About me/Intellectual Genealogy

 

My family, both biological and fictive kin, is where it all starts for me. These people were a combination of scholarly (even those without formal education), socially-minded and exacting in their expectations of me to attend college and help change the world because, otherwise what’s the point? Years ago after taking my first set of prelims, I was at the post-prelim BBQ  worrying about not having received a certain fellowship or something. My dear friend and mentor Katherine Luke said, quite simply in her usual reassuring tone, "We all have our own path." I have tried to remember that as that path takes (unexpected) turns.  

 

 

Undergraduate

I began my undergraduate career at UC Davis studying to be a Registered Dietitian through the then-named Dietetics major. It was an interdisciplinary major so I took courses ranging from Food Science to Sociology. I worked various campus jobs but the most influential was the Women’s Resources and Research Center where I interned multiple times and later worked professionally as a student affairs officer. Organic Chemistry was my turning point so I switched my major to Women and Gender Studies mere days before I flew to study abroad at the University of New South Wales. After my year there I was invited for an Honors Year in Sociology, which got me thinking about graduate school. That summer, I participated in UNC’s Moore Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (MURAP). When I returned to UCD, I participated in the Mentorships for Undergraduate Research in Agriculture, Letters & Sciences (MURALS) program under the direction of Milmon Harrison. I completed my Honors Thesis under the mentorship of Kimberly Nettles. I earned departmental honors and minored in English.

 

Doctoral and MSW work

At Michigan I was in the first cohort of the Joint PhD in Sociology  & Women’s Studies, integrating courses, research and faculty perspectives from the Department of Sociology and Department of Women’s Studies.  Besides my brilliance and generosity of many graduate school colleagues and faculty at Michigan, the structure of the joint PhD program provided unparalleled opportunities for me to pursue my research interests, which is why I had chosen that program over higher ranked and warmer ones.  

 

Academic support system

The most important continuing influence came from an unexpected place: my peers. My cohort (2004) and many people ahead and behind me were important.   When I think of graduate school, I think of my workgroups.

 

G3SG (2005-present)

The May after my first year, a second-year Sociology/Social Work joint PhD student, Katherine Luke, e-mail a a few of us, asking whether we were interested in creating a group. We began to meet and named ourselves the Gender and Sexuality Sociology Study Group(ies). Laura Hirshfield, David Hutson, Emily Kazyak, Katherine Luke, Carla Pfeffer, Kristin Scherrer, and I met biweekly to read each other’s work, share ideas, encourage each other, send articles, and the like. We also attended each other’s respective birthday parties, cooked celebratory dinners, welcomed new children, and danced at a wedding. When Katherine and Carla defended their dissertations (in May and June 2009, respectively), they showed the rest of us we could do “it”: theoretically interesting research, get grants, mentor students, publish, and just be generally cool.

 

WIPIWG (defunct)

Daniela Pineda started WIPIWG to bring together students from different joint programs. She, Megan Gilster, and Valenta Kabo gave me many great ideas. WIPIWG was not just a fun acronym to say, but also a reassuring support even when it met only “virtually.”

 

Writing Group (2007-present)

The group that Jeannie Thrall started has changed participants over the years, but they all read many drafts of material that they were probably tired of seeing. So, thank you to Alice Gates, Michelle Hughes, and Stephanie Osbakken. Kristen Hopewell, Maria Johnson, Lynn Verduzco-Baker, and I continue to carry the torch.

 

SNRJ (2014-present)

I wanted a space for emerging scholars of color working on Reproductive Justice research and practice to engage. Out of this desire came the Scholars Network for Reproductive Justice (SNRJ). Current members are Anu Gomez, Krystale Littlejohn and LaKisha Simmons. RJ all the way

 

Dissertation

I am forever grateful I met Elizabeth Cole in my first year. I eventually worked for her on the US site of the Global Feminisms Project, and she encouraged my to conduct the interview with Loretta Ross, which eventually led to my dissertation work. For WS891 (2nd prelim), Jayati Lal served as my chair and Karin Martin and Elizabeth Cole as committee members. My article “Marching Towards Reproductive Justice” is a revised portion of that prelim aided no doubt by Professor Lal’s pushing me.

 

After that prelim, I walked into the office of Margaret Somers who was thrilled a student was working on human rights and in the US no less. I took the qualitative research practicum with Frederick Wherry and conducted a pilot study of SisterSong. Sandra Levitsky reviewed my short (3 page?) early musings on my dissertation ideas. When we met, to my surprise she handed me a 2 page single-spaced document with feedback and questions for me to consider. Intrigued I inquired and she referred me to Zinsser’s book.  She also noted my work could be a good fit for NSF’s Law and Social Sciences dissertation grant, of which I, like many, was unaware. I applied and upon winning the grant became the first University of Michigan student to do so. Kiyoteru Tsutsui joined the faculty, which was fortuitous as he did work on global human rights movements.

