Previous MMLS Speakers

2023 Dr. Mary Patillo (Northwestern University)

Dr. Mary Pattillo is the Harold Washington Professor of Sociology and Chair of African American Studies at Northwestern University. “Dr. Patillo’s areas of interest include race and ethnicity, urban sociology, inequality, housing, education, criminal legal studies, Black communities, and qualitative methods. In her first book, Black Picket Fences (University of Chicago Press, 1999), Pattillo investigates the economic, spatial, and cultural forces that affect child-rearing and youth socialization in a black middle-class neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side…In her second book, Black on the Block (University of Chicago Press 2007) focused on gentrification and public housing transformation in North Kenwood – Oakland on Chicago’s South Side…Other projects in Chicago and Illinois include a study of how Black parents negotiate school choice and how families make housing choices, and research on the system of monetary sanctions—fines, fees, and other financial penalties—in the criminal legal system. Outside of Chicago, Pattillo co-edited Imprisoning America: The Social Effects of Mass Incarceration (Russell Sage, 2004) and has studied the Black middle class in Latin America, and is working on a new research paradigm called ‘Black Advantage Vision.’”

2022 Dr. Joyce M. Bell (University of Chicago)

Joyce M. Bell is an Associate Professor of sociology at the University of Chicago whose work sits at the intersection of race, social movements and the professions. She is the author of The Black Power Movement and American Social Work (Columbia University Press, 2014). She has also published research on the role of diversity discourse in institutions. Bell holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Minnesota and a BA in Spanish and sociology from the University of St. Thomas. She is an Upward Bound & McNair Scholars alumna and is a past recipient of the National TRiO Achievers Award. She has also been awarded fellowships from Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the National Humanities Center, and the Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. She is the 2016 recipient of the American Sociological Association Section on Racial & Ethnic Minorities Distinguished Early Career Award. Bell is currently working on her second book, entitled Black Power Lawyers: Unique and Unorthodox Methods.

2021 Dr. Crystal Marie Fleming (SUNY Stony Brook)

Dr. Crystal Marie Fleming is Associate Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies and Faculty in the Department of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at SUNY Stony Brook. She is an author, cultural critic and educator committed to empowering people with the conceptual tools needed to understand, confront and challenge white supremacy and intersectional oppression. Dr. Fleming’s work is grounded in critical race sociology and investigates a variety of topics related to white supremacy, antiblackness and the politics of time. Dr. Fleming is currently working on three projects including a children’s book entitled Rise Up! How You Can Join The Fight Against Racism which will be published by Henry Holt in 2020; a second book entitled So You Wanna Be Woke: A People’s Dictionary for Social Justice forthcoming from Beacon Press and, finally, Diversifying Mindfulness: Research and Practice, a volume under contract with Routledge which she is co-editing along with Dr. Veronica Womack at Northeastern University and Dr. Jeffrey Proulx at Brown University

2019 Dr. Camille Z. Charles (University of Pennsylvania) 

Camille Zubrinsky Charles is Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Social Sciences in the Department of Sociology, Graduate School of Education, and the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests are in the areas of urban inequality, racial attitudes and intergroup relations, racial residential segregation, minorities in higher education, and racial identity; her work has appeared in Social Forces, Social Problems, Social Science Research, The DuBois Review, the American Journal of Education, the Annual Review of Sociology, the Chronicle of Higher Education and The Root. She is author of Won’t You Be My Neighbor: Race, Class and Residence in Los Angeles (Russell Sage, Fall 2006), which class- and race-based explanations for persisting residential segregation by race. She is also co-author of The Source of the River: The Social Origins of Freshmen at America’s Selective Colleges and Universities (2003, Princeton University Press).

2018 Dr. Rashwan Ray (University of Maryland, College Park)

Dr. Rashawn Ray is Associate Professor of Sociology and Executive Director of the Lab for Applied Social Science Research (LASSR) at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is also one of the co-editors of Contexts Magazine: Sociology for the Public. Dr. Ray’s research addresses the mechanisms that manufacture and maintain racial and social inequality with a particular focus on police-civilian relations and men’s treatment of women. Dr. Ray’s talk explored “The Black Lives Matter Movement in the United States: The Pursuit of Racial Equality in Policing.”

2017 Dr. Alondra Nelson (University of Columbia)

Dr. Alondra Nelson is the inaugural Dean of Social Science and professor of sociology at Columbia University. She was previously on the faculty of Yale University and received its Poorvu Award for teaching excellence. Her research and writing explores the intersections of science, technology, and social inequality – especially concerning issues of race and gender. Drawing on more than a decade of historical and ethnographic research, Dr. Nelson’s talk explored the roles and strategies that Black communities have developed to highlight the relationships between race, medicine, and justice – from grassroots healthcare programs to attempts at racial reconciliation – against the backdrop of a history of scientific racism and “medical apartheid.”

2017-2018 MMLS Speaker, Alondra Nelson (center), with the MMLS committee (from L-R: Nancy Contreras, Aneesa Baboolal, Ashleigh Bothwell, Graciela Perez, Jen Snyder, TaLisa J. Carter, Ashley Mancik, Isaiah Thompson, Tricia Becker, Akilah Alleyne, Andrea Kelley, Bri VanArsdale, Melissa Archer; not pictured: D’Janna Hamilton) [Photo credit: Dylan Haywood]

2015-16 Dr. Kris Marsh (University of Maryland)

Dr. Kris Marsh received her PhD from the University of Southern California in 2005. She was a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina before joining the faculty of Maryland in fall 2008. She is currently an Associate Professor of Sociology, and affiliate faculty of the Maryland Population Research Center, Department of Women’s Studies, and African American Studies Department. Her general areas of expertise are the Black middle class, demography, racial residential segregation, and education. The common theme in her work is decomposing what it means to be Black in America by focusing on intra-group variability in class, space, identity and educational achievement. Some of Professor Marsh’s recent research investigates how studies on the Black middle class have focused mainly on married couples with children and highlights that never-married singles that live alone make up a rapidly growing part of the Black middle class, a development that requires rethinking how the Black middle class is defined and studied.

