Tag Archives: Graduate Students

Cristina Lacomba to start one-year postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard School of Education

Congratulations to Sociology PhD Cristina Lacomba, who will begin a postdoctoral fellowship with Professor Roberto Gonzales at the Harvard Graduate School of Education this Fall. Dr. Lacomba and Dr. Gonzales are seeking to understand how the American immigration policy known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) affects the everyday lives of eligible young people. Dr. Lacomba’s primary responsibility will be to manage and analyze the National UnDACAmented Research Project (NURP) interview-based qualitative data set. In her position, she will be expected to lead particular strands of inquiry and to publish this work with others on the research team.


Congratulations, Cristina, and good luck with this important endeavor!

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Graduate student Daniel Davis and Professor Amy Binder’s research on “career services headhunting” covered in Inside Higher Ed.

Graduate student Dan Davis and Professor Amy Binder’s research on career services’ “headhunting” practices, originally published in the journal Research in the Sociology of Organizations, was picked up by the online magazine Inside Higher Ed .

In their article, Davis and Binder show that university career centers are embracing a new model of career services. Rather than focus most of their energy preparing students to lead their own career searches, they are increasingly leaning on corporate partnership programs to secure student job-placements and raise funds. The career centers offer a menu of services, with preferential access to the best students chief among them, to the corporations able and willing to pay fees. While this new strategy is good for some students landing jobs, some career centers raising funds, and some companies securing talent; it is also potentially problematic for students whose campuses lacking such partnerships, career centers facing underfunding, and some companies who cannot afford the fees involved.


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Beauty Behind Bars

Featured in the Triton Magazine is an article called Beauty Behind Bars which showcases Sociology alumna Laura Pecenco’s (M.A. ’10, Ph.D. ’15) implementation of arts in prisons through Project PAINT.

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Departmental TA Excellence Award goes too..

Ian Mullins!  Congratulations, Ian, for winning the TA Excellence award in a very competitive year.

Harvey Goldman nominated Ian for his work in SOC 100: Sociological Theory. In his letter of nomination, Harvey noted that Ian “is incredibly imaginative in coming up with ways to get students involved in material that might not be to their taste, and he devotes himself and his time to helping every student who wants to do the extra work needed to become a really excellent student, writer, and analyst of texts.” This is great testament to Ian’s commitment to his students and sociology as a discipline.

The Graduate Program Committee would also note that Ian has been an extraordinary mentor to undergrads he has met in other classes, encouraging several who may not have otherwise considered themselves qualified to take our Honors sequence (many of them first-generation college-goers) to apply for the class and, once enrolled, to seek his help in research questions, design, and analysis. It is no surprise, as Harvey also mentioned, that Ian has a group of “devoted followers” among our majors. GPC faculty were also impressed with the several years of remarkable evaluations that Ian has received from his students.

Thank you, Ian, for improving the experiences of our undergrads in so many ways.

Honorable mention for this year’s TA Excellence Award goes to this year’s Senior TA, Erica Bender, whose extremely rigorous work in her own and instructors’ classes inspire her students and fellow TAs.

Finally, thank you to the six faculty who nominated your TAs for this recognition. We look forward to next year’s even more robust participation!

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Graduate Program Alumni, “Organizing Organic”

Michael Haedicke, UCSD Sociology PhD 2008, and now associate professor of sociology at Drake University, has just published Organizing Organic: Conflict and Compromise in an Emerging Market (Stanford University Press 2016).

For anyone studying organizations, movements, food, and/or culture, this is a must read. Or, if you want to know how Whole Foods execs can position themselves as keepers of the public good, this book’s for you. An added attraction:  Michael’s tongue in cheek writing style is wonderful.

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“The real refugee crisis is in the Middle East, not Europe”

Graduate Student, Rawan Arar, has co-authored an article published on the Washington Post, titled: The real refugee crisis is in the Middle East, not Europe.


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Winner of 2016 Graduate Student Paper Award from SSSP

Congratulations are in order for our graduate student, Yao-Tai Li who won the 2016 Graduate Student Paper Award from the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) in the Racial and Ethnic Minorities Division.

Li’s paper is entitled: “Unconscious Racial Microaggressions: The Hiring Practice and Employment Relationship of Pan-Chinese Migrants in Australia.”

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Summer Grant Awards Announced!

Please join us in congratulating this year’s Summer Grant award winners: Germano Ribeiro Fernandes Da Silva, Armand Gutierrez, Angela McClean, Heather Harper, Cory Caswell, and Rawan Arar.

The faculty members of the Graduate Program Committee—David Fitzgerald, Kwai Ng, and Amy Binder—read 14 proposals, organized into two pools: applicants who are pre-candidacy (10 proposals) and applicants who are in candidacy (four proposals). All applicants received a brief set of comments from each GPC member.

Graduate students at all levels in the department are doing wonderful work, and it is clear that faculty advisors have been instrumental in helping students develop their research projects. All three GPC members are impressed by the level of accomplishment all around. We are only sorry that, due to resources, we could not fund more proposals.

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6 Awards Recieved from Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program

The Sociology Department is pleased to announce that we received six awards from the UC San Diego Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program. “The Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program builds the interdisciplinary expertise we will need to address national and global challenges,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Like the ongoing Frontiers of Innovation seed funding for new research centers on campus, this program is an investment in the university’s leadership role in interdisciplinary research.”

