Skip to main content
Department ofSociology


Spring 2024 Faculty Updates

This year, our sociology faculty have been immersed in a dynamic blend of novel research and dedicated teaching. Their efforts reflect a commitment to advancing sociological knowledge while nurturing the intellectual growth of students.

This year, our sociology faculty have been immersed in a dynamic blend of novel research and dedicated teaching. Their efforts reflect a commitment to advancing sociological knowledge while nurturing the intellectual growth of students. Here is an update from each:

Cara Chiaraluce continues to finalize her manuscript Becoming an Expert Caregiver with Rutgers University Press (to be published 2025), and participated in The Institute for Women’s Policy Research Care Conference (2024). Additionally, she has taught eight courses and has created new curriculum materials particularly to support professionalization goals for our senior students in Soc 198, including organizing alum panels and bringing in professional guest speakers.

Di Di continues researching the topics of science and religion. She has recently published an article, “Scientists Explain the Underrepresentation of Women in Physics Compared to Biology” in the journal Gender, Work & Organization. This work is cited by ScienceDaily, Physics. Org and a few other outlets. She also published, “Evoking, Grounding, and Defining: How Contemporary Scientists Connect Religion, Spirituality, and Aesthetics” in the journal Religions. This article was selected by the editor and featured as the cover article. She was also invited to participate in the Boniuk Institute Spring Convening on Religious Pluralism and Violence in May.

Maggie Hunter recently published, “Colorism Research Over the Decades” in the journal, Research in Human Development. In it she describes new directions in the field of colorism research including how colorism affects academic and social outcomes for youth, colorism and mental health challenges, and the legacy of slavery and colorism research in the US South. In February she was a panelist for the Liberate Your Leadership panel with the American Association of Colleges & Universities and she led a workshop at UC Berkeley on inclusive pedagogy titled, “Managing Classroom Clashes: Hot Moments in Teaching and Learning.”

Molly King

Molly M. King created and taught a new course to students this winter on Climate Justice. In her research, she has been continuing to research inequalities in science and knowledge. She has been working with three Sociology majors and presented co-authored research at the Pacific Sociological Association Annual Conference in March (see the article by Annie Yaeger ‘26 in this newsletter!). She also recently published an article about the processes of such student-faculty research collaborations with Sociology alumna Megan Imai ‘23 entitled “Creating Sociological Knowledge and the Next Generation of Sociological Thinkers in Faculty-Directed Research with Undergraduate Research Assistants” in the journal The American Sociologist.

Patrick Lopez-Aguado began the year as the recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences Public Intellectual Award for his work connecting public defenders and civil rights attorneys with Sociological research on gangs and racial inequality. He also recently published “The Social Construction of the American Street Gang” in the Oxford Handbook of Gangs and Society, and was invited to present his work at the Ethnographic Portrait of the Criminal Legal System Conference at UC Santa Barbara in March.

Laura Nichols is broadening her research on the experiences of first-generation college students to better understand the experience of first-gen transfer students from community college to four-year institutions and the ways bachelor degree granting institutions like SCU need to change to better serve them. She received a small grant from the American Talent Initiative to analyze secondary data and propose a data strategy that four-year schools like SCU can use to understand the needs of potential transfer students and then address structural barriers internally. The project also includes interviews with potential and current transfer students, done by a research team of current transfer students.

Enrique Pumar

Enrique S. Pumar completed a two year term as the Inaugural Program Director for the Build and Broaden Program at the US National Foundation in the Spring 2024. During his tenure at the foundation, he managed several programs which, along with Build and Broaden, promoted the research enterprise among minority service institutions. From 2021 to 2023 he served as elected chair of the Sociology of Development Section at the American Sociological Association. Along with Heidi Radamacher, he just finished co-editing a special issue of the Sociology of Development journal where they published “Diversity, Dialogue, and the Sociology of Development: An Introduction.” Professors Pumar and Radamacher are working on a second special issue for the journal and on the forthcoming Handbook of Development Sociology. Professor Pumar currently serves on the editorial board of Sociology of Development and Contemporary Sociology and is a member of the Program Reviewers and Consultants Group of the American Sociological Association. He continues to provide commentaries for Telemundo and Univision.

A person smiling, titled 'Laura Robinson'.

Laura Robinson continues to put Sociology into dialogue with other fields through fruitful interdisciplinary and international collaboration. Regarding interdisciplinarity, Robinson co-authored an article entitled “Strengthening Ethical Commitments to the Common Good: Team-Based Learning in the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm” in the journal Religion & Education with colleagues Dr. Katia Moles (Department of General Engineering at SCU), Jennifer Merritt (Senior Director of Academics at Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at SCU), and Keith Douglass Warner OFM (Director of the Franciscan Renewal Project at the Franciscan School of Theology at the University of San Diego). Another project highlights Robinson’s international collaboration: The Palgrave Handbook of Everyday Digital Life with co-editors Hopeton S. Dunn (Professor Communications Policy and Digital Media at the University of Botswana and Senior Research Associate at the University of Johannesburg), Massimo Ragnedda (Associate Professor in Media and Communication at Northumbria University in the UK, Associate Professor at Sharjah University in the United Arab Emirates, and Honorary Professor at Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russia), and Maria Laura Ruiu (Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK).