Visiting Scholars, 2010–2011

Sigal Alon | Brian Cadena | Nicole Esparza | Angela Valdovinos D’Angelo | David E. Frisvold | Julia B. Isaacs | Grace Lordan | Irma Mooi-Reci | H. Luke Shaefer | Kosali Simon

Sigal Alon

Sigal Alon is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Tel-Aviv University. She will be in residence at IRP from February through July 2011.

Alon studies social and economic inequalities— in education, in the labor market, and in work organizations. In recent years she has been studying the U.S. postsecondary education system to understand the mechanisms underlying race and class disparities in access, experiences, and performance of students at selective and nonselective institutions. She also wrote several papers that examine the social implications of affirmative action and financial aid policies in postsecondary education.

With support from the Spencer Foundation, she is now studying questions related to equality of educational opportunity at Israeli flagship universities. Recent publications include the following: Alon, Sigal, 2009, “The Evolution of Class Inequality in Higher Education: Competition, Exclusion and Adaptation,” American Sociological Review 74:731–755; Alon, Sigal and Dafna Galbgiser, Forthcoming, “The Female Advantage in College Academic Achievements and Horizontal Sex Segregation," Social Science Research; and Alon, Sigal, Thurston Domina and Marta Tienda, 2010,  “Stymied Mobility or Temporary Lull? Intergenerational Discontinuities in Hispanic College Destinations,” Social Forces 88(4) June.

Brian Cadena

Brian Cadena, Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Colorado at Boulder, will be in residence March 21–25, 2011. On March 24 he will present a seminar at IRP on his recent work.

Cadena received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan in 2008, where he worked closely with several affiliates of the National Poverty Center. His research focuses on two central themes: immigration and mobility consequences of labor market policies and shocks affecting low-wage workers, and behavioral economics explanations for seemingly suboptimal behavior.

He has examined the immigration responses to antipoverty policies including welfare reform and the minimum wage, and, in ongoing research, he is investigating the mobility effects of the “war on drugs” and the recent crash in the housing and construction sectors. His behavioral research focuses on low-income and low-asset groups. Completed work includes an empirical investigation of the determinants of incomplete take-up of a need-based financial aid program. In ongoing research, he is investigating the role of impatience in suboptimal human capital investment, including high school and college dropout behavior.

Cadena’s hosts and mentors during his stay will be Thomas De Leire, John Karl Scholz, Christopher Taber, James Walker, and Timothy Smeeding.

Angela Valdovinos D’Angelo

Angela Valdovinos D’Angelo, the Harold A. Richman Postdoctoral Fellow at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, will be in residence October 4–8, 2010. On October 7 she will present a seminar at IRP on her recent work.

Valdovinos D’Angelo completed her Ph.D. in Human Development and Social Policy in Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy. To date, her research has focused on understanding the normative parenting processes of disadvantaged Latino and immigrant families, the influence of immigrant parenting on the developmental trajectories of young children, and how culture shapes parenting behavior.

Two areas of research that she is pursuing during her postdoctoral fellowship are: understanding the role of parental expectations and school involvement for Latino adolescents’ academic achievement; and examining the links between early-childhood-program use, including fathers’ involvement in programs, to the school readiness of very young children in immigrant families.

At Chapin Hall, she is currently working on an implementation evaluation of the Elev8 project in Chicago, which “seeks to transform the educational achievement and life outcomes of disadvantaged students in middle schools in five Chicago neighborhoods." This is part of a larger national initiative being implemented in three other major cities. For more information, please see

Valdovinos D’Angelo’s host and mentor during her stay will be Katherine Magnuson, Assistant Professor of Social Work and IRP Associate Director of Research and Training.

Nicole Esparza

Nicole Esparza, Assistant Professor, School of Policy, Planning, and Development at the University of Southern California, will be in residence January 24–28, 2011. On January 27 she will present a seminar at IRP on her recent work.

Esparza completed a Ph.D. in sociology at Princeton University in 2007 and then spent two years at Harvard University as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar. Her research applies organizational theory to poverty and urban inequality. To this end, she takes a multi-level approach to the study of antipoverty social services by situating community organizations within the urban context. Her basic approach is to focus on the local policy, geographic location, and relational ties affecting community organizations. She applies this approach to two specific aspects of antipoverty social services: homeless assistance and food banks.

Her research asks two general questions: How do social, economic, and political forces shape the size and distribution of the urban social service sector? How do interorganizational dynamics influence the effectiveness and distribution of these services?

Esparza’s host and mentor during her stay will be Judith Bartfeld.

David E. Frisvold

David E. Frisvold, Assistant Professor of Economics, Emory University, will be in residence April 25–29, 2011. On April 28 he will present a seminar at IRP on his recent work.

Frisvold received a Ph.D. in economics from Vanderbilt University in 2006 and was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan from 2006–2008. During his IRP visit, he will continue his research on the influence of federal reimbursement rates on the nutrition quality of meals provided through the School Breakfast Program (SBP), a project that is an extension of his IRP RIDGE-funded (2008–09) research on the impact of the availability of the SBP on cognitive achievement.

