Graduate Students

Ellen Bruno |

Ellen is a graduate student in the Department of Sociology. She is broadly interested in reference groups and peer culture in collegiate spaces. Currently, she conducts ethnographic research on campus drinking culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a specific focus on the conduct process for alcohol-related offenses. Her research—which mostly takes place in campus residence halls and on ride alongs with the police department—explores the mechanisms that students employ to justify both their participation in party culture and the consequences that sometimes accompany it.

Dagoberto Cortez

Dagoberto Cortez is a graduate student in the department of Socziology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and research fellow supported by a grant from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). His interests include qualitative methods; medical sociology; urban sociology; social psychology; and collective behavior. His Master’s thesis explored how a community used deliberative democratic tactics to build a coalition and contest the sale of public land to private land developers. Dagoberto is currently conducting an ethnographic project on mixed-martial arts with Michael Halpin. His doctoral project focuses on doctor-patient interactions in cancer clinics. Dagoberto examines how patients that have been diagnosed with incurable lung cancer, their doctors, and their caregivers talk about end-of-life/quality-of-life issues, the barriers to having these types of conversations, and how they make treatment decisions. He plans to use ethnographic observations of clinic visits, to draw on conversation analysis to interrogate audio recordings of these visits, and to utilize in-depth semi-structured interviews to further explore interactions between terminal lung cancer patients and their doctors and examine medical decision-making. Dagoberto received his B.A. in sociology from the University of California-Davis.

Sadie Dempsey |

Sadie is a graduate student in the Sociology department at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests include social movements, political sociology, and sociological theory. Her current research project uses participant observation and interviews to examine how activists in social movement organizations organize in Wisconsin across geographic space.

dennis, alexisAlexis

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 that black women are compelled to create within and outside of professional and familial spaces. Her current work examines the experiences of working class women of color who work and/or are students in the academy and how they negotiate race and class membership in predominantly white, privileged spaces.

Ela, NateNate Ela | nela@wisc.eduwebsite | twitter

Nate is a PhD candidate studying how people try to renegotiate rules that govern urban land and food production. His dissertation research focuses on how Chicagoans have tried to secure access to land for gardens and farms, from the 1890s to the present. To develop comparisons over time, Nate has drawn on archival materials, worked with food policy organizations, and interviewed gardeners, farmers, policymakers, and activists.

Kristina Marie Fullerton Rico |

Kristina is a graduate student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests include ethnography, gender, race and ethnicity, migration and transnationalism. Her work at the intersection of migration and communication examines 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.

Gordon, DaanikaDaanika

Daanika is a graduate student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her interest areas include race and ethnicity, urban sociology, law, and social control. Her research aims to examine the processes by which criminal justice agencies—the police, the courts, and prisons—shape everyday life in the city.

Garrett L.

Garrett 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).


Chloe is a graduate student in the Department of Sociology. Her research interests include the criminal justice system, urban sociology, race and ethnicity, micro-sociology, and ethnography. Her past projects have focused on prison reentry, as well as homeless individuals’ use of a public library. She is currently conducting ethnographic research on two different local criminal justice reform movements.

Jones, AmyAmy E. Jones |

Amy is a graduate student in the Sociology department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she specializes in using ethnography and conversation analysis to study race and class in higher education. Originally from West Virginia, she is a 2009 graduate of Yale University where she worked with professors Elijah Anderson and Julia Adams on a thesis about the experience of low income and first generation college students in elite universities. Her current work involves an ethnographic study of a new Target of Opportunity program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. More specifically, her work examines how America’s evolving relationship to race is playing out exhibited in alternative affirmative action programs and how those programs are affecting academic and social experience for students of color. The research is aiming to show how the “diversity benefits all” narrative, prevalent in American higher education, disproportionately loads onto students of color the responsibility for making these benefits happen. She also participates in a choir around the Madison area and consults with communities of faith on issues of racial reconciliation and community building.

20170518_190425Martina Kunovic |

Martina is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and visiting researcher at the Cuban Institute for Cultural Research “Juan Marinello”, in Havana, Cuba. Her dissertation research focuses on housing in contemporary Havana, using it as a lens to examine broader social transformations underway in this changing economy. Martina holds degrees in sociology from McGill University (M.A.) and The University of Western Ontario (B.A.)

Taylor Laemmli |

Taylor  is a graduate student in Sociology at UW-Madison. She focuses on qualitative research in class, culture, and emotions in the contexts of interactive service work and higher education. One of Taylor’s current projects is an ethnographic examination of work in the restaurant industry, in which she focuses on, among other things, the precarious nature of the work and the relationship between the body and the emotions of the job. In a project with Eric Grodsky (PI), Taylor uses in-depth interviews to understand first-generation college students’ higher education experiences and trajectories. She received her B.A. in Sociology and German Studies from Macalester College.

Lily Liang

Lily is a doctoral student in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her areas of interest include China studies, social theory, international development, and sociology of education. Lily completed fieldwork on Chinese higher education prior to graduate school. For her master’s thesis on the “Ant Tribe” college graduates, Lily lived with 36 women in a 3-bedroom rental on the edge of Shanghai’s Central Business District. For her dissertation fieldwork, Lily will return to Shanghai and study the social reproduction strategies of its upper-middle-class households.

Nathan Shelton |

Before coming to Madison, Nathan got a BA from Haverford College with a double major in Sociology and Linguistics, where he studied social theory, syntax theory, and language conservation. Now he is exploring gun culture in America through ethnography.

 Stockstill, CaseyCasey Stockstill | | website

Casey Stockstill is a PhD candidate in Sociology. Casey uses original data to investigate the micro-level foundations of race, class, and gender inequalities. Her dissertation is an ethnography of children’s social experiences in class-segregated preschools. The project details how children react to peers’ and teachers’ socialization attempts, how children understand their material circumstances, and how children organize pretend play. She argues that class-segregated classrooms may produce experiences just as divergent as what children might have experienced at home. Casey has also conducted an experimental study of how people react to racial identity assertions and an interview-based study of how elite women construct family and career timelines.


Adam is a PhD candidate in Sociology. He draws from his training in social interaction and ethnomethodology to pursue research that will produce what John Levi Martin has called, “first person explanations.” To this end, he uses methods from ethnography, conversation analysis, and social network analysis. This has led him to investigate the practical structure of transitions in testing for autism spectrum disorders and the uses of waiting as a resource in socially organized activity systems. His dissertation is a field study of problem-solving processes in informal arrangements of child fostering within extended families

Wypler, JaclynJaclyn Wypler |

Jaclyn is a graduate student in departments of Sociology and Community & Environmental Sociology at UW-Madison. She brings her background working on small vegetable farms to her research on sustainable women farmers in the Upper Midwest. Her fieldwork takes her to crop fields and livestock pastures, as well as farmers’ markets. She is interested in how women sustainable farmers fare in rural communities with predominantly male conventional farmers.