Current Students

Barbara Alvarez

Barbara is a 2nd year PhD student in the Information School with a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. Barbara’s research focuses on abortion, information access, Puerto Rico, and community activism.

Miriam Barcus

Miriam is a PhD candidate in sociology at UW-Madison. Her research interests include gender, work, and the family as well as policy related to these areas, with a particular focus on parental leave. She is especially interested in how workplace factors and policy influence the way couples divide paid and unpaid work and how this division of labor becomes gendered or degendered. In 2016, Miriam was part of a small research team that was awarded a U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau grant to study family and medical leave use and need among City of Madison employees. The study included a survey of all 2,800 City employees, longitudinal administrative data, and interviews with supervisors and key personnel. The results of the study are being used to inform the development of a potential paid family and medical leave policy for City employees. Additionally, Miriam is drawing on this rich data to explore the workplace, relational, and attitudinal factors that encourage and discourage men’s caregiving leave use.

Ruby Bafu

Ruby Bafu is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology. Ruby is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, is part of an interdisciplinary cohort of scholars through the Race, Ethnicity, and Inequality in Education Collaborative Training Grant Fellowship, and is a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. She is broadly interested in race, gender, and education inequality. Her current work examines how alternative schooling practices exacerbate or disrupt existing school inequalities and seeks to understand the norms, discipline, experiences of students of color, and the interactions between students and teachers within alternative school spaces. Ruby’s previous work focused on how Black girls’ experiences with school punishment are framed in the media, specifically news articles, and the impact these framings have on broader discourses.

Madeline Brighouse Glueck

Maddy is a 2nd Year PhD student in the Sociology Department. Her main interests are Education, Stratification, and Gender. Outside of school she enjoys running and baking.


Lindsay Cannon

Lindsay M. Cannon, MPH, MSW, is a fourth year PhD student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She is also affiliated with the Center for Demography and Ecology. Lindsay’s work answers questions related to reproductive health, fertility, gender-based violence, and the life course. Lindsay’s dissertation focuses on the reproductive justice and demographic implications of managing fertility in the context of chronic health conditions. Her Master’s thesis described the effects of constrained sexual agency during first sex on on-time high school graduation and educational attainment. Lindsay applies trauma-informed, survivor-centered, and reproductive justice frameworks in her research. Lindsay holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Michigan in Health Behavior and Health Education and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan in Mental Health Interpersonal Practice. She completed undergraduate degrees in Neuroscience and Psychology with Honors and Research Distinction from The Ohio State University, where she also minored in Criminology. Lindsay’s work has been published in PNAS, PLOS One, Violence and Victims, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Substance Use & Misuse, and Journal of American College Health. | homepage

Alexis Dennis

Alexis is a graduate student in Sociology. Her research interests include autoethnography, microsociology, gender, race and ethnicity, and urban and community sociology. Her research has focused on Black women and their lived experiences particularly in both their personal and professional lives, their relationships to mainstream feminism, and their conceptualizations of community. She is especially interested in the upward mobility of poor racial groups and their experiences as they break into the middle-class. She explores aspects of alienation and the families/communities they are compelled to create within and outside of professional and familial communities. Her current work examines the experiences of working class women of color who work and/or are students in the academy and how they struggle to make meaning of race and class membership in predominantly white, privileged spaces.

Mar Espadafor

Mar Espadafor is a Ph.D. candidate at the European University Institute (Florence, Italy). She has been awarded a visiting grant to spend a semester at the UW-Madison. Originally from Spain, she completed a Master in Research in Social Sciences at the Juan-March Institute (Madrid, Spain). During these studies, she worked part-time as RA at the “GEMM” project and collaborated within the Discrimination-Lab at the Carlos-III University (Madrid, Spain). She is interested in broad topics such as social stratification, with a focus on educational and gender inequalities. She uses quantitative methods and (aims for) causal inference designs. Her thesis investigates how institutional barriers, events, and individual characteristics unevenly affect children’s educational outcomes across family socioeconomic status (SES). From birth, throughout school, her thesis provides new empirical evidence both on selection processes and on compensation that ultimately leads to the observed educational inequalities across family origins. For example, using the Millenium Cohort Study from United Kingdom, she examines whether and when family socioeconomic status (SES) moderates gender differences on several educational outcomes. She finds that high SES families can moderate the higher incidence of boys externalizing behaviors at age 14—when gender identities become salient at school. All in all, her thesis shows how across several outcomes and measurements of family SES, naive models consistently underestimate the intergenerational transmission of inequalities.

