Graduate Students

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Graduate Students in Sociology

Sociology Ph.D. Students

Julia Bandini

BA, sociology, minor in French (College of the Holy Cross). Julia’s interests include medical sociology, aging, gender, and the family. Her previous research on widowerhood examined the gendered experiences of young widowers from the Harvard Bereavement Study of the late-1960s.  Julia’s undergraduate thesis evaluated the growing trend of medical tourism in a global world.


Rebecca Barton

BA, Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (University of Connecticut).  Becky’s interests include religion, feminism,identity, gender and sexuality.  Becky is currently investigating religious identity negotiations among Mormon feminists. She is pursuing a doctorate in Sociology, and a joint master’s in Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis University


Thomas Bertorelli

BS, neuroscience and BA, music (Muhlenberg College). MA, social science (University of Chicago). Thomas' general research interests include science, technology, health, and culture. His previous work focused on psychiatric attitudes towards the promise of neuroimaging in clinical practice. He is currently working on a project that examines how lab scientists integrate multiple levels of analysis to theoretically model sense perception.

Thomas Bertorelli

Margaret Clendenen

BA, sociology and religious studies (The College of William & Mary). Margaret's research interests include religion, social movements, sexualities and gender.  She has previously researched liberal religious leaders' responses to Proposition 8 in California (the 2008 ballot initiative that defined marriage as between one man and one woman) and the relationships between atheism and sexualities.

Margaret Clendenen

Casey Clevenger

BA, comparative history of ideas (University of Washington). MA, public policy and women's studies (George Washington University). Casey's primary research interests sit at the intersection of religion and culture, gender and sexuality, global and transnational sociology, and African studies. Her dissertation examines how women’s local contexts and distinctive backgrounds affect their participation in and perception of transnational religious organizations by focusing on the experiences of American and Congolese Catholic sisters. Through a comparative and multi-sited research design, she explores how sisters’ countries of origin and residence influence the ways they make sense of gender, race, and other forms of inequality.

Casey Clevenger

Brian Fair  

BA, English literature (Wesleyan University). Brian's general interests are gender, urban sociology, sport, medical sociology, and culture. He has done ethnographic research on high school wrestlers' constructions of masculinity. He has also written about the contested illness known as Morgellons, as well as the intersection of religion and health. His dissertation is a study of the rapidly gentrified neighborhood of South Boston, using a local hockey rink to explore how residents remember the past in relation to the present, and how communal relations within youth sport relate to community issues in the surrounding neighborhood.  

Guy Abutbul

Jennifer Girouard

BA, Sociology (Marlboro College).  Jennifer’s general interests are political sociology, sociology of law, culture, and communities of place.  She has a volume, Varieties of Civic Innovation: Deliberative, Collaborative, Network and Narrative Approaches co-edited with Carmen Sirianni, that will be published by Vanderbilt Press in 2014.  She has taught courses on social movements, subcultures and community structure, and political sociology.  Her dissertation project is a study of local implementation of a state affordable housing law, focusing on the participation, dialogue and debate across multiple actors in the public hearing process.

Jen Girouard

Clare Hammonds

BS, industrial and labor relations (Cornell University). MS, Labor studies (University of Massachusetts, Amherst). She is interested in the intersections of gender and union organizing in the contemporary U.S. labor movement. Her previous work looked at organizing among family child-care providers. She is currently working on completing QPDs in social movements, gender and work and occupations.

Clare Hammonds

Samantha Leonard

BA, anthropology and sociology, minor in Hispanic Studies (Vassar College). She is also pursuing the joint MA in Sociology and Women & Gender Studies at Brandeis. Before coming to Brandeis, Samantha served as a Youth Development worker with the Peace Corps in the Eastern Caribbean and has worked for several years in the U.S. in direct services, primarily in foster care and domestic violence counseling/advocacy. Her research interests include gender/sexuality, cultural sociology, violence/trauma, community, and creative practices in social movements/social change.


Nicholas Monroe

BA history (Oberlin College 2009).  Prior to attending Brandeis Nicholas taught reading and social studies as a member of Teach For America in Chicago and Gary, Indiana.  Nicholas' interests include race and class based inequalities, educational inequality, as well as social movements and social change. 

Nicholas Monroe

Caitlin Orlandella Slodden

BA, anthropology and women's, gender, and sexuality studies (Colby College 2004). MA, American civilization (Brown University 2006). Caitlin's areas of interest include medical sociology, death and dying, gender and family, and emotional labor. She is currently researching hospice organizations and the causes and consequences of the medicalization and professionalization of death and dying. Her dissertation will explore dying as a social process, with particular focus given to the ways in which it is managed and organized by various death care professionals.

Roberto Soto-Carrión

BA, sociology/Latin American studies (Wesleyan University), MA, sociology (The University of Chicago). Tito's general research interests include race/ethnicity, popular culture, Latin America/Latino cultural production, stratification, inequality, globalization, critical pedagogy, and gender/sexuality studies. While at Wesleyan Tito was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and the recipient of the Janina Montero Prize for outstanding activism and commitment to the Latino community. His current research explores the formation and proliferation of tourism in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil and the central role that race plays in the construction of the tourist market. His work investigates how racialized cultural activities are marketed by the tourism industry as "authentic" to promote tourism to Salvador and the ways in which conceptions of blackness and citizenship are challenged and (re)negotiated. Tito is also a full- time volunteer and coordinator for the International Youth Leadership Institute (IYLI), a not-for-profit organization that prepares African American and Latino secondary students to assume active leadership roles in their community and global society. As a group leader with IYLI, Tito has traveled with high school students to several countries in Africa and Latin America.

