the role of emotions, collective memories and local histories in environmental resistance movements. His current research focuses on global trade in food commodities, politics of food, and contemporary food cultures.

Areas of Research/Interest: sociology of food, globalization, emotions, social movements

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 international scholars. Ran currently is conducting a research project on humor and stand-up comedy, focusing on the ways gender intersect with race, class, age, and sexual orientation in comedians performances and how humor is being used for resistance.

Areas of Research/Interest: gender, migration, sociological theory, and semiotics

Rachael Lee


Rachael Lee is a Ph.D. candidate that works primarily in the areas of medical sociology and public health with a particular focus on health inequalities. Her dissertation research explores barriers to and experiences of chronic disease management among socially disadvantaged populations. She is particularly interested in the ways that negative perceptions of chronic ‘lifestyle’ diseases and disease sufferers interact with stigmas surrounding race and poverty.

Sam Maron


Sam's research uses mega-events as a lens to explore the intersections of global cultural institutions and power in global cities. His current work uses the Olympic Games in Los Angeles (past and future) as a case study of how event-legacy discourses shape the future of the city. He also brings his background with the Tibetan freedom movement and as a union organizer to the study of solidarity activism in social movements. Prior to entering the PhD program in 2014, Sam earned an MS in environmental studies from Antioch University New England.

Areas of Research/Interest: Globalization, urban sociology, social movements, mega-events

Miguel Montalva


Miguel A. Montalva Barba worked as a community organizer for several years doing intersectional coalition building with undocumented and queer immigrants and the LGBTQ movement. His research brings together critical race theory, urban sociology, and the sociology of knowledge to questions of whiteness, progressive liberalism, and empire building in the US. 

Areas of Research/Interest: Race and Racism, Urban Sociology, Intersectionality, Sociological Theory, and Latinx Sociology

Lisa Ferruccio Pal


Mollie Pepper


Mollie Pepper has worked in poverty alleviation, humanitarian action, and women’s empowerment in Bolivia and Thailand. She earned her MA in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and BA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her research brings an intersectional lens to examining the role of ethnic minority women’s organizations in Myanmar’s ongoing peace process.

Areas of Research/Interest: Gender, Peace and Conflict, Political Violence, Human Rights

Camille Petersen


Diana Ramirez-Leon


Marhabo Saparova


Milan Skobic


Milan Skobic joined the PhD studies in sociology at Northeastern University in Fall of 2018. He is interested in the relation between shifting and complex labor conditions and the economic and political subjectivities of workers. He is particularly focused on youth who are negotiating their hopes and ambitions with the experienced realities of navigating the labor market. His hope is that through paying closer attention to this process we would be able to better assess the effects of institutional arrangements of work and exchange, and propose solutions which serve toward more sustainable creation and redistribution of wealth.

Areas of Research/Interest: Work(er) subjectivity, Normalization of Inequality, Social Life of Law and Institutions, Nationalism and Sovereignty

Jeff Sternberg


Jeff Sternberg joined the sociology PhD program in Fall 2015. His is primarily interested in charting the shifting geographies of employment opened up by post-industrialization. He focuses on how young people make decisions regarding their future and where to invest their mobility. Jeff’s dissertation research investigates these processes by looking at mobile populations including backpackers, temporary-workers, and digital nomads in the context of urban co-living spaces. He utilizes a mixed-methods approach, using techniques from the computational social sciences coupled with multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in Los Angeles, CA and Dharamsala, India. His work as a research assistant investigates the potential application of computer vision to social science inquiries.

Areas of Research/Interest: global political economy, urban sociology, space and place, qualitative methods, computational social science

Christopher Tirrell


Chris Tirrell joined Northeastern’s sociology PhD program in Fall 2017 after earning a BA in sociology from Rhode Island College. He is primarily interested in the fields of work and religion, focusing his studies on worker identity and subjectivity, worker resistance, and the reproduction of the conditions of labor.

Areas of Research/Interest:Religion, Globalization, Sociological Theory, Qualitative Methods

Elisabeth Wilder


Elisabeth Wilder is a PhD Candidate in Sociology whose research centers on environmental health and justice. Her dissertation explores justice-based transitions to water system sustainability in the context of global climate change. Her past projects have examined the social and environmental impacts of oil and gas development, the possibilities and limitations of civic science in the context of regulatory neglect, and the transformative potential of the environmental justice movement. Elisabeth is a co-founding member of the ASA Section on Environmental Sociology’s Committee on Racial Equity. As a graduate student at Northeastern, she has received awards for “Outstanding Contribution to Public and Applied Sociology” and “Outstanding Departmental Service.”

Areas of Research/Interest: environmental justice, community-based participatory research, political ecology, social movements, race and ethnicity, and globalization

Yingchan Zhang


Yingchan Zhang 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.

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

MA Students

Melanie Smith


Melanie Smith received her BA in International Relations from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. She is currently seeking her MA in Sociology and works for the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute on research grant administration. She is interested in the public and environmental health effects of animal agriculture as it pertains to climate change, water usage and contamination, the health and safety of factory farm workers, antibiotic resistant bacteria, chronic illness, and animal welfare.

Areas of Research/Interest: Environmental Justice, Political Ecology, Sociology of Health, Labor, Animals and Society, and Social Movements