Our Graduate Students

PhD Students

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

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

Jesse DiValli


Jesse DiValli is a second-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

Isabel Geisler


Isabel Geisler joined Northeastern's Sociology Department in the fall of 2017. She holds a B.A in Global Studies, minor in Spanish, and certificate in Geographic Information Systems from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). She has conducted field research on the impact of gender equity policies in Honduran fair-trade coffee cooperatives (2016) as well as an analysis of carceral feminist narratives in the Mexican movement against feminicidio (2018). Outside of the Sociology program, she works with Dr. Farrell and Dr. Cuevas in the Institute of Race and Justice (IRJ) in researching Latino Biased Victimization.

Areas of Research/Interest: Gender, Globalization, and Social Movements

Rebekah Getman


Rebekah Getman entered the program in 2016 after working in global public health for several years. She is interested in the ways the concept of health is socially constructed and policed, both within the public sphere via social movements and in medical institutions. She uses qualitative and quantitative methods (including network and text analysis) to examine these questions and explore what feminist health models might look like in public discourse and in medicine across specialties. Previously, Rebekah earned an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an B.A. from Harvard College in History and Government.

Areas of Research/Interest: Gender, Health and Social Movements

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

Behice Pehlivan


Behice Pehlivan is a PhD candidate at the Department of Sociology. Her research focuses on the generational effects on housing consumption patterns. Her dissertation is an ethnographic investigation of the housing preferences of middle-class young professionals in Istanbul. Behice explores changing generational home-buying behaviors and the effects of financialization of housing and urban renewal on residential choices of younger cohorts. Her dissertation builds upon her previous research project, which has examined politics of place-making in the context of gentrification in Istanbul. She received her B.A. in Industrial Engineering and M.A. in Visual Arts and Visual Communication Design from Sabancı University. She received her second M.A. in Sociology and Social Anthropology from Central European University.

Areas of Research/Interest: urban sociology, political economy, homeownership, intergenerational inequalities, gentrification, mixed methods

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


Grace Poudrier


Grace Poudrier is a member of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI) at Northeastern. She is interested in how embodied illness experience and citizen science are deployed to challenge orthodox science and knowledge-making practices, as well as to evince corporate accountability for chemical and environmental harms. Her work draws from environmental sociology, medical sociology, and science and technology studies (STS). Prior to Northeastern, Grace worked as a clinical research coordinator at NYU Langone Medical Center, where she coordinated mixed-methods research on surgical decision-making and patient-reported satisfaction with gender affirming surgery in the Hansjorg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery. She received her B.A from Sarah Lawrence College in 2011, where she studied the sociology of health, illness, and environmental health politics.

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

Lourdes Vera


Lourdes received her B.A. in Urban Studies from Barnard College at Columbia University and M.A. in Teaching Earth and General Science from CUNY Brooklyn College. She is especially interested in using citizen science to address environmental health and justice concerns with communities affected by industrial development. Currently, she is a research assistant to Prof. Sara Wylie working to develop and validate a photopaper tool to measure and map low, chronic amounts of the toxic gas hydrogen sulfide that presents health risks to communities adjacent to oil and gas facilities. Lourdes won the Sociology Department’s 2018 Outstanding Contributions to Public Sociology award for her work with EDGI, including webmaster, Steering Committee member, and member of Environmental Data Justice working group; and for her community-based participatory research work developing a low cost tool for community monitoring of hydrogen sulfide that has helped build a grassroots research organization in Karnes County Texas.

Areas of Research/Interest: Environmental Health and Justice; Social Movements; Science, Technology, and Society; Data Analytics; Critical Race Theory

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

Shunan You


Shunan joined the Sociology PhD program in Fall 2018. She is interested in highly mobile professions and how gender and social networks shape the mobility of these global nomadic workers. She aims to unpack how this group of professions changes organizational management, complicating family life, dissolving traditional community and cultivating individualism. Prior to joining Northeastern, she got her MA in sociology of education from University College London, Institute of Education, where she researched experiences of being Chinese women academics, and a BA in English literature from Beijing Language and Culture University.

Areas of Research/Interest: Gender, work and organization, globalization and mobility, social network analysis and mixed methods.

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