Khrysta A. Evans

Khrysta A. Evans is a PhD student in Educational Policy Studies in the Social Sciences concentration at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Originally from the Bronx, NY, she earned her BA in sociology from the University of Maryland, and her MA in educational studies from the University of Michigan. Before coming back to the academy for her PhD, Khrysta spent several years working in student support roles in schools and non-profit organizations. As a doctoral student, Khrysta is excited to learn about Black girls’ knowledge production and the various strategies they employ to navigate their educational spaces.

Frankie (S. Frank)

Originally from Denver, Colorado, Frankie (S. Frank) is currently a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Wisconsin – Madison in the Department of Sociology. Research interests include: gender, sexuality, menstruation, relationships, intimacy, sex roles, bodies & embodiment, body modification, disabilities, intersectionality, qualitative methods. Recently, Frankie was published in Sexuality and Culture. Frankie spends her free time kayaking, crafting and spending time her cats.


Kristina Fullerton Rico

I’m a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My research interests include ethnography, gender, race and ethnicity, migration and transnationalism. My work is inspired by my own experiences as a Mexican immigrant. Currently, I’m working on a project at the intersection of migration and communication to examine how technologies impact relationships in general and how these technologies can, and cannot, circumvent distance to maintain emotional closeness in the absence of physical contact –– an increasingly common experience for migrants in a globalized world. Before coming to grad school, I worked in the feminist non-profit sector.

Madison Garcia

Madison is a second-year Sociology Ph.D. student at UW-Madison. In 2018, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology – Organizational Studies and a minor in Spanish from UC Davis. After graduating, she spent a year working as an academic advisor for aspiring first-generation college students in Watts, CA. Her qualitative research centers the experiences of minoritized undergraduate students to reveal how race, gender, and class shape their experiences while navigating college. Through this work, she aims to shed light on how gendered, racialized, and classed processes within institutions of higher education contribute to inequalities in educational outcomes.

Shreenita Ghosh

Shreenita Ghosh (SJMC) is a third-year doctoral student in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UW-Madison. Her primary field of research interest is in Social Movements, digital media, and social networks.


Annaliese Grant

A PhD candidate in Sociology, Annaliese uses feminist theoretical and methodological approaches to study family and child inequality in the U.S. She uses multiple methods. In her qualitative work, she focuses on the experiences of white and financially struggling mothers and daughters. In her quantitative work, she uses nationally-representative surveys, with attention to how race, gender, and class frame her population-level findings. Her dissertation uses large-scale survey analysis, interviews, observations, time diaries, and discourse analysis to explore the classed implications of family screen time and media use. | homepage

Nona Maria Gronert

Nona is a doctoral candidate in Sociology and is affiliated with UW-Madison’s Sexual Violence Research Initiative. She examines questions of how law, institutional power, and activism shape social inequality by focusing on sexual violence and sexual consent in higher education. Her dissertation uses a historical case study of one university to explore how strategies to address sexual violence are institutionalized, and how Title IX implementation has become part of student expectations, university structures, and administrators’ careers. Nona’s other current project investigates study abroad coordinators’ and their students’ perceptions of gendered risk in Germany. Her research has been supported by a NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship and, at UW-Madison, the Center for Research on Gender and Women’s Hyde Dissertation Award, the Center for German and European Studies, the Institute for Regional and International Studies, and the Law School’s Institute for Legal Studies. Outside of her research, Nona serves as a co-director of Breakthrough Dance Company. | homepage

Garrett Grainger

Garrett L. Grainger is a PhD student in the department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His dissertation research incorporates theoretical models/findings associated with intimate relationships, life course, emotions, gender, and social stratification. More specifically, he contributes to life course scholarship by exploring the impact of institutional inclusion on relationship stability/longevity amongst gay and lesbian couples transitioning into retirement. To this end, Garrett utilizes a multi-method design that incorporates survey data and in-depth interviews to illuminate the processes associated with this status transformation. Garrett earned his M.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2013) and B.S. from the University of Central Florida (2010).


