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The Team


Prof. Lissette M. Piedra, Department of Social Work
Dr. Piedra’s research interests explores the social consequences of an increasingly diverse society by examining how the language and culture of immigrants affect their access to and use of social and health services. Specifically, her analyses have focused on three interrelated topics, as they apply to Latino immigrants: (1) mental health service barriers created by linguistic and cultural incongruence, (2) increased need for bilingual and interpretational services in communities with  rapidly growing immigrant populations, and (3) the adaption of interventions to these new service contexts through university and community partnerships. 

Prof. Edna Viruell-Fuentes, Department of Latino/a Studies
Dr. Viruell-Fuentes̓ health disparities research seeks to unravel the complex relationships between immigration and health. Her work builds on the premise that studying immigrant health offers insights into the impact of social contexts on health status, which in turn can contribute to the elimination of health disparities. Based on her field research in immigrant communities, she has proposed several conceptual re-directions to immigrant health research. She is currently testing these ideas in her quantitative work and conducting a project to examine the (health) impacts of migration in immigrant-sending communities.

Graduate Students

Deirdre Lanesskog, Department of Social Work


Deirdre's research interests include international migration and the responses of communities to new immigrant groups.  She is particularly focused on the response of Midwestern cities and rural areas to growing immigrant populations.

Gabriel Rodriguez, Department of Education, Policy, Organization, and Leadership
I am a sec
ond year doctoral student in the Department of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My research interests revolve around the activism/civic engagement of high school youth, specifically that of Latinas/os. I am interested studying the conditions and processes that drive Latino youth activism in Chicago suburbs. By capturing the experiences of these youth, I hope to highlight social agency and aspects of identity that assist them in navigating their lives as Latino students in suburban contexts.

Moises Orozco, Department of Education, Policy, Organization, and Leadership
I am in the second year of doctoral studies in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a minor in Latina/o Studies. My research is focused on examining Latina/o college students' perception of campus climate and its influence on their cognitive, professional, and personal development. More broadly, I am interested in the neighborhood effects on a person's identity development and educational trajectory. Through my participation in this focal point, I will explore how the local dynamics influence Latino youth and families' educational, health, social, spiritual, and employment experience. 

Sang S. Lee, Department of Urban and Regional Planning

I am a third year doctoral student in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning.  My research interests include civic participation of immigrants in nontraditional gateway communities, collaboration between immigrant populations, and urban citizenship.