2014-15 Dr. Waverly Duck (University of Pittsburgh)

Dr. Waverly Duck is an urban sociologist whose primary research examines the social order of neighborhoods and institutional settings. His academic areas of interest are urban sociology, inequality (race, class, gender, health and age), qualitative methods, culture, ethnomethodology and ethnography. His research on masculinity, health, crime and violence, and inequality has appeared in the journals Ethnography, Critical Sociology, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Crime, Law and Social Change and African American Studies.

His forthcoming book, No Way Out: Precarious Living in the Shadow of Poverty and Drug Dealing with the University of Chicago Press, challenges the common misconception of urban ghettos as chaotic places where drug dealing, street crime, and random violence make daily life dangerous for everyone. No Way Out explores how neighborhood residents make sense of their lives within severe constraints as they choose among very unrewarding prospects. His second manuscript, Ethnographies is under contract with Paradigm Press, examines the history of ethnography in sociological research.

2013-14 Dr. Alexes Harris (University of Washington)

Dr. Alexes Harris is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Harris uses a mixed-methods approach to study institutional decision-making and her research and teaching interests focus on social stratification processes and racial and ethnic disparities. More specifically, her work investigates how contact with varying institutions (educational, juvenile and criminal justice, and economic) influence individuals’ life chances. A primary aim of her work is to produce research that is theoretically informed and empirically rich, and that is of value in local, state, and national policy arenas. Dr. Harris has authored and co-authored several peer-reviewed research articles in the top general and specialty journals, including the American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, and Law and Society Review.

2012-13 Dr. Hillary Potter (UC Boulder)

Dr. Hillary Potter is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder. She holds a B.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from CU Boulder and an M.A. in Criminal Justice from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice (City University of New York). Dr. Potter’s research has focused on the intersections of race, gender, and class as they relate to crime and violence. She is currently conducting research projects on intimate partner abuse among interracial couples and men’s use of violence. Dr. Potter is the author of Battle Cries: Black Women and Intimate Partner Abuse (New York University Press, 2008) and the editor of Racing the Storm: Racial Implications and Lessons Learned from Hurricane Katrina (Lexington Books, 2007). She is currently writing two new books: Intersectionality and Criminology (Routledge Press) and Racialized Perceptions of Crime (with Allison Cotton; New York University Press).

2011-12 Dr. Scott Brooks (UC Riverside)

Dr. Scott Brooks is an Associate Professor of Sociology in the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at the University of California – Riverside.  He is trained in urban sociology, race and class inequality, and qualitative research methods.  He is the author of the recently published, “Black Men Can’t Shoot” (2009), and has published a number of articles and chapters highlighting the depth, range, and breadth of relationships developed while in the field.  His ethnographic research illustrates the relationships, experiences with others, and observations of the dynamics between people within a space, time, and group.

2010-11 Dr. Alex Piquero (Florida State University)

Dr. Alex R. Piquero is the Gordon P. Waldo Professor of Criminology in the College of Criminology& Criminal Justice at Florida State University. His research interests include criminal careers, criminological theory, evaluation and evidence-based crime prevention, and quantitative research methods.

2009-10 Dr. Geoff Ward (UC Irvine)

Dr. Geoff Ward is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine. He completed a PhD in Sociology at the University of Michigan in 2001, and was previously a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Vera Institute of Justice, and Coordinator of the Africana Criminal Justice Project at Columbia University. His current research focuses on the racialization of criminal social control, with particular interest in the idea and practice of racial justice. He has published studies in various journals and anthologies on racial history of American juvenile justice, the organization of decision-making in juvenile and federal courts, and racial and ethnic group representation in justice-related occupations. He was recipient of the W.E.B. Du Bois Fellowship from the National Institute in 2006 and is the author of the forthcoming book The Black Child-Savers: Racial Democracy in American Juvenile Justice (with University of Chicago Press) which examines the rise and fall Jim Crow juvenile justice, and effort to establish more racially-democratic politics of juvenile social control, over the course of the twentieth century.

2008-09 Dr. Ruth Peterson (Ohio State University)

Dr. Ruth D. Peterson is Distinguished Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Professor of Sociology, and Director of the Criminal Justice Research Center at Ohio State University. Ruth began her undergraduate work at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio and completed it at Cleveland State University. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1983, and taught for several years at the University of Iowa before joining the faculty at Ohio State. Ruth’s research focuses on community conditions and crime, racial and ethnic inequality in patterns of crime, and the consequences of criminal justice policies for racially and ethnically distinct communities. She and her long-term collaborator, Lauren J. Krivo, are working together to develop a theoretical and empirical strategy for explaining crime in racially and ethnically distinct communities. Peterson’s work has been published in a variety of journals including the American Sociological Review, Criminology, and Social Forces. She is also a co-editor with Laurie Krivo and John Hagan of The Many Colors of Crime: Inequalities of Race, Ethnicity and Crime in America (New York University Press). Importantly too, Ruth is co-organizer (with Laurie Krivo) of the Racial Democracy, Crime, and Justice-Network, and its Crime and Justice Summer Research Institute: Broadening Perspectives and Participation.