Youbin Kang

Youbin Kang is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her scholarly work speaks to debates in labor sociology, urban sociology, global sociology, and race, class, gender. Her dissertation research is a comparative project of transit workers in South Korea and the United States, examining the racialization and gendering of infrastructural labor. Her work has been supported by the Social Science Research Council and published in the International Labour Review, International Labor Rights Case Law Journal, and book chapters. Prior to pursuing a PhD, she worked at the International Labour Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. She has a MPhil from the University of Cambridge, a B.A. from Brown University, and a B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Kurt W. Kuehne

Kurt W. Kuehne is a UW-Madison Sociology PhD candidate focusing on international labor migration, urban sociology, and social marginalization. His dissertation project examines the conditions of South Asian manual workers and Southeast Asian domestic workers in Singapore, describing a long history of ‘social distancing’ between ordinary citizens and the low-wage, non-citizen workers who comprise over a quarter of Singapore’s resident workforce. Kurt uses comparative methods to analyze how migrant populations are forced into gendered employment configurations—including distinct forms of social boundary-making and control, debt financing models, employment legislation, and labor dispute systems. Kurt has served as a volunteer caseworker at a shelter for runaway domestic workers, assisting victims of abuse, wage disputes, and labor violations. He holds an A.B. in Politics from Princeton University and an M.A. in Southeast Asian Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research has been supported by UW graduate research fellowships, the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of State, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, American Institute of Bangladesh Studies, the 4W Initiative and Women’s Philanthropy Council, and various research centers. | homepage

Isaac Sohn Leslie

Isaac (Ike) Sohn Leslie’s primary research area is the sociology of global environmental and economic change, with a focus on developing food systems for a just climate transition. Their research in the U.S. and Argentina centers queer, feminist, and anti-racist perspectives on designing food supply chains that prioritize healthy ecological and social relations. Ike’s work is published in Society & Natural Resources, Rural Sociology, Agriculture and Human Values, Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, and the Handbook of the Sociology of Racial and Ethnic Relations. They also recently co-authored the sixth edition of An Invitation to Environmental Sociology. Ike earned an M.A. in Sociology and M.S. in Natural Resources at the University of New Hampshire and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology/ Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. They are also a beginning farmer and active in queer farmer organizing. | homepage

Anita Li

I am a PhD student in Sociology and an affiliate of the Center on Demography and Ecology. My research focus on social stratification, gender, and family inequality. A family demographer, I study the effects and dynamics of multigenerational relationships and family complexity. I use demographic methods to examine how aggregate economic and gender inequality gets reproduced via families.

Mikki Ruo Fan Liu

I am a PhD candidate in the Sociology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My research interests focus on higher education, student choices, and social mobility. I examine how students secure their advantages in a level playing field when admission rules are transparent and rigid. In particular, I ask how students use their exam scores to predict their futures and develop score-bounded dreams, and how these processes are driven by fears of downward mobility and by desires of upward mobility. | homepage


Morgan C. Matthews

Morgan is a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on gender and racial inequalities in political representation and resistance in the United States. Her dissertation interrogates gender polarization’s development in state politics since the 1970s using quantitative and qualitative methods. She is also part of an NSF-funded research project developing a novel dataset of Black protest events from the 1990s-2010s using newswire and Black newspaper sources. Her scholarship has appeared in Sociological Inquiry, Contexts, Sociology Compass, Socius, and The Society Pages’ blogs and has been supported by a Hyde Dissertation Research Award, The Tobin Project, and the UW-Madison ILS Law & Society Fellows Program. Prior to graduate school, Morgan was a Presidential Fellow at Dartmouth College’s Center for the Advancement of Learning. She holds an M.S. in sociology from UW-Madison and an A.B. in sociology from Dartmouth College. | homepage

