Alumni of Color Spotlight
Our department seeks to support and build upon the richness and diversity of the region in which we are embedded. You can read more about our recent PhD alumni on the recent alumni profiles page, and you can also read more about our past alumni on a few past alumni profiles page.
Jessica Cuthbert (PhD 2020) is a sociologist and criminologist, researcher and educator studying the intersection of racial and ethnic disparities and American penal system practices. The recipient of the prestigious Bill Gates and Melinda Gates Millennium scholarship, Jessica received her Ph.D. in sociology (with a minor in policy analysis) at the University of Minnesota and has a B.A in Criminology from the University of Miami. Jessica has served as research assistant for a series of research projects at the University of Minnesota, particularly in the areas of race, gender, youth, discrimination and social justice. Jessica has extensive college-level teaching and mentoring experience as a former Ronald E. McNair program advisor. Jessica is also skilled in quantitative research methods. She brings extensive knowledge in the areas of school discipline and criminal punishment of youth and possesses research skills in hierarchical linear models, data coding expertise, and survey and oral interview methods. In the past, she served as visiting assistant professor at Spelman College and was invited to panel talks at Clark Atlanta University, both Historically Black Colleges in Atlanta. Most recently, she has been invited to teach Criminology at the University of Arizona.
Alex Manning (PhD 2019) is a Research Scholar and Lecturer at Yale University. His previous position was as an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Hamilton College, in Clinton, New York and Jacksonville University in Florida. Alex’s research explores the dynamic collisions among racism, inequality, families, youth, sport, and culture. He is specifically interested in how racism structures youth sports and other extracurricular activities, and how youth, parents, and coaches experience and make sense of race in their own lives. In the classroom, Alex strives to create an environment of learning where students rigorously interrogate the social world; develop a strong understanding of the institutional and historical context that surrounds persistent social problems and injustice; and recognize their own individual and collective agency in shaping and truly improving society. His dissertation title, Beyond Orange Slices: The Contested Cultural Terrain of Youth Soccer in the United States. He earned his B.A. in sociology from Howard University in 2011.
Stephen Cho Suh (PhD 2016) is an assistant professor of sociology & women's and ethnic studies at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. Suh received his PhD in Sociology from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in 2016. His scholarly interests lie at the intersection of race, ethnicity, gender, migration, and identity, particularly in the context of Asian Americans. His current research examines the phenomenon of ethnic return migration through the lived experiences of Korean American ‘returnees.’ He has works published in outlets such as the Journal of Asian American Studies, Men & Masculinities, and the Society Pages.
Jasmine Harris (PhD 2013) is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology & Sociology at Ursinus College. She holds a PhD in sociology from the University of Minnesota, a master’s degree in Public Communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology and women’s studies from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. She joined the Ursinus College anthropology and sociology department in 2014. Dr. Harris' research interests include race, class, and gender, and the intersectionality of those identities, particularly as they pertain to minority experiences. She is currently working on a weekly podcast to address current events around these topics with a quirky twist.
Ryan C. Alaniz (PhD 2012) is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at California Polytechnic State University. He completed his dissertation research, titled "From Tragedy to Opportunity: Long-term Development in Post-Disaster Intentional Communities in Honduras," in 2012. He is currently an assistant professor in sociology at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo and collaborates with various academic institutions including: United Nations University-Institute for Human and Environment Security, International Social Science Council, and the Fulbright program. Dr. Alaniz also volunteers with Engineers Without Borders, The Futbol Project, and Restorative Partners.
Minzee Kim (PhD 2012) is an assistant professor of sociology at Ewha University in Seoul, Korea. Dr. Kim studies the interplay between globalization and law and their implications on human rights. Particularly, she is interested in women’s and children’s rights. She has published on cross-national variations and outcomes of state policies for various women’s and children’s issues such as children’s survival and development rights, education funding, and women’s employment. Her current research includes an examination of abortion laws and laws relevant to women’s employment. She also conducts research on mental health of the youth during the transition to adulthood.
Erika Busse (PhD 2011) is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Minnesota funded by the Institute of Diversity, Equity, and Advocacy. Her research and teaching interests include transnational migration, race relations, family and gender, and ethnography. Erika has recently published research on Latino entrepreneurs in Minnesota and on women left behind. She is currently conducting an ethnography of a Peruvian dance group in Minnesota to investigate the interplay of gender and context of reception in the process of ethnic identity construction.
Elaine Hernandez (PhD 2011) is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Indiana University Bloomington. She received her degrees in public health (MPH) and sociology (PhD) from the University of Minnesota. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Population Research Center, funded by an individual grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health. Her research addresses the structural forces that contribute to the formation and reproduction of social inequalities in health. In her new line of research, she is interested in the intergenerational transmission of health inequalities related to obesity. She teaches courses related to the sociology of health and illness, including a course that will help prepare premedical students for the revised medical college admission test.
Marcia Williams (PhD 2008) is an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Social and Cultural Studies at Marquette University. She received her doctorate in sociology from the University of Minnesota in 2008, with specializations in race, culture, and education. Her work challenges cultural deficit explanations of the racial gap in academic achievement—which posit that under achievement among blacks stems from an oppositional identity that encourages poor performance in school. Dr. Williams’ dissertation, entitled, “Race, Identity and Education: An Ethnographic Study of Critical Student Agency In A Midwestern Elementary School” explores the culture of an elementary/middle school in which there was no racial gap in academic achievement.
Joyce M. Bell (PhD 2007) Bell is currently an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago. Previously, she was an assistant professor at the University of Georgia and an assistant and then associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Bell is a historical sociologist whose primary work examines the impact of the Black Power movement on the professions in the United States. Her first book, The Black Power Movement and American Social Work (2014, Columbia University Press), details the impact of the Black Power Movement on the profession of social work. She is currently doing research for her second book: Black Power Lawyers: Unique and Unorthodox Methods. Dr. Bell also does research on the role of diversity discourse in institutions, higher education policy, and in the law.
Jennifer C. Lee (PhD 2007) is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Indiana University Bloomington. She received her PhD from the University of Minnesota in 2007. She is currently an assistant professor in sociology and is affiliated with Asian American studies. Her research and teaching interests include sociology of education, work and labor market stratification, and Asian American communities. Jennifer has recently published research on high school employment and drop-out, and her current research investigates Asian employment in ethnic economies in the United States. In other research, she examines high school employment patterns and educational attainments of children of immigrants.
Darren L. Wheelock (PhD 2006) is an associate professor of criminology at Marquette University. He grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota and received his doctorate in sociology from the University of Minnesota. His research examines the ways criminal punishment deepens inequality and also investigates the connection between public attitudes toward criminal punishment and views towards racial minorities. His interests include really good beer, sports (especially basketball), fantasy sports nerdiness, traveling, his job, K-dramas, and spending as much time with his family as he can.