 

As I began data collection for the PhD, I also began in the Master’s of Social Work program to broaden my theoretical understanding of social change.  My emphasis was in Community Organization/ Community Social Systems. I did a teaching practicum with Lorraine Gutiérrez who had literally written a book on women of color. Other important faculty in a variety of ways included Elizabeth A. Armstrong, Lisa H. Harris, Andrea Smith, and the indefatigable Kerry Ann Rockquemore.

 

My dissertation committee eventually represented these three main areas:

Margret Somers, Sociology, co-chair

Elizabeth Cole, Psychology and Women’s Studies, co-chair

Kiyotero Tsutsui, Sociology

Sandra Levitsky, Sociology

Lorraine Gutierrez, Social Work and Psychology

 

 

Postdocs

At University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee I was a Diversity Fellow in the Department of Sociology. Kent Redding served as my sponsor during an all-too short program that exposed me to a different type of department and one of the most underrated cities.  

 

At University of Wisconsin, Madison I was a Mellon Sawyer Seminar Postdoctoral Fellow in Human Rights in the Departments of Gender and Women’s Studies and Sociology. Myra Marx Ferree, who is as amazing as everyone says, and Aili Tripp served as the sponsors. Faculty in many departments including Howard Erlager welcomed me but I appreciated the support of Mara Loveman, Pam Oliver, and Jenny Higgins in particular.

 

At UC Berkeley, I was a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow with Kristin Luker and Charis Thompson serving as my sponsors. I was housed in the new Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice at Berkeley Law, the brainchild of Kristin Luker (Founding Faculty Director, Emerita) and Jill Adams (FoundingExecutive Director, Emerita ). I was also affiliated with the Department of Sociology and the Center for the Study of Law and Society. I appreciate the insightful conversations with Alisa Bierria, Laura J. Enriquez, Calvin Morrill, Sheila O’Rourke, and Sandra Smith in particular.

 I began my postdoc a week before Jill Adams started her CRRJ directorship.Being an accidental co-founder of CRRJ challenged and enriched my research in countless ways. I created and facilitated the Reproductive Justice Working Group, was lead author of an annual review article, trained a group of undergraduate researchers through URAP, started a UC Press book series with Rickie Solinger and Khiara Bridges and much more.  Krista and Jill cheered me on as we grappled with the joy and frustration of forging innovative interdisciplinary partnerships professionally and personally. My time at CRRJ also put me in (continuing) conversation with theorists who advocate (or advocates who theorize) like Darcy Baxter, Emily Mann and Sujatha Jesudason. Over the years, the Bay Area Write-on-Site I started included Liberty Barnes,  James Battle, Anne Finger, Liza FuentesChris Hannsmann, Tomomi KinukawaSarah LambleChristin MunschVictor Pineda, and Danielle Watts. My fellow writers were a consistent source of writing accountability and inspiration

 

UC Santa Barbara

I am currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology at UC Santa Barbara and affiliated with the Department of Feminist Studies. I am active in the department's Gender Workshop and Social Movements workshop.  In addition to finishing my book project, I am the Principal Investigator for the Mobilizing Millions project that examines the worldwide Women's marches that occurred January 21, 2017. In my first year, I started a Write-on-Site for Assistant Professors with my colleague Sarah Roberts, which has grown from our one session weekly to five+ sessions a week hosted by many faculty (even in summer) and regular writing retreats sponsored by the Office of Research ! I co-convened an IHC Research Focus Group UC-SB Health, Medicine and Care working group (2015-2017) with the support of with Laury Oaks and  Gabriela Soto Laveaga.  I won a Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship, during which I was sponsored by the brilliant and generous legal scholar Dorothy E. Roberts.

I teach courses on reproduction and social movements and direct our Honors Program. Each quarter I work with energetic undergraduates through the Faculty Research Assistance Program. At the doctoral level, I serve on committees for students at UCSB and other campuses.


I am continually interested in the connection between theory and practice. To that end, I will note I was a CoreAlign Generative Fellow (Blaze Cohort) and member of the Humane Resources Innovation Lab where my team focused on how the reproductive justice movement organizations could be accountable to cultivating practices that recognize a person's whole self, in and beyond the workplaces, to help people thrive while sustaining the movement.

 In my last class of the MSW our instructor Katie Richards-Schuster reminded us: creating community is about building relationships. Graduate school and the dissertation process were about building relationships, building relationships while building knowledge—the work is never done. What a beautiful privilege.