Leo Chavez, University of California Irvine

Professor Chavez's research examines various issues related to transnational migration, including immigrant families and households, labor market participation, motivations for migration, the use of medical services, and media constructions of "immigrant" and "nation." His books include Shadowed Lives: Undocumented Immigrants in American Society (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1992, 1997 2nd edition), which provides an ethnographic account of Mexican and Central American undocumented immigrants in San Diego County, California.  Covering Immigration: Popular Images and the Politics of the Nation (University of California Press 2001) examines representations of immigrants in the media and popular discourse in the United States through the lens of magazine covers and their related articles.  His newest book is The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens and the Nation (Stanford University Press 2008), which examines issues of anti-Latino discourse, struggles over the meaning of citizenship, and role of media spectacles in society in relation to the politics of reproduction, organ transplants, the Minuteman Project, and immigrant marches and protests.  The Latino Threat, 2nd Edition, released in 2013. Recent medically related articles include "Beliefs Matter: Cultural Beliefs and the Use of Cervical Cancer Screening Tests;" and "Immigration and Medical Anthropology" (2003).  See also, "Culture Change and Cultural Reproduction: Lessons from Research on Transnational Migration" (2006); and “Commentary: The Condition of Illegality” (2007).

Katharine M. Donato, Vanderbilt University

Since 2006, Dr. Donato has been a principal investigator on a tri-city project that examines immigrant parent involvement in schools (with Dr. Marshall in Political Science at Rice University). With funding from The National Science and Russell Sage Foundations as well as from Vanderbilt's Center for Nashville Studies, Dr. Donato has supervised the collection of a unique data set from interviews with immigrant parents in New York, Chicago, and Nashville. Together with Dr. Marshall, they use these new data to supplement existing analyses of federal school data and examine variation in immigrant parent involvement and school outreach programs.

Dr. Donato began developing a new project on adolescent health and migration in Mexico (in collaboration with Kathleen Mullan Harris and Krista Perreira at UNC-Chapel Hill).

In late 2007, Dr. Donato received word from the National Institute of Child Health and Development at NIH that funding for a new project, Migration and Access to Care: An Innovative Population-Based Sampling Strategy (with Dr. Weathers from UNC-Chapel Hill), is now pending.

Finally, since 1996, Dr Donato has been a principal investigator on a binational project that examines how the processes of health and migration unfold the life course ( With funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and a close collaboration with El Colegio de San Luis in Mexico, the project has collected four waves of longitudinal data from approximately 2,000 Mexican families on both sides of the border."

Robert C. Smith, Baruch College and the Graduate Center--City University of New York

Robert Courtney Smith is a Professor of Sociology, Immigration Studies and Public Affairs at the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York.  His work seeks to increase our understanding of contemporary migration, and to identify strategic sites of intervention for policy.  He has worked in the Mexican community in New York and in Mexico (especially the state of Puebla) for more than twenty years. He is the author of Mexican New York: Transnational Worlds of New Immigrants (University of California Press, 2006), which won four awards from the American Sociological Association:  the 2006 Thomas and Zaniecki Award for best book on migration;  the 2007 Robert Park Award for the best book on Community and Urban Sociology, the 2008 Latino/a best book award, and the 2008 overall Distinguished Book Award.  It also won a Presidential Excellence Prize from Baruch College.  He has been awarded grants from the National Science Foundation,  the Social Science Research Foundation, the Spencer Foundation/National Academy of Education,  the Columbia Oral History Research Project. He was a Russell Sage Foundation Visiting Fellow in 2007-2008, and a Guggenheim Fellow in 2009-2010. 

Dr Smith's "public sociology" seeks to identify strategic sites of intervention to promote positive outcomes.  He has served several years on the CUNY Chancellor's Commission on Mexicans and Education in New York, and serves as the Lead Faculty in the Baruch College School of Public Affairs Emerging Mexican Leaders Program. Smith co-founded the Mexican Educational Foundation of New York (which is merging with the Mexican American Students Alliance), which promotes educational achievement and committed leadership in the Mexican community. Dr Smith was an expert witness in the Voting Rights Act case of US. v. Village of Port Chester, focusing on the history of discrimination and racial social dynamics involving Latinos.  He also routinely advises Mexican community organizations and leaders.  In recognition of this work, Dr Smith was awarded the  Youth Advocate of the Year Award in 2008 by the largest Mexican nonprofit organization in New York, Organizacion Tepeyac.

