Biography

Van C. Tran is Associate Professor of Sociology at The Graduate Center, CUNY. His research focuses on the integration of immigrants and their children, race and ethnicity, diversity and intergroup relations, neighborhood gentrification, urban poverty and inequality.

As an immigration scholar and urban sociologist, his research and teaching are deeply intertwined with the diversity, history and vibrancy of New York City. He embraces the city, its neighborhoods and its people as a social laboratory for original research and innovative teaching which seek to inform urban social policy. His research adopts a multi-disciplinary and multi-methods approach to the dual study of immigrant and urban life, with a focus on how immigration has transformed local communities across the country.

Tran’s research has examined linguistic, socioeconomic, civic and political integration of second-generation Latinos. His new work explores the Asian American experience, focusing on Asians' views on affirmative action, perspectives on immigration policy, patterns of socioeconomic attainment, and transition from higher education into the workplace. His most recent research seeks to understand how exposure to accurate information about contemporary immigrants and trends in immigration might affect native-born Americans’ attitudes toward immigrants using survey experiments.

His articles have been published in both general and leading journals within the field of immigration, including Social Forces, International Migration Review, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, City & Community, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, Sociological Science, among others. His research has appeared in interdisciplinary journals such as Population Health Management and Politics, Groups, and Identities. He has also published in academic magazines for the general, educated audience such as Contexts and Pathways.

Tran’s work has been supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Science Foundation, Southern Poverty Law Center, the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at University of Pennsylvania, and the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard University, among others  In 2018, he received the Nancy W. Malkiel Scholar Award from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, in recognition of his research excellence and an extraordinary commitment to creating inclusive communities in the university and in the profession.

Tran served as consulting editor for the American Journal of Sociology (2017-2019). He was on the editorial boards for Social Forces (2014-2017) and for The Sociological Quarterly (2013-2016). Since 2018, he has served on the editorial boards for Ethnic and Racial Studies and for Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. He has also served as an ad-hoc reviewer for grant foundations, university presses and thirty-two academic journals, including leading journals in five related disciplines: sociology, demography, political science, public health and epidemiology.

Tran has won wide recognition for his teaching and mentoring. In 2018, he was the recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest university-wide teaching honor at Columbia that recognizes teaching excellence among faculty who have had a lasting influence on the intellectual development of their students. In 2017, he received the Faculty Mentoring Award from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, which recognizes faculty excellence in mentoring Ph.D. students during their graduate careers. He has worked with students from many background and published extensively with them. He served as a faculty mentor for undergraduates from underrepresented backgrounds for the GSAS-Leadership Alliance Summer Research Program.

At Columbia, Tran was the founding faculty organizer for the Race, Ethnicity and Migration Workshop, which provides an intellectual home for scholarship on race, ethnicity, and migration in New York City. He served on the Advisory Committee for the Urban Studies Program at Barnard College. He was also affiliated with the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race and the Columbia Population Research Center.

At CUNY, Tran is on the Planning Commission for the Black, Race and Ethnic Studies Initiative, which recently received $3 million funding from the Mellon Foundation to reimagine and reenvision Black, Race and Ethnic Studies across the University. At The Graduate Center, Tran is the deputy director for the Center for Urban Research and faculty organizer of the Immigration Seminar Series. Tran is on the executive committee of CUNY Institute for Demographic Research and an affiliated faculty in the International Migration Studies program. 

Tran has also held both elected and appointed leadership positions at the American Sociological Association (ASA) and the Eastern Sociological Society (ESS). He is an elected member of the ASA Council (2020-2023). He served on ASA's Distinguished Contribution to Teaching Award Committee (2018-2020). He was elected to the Council for the ASA Sections on International Migration (2015-2018) and on Asia and Asian America (2019-2022).

Tran is engaged with the public. His op-eds have been published in The Los Angeles Times, The Phidelphia Inquirer and CNN. He has been cited or quoted in major news outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, CNN, NPR, NBC News, NY1, among others.

Tran is committed to public service. He is on the Advisory Committee on Cultural Engagement for The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2020-2022). He was named to the academic advisory committee for  New York at Its Core, a landmark permanent exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York (2014-2017). He also served on the selection committee for the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans.

Tran received his A.A. in Liberal Arts from Hostos Community College (2002), B.A. in Sociology from Hunter College (2004), A.M. in Sociology (2007) and Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy (2011) from Harvard. He was selected as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania (2011-2013). He then taught as an Assistant to Associate Professor of Sociology at Columbia (2013-2019). He joined the Ph.D. Program in Sociology at The Graduate Center, CUNY on July 1, 2019. 

Tran was born in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), but grew up in Refugee Detention camps (1990-1996) in Northern Thailand. His family was resettled as refugees by the International Rescue Committee in 1998 and lived in the Pelham Bay area in the Bronx upon arrival. Tran worked full-time at a hardware store on the Upper East Side, while attending Hostos Community College and Hunter College (1999-2004). He developed his interest in immigration and urban inequality as an observer of the city’s eclectic neighborhoods and ethnic communities.