Visiting Scholars, 2013–2014

IRP-Supported Visiting Scholars

Poverty Researchers from Underrepresented Groups

Roberto G. Gonzales

Roberto G. GonzalesPosition: Assistant Professor, Harvard University Graduate School of Education
Visit Dates: September 23–27, 2013
Seminar: September 26, 2013, Lives in Limbo: Undocumented Mexican Young Adults and the Conflicting Experiences of Belonging and Illegality
Mentors: Eric Grodsky and Jenna Nobles

Gonzales received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Irvine, in 2008. Prior to his faculty position at Harvard, Professor Gonzales was on faculty at the University of Chicago and the University of Washington. A qualitative sociologist, Gonzales's research focuses on the ways in which legal and educational institutions shape the everyday experiences and the transitions to adulthood of poor, minority, and immigrant youth. Over the last decade he has been engaged in critical inquiry regarding what happens to undocumented immigrant children as they make transitions to adolescence and young adulthood.

He is currently engaged in two projects aimed at better understanding the effects of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program: a longitudinal study to assess the effects of widened access among undocumented immigrant young adults; and a companion study to assess DACA implementation in schools and community based organizations. He is also carrying out a study of antipoverty programs servicing immigrants in the Chicago suburbs and comparative research on immigrant youth in the U.S. and the UK. His work is being supported by MacArthur, Irvine, and Heising-Simons Foundations. Gonzales is a member of a team, led by co-principal investigators Douglas S. Massey and David Grusky, that was awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and administered by the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality, to study Hispanic Poverty and Social Mobility.

A theme that unifies Gonzales's work is a concern with the relationship between scholarship, policy, and direct practice. He combines more than 15 years of direct practice in schools and communities with formal training in sociology to engage four aspects of immigrant and youth incorporation: the legal, educational, economic, and civic.

Read Robert G. Gonzales's article "Learning to be Illegal" about the impact of reverse social mobility on undocumented immigrant young adults, published in the American Sociological Review, June 2011.

Charles Hokayem

Charles HokayemPosition: Economist, Poverty Statistics Branch, U.S. Census Bureau
Visit Dates: April 7–11, 2014
Seminar: April 10, 2014, Trouble in the Tails? Earnings Nonresponse and Response Bias across the Distribution Using Matched Household and Administrative Data
Mentors: Timothy Smeeding, Katherine Magnuson, and Robert Haveman

Hokayem received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Kentucky in 2010, and he was a Graduate Research Fellow at the University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research (UKCPR). As a UKCPR research fellow, he co-authored a technical report and brief on the impact of child care subsidies on the employment of single mothers in Kentucky, and he also worked on a project about alternative poverty measures and the geographic distribution of poverty in the United States.

Hokayem has continued his research on poverty as an economist at the U.S. Census Bureau since 2010. His projects in the Poverty Statistics Branch have focused on poverty measurement, the near poor, and the implications of earnings nonresponse. His recent work includes valuing WIC and school lunch benefits used in the Supplemental Poverty Measure and implementing the Supplemental Poverty Measure using the American Community Survey.

Currently, Hokayem is interested in the near poor and the importance of survey nonresponse on measuring poverty and inequality. Specifically, he examines long-term trends and characteristics of the near poor (individuals living just above the poverty threshold) and studies how alternative poverty measures differentially identify the near poor compared to the official poverty measure. He is also using administrative data to study the effect of earnings nonresponse in the Current Population Survey on estimates of poverty and inequality.

Read Charles Hokayem's working on the near poor "Life on the Edge: Living Near Poverty in the United States, 1966–2011," presented at the Fall Research Conference of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, Baltimore, MD, November 8 to 10, 2012.

