TeratMy research focuses primarily on inequality in higher education. In one line, I examine low-income, first-generation, and/or working-class students’ campus lives at selective colleges. A second area of examination focuses on faculty members’ and administrators’ experiences. In both, I am interested in understanding how people manage inequality in day to day interactions, both among individuals and within campus structures. While most of my research foregrounds class, I am also attentive to intersectional experiences of racialization and gendering.

Here are several current projects.

 Student clubs as venues for support and change

The last ten years have seen a rapid growth in campus-based efforts to increase awareness of LIFGWC students. Many of these have been initiated by students themselves, whether through anonymous online “confession” pages or advocacy and activism groups on campus. This project examines students’ experiences in social and political organizing around class at selective colleges, focusing on how students talk about class inequality in a class-homogenous setting. Subsequent interview waves will focus on administrators with similar goals. Work from this study has been published in Social Currents and is forthcoming in Sociological Forum.


Race, gender, and first-generation status at elite colleges

Research on socioeconomically disadvantaged students has increasingly recognized first-generation status (meaning, those whose parents have not graduated from college) as a crucial source of stratification. But despite longstanding literature on race and gender stratification on campus, scholars to date have failed to examine the ways race and gender may lead to heterogenous outcomes among first-generation students. Janel Benson and I use in-depth interviews and survey data to uncover the complex ways that first-generation students sort themselves and are sorted into very different college worlds depending on their race and gender, shaping their experiences as first-generation students with both immediate and long-term implications for climbing the socioeconomic ladder. This project expands contemporary understandings of first-generation college campus lives and possibilities for mobility, and the ways that programs intended to help all first-generation students may only effectively be supporting some. Some of this work is forthcoming in our new book, Geographies of Campus Inequality: Mapping the Diverse Experiences of First-Generation Students.

 Low-socioeconomic status faculty members

This project focuses on faculty members who grew up in low-income, working-class, and/or first-generation college families and uses in-depth interviews with over 45 academic professionals (those who have completed doctoral work or who are in the process of doing so and who have responsibility for teaching at the college level) from diverse race, ethnic, gender, and employment positions. Forthcoming and published work centers on the ways cross- and within-class dynamics take place among faculty members and between professors and students, radicalized differences among low-SES faculty members, and how class is enacted in professional academic life. The first article, focused on low-SES background as a possible source of stigma among faculty, was recently published in Sociology of Education. Other findings have been published in the Journal for Working Class Studies and the forthcoming edited volume Intersected Campuses: The College Experience from Different Identities and Positions (Rutgers University Press).