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Department ofSociology


Faculty and Staff Notes


Susan Babbel. I enjoyed my first year as Sr. Administrative Assistant in Sociology, and enjoy working with the undergraduates and being back on the main campus. I took a little time off to have a total knee replacement, and once again can enjoy walking on such a beautiful campus. This year my daughter and her wife are expecting my first grandchild, and my youngest daughter is engaged. I continue to paint in my studio at The Alameda Artworks, and love the creative energy that comes with it. Babies, weddings, art and being able to smell the roses on campus are beautiful things to look forward to each day.
Dr. Fernandez taught another cohort of Sociology majors Sur-vey Research/Statistical Analyses, supervised the Research Capstone papers of 17 seniors, and continued to work with 8 seniors as they fined tuned their research for inclusion in the 2015 Silicon Valley Notebook, Volume 13 and presentation at the 42nd Anthropology/Sociology Undergraduate Research Conference. She is finalizing her book titled, MERIT VS. CASTE in the Indian Information Technology Sector: The New Caste Frontier, and is in search for a suitable publisher. She also co-authored (second author) an article that was published in the journal Sociological Perspectives.
Alma M. García continues to serve as the director of the Latin American Studies program which offers an interdisciplinary minor through the College of Arts & Sciences. She has completed updating North From Mexico: The Spanish Speaking People of the United States by Carey Williams. First published in 1949, North From Mexico remains a classic study of Mexican immigration. It is scheduled to be published in April, 2016. Dr. Garcia’s research paper, "Latina Day Workers: Struggles & Contestations in Silicon Valley, California” has been accepted for presentation at the International Sociological Association Conference to be held in Vienna, Austria from July 10-14, 2016. She continues to collect oral histories for her study of Latina entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Dr. Garcia continues to tutor adults who are preparing for their Adult Bat Mitzvah. She focuses on teaching her students the tropes used to chant from the Torah section and reading various Hebrew prayers.
  Patrick Lopez-Aguado. This has been a great year for me, and an important one in which I got to see several research projects begin to materialize in print. I was very happy this year to see my work accepted for publication in Social Problems and Sociology Compass. Additionally, I was thrilled to sign an advanced contract with University of California Press to publish a book manuscript entitled Stick Together and Come Back Home: Carceral Affiliation and the Bridging of Prison and Community. This project is currently scheduled for release in the Fall of 2017. It has been exciting to see these projects come to life and to know that there are more waiting to grow.
  Dr. Laura Nichols can’t believe that she is in her 16th year at SCU. Thanks to all of you who have trained me over the years—I have learned so much from students about the skills and sociological insights that are most helpful to you.
Laura continues to enjoy teaching Self, Community, and Society as well as Social Change, and of course Applied Sociology as a capstone course. In the applied capstone seniors continued to do community based research for local organizations and also developed ePortfolios to showcase their work and skills. In terms of research, Laura published an article in the Journal of Adolescent Research (with Professor Ángel Islas in Biology) about attrition off the pre-medical track for first and continuing generation students. She is very grateful for the research assistance and interviewing that SCU students did for the project by: Karla Arango, Jessica Gagnon, Lily Salinas, Geraldine Linarte, Lindsay Harke, Umang Desai, Hannah Rogers, Martha Njie, Gaby Alvarado, and Karen Hernandez. She is currently co-editing a book about the experiences of students who are undocumented and in college.

Dr. Powers is really excited by his work this year, because he feels that several years of slow progress on his long-term theory endeavor may (he hopes) be about to reach fruition. As many of you may remember, Dr. Powers has been working for a long time on a modest contribution to unification of sociology’s divergent theoretical paradigms. In the spring, Powers will take a one quarter sabbatical, get away, and try to pull his ideas on this subject together in a single coherent paper.

On a more empirical level, Dr. Powers continues to write about organizational sociology. In fact, a paper co-authored by Dr. Powers and Dr. Fernandez was recently (Fall 2015) pub-lished in the Pacific Sociological Association’s research jour-nal Sociological Perspectives. The title of the paper is “A ‘Paired Cases Contrast’ Method in the Absence of Reliable Met-rics in Organizational Research: Proof of Concept.”

In the classroom Dr. Powers continues to try to illustrate the importance of applying sociological sensibilities in the 21st century workplace. He asks students how they would em-ploy sociological insights in order to help crystallize an organi-zation’s defining mission/vision/strategy, improve communica-tion, and reshape organizational culture.


Dr. Laura Robinson continues to teach Sociology 49 (Computers, Internet, and Society), Sociology 11A and 12A (Cultures and Ideas I and II), and Sociology 118 (Qualitative Methods). Regarding Sociology 49, she continues to ask stu-dents to use their sociological imagination to self-reflect on their digital media use. Where Soc. 11A and 12A are concerned, she is enthusiastic about the opportunity to draw on her work as a Brazilianist in this course on global cultures; the fact that some of this year’s students have already been to Brazil is a real treat! For Qualitative Methods, Robinson hopes that former sociology students who took this class with her are still using their socio-logical eye to see the social dynamics embedded in our every-day food practices.

Robinson is also active beyond the classroom. In our department and on campus, Robinson is busy on a number of fronts. She is preparing for visiting scholar Cecilia M. Santos later this year and is delighted to continue her activ-ity in the Ignatian Faculty Forum and as a scholar of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Regarding the latter, she is working on a project on digital privacy issues. Off campus, Robinson finished her year as chair of the Com-munication and Information Technologies Section of the American Sociological Association (CITASA) and is con-tinuing her work as a series editor of Emerald Studies in Media and Communications.