Graduate Students


Graduate Students in Sociology

Ph.D. Students in Sociology

Julia BandiniJulia 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. 

Thomas BertorelliJulia Bandini

BS, neuroscience and BA, music (Muhlenberg College). MA, social science (University of Chicago). Thomas' general research interests include science, knowledge, and technology; health/illness; and gender. His master's thesis focused on psychiatrists' attitudes towards the promise of neuroimaging in psychiatric practice and the reconceptualization of autism they perceive as resulting from these technologies. He is currently working on a project that examines how lab scientists integrate multiple levels of analysis to theoretically model sense perception.


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.

Casey ClevengerCasey 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.

Brian Fair  

Guy AbutbulBA, 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.    



Jennifer Girouard

Jen GirouardBA, 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.

Clare Hammonds

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.

Nicholas MonroeNicholas 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. 




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

Catherine Tan

BA, sociology (University of California, San Diego). MA, sociology (Columbia University). Catherine’s interests include medical sociology, social stratification, and science, knowledge & technology. Her previous work examined how therapy providers maintain a sense of efficacy despite medical uncertainty.



Alexandria VasquezALEX

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. Visit her page at:

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

Emily Sigalow

Emily Sigalow

B.A. Sociology/Anthropology with minor in Mathematics (Swarthmore College) and M.A. Jewish History (Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel).  Emily's research focuses on the sociology of religion, gender, and culture, particularly as related to contemporary Jewish life.  Her dissertation project explores the historical and contemporary intersections of Judaism and Buddhism in America and asks broader questions about how multiple religious beliefs, practices, and identities get constructed and how religions interact and coalesce in everyday life.  Her previous research has been published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion and has been funded by the Mellon Foundation, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, The Research Circle on Democracy and Pluralism, and the Tauber Institute. For more information about Emily's current and past research, see

Rachel BernsteinBernstein

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 emerging adulthood and Jewish young professionals, Jewish culture and the arts, and gender and sexuality. Rachel has worked as a research assistant on projects examining new Jewish leadership, Jewish education, and gender and American Jewish families.


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

Meredith Bergey

Meredith Bergey

BA, community health with a focus in international health (Brown University). MSc, medical anthropology (Oxford University). MPH, (Brown University). MA, social policy (Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University). C. Everett Koop Health Policy Fellow (Brown University). Meredith's general interests include the sociology of health and illness, public health, mental health, and research methods. Her ongoing research focuses upon ADHD, including projects on ADHD coaching and ADHD in global perspective. She spent several field seasons in the Samoan Islands assisting in research related to cardiovascular disease risk. Other projects have included research on psychosocial stress, smoking cessation-related health policy and health outcomes research. Before coming to Brandeis, Meredith worked as an epidemiologist at the Rhode Island Department of Health and as a research specialist at the University of Pennsylvania.

Sara ChagantiSara 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.

Kim Lucas

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 organizations development of demand-side workforce development strategies in low-wage sectors. Her dissertation will explore how state policies, organizational structure, and community resources converge to provide support to early childhood educators as they develop their knowledge and skills. Other projects include an ethnographic study of subcultures, organizations, and market economics in modern roller derby.

Rachel Madsen
Rachel Madsen

BA, sociology (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill). MA, sociology (University of North Carolina, Greensboro). Rachel’s main research interests include environmental sociology, community, collective action, social policy, and racial-ethnic, gender, and class-based inequalities. Her master’s thesis examined how local history, politics, race, and community-based mobilization influenced a controversy over municipal solid waste management in Greensboro, NC. She is currently collaborating on a project that explores racial-ethnic and class inequalities in disaster management and recovery following Hurricane Katrina and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.

Alexis Mann

BA, public policy and photography (Hamilton College, NY). Degree in documentary photography (The Salt Institute of Documentary Studies, ME) and is a joint Ph.D student with the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Alexis's general interests include urban sociology, sociology of work and occupation, community development and mixed-research methods. Her ongoing research explores the intersection of occupation, class and gender.

Diana Schor

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.


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).

Rebekah Zincavagerebekah

BA, sociology & American studies (Wesleyan University). MA, sociology (Boston College). MA, social policy (Brandeis University). Rebekah's interests include social inequality, aging and long term care, work-family balance, the sociology of marriage and family, health policy and research methods. Her MA thesis entailed an ethnographic study of in home elder care providers and she has co-authored articles published in Gender & Society (2007) and the Gerontologist (2008). Rebekah is the recipient of an Altman Fellowship in Health Policy and has worked as a research associate for projects funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Metro-West Foundation, Commonwealth Fund and Ford Foundation.

M.A. Students in Sociology

Taliai Abrahams

Talia Abrahams

BA, psychology (Boston University). Talia’s current research interests include trends in higher education and disability studies. Her previous research has included analysis of the religiosity of college and university professors as well as representations of disability in musical theater.  Her other interests include sociology of education and sociology of culture.

Malika 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 soni

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

Stephanie Bonvissuto

Stephanie Bonvissuto

B.A. in Women’s Studies, B.A. in Sociology (University of Massachusetts Boston, 2013). Stephanie’s focus is on the intersection of gender, body, and sexuality (especially when complicated by race and religion), and accesses to their socially constructed identities. Her undergraduate Women’s Studies Honors Thesis examined management of gender identity by transsexuals from within an arrested gender transition.


Jaqueline J Gonzalezjax

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