Graduate Students

Grad students with name tags on smile for the camera outside in front of some trees

PhD Students in Sociology

Thomas Bertorelli
Thomas Bertorelli
Bachelor of Science (Neuroscience), Bachelor of Arts (Music), Muhlenberg College
Master of Arts (Social Science), University of Chicago

Thomas' general research interests include science, technology, culture, health, and the environment. 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 biotechnology is (or is not) being integrated into forest conservation and restoration efforts.

Lauren Crosser
Lauren Crosser
Bachelor of Arts (Sociology), UC Santa Barbara
Master of Education, UC Santa Cruz

Prior to entering academia, Lauren worked as a social science and art educator in both public and private schools. Lauren currently researches and writes about racial capitalism, property, and racial inequality with a strong historical focus. She also has a strong interest in activism and pedagogy, and always looks for new ways to build students' sociological analysis through music, art and politcal theory and practice.

Sanchita Dasgupta
Sanchita Dasgupta
PhD Student
Bachelor of Arts (Psychology and Sociology), St. Xaviers College, Mumbai, India
MBA (Communications), MICA, Ahmedabad, India
Masters of Arts (Social Sciences), University of Chicago

Before pursuing a career in academia, Sanchita worked in Indian advertising as a strategic planner for five years. Primarily a qualitative methodologist, her research interests revolve around gender, race, social movements and caste dynamics in South Asia. In particular, she is interested in the field of critical caste studies and draws theoretical inspiration from whiteness studies.

Korey Erb
Korey Erb
Bachelor of Science (Chemistry and Environmental Science), The College of William and Mary
Master of Arts (Social Science), University of Chicago

Korey's interests include sustainability, development, consumption, culture, qualitative coding and mixed methods. His previous work looked at sustainable development efforts in Sikkim, India, to further explore how actors in the region navigate the complex intersection of economic growth and the environment.

Zachary Fox
Zachary Fox
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Film) School of Visual Arts
Master of Science (Sociology) Southern Connecticut State University

Zachary's thesis work was on media framing of Antifa. In a content analysis of top U.S. newspapers, Zachary found that reports of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, during the Unite the Right rally in 2017 played a major role in the framing of counter-protesters as members of Antifa absent any self-identification as such. In other words, publications were effectively creating their own Antifa. Zachary's research interests include media framing, societal unrest, social movements, social theory, and mechanisms of social change.

Rachel Guaderrama
Rachel Guaderrama

Prior to attending Brandeis, Rachel worked in northern Thailand with an NGO advocating for the release of political prisoners in Burma. Her research interests include cultural sociology, race/ethnicity, gender relations, and sexuality, particularly in Southeast and East Asia.

Sarah J.Halford
Sarah J. Halford
PhD Student

Master of Arts (Sociology), Brandeis University
Master of Arts (Individualized Study), New York University
Bachelor of Arts (Liberal Arts), New School University

Sarah's research interests include social movements, media, and culture. Prior to arriving at Brandeis, she worked closely with the Center for Artistic Activism as a research fellow and has completed research projects for the British Council and the Urban Democracy Lab. Her current research focuses on anti-5G resistance groups, with special attention to the relationships between narratives, group identity, and personal influence.

Jing Huang
Jing Huang
Bachelor of Arts (Sociology and Journalism), Muskingum University
Master of Arts (Museum Studies with a concentration in Art History), The George Washington University

Jing's general research interests include sociology of art and culture, sociology of education, inequality, globalization, and nationalism, particularly cultural nationalism and postcolonial nationalism.

Headshot of Danielle Jacques
Danielle Jacques

Bachelor of Arts (Economics) Smith College
Master of Arts (Gastronomy) Boston University

Danielle is an incoming Sociology PhD student with broad interests including community and environmental sociology, political economy, globalization, inequality, mobility, culture, consumption, and food systems. As an undergrad, she researched the impact of US trade policy on organic agriculture and subsistence farming in Cuba. For her Master’s thesis, she spent ten months conducting ethnographic research in rural Bulgaria, studying heritage narratives, rural agency, and the social construction of place as a Fulbright student researcher. She has also worked on farms, for food justice organizations, and as a cheesemonger.