Maria G. Rendón

Maria G. RendonPosition: Assistant Professor, Departments of Planning, Policy, and Design, and Sociology, University of California, Irvine
Visit Dates: April 28–May 2, 2014

Seminar: May 1, 2014, Optimism and Belief in the American Opportunity Structure During the Great Recession: The Case of Second Generation Latino Young Men
Mentors: Eric Grodsky, Timothy Smeeding, and Jenna Nobles

Rendón received a Ph.D. from the Harvard University Sociology and Social Policy Program in 2009. Her research and teaching interests include immigration; urban sociology; neighborhood effects; stratification/social mobility; race and ethnicity; ethnography; qualitative and mixed-methods; social inequality; and transition to adulthood. Her research has focused on understanding how poor, urban neighborhoods influence life outcomes, particularly education and work outlooks and decisions, with a special focus on Latinos.

A current project is a five-year follow-up study of a group of Latino young adult men and their immigrant parents who were initially interviewed in 2007. The study examines how this group got by during the recession and now attempts to get ahead and, as such, straddles the urban poverty and immigration literatures, specifically examining the extent of social mobility for second generation Latinos in the United States. For another project Rendón was awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, administered by the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality, to study "The Mobility Prospects of Latino Men: Before and After the Great Recession."

Read the transcript of an interview in which Maria Rendón discusses her work on second generation young Latino men and urban inequality with Valerie Jenness, Dean of the School of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine (nd).

Van C. Tran

Van C. TranPosition: Assistant Professor of Sociology at Columbia University
Visit Dates: May 5–9, 2014
Seminar: May 8, 2014, Second-Generation Decline or Advantage? New Evidence on the Assimilation of Latinos in the U.S.
Mentors: John Mullahy, Timothy Smeeding, and Jenna Nobles

Tran earned a Ph.D. from the Harvard University Sociology and Social Policy Program in 2011. He was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar from 2011 to 2013 at the University of Pennsylvania.

Tran's research agenda focuses broadly on the incorporation of post-1965 immigrants and their children as well as its implications for the future of ethnic and racial inequality. His other research interests include neighborhoods, urban communities, and population health. He is working on a book project that explores the impact of neighborhood disadvantage on social mobility among the children of immigrants in New York City and beyond.

Tran is also working on a new project on the socioeconomic assimilation of Hispanics/Latinos, which documents recent trends in mobility and poverty among Hispanics by immigrant generation and by ethnic origin. This project has been funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services administered by the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality.

Read Tran's article, "Assimilation," in the Oxford Bibliographies Online in Sociology, ed. Jeff Manza, New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Edward D. Vargas

Edward D. VargasPosition: Postdoctoral Fellow, Robert W. Johnson Health Policy Center, University of New Mexico
Visit Dates: March 10–14, 2014
Seminar: Wednesday, March 12, 2014, Mixed-Status Families and Stress: The Effects of Risk of Deportation on Substance Use
Mentors: Marcia Carlson, Timothy Smeeding, Judith Bartfeld, and Jennifer Noyes

Vargas received a Ph.D. in 2010 in public affairs from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). During the 2012 to 2013 academic year he was a Visiting Lecturer at SPEA.

Vargas's academic background is in policy analysis and public finance with a particular interest in poverty alleviation and social programs for the poor. His research and training has predominately been quantitative through coursework and employment at the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). His substantive focus at ICPSR has been on the methodological issues on the quantitative research on race and ethnicity.

His dissertation research used both household- and individual-level data to examine the take-up of public programs (food security, health, and education) for mixed-status families—that is, those in which one or more family members in a household are in the United States without authorization and other family members are U.S. citizens by birthright. This research employs new measures of fear and risk of deportation to explain participation in public services by mixed-status Mexican families.

Vargas has two manuscripts that focus on the measurement of race and ethnicity. One of the papers advocates towards a more dynamic measure of race (race as a lived experience) that uses a combination of social economic status, ascribed race (what others think you are), skin color, and self-defined race. The other manuscript focuses on group consciousness, group identity, and linked fate to examine if these constructs should be used interchangeably.

Read Vargas's article coauthored with Maureen Pirog, "Cohabiting and Domestic Violence," in the Encyclopedia of Domestic Violence, ed. Nicky Ali Jackson, New York: Routledge, 2006.

