JSIT 2023 Scholars

Somalis Chy
Somalis Chy is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Department of Consumer Science at the School of Human Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Somalis has a B.A in Economics from Cambodia in 2011 and an M.A. from a consortium of European universities in Economics of Globalization and European Integration in 2018. Somalis' research broadly focuses on the dynamics of families’ relationships on economic decision-making and their interactions with social policies and benefits with the aim of improving families’ well-being and reducing social and economic inequalities. Somalis has ongoing works related to family caregiving with specific focus on consequences faced by socioeconomically disadvantaged family caregivers, such as access to work-family policies and employment-tied benefits.

Amber Davis
Dr. Davis is a postdoctoral scholar at Johns Hopkins University with a research focus on the intersections of race, disability and stress/trauma. She is a graduate of Howard University’s Ph.D. Social Work program as well as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with experience working in underserved communities in Washington D.C. She was previously a fellow in Disability Policy Research at Mathematica. Her research focus concerns intersectionality with respect to ‘race’ and ‘disability’ with a prioritization as to how African Americans experience disability with a special emphasis on individuals and families impacted by autism and other related neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Hira Farooqi
Hira Farooqi is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Center for Global Development. She is an applied micro-economist and my research is centered around labor, gender and family economics. In particular, Hira focuses on the socio-economic barriers to women's participation in economic activities both in the context of developing and developed economies. She recently earned her PhD in Economics from Rice University. In her free time she likes to dabble in watercolor painting and read fantasy fiction.

Isabel García Valdivia
Isabel García Valdivia (Ph.D. and M.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, B.A. in Chicana/o Latina/o Studies and Sociology from Pomona College) is a postdoctoral fellow at the Population Studies Training Center at Brown University. Her main research interests include migration, race and ethnicity (including Latinx sociology), and life course and aging. Her current work examines how immigration status stratifies the transition to late adulthood among older (50+ year old) Mexican immigrants. García Valdivia’s work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Blum Center at UC Santa Barbara, and multiple UC Berkeley centers and institutes. Her work has appeared in Social Problems and Educational Reviewer.

Hyun Ju Kim
Dr. Hyun Ju Kim joined University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability on October of 2022 as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate, funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR)’s Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training (ARRT) program. Her research interest includes quantitatively evaluating Social Security disability programs with a focus on poverty and health outcomes of marginalized households by race/ethnicity and gender. Her current research analyzes the impact of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) due to disability on poverty of the recipients during the economic shocks using nationally representative datasets. With her expertise in micro econometric analyses, she plans to research physical food security of people with disabilities and accommodation practices for employees with disabilities. Before joining the IOD, Dr. Kim worked at the World Bank as a consultant and conducted research on structural profiles of informality in the labor markets of the Middle East and North African region.

Stephan Lefebvre
Stephan Lefebvre is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Bucknell University. His work is primarily in stratification economics, focused on Latinxs in the US, and in feminist pedagogy in economics. Lefebvre obtained his PhD from American University.

Kejda Llana
Kejda Llana is a Ph.D. student of Public Policy and Administration at the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy & Administration at the University of Delaware. Her research interests lie in the areas of household finance, consumer finance, housing and mortgage policy, and policy/program evaluation. Her dissertation proposal focuses on reverse mortgages in the United States, specifically investigating a series of policy changes within the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program. Kejda Llana holds a Master of Science degree in Economics and Applied Econometrics from the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics at the University of Delaware, and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the American University in Bulgaria. She is a member of the American Economic Association (AEA), the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association (AREUEA), and the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM).

Maretta McDonald
Maretta McDonald is a University of Wisconsin-Madison, Institute of Research on Poverty National Poverty Fellow for 2022–2024 in residence at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE). She is also an affiliate faculty member in the sociology department at Virginia Tech. She also currently serves as a co-editor for the Book and Media Review section of the Humanity and Society Journal. McDonald was a 2021–2022 American Sociological Association (ASA) Minority Fellow and a member of the inaugural 2021–2022 cohort of ASA/NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant awardees. Her current research interests are racial inequality, criminology/criminal justice, family, gender, spatial analyses, and public policy. Her dissertation, “Examining Child Support Enforcement in the Deep South: An Analysis of Race, Gender, Class, and Place,” examines the association of the agency’s policies and practices with macrolevel spatial and racial inequality, which brings all these areas into conversation with each other. She has published multiple book chapters and public scholarship pieces as presenting her research internationally. McDonald also brings a practitioner’s lens to her research. She worked as a Child Support Enforcement officer and supervisor before entering graduate school. McDonald earned her Ph.D. in sociology at Louisiana State University in 2022.