Catherine Tan

BA, sociology (University of California, San Diego). MA, sociology (Columbia University). Catherine’s interests include medical sociology, science knowledge & technology, and qualitative methods. She is currently working on her dissertation research, which compares health social movements concerning Autism Spectrum Disorders.


Catherine Tan

Alexandria Vasquez

BA, Liberal Arts (New School). MS, Sociology (Virginia Commonwealth University). Alex's interests are within theory, economic sociology, medical sociology and health, public sociology and social change, design, and data visualization. She is currently working on research that examines the role of the Internet in the job searching process. Learn more on Alex's website. 


Ph.D. Students in Sociology and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies


Rachel Bernstein

BA, Jewish Studies (University of Virginia). MA, Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies (Brandeis University). Rachel’s research interests include religion in emerging adulthood, Jewish culture and the arts, and gender and sexuality. Rachel has previously conducted research on new Jewish leadership, Jewish education, and gender and American Jewish families.  She has published on images of young Jewish women in television and film, and the gendered division of household and religious labor in Jewish families. She is currently working on her dissertation research investigating the cultural and ethnic connections of Jewish young adults in their 20s and 30s and the relationships that impact Jewish identity during this life phase.


Ph.D Students in Sociology and Heller School for Social Policy

Sara Chaganti

BA, anthropology (Yale University), MS, law, policy and society (Northeastern University), MA, social policy (Heller School, Brandeis University).  Sara’s interests include the sociology of work, culture, and the intersection of race and gender.  Sara is particularly interested in racial disparities in employment outcomes, and the experience of minorities in service sector work.  Sara is pursuing a joint doctorate in sociology and social policy, and works as a research assistant in the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at The Heller School.

Sara Chaganti

Kimberly D. Lucas

BA, psychology and sociology (University of California, Los Angeles).  MA, child development and urban and environmental policy and planning (Tufts University).  MA, social policy (Brandeis University). Kim's research interests fall at the intersection of sociology, economics, and social policy; she studies women in the workforce with a focus on low-wage work and volunteer organizations. Her dissertation will uncover and explore the business and labor practices used by self-employed careworkers, and it will address the issue of turnover in early childhood education.  Other projects include an ethnographic study of subcultures, organizations, and market economics in modern roller derby and a qualitative interview project on family child care providers' perceptions of education regulations.
Kim Lucas

Rachel Madsen

BA, sociology (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill). MA, sociology (University of North Carolina, Greensboro). Rachel’s general research interests include environmental sociology, community and urban studies, disaster and risk, social and public policy, and social and economic inequalities. Her master’s thesis examined how local politics, race relations, and grassroots organizing influenced a landfill siting controversy in Greensboro, NC. She is currently collaborating on a project that explores racial, ethnic, and class inequities related to response and recovery followingtwo historic U.S. disasters. Rachel has also been working with the National Fire Protection Association to study fire preparedness, response practices, and community risk reduction in wildland-urban interfaces around the country.

Rachel Madsen

Alexis Mann

MPP (Brandeis University), BA, public policy and photography (Hamilton College, NY). Degree in documentary photography (The Salt Institute of Documentary Studies, ME). Alexis Mann is a Research Associated at the Institute on Assets and Social Policy and PhD Candidate in the joint Social Policy and Sociology program and Brandeis University. With a background in mixed methods research, her interests focus on the how regional and city context shapes economic inequality. In particular, her research focuses on how families build and sustain economic security, in the face of increasing rates of economic insecurity nationally, and declining or stagnant environments locally.

Alexis Mann

Diana Schor

BA, social work and political studies (Gordon College, MA). MA, sustainable international development (Brandeis University). MA, social policy (Brandeis University).  Diana's QPD areas include the sociology of youth and social movements. Her current dissertation work focuses on youth civic engagement and climate change.

Diana Schor

Allison Stagg

MPP, (Brandeis University). BS, psychology (Birmingham-Southern College). Allison is pursing a joint Ph.D. in social policy and sociology with the Heller School. Allison’s research interests include youth civic engagement, policy design and political voice, and participatory research methods. She has previously served as the Assistant Director of the Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility at the University of Alabama, and completed internships and consultancies with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA), and the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE).

M.A. Students in Sociology

Malaika El Hamel

Semra Malik

BA, Sociology (Rice University). Semra's research interests include immigration, work, gender, entrepreneurship, immigrant political participation, and reproductive rights & policy.

Devereaux Powers

Soni Reese 

BA, French (Bates College). Soni’s general research interests include social movements; social inequalities based on race, class, gender, and sexual orientation; health and illness; culture; gender; and qualitative research methods. Her undergraduate thesis examined the social construction of identity in the post-colonial African context.


M.A. Students in Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies Program

Jaqueline J Gonzalez

Jax Gonzalez graduated from Arizona State University in 2014 with dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Sociology and Women’s and Gender studies. Her undergraduate thesis focused on elementary health education, and how neo-liberal politics have affected educator’s ability to teach the subject successfully. Her graduate research will explore
​how menstruation effects queer lives, and the role of alternative menstrual products and menstrual “outing” within them. Together with Stephanie Robinson-Cestaro, she founded the Menstrual Activist Research Collective (M.A.R.C) and had developed a series of workshops and literature on menstrual activism for faculty, students and activists. Check out their work (and get involved) ат