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 third-year PhD student 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, a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, and is affiliated with the Institute for Research on Poverty at UW-Madison. She is broadly interested in race, gender, education inequality, and policing. Ruby’s current work examines how Black girls’ experiences with school punishment are framed in the media, specifically news articles, and the impact these framings have on broader discourses. To do so, she conducts content and discourse analyses of news articles published in or about Dane County, Wisconsin to understand how Black girls’ school experiences are framed and the consequences of these framings to investigate the pathways through which county and state-level education policy decisions are made.

Lindsay Cannon

Lindsay M. Cannon, MPH, MSW, is a 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 focuses on the intersection between sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, and substance use applying trauma-informed, survivor-centered, and reproductive justice frameworks. 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. Lindsay received undergraduate degrees in Neuroscience and Psychology with Honors and Research Distinction from The Ohio State University, where she also minored in Criminology. Lindsay has volunteered as an advocate for sexual violence and intimate partner violence survivors for 8 years and has facilitated support groups for women who have experienced intimate partner violence who are currently incarcerated. | homepage

Yun K. Cho

Yun, a doctoral student in Sociology, comes from a hard science background, having studied Environmental Science, Biology, and Civil and Environmental Engineering. After noticing the distinct lack of women in engineering, she became interested in researching women in male dominated fields, cultural and institutional changes through interactions and relationships, and higher education as a workplace as well as an educational institution. She is completing her master’s thesis in Sociology using cross-national interview data on women scientists and engineers in academia in South Korea and Madison. Her thesis research explores how mentoring relationships support individuals’ strategies and facilitate cultural transformation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

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.

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’s research focuses on Black girls’ knowledge production. She explores Black girls friendships and organizational contexts that celebrate Black girls knowledge production.

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 graduate student in Sociology, Annaliese studies relationships, responsibilities, and media use in low-income families 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.

Nona Maria Gronert

Nona is a doctoral candidate in Sociology. Her research focuses on sexual consent and sexual assault in the context of higher education. Her dissertation studies how the politics of sexual assault and harassment has changed at one university from 1972 through 2017, focusing on activism, legal change, and administrative responses. Nona’s other current project investigates study abroad coordinators’ and their students’ perceptions of gendered risk in Germany. Her research has been supported by UW-Madison’s Center for German and European Studies and Institute for Regional and International Studies as well as the University of Wisconsin 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).

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

Huixian “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 doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on gender, race, and 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 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 Uganda. Lauren has enjoyed learning Luganda as a part of her doctoral training, and has earned multiple FLAS fellowships to support it. 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 second year PhD student in the Sociology Department. She received her Bachelor’s degree with Distinction from UW-Madison in 2018, where she majored in Sociology, earned certificates in Gender & Women’s Studies and Education Policy Studies, and played violin in the UW Symphony Orchestra. Her research interests include families, schools, and gender, race, and class. Outside of school, she loves to cook, watch low-stakes reality TV, and, when time allows, camp and hike in the Southwest.

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

Kelsey Q. Wright

Kelsey is a PhD candidate in the Sociology Department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she is affiliated with the Center for Demography and Ecology (CDE), the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, and the Collaborative for Reproductive Equity (CORE). Her research examines stratified reproduction as an object of inquiry to investigate relationships between macro-level institutions and micro-level outcomes. It uses stratified reproduction as an entry point to explore young adults’ navigation of social institutions and societal uncertainty due to quarantine, in the U.S. and in Sierra Leone, by asking how they think about and practice family decision-making about real and imagined futures under these constrained contexts. She also combines 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. Her work has been published in Studies in Family Planning, Contraception, and the African Journal of Reproductive Health. | 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

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