Current Graduate Students

Christina received her B.A. in Chicano Studies and Psychology from California State University, Fullerton. As a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, she worked with Dr. Cynthia Feliciano at the University of California, Irvine on a portion of the third wave of interviews in the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (Portes and Rumbaut, 2001) to better understand Latino male persistence in higher education. She is currently working with Dean Zatz on the NSF INCLUDES grant, which seeks to improve Latinx representation in the STEM fields. Her thesis will analyze the Tucson, Arizona court trial seeking to overturn Arizona Housebill 2281 (The ban on ethnic studies in K-12), which was found to be unconstitutional by the 9th circuit court of appeals. Her research interests include critical race theory, education, law, and social movements.

Hala received her B.A. in Sociology and Religious Studies from the California State University, Bakersfield. During her time there, Hala combined her two majors to conduct an independent qualitative study. This study explored the attitudes of young Muslim Americans towards homosexuality. Hala presented her findings at a number of conferences, including the California Sociological Association (CSA) and the Social Sciences Research and Instructional Center (SSRIC). At the SSRIC, Hala's paper received an honorable mention for the Charles McCall award for best undergraduate paper. Hala began her pursuit of a Ph.D./in Sociology at the University of California, Merced in the fall of 2016. For her thesis, she plans to continue the study she conducted during her undergraduate career to further explore the beliefs of Muslim Americans regarding LGBTQ issues. Hala has a passion for understanding social inequality in the areas of sexuality, gender, race/ethnicity, and religion.

UC Merced graduate student Bryan Amos

Bryan received B.A. degrees in Anthrolpology and Sociology from University of Idaho. He is currently in his second year at the University of California Merced. His research investigates connections between hate speech and actions of violence, as well as conservative social movement mobilization. He is published in Rural Sociology, and has several articles in progress.

UC Merced graduate student Katie Butterfield

Katie is a graduate student studying Sociology at UC Merced. Her research interests include food access; race, class, and gender; health; and statistical methods. Currently, she is focusing on the accessibility of community gardens among different demographic groups and the potential for community gardens and other local food programs to alleviate food insecurity and food desert conditions.

UC Merced graduate student Denise Castro

Denise received her B.A. in Psychology and minor in Sociology from UC Merced. As an undergraduate, Denise conducted community engaged research for the Merced Youth Funding Project with fellow undergraduate students, graduate students, and co-directors of the Resource Center for Community Engagement Scholarship (ReCCES) to increase funding for Merced’s youth. The research team described the most acute problems facing Merced’s youth, analyzed investment of youth programs and services in Central Valley cities, and researched best practices and youth programs/services in other cities to create local programs that would fit the community’s needs in Merced. The result of the research was presented to local city council for approval. Denise is currently a second-year sociology graduate student at UC Merced. Denise’s M.A. thesis examines the relationship between perceived racism and self-reported racism-related stress among U.S.-born and foreign-born Latinos/as and Asians in the U.S., and how coping strategies moderate this relationship. Her research interests include health, racism, race and ethnicity, gender, class, intersectionality, and immigration.

UC Merced graduate student Yajaira Ceciliano Navarro

Yajaira graduated with a master's degree in Labor Psychology from the University of Costa Rica. She worked at Academic Latin American Faculty (FLACSO) in Costa Rica from 2003-2015, where she was involved in various Latin and Central American projects, linked to social integration, immigration, education, youth and gender. She has published on gender, social dialogue and youth. She is currently a graduate student in Sociology at the University of California, Merced, working on understanding labor reintegration of deportees from the United States to nations in Latin America. See Yajaira's publications here.

UC Merced graduate student Katie Daniels

Kathryn (Katie) Daniels is a Merced native and a third year graduate student in sociology whose research focuses on racial inequalities in health. Katie’s master’s thesis used quantitative methods to analyse the relationship between self-reported racism and miscarriage risk among a sample of black women living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Katie is continuing to study the relationship between racism and health outcomes in her dissertation research.

Katie has also worked on research dealing with the role of personal narratives in affecting attitudes towards sexual assault, as well as research on underrepresented students in computer science. Katie received her bachelor's degree with honors in sociology and English from the University of California, Davis in 2011 and received her master's degree in sociology from the University of California, Merced in 2016.

UC Merced graduate student Maria Duenas

Maria’s research interests include race and ethnicity, immigration, family, intersectionality (race, gender, and class), and Latina/os. Within these areas, she studies the racialization of Latina/os, racial and ethnic identity, and racial and ethnic socialization. She is currently working on a research project on racial and ethnic socialization in Latina/o families. Maria has presented her research at the Society for the Study of Social Problems, the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, and the American Sociological Association's Race, Gender and Class conference. In addition to this, she has organized sessions and round-tables for the American Sociological Association's annual meeting. Maria recently completed a two-year term as Graduate Student Representative for ASA's Student Forum Advisory Board (2014-2016).

UC Merced graduate student Natasha Hagaman

Natasha received a B.A. in Gender Studies from Sonoma State University and an M.A. in Public Policy from Claremont Graduate University, after which she moved to Sacramento to work for lobbying associations. Following a move to Fresno, Natasha worked in the Fresno County Administrative Office and the Department of Behavioral Health before eventually embarking on a career change and becoming a lecturer at Fresno State in the Sociology Department and Women’s Studies program. Natasha began her Ph.D. in Sociology here at the University of California, Merced in the Fall of 2016. Natasha was the recipient of the Graduate Dean’s Recruitment Fellowship Award, which she was able to utilize for her first year of study.