Chiara Packard

Chiara is a Sociology PhD student with research interests in criminal justice, politics of punishment, gender, and race. Her Master’s focuses on how feminist activists navigate the television news discourse that emerged following a highly publicized gang rape in New Delhi in December 2012. In particular, she analyzes the process through which activists move the discourse beyond the criminal justice frame, bringing in feminist understandings of violence against women. Moving forward, Chiara is doing preliminary research on the development of the punitive state in the US, looking in particular at how and why states have followed diverging carceral trajectories. She uses a variety of methods in her work, such as discourse analysis, content analysis, and comparative-historical methods. She is always happy to discuss her research or similar topics with anyone that might have overlapping interests.

Lauren Parnell Marino

Lauren is a PhD candidate in the Development Studies Program. Her research interests include gender, empowerment discourse, women’s labor force participation, and international development in East Africa. She is spending the first half of this academic year in Uganda on a US Student Fulbright and has earned numerous Academic Year and Summer FLAS Fellowships to support her Luganda language training. Lauren has years of experience working in the international development sector. She earned a Bachelor’s degree with honors from Northwestern University in Social Policy, and a Master’s degree in Gender, Globalization, and Rights from the National University of Ireland, Galway as a George J. Mitchell Scholar. In her spare time, she’s a birder, baker, and photographer. | homepage

Kaden Paulson-Smith

Kaden is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Wisconsin—Madison in the Department of Political Science with a Minor in African Studies and in Gender & Women’s Studies. They specialize in comparative politics and political theory with a substantive focus on African politics, gender and sexuality, British Empire, and critical criminology and a regional focus on East Africa. Their research exhumes the relationship between empire, policing, and identity with the aim of advancing methods for the continued work of decolonization. Kaden’s dissertation critically analyzes British archives and discourse to trace how the colonial police was developed and contested during colonization in former Tanganyika and after the fall of the British Empire. Kaden previously worked for Teaching, Research, & International Policy and AidData at the College of William & Mary’s Global Research Institute. They received a Bachelor of Arts in Government and a Five College Certificate of African Studies from Smith College. | homepage

Cyra K. Polizzi

Cyra K. Polizzi is a theater practitioner and a graduate student with the Department of Gender & Women’s Studies at UW-Madison. Cyra’s transdisciplinary research focuses on theater practice using lenses of accessibility, sustainability, and feminism. In addition to GWS, Cyra is also affiliated with the Center for Culture, History, and Environment, and the Division of the Arts. Cyra’s research is directly tied to their work with Rotate Theatre to feature underrepresented perspectives in performing arts. | homepage

Ariane Ophir

I am a family sociologist using quantitative methods to understand how population dynamics (re)produce or undermine gender inequality. My current research centers on unpaid work, such as housework and caregiving, and I approach these questions from gender, life course, and comparative perspectives. On the job market.

Emma Romell

Emma is a PhD student in the Sociology Department. She holds an M.S. in Sociology and a B.A. with Distinction, both from UW-Madison. Her research is generally in two areas: 1) relationships among people in families, such as the gendered dynamics of household labor, and 2) relationships between families and other social institutions, such as the implications of family structure and complexity for students’ experiences in schools. Outside of school, she loves to cook, watch low-stakes reality TV, and, when time allows, camp and hike in the Southwest. | homepage


Danielle Schmidt

Danielle is a second-year in the Sociology/Community & Environment Sociology PhD program at UW-Madison. She received her undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the University of Chicago. Her primary research interests are in qualitative methods and rural sociology.

mapenzi(Cynthia) Simekha


Avery Warner

Avery Warner is a graduate student in the Department of Sociology. Her research interests largely revolve around studying social inequality and the ways in which the criminal justice system and legal institutions structure race and class inequalities. Her current work takes a policy-oriented approach to examining noncitizen punishment to understand the intersections of race, ethnicity, citizenship, and gender.

