About Me

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I am a David E. Bell Fellow in the Center for Population and Development Studies at Harvard University.  I recently completed my Ph.D. in sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, where I completed a Dissertation Year Fellowship, pre-doctoral traineeships from the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development through the California Center for Population Research, and a pre-doctoral fellowship in the Institute for Educational Sciences’ Advanced Quantitative Methods program at UCLA. I study social stratification and mobility, and I am particularly interested in the roles that education and income inequality play.  My dissertation focused on how disruptions in parents’ lives (e.g., job loss, divorce, residential move) impact their children’s educational attainment. I recently completed a project that examines how life course disruptions affect health in later life, and I am working on another project to look at the effects of disruptive events on health throughout the life course. I am also working on a cross-national comparative project to see how mothers’ job losses affect children’s education differently in the U.S. versus Germany.

I primarily use nationally representative longitudinal data sets for my work. I have used the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79), the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), and the German Socio-Economic Panel (G-SOEP). I am also trained to use the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study and will be starting a project that uses this data soon.

Methodologically, I am fascinated by causality, especially how causality relates to life course theory.  The fundamental problem of causal inference states that we cannot possibly see a person go through two courses in life simultaneously, whether that be two different tracks in school, two different occupational choices at a specific time, or choosing to get married versus not getting married. Yet, at the same time, each choice or event in a person’s life affects future choices and events. The idea that the other option becomes virtually extinct (at least for it to happen at that particular time) drives my quantitative research. I am also interested in the relationship between individual level observations and aggregate level data or generalizations.