He is interested in understanding whether food assistance programs, particularly the SBP, improve the nutrition and school performance of low-income children. His current research on the impact of the availability of the SBP on cognitive achievement and childhood obesity suggests that state mandates that require schools to offer the SBP have improved childhood outcomes. Yet, an improvement in the quality of the meals provided could perhaps further benefit children. Additionally, as food prices have increased more so than the federal reimbursement rate in recent years, there is the possibility that the nutritional quality of meals will decrease. He is interested in understanding how the federal reimbursement rate influences the nutritional quality of breakfast and, in turn, whether students consume breakfast.

Frisvold’s host and mentor during his stay will be Judith Bartfeld.

Julia B. Isaacs

Julia B. Isaacs, Child and Family Policy Fellow at the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution, is spending 75 percent of her time at IRP in 2010–2011. Her primary responsibility this year is developing (with the assistance of Katherine Magnuson of IRP) the early childhood module for a new microsimulation model, the Social Genome Model. The primary purpose of the new life-cycle model is to simulate how policy interventions might improve the life prospects of children and enable more Americans to reach the middle class.

A former federal budget analyst, Isaacs also researches issues related to child poverty and public investments in children. Her recent publications include three issue briefs on the recent recession, Child Poverty During the Great Recession: Predicting State Child Poverty Rates for 2010, Families of the Recession (co-authored with Phillip Lovell), and The Effects of the Recession on Child Poverty, and two reports on poverty in Wisconsin, the first Wisconsin Poverty Report and the second report, Wisconsin Poverty Report: New Measure, Broader View (both co-authored with IRP Director Timothy Smeeding and others).

Isaacs also has co-authored a series of reports on federal expenditures on children, including Kids’ Share 2010: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children Through 2009 (co-authored with C. Eugene Steuerle and others), and Public Investments in Children’s Early and Elementary Years (co-authored with Jennifer Macomber and others).

Grace Lordan

Grace Lordan is a Lecturer in Economics at the University of Queensland, Australia. She will be in residence at IRP between June 10, 2011, and July 18, 2011.

Grace specializes in health economics and applied health econometrics. She is interested in all areas of health economics and is currently working on papers that consider the factors that influence child health and expenditure on health in both developing and developed countries. In addition, she is interested in analyzing risky behaviors.

Recent publications include: "Children and the Allocation of Household Preventative Resources," 2010, School of Economics Working Paper Series, University of Queensland [with R. Brown, W. Greene and E. Jimenez]; "Unplanned Pregnancy & the Impact on Sibling Health Outcomes," 2010, School of Economics Working Paper Series, University of Queensland; "Socioeconomic Status and Health Outcomes in a Developing Country," 2010, School of Economics Working Paper Series, University of Queensland; "Should We Put a Thin Subsidy on the Policy Table in the Fight Against Obesity?" 2010, School of Economics Working Paper Series, University of Queensland [with J.Quiggin].

Irma Mooi-Reci

Dr. Irma Mooi-Reci, Assistant Professor of Social Research Methodology at the VU University, Amsterdam, will be in residence June 23-August 31, 2011.

Dr. Irma Mooi-Reci (Tirana, 1978) completed her PhD studies in December 2008 on the effects of unemployment insurance benefits on worker’s employment and re-employment wages. The impact of Irma’s research has resulted in Dutch media attention and a significant prize “2009 VU Junior Societal Impact Award” for the dissertation with the most societal impact written in 2008–2009. Mooi-Reci is assistant Professor of social research methodology at the VU University, Amsterdam, where she lectures on the subject of inequality in the labor market and quantitative research methods. Irma is member of the research group on Social Inequality and the Life Course (SILC) led by Prof. H.B.G. Ganzeboom and Prof. A. Liefbroer and chair of the (SILC) research seminars. Since 2010 she has also been a research member of the Amsterdam Centre for Inequality Studies (AMCIS). You can find more information about Irma’s research interests at:

Mooi-Reci's host and mentor during her stay will be Thomas DeLeire and Timothy Smeeding.

H. Luke Shaefer

H. Luke Shaefer, Assistant Professor of Social Work, University of Michigan, and Research Affiliate, National Poverty Center, will be in residence February 28–March 4, 2011. On March 3 he will present a seminar at IRP on his recent work.

He is co-principal investigator on a two-year project to examine food assistance and child well-being in collaboration with Sheldon Danziger. The project builds on his existing research on families supported by low-wage workers, economic shocks, and the U.S. social safety net. He is analyzing data from the 2004 and 2008 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), utilizing topical modules with data on food security and other measures of well-being.

Shaefer is examining the effects of participation in food assistance programs on well-being for children living in low-income families that experience adverse economic shocks—job loss, divorce, or separation. The analyses focus on the two largest food assistance programs: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) and the National School Lunch Program (for children receiving free or reduced-price lunches). The primary measure of child well-being will be food insecurity, a key outcome used by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to evaluate food assistance programs.

Shaefer’s host and mentor during his stay will be Judith Bartfeld.

Kosali Simon

Professor Simon’s primary field is health economics. Her research investigates the impact of state and federal regulations attempting to ease the availability of private and public health insurance for vulnerable populations (through state 'small-group' reforms, public health insurance expansions, Medigap rate regulations and adding prescription drug coverage to Medicare) on health insurance, health and labor market outcomes. As examples of other work on the economics of health insurance, she has investigated the effect of factors such as unemployment, involuntary job loss, and minimum wage laws on health insurance. A secondary research focus is the determinants of health and care use.