I’m a 2018-2020 Postdoctoral Fellow with the Inequality in America Initiative in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in the Social Science Division. I completed my Ph.D. in Sociology at Northwestern University in 2018. My research is broadly at the intersection of inequality; education; culture; and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). My work documents the processes through which peer networks contribute to the reproduction of educational and social inequality based on pre-college resource context, social class, race/ethnicity, and gender. My research has been supported by fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, and the Mindset Scholars Network.
My recent manuscript entitled “‘I Can Turn It on When I Need to’: Pre-college Integration, Culture, and Peer Academic Engagement among Black and Latino/a Engineering Students,” published as lead article in the January 2019 issue of Sociology of Education, stems from this work. Previous research on students of color at predominantly white universities has long documented that black and Latino/a students experience ethnoracial marginalization on campus in ways that negatively affect their psychosocial and academic well-being. Comparing three groups of students—Integrators, Marginalized Segregators, and Social Adapters—I extend monolithic portrayals of students of color on predominantly white campuses by examining the role of pre-college integration in the diverse psychosocial and academic experiences, as well as peer academic engagement strategies of black and Latino/a engineering undergraduates. The findings uncover new cultural processes that contribute to the reproduction of inequality among students of color. The article is the 2020 winner of the Maureen Hallinan Graduate Student Paper Award from the Sociology of Education Special Interest Group at the American Education Research Association.
Colleges and universities—especially science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs—have endorsed peer-based collaboration in the wake of increasing scholarly and public concern about limited learning in college, yet there is very little research on students’ collaborative experiences in college and their unintended consequences for inequality. My current book project, Engineering Advantage: Why Inequality Persists in an Era of Collaborative Learning, uses a case study of an elite engineering school to document the collaborative experiences of engineering undergraduates from demographically diverse backgrounds. Drawing on in-depth interviews with scores of students and with administrators, as well as two years of observations of the school’s activities, I show that the culture and structure of the engineering school, through the use and logic of the grading curve, collaboration, and merit, undermine the equitable promises of collaborative learning by rewarding the collaborative experiences of already privileged students while disadvantaging those of less privileged students.
By revealing the collaborative experiences of students, Engineering Advantage challenges the assumption that the academic domain of college life, especially STEM departments, are meritocratic fields that reward talent and hard work alone. Rather, these settings are inherently social spaces that require a set of cultural competencies and demographic characteristics to effectively maneuver them. The book also provides practical recommendations for STEM departments and colleges and universities more broadly aimed at optimizing the benefits of collaborative learning and, more importantly, engineering equity in educational opportunity and beyond.