Headshot of Ersie Konstas
Ersie Konstas

Ersie is a graduate student at Brandeis University, where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology. She grew up in a working-class, immigrant family, which inspires and guides her research on labor. Her research interests also focus on gender, race, class, and care work. Ersie earned her M.A. at UMass Boston, where she explored how workers in the hospitality industry negotiate interactions in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Samantha Leonard
Samantha Leonard
Bachelor of Arts (Anthropology and Sociology, minor in Hispanic Studies), Vassar College
Master of Arts (Sociology and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies), Brandeis University

Sam's dissertation research explores work and activism to prevent intimate partner violence in Boston, U.S.A. and Buenos Aires, Argentina. She uses qualitative and archival methods in the dissertation and her other research projects, and she is particularly invested in collaborative endeavors. In her dissertation, she explores the temporality of IPV to understand the challenges and opportunities it creates for individual and collective actors in these fields of action as they define the problem, their action, and their narratives of the future.

Sam has long been interested in the meanings that we make of experiences of violence and how we respond to intimate and collective violences. Recently, as a research associate with the Cascading Lives: Stories of Loss, Resistance, and Resilience project, directed by Dr. Karen Hansen and Dr. Nazli Kibria, she's developed this interest by focusing on the exponential and enduring impact of turning point moments on individuals’ lives as they create meaning from their experiences of joy, grief, and social inequalities. Before coming to Brandeis, Sam served with the Peace Corps in Grenada, where she worked in youth and community development.

Lijun Lin
Lijun Lin
Bachelor of Art (Religious Studies, Minor in Economics), Wuhan University
Master of Art (Religious Studies), Renmin University of China

Lijun's research interests include religion, transnational migration, China and Chinese diaspora, gender and family. Her previous work focused on Christianity among Chinese immigrants in Italy. Before coming to Brandeis, Lijun was a visiting researcher at Boston University for one semester, and worked as a Chinese language teacher at the University of Bologna for four years

Ann Ward
Ann Ward
Bachelor of Arts (Sociology, minor in Community Development), Siena College
Master of Arts (Sociology), Brandeis University

Ann's interests include environmental sociology, social movements, community and urban sociology, community based research, and qualitative methods. Prior to attending Brandeis, Ann spent four years as an AmeriCorps member through the Bonner Service Leaders Program. Her current research focuses on the environmental movement with particular attention to the relationships between collective action, narrative, emotion, and climate change. 

Manning Zhang
Manning Zhang
Bachelor of Laws (Sociology), Fudan University
Minor in French, Shanghai International Studies University

Manning's interests include culture, creative arts, media, technology, health, migration and urbanization. Her previous work looked at the opinions on land conversion among different generations of farmers during the urbanization of a village in East China. She is currently working on a collaborative project that examines the social process behind individual eating disorders.

PhD Students in Sociology and Heller School for Social Policy

Kaitie Chakoian-Lifvergren
Snehalatha Gantla
Bachelor of Arts (Sociology and English), University of Illinois
Masters of Public Policy, Oregon State University

Sneha is from all over the map, with the US being her second country of residence and Boston being her fifth home in a decade. For her doctoral work, she is interested in looking at how/what social, symbolic, and physical boundaries intersect in the concept of citizenship.

Jonathan Jacob
Jonathan Jacob

Jonathan Jacob is a doctoral student pursuing a joint degree in Sociology and Social Policy at the Heller School. His research interests include issues of labor, social inequality, and culture. Jacob’s current research examines the inverse relationship between the usefulness of certain jobs and their pay in capitalist societies, and focuses on developing a metric to assess the social value of work. Prior to joining the Heller School, Jacob worked as a high school educator in Los Angeles County. He holds a MA in social sciences from The University of Chicago and a BA in business from Brandeis University.

Jennifer LaFleur
Jennifer LaFleur
PhD Student

BA, African/African American studies and educational studies (Carleton College) and EdM, education policy (Harvard University). Jenny's research seeks to apply critical geography to analyses of social problems and social policy, and considers how the spatial distribution of social and economic resources shapes opportunities for historically underserved groups. Additionally, she is interested in how market fundamentalist policy interacts with economic and racial residential segregation to shape outcomes for children and families. Her current and recent research examines how: private school vouchers impact educational opportunity for low income students and students of color; residential segregation influences children's exposure to disease and chronic health conditions; the parents of Black and Latinx students view inter-district school desegregation programs; and the impact of neighborhood contexts and resources on outcomes for public school students with disabilities.