Leisy Abrego, University of California Los Angeles

Born in San Salvador, El Salvador, Professor Leisy Abrego is a member of the first large wave of Salvadoran immigrants who arrived in Los Angeles in the early 1980s. Trained as a sociologist, her research and teaching interests—inspired in great part by her family’s experiences in the US—are in Central American immigration, Latina/o families, and the inequalities created by gender and by U.S. immigration policies.

Currently, Abrego is in the process of writing her first book manuscript, which highlights the role of gender and legal status in determining the well-being of Salvadoran transnational families separated by migration. Her early work examines how immigration and educational policies shape the educational trajectories of undocumented students. These projects won Best Graduate Student Paper Awards from the Sociology of Law and the Latina/o Sociology sections of the American Sociological Association. More recently, her work explores how different subsectors of Latino immigrants internalize immigration policies differently and how this shapes their willingness to make claims in this country. 

Joanna Dreby, University at Albany-State University of New York

Joanna Dreby is Assistant Professor of Sociology the University at Albany, State University of New York and received her PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2007. She is author of the book Divided by Borders: Mexican Migrants and their Children (University of California Press 2010), which is the recipient of the Goode Book Award and the Thomas and Znaniecki Best Book Award from the American Sociological Association (Family Section) (2011) and also the 2011 Book Award from the Association for Humanist Sociology (International Migration Section). The book is based on a four year ethnographic study that draws on fieldwork and interviews with over 140 members of Mexican transnational families including migrant parents in Central New Jersey and children in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca and children’s caregivers.  It explores how family separation during international migration, and the sacrifices such separations entail, affect the relationships between family members.

Professor Dreby is an ethnographer of family life, whose research focuses on the ways migratory patterns and families’ decisions about work and child care affect children.  Her current research, funded by the Foundation for Child Development, explores the experiences of young children growing up in Mexican immigrant households in Ohio and New Jersey. The project documents the ways variations in legal status within families and settlement patterns in new destination sites impact the lives of  children.

Veronica Terriquez, University of Southern California

Veronica Terriquez received her Ph.D. in sociology from UCLA. Her research focuses on educational inequality, immigrant integration, and organized labor. Her work is linked to education justice and immigrant rights organizing efforts in California. Dr. Terriquez has also worked as a community organizer on school reform and other grassroots campaigns.

Dr Terriquez is currently working on a study of parental engagement in Los Angeles County. Drawing on survey and semi-structured interviews data, she seeks to understand how individual parents acquire the confidence, cultural capital, and problem-solving skills to actively participate in school affairs. She is particularly interested in examining how labor and community organizations support various forms of school-based civic participation among Latino immigrants and other racially diverse parents. Dr Terriquez is also the principal investigator of the California Young Adult Study (CYAS), a mixed-methods investigation of youths' access to postsecondary education, employment, and civic engagement opportunities.

Sarah Willen, University of Connecticut

Sarah S. Willen is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Connecticut, where she is also Director of the Research Program on Global Health and Human Rights at the university’s Human Rights Institute. A medical and sociocultural anthropologist, her primary research interests include the illegalization and criminalization of irregular migrants; biopolitics and social exclusion; embodiment and experience; and anthropological approaches to morality, dignity, and deservingness. Willen has authored over 25 articles and book chapters and edited or co-edited seven volumes, among them Transnational Migration to Israel in Global Comparative Context (2007) and special issues of Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry (2013), Social Science & Medicine (2012), Ethos (2012), and International Migration (2007).

A former NIMH Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Willen has received the Rudolf Virchow Prize from the Society for Medical Anthropology’s Critical Anthropology of Global Health group (2004, 2012), a David R. Blumenthal Award in Jewish Studies and the Humanities (2004), a Marjorie Shostak Prize for Excellence and Humanity in Ethnographic Writing (2003), and two Certificates of Distinction in Teaching from the Derek Bok Center at Harvard College (2008, 2009). She is presently a 2013-14 Faculty Residential Fellow at the University of Connecticut’s Humanities Institute.