UC Merced graduate student Veronica Lerma

Veronica is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Sociology Ph.D. program at the University of California, Merced. Her research interests include intersectionality, criminalization, Chicana feminisms, and historical sociology. Veronica’s dissertation examines the criminalization of Mexican American women and girls in the current era of mass incarceration and punitive social control. Specifically, she aims to identify the ways in which race, gender, class, and sexuality intersect with various institutions to define Mexican American women as criminal, as well as how these women interpret, experience, and navigate this criminalization. Veronica received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of the Pacific in 2011 and her Master of Arts degree from the University of California, Merced in 2013.

UC Merced graduate student Ashley Metzger

Ashley is a Sociology doctoral student who earned both her B.A. in Psychology and M.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Merced. Ashley’s work focuses on perceptions of ADHD within the classroom. More specifically, her previous research explores the impact that the ADHD diagnosis plays on teacher’s perceptions of diagnosed students’ academic achievement. She is currently working to expand upon this previous research to include diagnosed students’ track placement to understand how track placement may influence both students’ and teachers’ descriptions of the ADHD diagnosis. Her overall interests include educational inequalities, developmental disabilities, labeling theory, social psychology, as well as perceptions. Ashley has also served as the Sociology Graduate Student Committee President for the past 2 years.

UC Merced graduate student Carolina Molina

Bio coming soon

UC Merced graduate student Maria De Jesus Mora

Maria is a third year doctoral student in the Sociology Ph.D. Program at UC Merced. She received her B.A. and M.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Merced. Maria’s thesis explored immigrant rights campaigns in four central valley cities in order to better understand how low-income Latino immigrant communities are able to sustain mobilization long-term at the local level. She has presented her work in the California Sociological Association (CSA), Pacific Sociological Association (PSA), III Congreso Nacional de Sociologia in Honduras, and was an invited speaker at the CSU Stanislaus Social Justice conference. Maria’s research interests include immigration, social movements, and Latino/a movements. She has also continued to take part in the diversity committee in the Collective Behavior and Social Movement section of the American Sociological Association.

UC Merced graduate student Hyunsu Oh

Hyunsu is a graduate student at UC Merced. He got his B.A. and M.A. in sociology from Hanyang University at Seoul, South Korea. His research interests are international migration, social networks, Asian American studies, work and organization, and quantitative methods. Now he is working on the social networks of cross-border marriage migrants in South Korea and the causes and outcomes of bamboo ceiling in the US labor markets. He is an awardee of the 2017 Pacific Sociological Association Distinguished Graduate Student Paper Award.

UC Merced graduate student Rodolfo Rodriguez

Rodolfo is a first generation Xicano from Coalinga, California. Rodolfo obtained his bachelors in Sociology and Ethnic Studies with an emphasis on Chicano studies at Sac State after having attended West Hills Community College Coalinga. Rodolfo research interests are influenced by his immigrant farm working family/community and activist work. His research interest focus on social movements, colonialism(s), farm workers, and labor organizing.

UC Merced graduate student Houa Vang

Houa is in her first year of study in the UC Merced Sociology Ph.D. program. Her areas of interest include education, race/ethnicity, social inequality, and stratification. Right now her research interest is in examining minority serving institutions (MSIs) and their effects on students' higher education experiences and furthermore, their effects on social inequality. She will specifically look at Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs) and the experiences of Southeast Asian students. Houa has a B.A. in Sociology and Psychology and a Master of Public Administration from California State University, Fresno.

UC Merced graduate student Chia Xiong

Chia is a Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology at the University of California, Merced. She received both her B.A. and M.A. from Sacramento State. Her research interests are race, immigration and intersectionality. Her dissertation examines the intersections of race, class and gender in refugee migration. More specifically, she examines how economic factors, and legal statuses impact both the creation of the refugee figure and refugee belonging. She has taught sociological research methods, and serves as the Professional Development Chair of the Sociology Graduate Student Committee.

UC Merced graduate student Michelle Yeung

Michelle received her bachelors at the UC Davis, majoring in International Relations and Communications. Afterwards, she worked for Chinese for Affirmative Action, a community-based organization in San Francisco, as a community advocate for immigrant rights. Michelle continued her education at San Jose State University graduating with an M.A. in Sociology. After beginning in UC Merced’s Sociology graduate program, she is researching immigrant incorporation via the impact of social services on immigrant life satisfaction. Her research interests include immigration, race, and social policy.

Alejandro earned his B.A. in Sociology with a Minor in Multicultural Leadership at Cal Poly Pomona University in 2013. He is a graduate student of sociology in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at UC Merced. Zermeno is a scholar of race/ethnicity, health and wellbeing, with a focus on Indigenous Identity, Healing Ceremonies, and Indigenous Cultural Movements among Native American and Latina/o Pan-Indigenous communities throughout California. He is currently working on a research project exploring the impact of indigenous cultural healing practices on U.S. born Latina/o subjective wellbeing.

Sociology Department Chair
Paul Almeida, Professor
Sociology Graduate Chair
Zulema Valdez, Associate Professor
Sociology Undergraduate Chair
Irenee Beattie, Associate Professor
Sociology (General)
Sociology (Graduate)
Sociology Mailing Address
University of California, Merced
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Merced, CA 95343
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