Research interests

My work is motivated by the desire to better understand social inequality: the (creation of) the differences upon which inequality is based, the mechanisms by which it operates, and the impacts that it has on individuals, groups, and entire societies.

My research has applications to the fields of social change and development, urban sociology, inequality, poverty, housing, race and ethnicity, and (im)migration.


Opportunity and Inequality in a Changing Economy: Navigating Urban Reform in Contemporary Cuba

My dissertation is motivated to understand how pre-existing inequalities and new and old structures come in to play and shape moments of economic and societal change—moments which seemingly “open doors”, inviting individuals to break from the status quo and take advantage of new opportunities and thus re-order the “normal” order of things. I look at moments of transformation initiated by state-led economic reforms and how these reforms have uneven social impacts across the population, creating some “winners” while simultaneously leaving others behind.

In order to understand these dynamics, I look to present-day Cuba, a developing country in the process of overhauling its economic model. I focus on newly introduced reforms in the Cuban housing market, in particular the (re-)emergence of a real estate market. I examine how people who occupy different social locations in society navigate this market, in a context of widespread uncertainty, growing inequality, and in the absence of mortgage financing. I consider how these strategies in turn transform urban and social landscapes, creating landscapes of inequality.

My dissertation is based on 20 months of fieldwork in Havana, Cuba, and employs a multi-method approach that includes ethnographic observation, in-depth interviews, archival research of laws and legal documents, analysis of public texts, and analysis of privileged economic data.

As part of my dissertation research, I was a Visiting Research Scholar at the Instituto Cubano de Investigación Cultural Juan Marinello in Havana, Cuba, 2015-16.

PAST Research experience

I have sought out diverse research experiences in order to broaden and strengthen my inquiry skills, both methodologically and theoretically. I have worked on the below projects as a research assistant, undertaking tasks such as data collection (archival and qualitative interviewing), data management, data analysis, and editing.

Project: Biography of Senator Joseph McCarthy (under contract with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

PI: Larry Tye, New York Times bestselling author/former Boston Globe journalist, 2017.

      • Identified, located, and analyzed relevant archival documents in the Wisconsin Historical Society (e.g. legal documents, political campaign materials, oral histories, personal correspondence, campaign materials, etc.)
      • Recruited interviewees and carried out screening interviews, including with U.S. senators, representatives, and judges
      • Prepared, submitted, and tracked Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to federal agencies
      • Identified relevant grants

PI: Dr. Mara Loveman, Dept. of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, 2012-14.

      • Located, analyzed, and extracted relevant data from census questionnaires and reports (in Spanish) from the 1800s and 1900s; coded the data; maintained and managed a database with original and coded data
      • Organized and presented the coded data in visually appealing tables (these tables appear in the published manuscript)
      • Prepared interview guide and conducted in-person interviews (in Spanish) with census officials in the Dominican Republic (for example, see this excerpt from the book manuscript, referencing one interview)
      • Edited each chapter of multiple versions of manuscript draft (substantive and copy editing)
      • Assisted the author in preparing the manuscript for submission to the publisher, including obtaining copyright permissions, formatting according to specifications, crosschecking bibliographic references, etc.

Project: On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City (University of Chicago Press, 2014).

PI: Dr. Alice Goffman, Dept. of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2012-13.

      • Edited each chapter of advanced manuscript draft
      • Assisted in creating and maintaining "tracking" charts to index and ensure consistency in character names, locations, relationships, etc.

PI: Dr. John A. Hall, Dept. of Sociology, McGill University, 2008-09.

      • Assisted with bibliographic research for the book manuscript, principally crosschecking bibliographic citations for the manuscript.
      • On a separate project, for the same PI, I provided input for the redesign of an upper-level undergraduate course in social theory; prepared selected class materials and technological components for this course.

Project: annotated bibliographies on topics in economic sociology and social science theory.

PI: Dr. Axel van den Berg, Dept. of Sociology, McGill University, 2007-09.

      • Identified and located peer-reviewed journal articles and books on assigned topics in economic sociology and social science theory; read the sources and extracted key information; summarized and critically reviewed the information; presented these summaries in the form of annotated bibliographies.