Ravaris Moore
Ravaris Moore is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at New York University. Professor Moore earned his B.A. at Morehouse College with a double major in Mathematics and Economics. He completed his doctoral studies in Sociology, as well as M.A. degrees in Sociology and Economics at UCLA. Prior to matriculating at UCLA, he contributed to several national evaluations as a Research Programmer at Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. in the areas of education, health, and child and family well-being. Professor Moore is a quantitative sociologist with training in the fields of Social Stratification and Social Demography. His work employs quantitative methods with large-scale microdata to explore questions of inequality at the intersection of race and ethnicity, education, and health. He is presently advancing papers that examine the effects of gun-violence on students and schools, and the effects of police shootings on implicit trust in law enforcement and subsequent inclinations to request police intervention. Other work investigates heterogeneity in the effects of parental incarceration on children’s educational and cognitive achievement.

Magalie Nicolas
Dr. Magalie Nicolas is a Ph.D. graduate of Barry University’s School of Social Work with research interests focusing on the impact of trauma, intergenerational transmission of resilience, mental health & aging, minority health disparities, and student retention in higher education. She is also a graduate of Florida State University and earned two Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology & Social Work, respectively, and a Master's degree in Social Work. Dr. Nicolas is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 17 years of clinical and administrative experience working with adults, families, and the elderly in various settings, including hospitals, outpatient settings, and community centers. Dr. Nicolas is an Adjunct Professor at Barry University’s School of Social Work and serves as a Program Director of a psychiatric residential facility for older adults.

Charlotte O'Herron
Charlotte O’Herron is a Doctoral Student in Sociology & Social Policy at Harvard University. Her research interests include gender and racial inequalities in work, occupations, and wealth, as well as work-family intersections. Before starting her Ph.D., Charlotte received a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. She received her B.A. from Middlebury College.

Matthew Pesner
Matthew Pesner is an economist and postdoctoral fellow in the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan. His research works to improve our understanding of the long-run development of social insurance and public assistance in the United States. His PhD job market paper estimates how nationalizing railroad retirement pensions in the mid-1930s affected retirement decisions, and what this teaches us about pensions and labor supply more broadly. Other research focuses on significant changes to Social Security and public assistance programs from the New Deal through the 1970s, investigating how the state and federal governments interacted to finance these programs, how grants or expansions to Social Security affected spending on public assistance at the state and local level, and which other parties may have gained. Additional research focuses on the consequences of public assistance for family structure decisions in the 1970s and 1980s. In August of 2022, Matt earned his PhD in economics from Vanderbilt University. He earned his BA in mathematical economics from Colorado College in 2016.

Meredith Slopen
Meredith Slopen is a Doctoral Research Associate at the Columbia University School of Social Work. Building on her career at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, her scholarship focuses on the role of workplace and labor policies as social determinants of health. Slopen’s dissertation examines the impact of state and local paid sick leave policies on the employment, economic security, and health of working women and their families. Her work has been funded by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, and the US Department of Labor Women’s Bureau. She holds an Hon. B.A. from the University of Toronto, MSW from Columbia University, and received her Ph.D. in Social Policy and Policy Analysis from Columbia University in 2023. In the fall of 2023, Slopen will join the CUNY Graduate Center's Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality as a post-doctoral research fellow.

Eman Tadros
Dr. Eman Tadros is an Assistant Professor at Governors State University in the Division of Psychology and Counseling. She is an incoming Assistant Professor at Syracuse University in the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy this Fall 2023. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist, MBTI certified, an AAMFT Approved Supervisor, and the Illinois Family TEAM leader. Her research focuses on incarcerated couples and families.

Lauren Toppenberg
Lauren Toppenberg is a PhD candidate and researcher at the Columbia University School of Social Work. Her research focuses on the intersection of food insecurity and social and economic policies, with a particular interest in understanding disparities in rates of food insecurity for at-risk populations. Prior to pursuing her PhD, Lauren served as an evaluator and a strategy manager at Feeding Texas, a network of 21 food banks across the state of Texas. In this role, she sought to explain how state and federally-sponsored food bank programming impacted food insecure households and their health and well-being outcomes. Lauren holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Tulane University, as well as Masters’ degrees in Public Health and Public Affairs from the University of Texas.