Food Assistance Researchers

Debra Brucker

Debra BruckerPosition: Researcher, University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability and Lecturer, for the School of Continuing Studies (online) at Northwestern University
Visit Dates: March 10–14, 2014.
Seminar: March 13, 2014, Food Security among People with Disabilities
Mentor: Judith Bartfeld, director of the IRP RIDGE Center

Brucker earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Delaware in 1995 and a Ph.D. in planning and public policy from Rutgers University in 2007. She has held social and health policy research positions at academic institutions, research organizations, and state agencies. As an investigator on several grants funded through the Department of Education's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, she uses national level survey data (e.g. Current Population Survey, Survey of Income and Program Participation) to measure the well-being and public program participation of persons with disabilities. Brucker serves on the Governor's Commission on Disability and Employment and the State Rehabilitation Council in her home state of Maine.

Read the abstract of Brucker's recent article coauthored with Andrew J. Houtenville on "Participation in Safety-Net Programs and the Utilization of Employment Services among Working-Age Persons with Disabilities," Journal of Disability Policy Studies, February 14, 2013, doi: 10.1177/1044207312474308.

Mariana Chilton

Mariana ChiltonPosition: Associate Professor, Department of Health Management and Policy, Drexel University School of Public Health, and Director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities,
Visit Dates: February 10–14, 2014
Seminar: February 13, 2014, Breaking Out of Poverty & Overcoming Violence: Insights from Participatory Research with Mothers of Young Children
Mentor: Judith Bartfeld, director of the IRP RIDGE Center

Chilton received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Oklahoma, and Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University. She directs the Center for Hunger-Free Communities at Drexel University, a research and advocacy center that seeks to develop innovative, proven solutions to hunger and economic insecurity. She founded Witnesses to Hunger, a Center initiative and research and advocacy project that partners with mothers and caregivers of young children who have experienced hunger and poverty to create photographs and stories that explore their lived experience. The project aims to increase women's participation in the national dialogue on hunger and poverty in a way that could bring in legislators, the public, and other researchers into a dialogue that would be lasting and impactful.

Chilton has testified before the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives on the importance of child nutrition programs and other antipoverty policies. She has served as an advisor to Sesame Street and to the Institute of Medicine. Her awards include the "Nourish Award"; from MANNA, the “Unsung Hero Award” for Improving the Lives of Women and Girls from Women's Way and the Young Professional Award in Maternal and Child Health from the American Public Health Association.  Her work has been featured in the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, public radio and CBS National News.

See the website of the Witnesses to Hunger project of the Drexel University School of Public Health Center for Hunger-Free Communities.

Self-Supported Researchers

Shatakshee Dhongde

Shatakshee DhongdePosition: Assistant Professor, School of Economics, Georgia Institute of Technology
Visit Dates: May 5–9, 2014
Seminar: May 7, 2014, Multidimensional Poverty Index: An Application with U.S. Data

Dhongde obtained her Ph.D. from the University of California, Riverside in 2005 and was an Assistant Professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, NY. Her research analyzes globalization and its impact on economic growth, poverty, inequality, and segregation. She is a part of a Georgia Tech multidisciplinary research team at which is developing models to study the effect of socio-economic factors affecting terrorism. Her work has been published in leading economics journals, including the Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, the Review of Income and Wealth and World Development.

Irene Y. H. Ng

Irene Y. H. NgPosition: Associate Professor, Department of Social Work, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore, and executive editor of Asia Pacific Journal of Social Work and Development, will be in residence from
Visit Dates: September 3–13, 2013

Seminar: September 5, 2013: Evaluation of a Government Assistance Program to Support Work in Singapore

Ng's research areas include poverty and inequality, intergenerational mobility, youth crime, and social welfare policy. She is principal investigator of an evaluation of a national work support program and a collaborator in a research study in Michigan examining delinquents who are processed through the adult criminal system.

Ng serves on committees in the National Youth Council, the Chinese Development Assistance Council, and the Family Research Network. Her teaching areas include policy, research, program planning, and youth work.