Di Wang

Di Wang is a feminist researcher and advocate from China. She is a PhD candidate of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin−Madison, with a focus on LGBTQ rights, legal mobilization and social policy. Her research has been informed by her ten-year experience as a women’s and LGBTQ rights advocate. Using family rights as a focal point, her dissertation investigates the globalization of LGBTQ rights, with an empirical focus on two powerful states – China and the United States. Her work is committed to research-based advocacy and the advancement of analytical tools for social change. She has worked on projects that evaluate the impact of law on women’s and LGBTQ rights in China and in the U.S. with organizations like the Center for LGBTQ Studies (CLAGS), PILnet: the Global Network for Public Interest Law, Gender Equality Advocacy and Action Network (GEAAN) and the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Kate Westaby

Kate Westaby is a doctoral student in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, is a project assistant for the Wisconsin Center for Education Research Clinical Program, and is a teaching assistant. Kate’s research focuses on understanding and advocating for access to advanced degrees for young and adolescent mothers. As a young mother herself, Kate understands some of the barriers and systems that can support or impede persistence in higher education, and is committed to change in this area. Prior to the doctoral program, Katelyn practiced evaluation in the areas of philanthropy and translational research and continues her own consulting business for evaluation. Kate’s research interests include: teen moms, higher education, young mothers, reproductive justice, equity, social justice, and social reproduction and classism. | homepage

Thomas Worth

Thomas Worth is a PhD Candidate in the political science department studying gender and international security. His dissertation examines the gender gap in public opinion on the use of military force in the United States. He demonstrates how measuring gender on a spectrum of femininity to masculinity provides a more nuanced understanding of this gender gap. His other research uses survey experiments to explore how gender presentation (among same sex candidate pairs) affects Presidential candidate selection in the US. He is also a Future Faculty Partner with the UW Madison Teaching Academy.

Prior to coming to Madison, Thomas worked in community engagement at Portland Community College (PCC) and as a Hatfield Research Fellow at Portland State University (PSU). He received his Associate of Arts from PCC (2011) and Bachelor of Science in Political Science from PSU (2013), as well as a Master of Arts in International Relations from the University of Chicago (2014).


Kelsey Q. Wright

My research examines stratified reproduction as an object of inquiry to investigate relationships between macro-level institutions and micro-level outcomes. My work has been published in Social Science and Medicine, The Journal of Sex Research, Studies in Family Planning, Contraception, and the African Journal of Reproductive Health.

My research uses stratified reproduction as an entry point to explore young adults’ navigation of social institutions and societal uncertainty due to quarantine. I ask these young adults (from a midwestern U.S. county), how they think about and practice family decision-making in real and imagined futures under these constrained contexts. I also combine demographic methods, mixed methods, and gendered, anti-racist, and social worlds lenses to investigate how expertise and boundaries are established around young peoples’ reproductive bodies as socially stratified objects rather than agential subjects. I draw on formal (mathematical) demography to investigate how the stratification of infertility in the U.S. context has serious implications for human rights and patient-centered approaches to population health. My work is supported by the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies. | homepage

Jaclyn Wypler

Jaclyn is a doctoral student in the departments of Sociology and Community & Environmental Sociology at UW-Madison. She brings her background working on small vegetable farms to her ethnographic research on lesbian and queer sustainable farmers is the rural Midwest. In an era of intense political polarization, she investigates the social and economic relationships between the farmers and their neighbors, their customers, and their families. What might these relationships say about queer experiences, rural life, and the ways in which people negotiate differences? Her research speaks to the intersections of gender, sexualities, rurality, agrofood systems, and social psychological subfields. | homepage

Huimeng (Iris) Zhao

赵卉萌, Huimeng (Iris) Zhao received her BAs in Sociology and Gender Studies at Indiana University, later a MA in Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. She is currently a first-year Sociology PhD student at UW-Madison. Her research interests include demography, fertility, family, gender and sexuality, and interdisciplinary research. Her MA thesis focuses on fertility preferences and flexibilities of young people in Mainland China. She has been working as a RA in different disciplines including social informatics, social psychology, and demography. Aside from research activities, she also work as a tutor in undergraduate-level sociology coursework and academic writing. Her collaborative work on US faculty teaching evaluation appears in PLoS ONE.


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