UC San Diego’s Strategic Plan identifies four research themes:

  • Understanding and Protecting the Planet
  • Enriching Human Life and Society
  • Exploring the Basis of Human Knowledge, Learning and Creativity
  • Understanding Cultures and Addressing Disparities in Society


Awardees are:

Lauren Olsen received the FISP award for her dissertation project, “Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Medical Curricular Change: Humanistic and Social Scientific Knowledge in Medical Education,” under supervision by John H. Evans, PhD and with additional mentorship from Charles Goldberg, MD in the School of Medicine.

This project is poised to explain how the medical profession undertakes the inclusion of humanistic and social scientific knowledge into its instruction of new medical students, ultimately addressing how different disciplines come together to improve future patient care.


Erica Bender received the FISP award for her dissertation project tentatively entitled, “The Military-Civilian Transition of Post-9/11 Veterans: Organizational and Individual Perspectives”

Abstract: This dissertation explores the post-military transition process of today’s veterans by addressing how veterans’ support services are coordinated and delivered in a complex organizational environment. In the last decade, the field of veterans’ services has grown tremendously, with over 45,000 nonprofit organizations in the United States identifying veterans as their target population. Consequently, post-9/11 veterans are transitioning toward civilian life in close proximity to a plethora of organizations and a vast array of services. While exciting, this organizational growth has also led to a heightened complexity in service provision. My study addresses this organizational shift and its consequences for veterans in transition. I utilize two cross-disciplinary fields, sociology and history, to examine the organizational landscape of veterans’ services and its effect on the transition experiences of individual veterans. I focus my research on organizations and veterans in San Diego, one of the largest military/veteran cities in the country with an exceptionally dense veteran-oriented organizational environment. My research approaches this organizational environment as the object of analysis in an effort to understand the broad social forces that act upon veterans as they re-engage in civilian society and build their futures.


Rawan Arar received the FISP award for her dissertation project, “Shouldering the “Refugee Burden:” Jordan and the Global Refugee Crisis”

Abstract: The refugee crisis has garnered unprecedented attention after the tragic drowning of three-year-old Alan Kurdi who died at sea en route from Syria to Europe. His lifeless body on the Turkish shore sparked a conversation about the global responsibility to accept refugees (and ways to keep them out). While some European states have closed their borders to refugees, the United States is engaging in national debates about refugee reception.

As the global refugee crisis becomes more consequential for the West, host countries like Jordan have become central to understanding refugee migration. For 70 years, Jordan has accommodated generations of refugees from Palestine, Iraq, and now Syria. With Jordan’s population increasing more than 10% in five years, social institutions that provide education, healthcare, and basic services are increasingly strained. Jordanians criticize a perceived decline in their standard of living citing overcrowded schools and streets. Governmental ministries are faced with the challenge of balancing competing interests as they address refugees’ needs, Western requests to stymie migration flows, and Jordanians’ worsening conditions.

This refugee dilemma yields the following questions: How do Jordanian ministries navigate the difficulties of changing demographics and overwhelmed social institutions? What happens to Jordanian citizens when a significant proportion of the population is comprised of refugees? And how do refugees navigate the difficulties of displacement?



Natalie Aviles received the FISP award for her dissertation project, “International Tech Entrepreneurs Abroad: The ‘Pull’ of Networks from “Silicon Allee” to “Chilecon Valley””

Abstract: Precis: Governments increasingly aim to attract foreign entrepreneurs to contribute to domestic economic innovation and prosperity. They have successfully used immigration policies and financial incentives to bring entrepreneurs far from home, despite high risks to “startup” abroad. This project examines how today’s increasingly mobile technology entrepreneurs develop and build their networks abroad, and how such networks influence decisions on where to locate. The investigator team will compare how international tech entrepreneurs make their choices, and identify the mechanisms through which they develop their networks and navigate new entrepreneurial cultures. This mixed methods project utilizes a original survey research of international tech expatriates, and also interview data collected from several startup destinations, including Berlin and Santiago. The survey data is analyzed statistically to identify how networks are developed and geographical destinations are chosen. The interview data will be used to further explain the micro-level social processes and patterns that emerge from the quantitative analysis. The project aims to uncover how these tech entrepreneurs navigate an increasingly borderless world, and how they utilize ties from existing networks in foreign environments. The findings speak to a wider literature in economic sociology and immigration studies– and also can inform public policy.


Professor Mary Blair-Loy received a FISP award to support the work of a research assistant to engage in a cluster of projects analyzing gender inequality in professional fields.

This research is important, because these are fields that provide innovation and economic growth and need more skilled professionals.  Leaders in these fields generally believe in meritocracy and objectivity, and are often unaware that they hold gender, learned from the broader culture.  These biases distort fair evaluation, exclude many women, waste talent, and impede innovation.


Professors Akos Rona-Tas , Thad Kousser, Edward Hunter and Zhuowen Tu jointly received a Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program Award to build a virtual lab for computational social science, with applied focus on political tweets during the 2016 presidential contest.

The project will analyze the tweets of presidential candidates as well as those by their affiliated political action committees. They will investigate three types of communication: topic diffusion, political vs. personal speech and negative campaigning.  This project builds on the momentum created by their recent multidisciplinary graduate courses on big data.


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Pablo Perez-Ahumada awarded a Fellowship

Graduate student, Pablo Perez-Ahumada has received a “Friends of the International Center” Friends Fellowship.

This fellowship will help Pablo’s continued research on the politics of labor in Chile.

The Friends of the International Center is a volunteer organization on campus whose mission is “to support international education, to foster friendship, understanding, and cooperation within the international community, and to create a meeting place on the UC San Diego campus for people who share these aims.

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