Faculty Research

Kate Cagney

Professor, Sociology

Kate Cagney’s research team focuses on the social and spatial environments in which older adults spend their time, and the extent to which this activity space influences health trajectories. In a multi-wave study of 600 Chicagoans aged 65 and older, using GPS and ecological momentary assessment methodologies to track older adults’ movements-in, out of, and across their communities, together with frequent multi-dimensional health assessments, the research team will examine the mechanisms through which social context affects health across time.
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Elisabeth Clemens

Professor, Sociology

Elisabeth Clemens’ research explores the role of social movements and organizational innovation in political change with a focus on organizational sociology and political sociology. She is currently working on a project titled, “The Make or Buy State: A Political Economy of Federal Contracting.” Clemens is the author of The People’s Lobby: Organizational Innovation and the Rise of Interest Group Politics in the United States, 1890-1925 (Chicago, 1997), and co-editor of Private Action and the Public Good (Yale, 1998), Remaking Modernity: Politics, History and Sociology (Duke, 2005), Politics and Partnerships: Voluntary Associations in America’s Past and Present (Chicago, 2010), and the journal Studies in American Political Development.
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Cathy Cohen

David and Mary Winton Green Professor, Political Science

Cathy Cohen’s GenForward Survey is the first of its kind—a nationally representative survey of over 1750 young adults ages 18-34. Launched in June 2016, the survey is conducted bi-monthly and pays special attention to how race and ethnicity shape how respondents experience and think about the world.
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Kimberly Hoang

Associate Professor, Sociology

Kristen Schilt

Associate Professor, Sociology

A faculty project housed in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago, the Ethnography Incubator brings together researchers who draw on ethnographic methods to address social inequalities.The mandate of the Incubator is to advance the field of ethnographic methodologies, provide hands-on mentorship to graduate student fellows, and build an interdisciplinary community of ethnographers. Each year, the Incubator hosts a two-day workshop that brings experts in the field to campus to engage with the work of six graduate student fellows selected through a national competition. Additionally, the Incubator supports a postdoctoral fellow together with the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, and five graduate student fellows from division of the social sciences at the University of Chicago.
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Guanglei Hong

Associate Professor, Comparative Human Development

The research team led by Dr. Guanglei Hong develops and applies causal inference theories and methods for evaluating educational and social policies and programs in multilevel, longitudinal settings. A project funded by the National Science Foundation currently focuses on developing concepts and methods for analyzing causal mediation mechanisms in multisite trials.
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Ali Hortaçsu

Professor, Economics

In a NSF sponsored project in conjunction with Boaz Keysar, James Evans, and John Oliver, Dr. Hortaçsu studies how people make decisions in strategic situations, such as auctions. The study focuses on how and why experiment participants’ behavior departs from predictions of game theory, and whether operating in a foreign language affects observed behavior. They have conducted a number of studies in Chicago and Beijing and are currently analyzing the data.
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Micere Keels

Associate Professor, Comparative Human Development

Micere Keels’ research centers on understanding children’s development in context. Her CPS-TREP Collaboration Project works to develop the individual and organizational capacity of educators and schools serving children growing up in neighborhoods that have high levels of toxic stress, such as violent crime, concentrated poverty, concentrated foster care involvement, and housing instability.


John Padgett

Professor, Political Science

John Padgett’s research team studies the relationship between social structure (operationalized as social networks) and ideas (operationalized as semantic networks) in Renaissance Florence. They use computational content analysis to study the structure of political rhetoric in the speeches of the Consulte e Pratiche, an advisory council in Florence. These semantic networks are linked to the speakers’ political and social networks to explore the interaction between social structure and ideological structure.
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Robert Shimer

Professor, Economics

Robert Shimer’s research examines the intersection between labor markets, financial markets, and macroeconomics. Most of it has focused on search frictions but he is also interested in mismatch between workers’ human capital and geographic location and the skill requirements and location of available jobs, in the role of private information in creating trading frictions, and in the determinants of duration dependence in the probability of finding a job and similar economic outcomes.
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Margaret Beale Spencer

Professor, Comparative Human Development

Margaret Beale Spencer’s Urban Resiliency Initiative is committed to providing high-quality tools and services designed to enhance and unleash and promote the resiliency of youth and adults living in urban centers. Resiliency speaks to the ability to develop recuperative and restorative behaviors (i.e. coping behaviors) and protective processes to offset trauma, whether individually or contextually derived. URI’s principal focus is to provide multigenerational support for the four major adult oriented leadership institutions that shape, socialize and develop young people. These essential supports or “pillars” include Parenting, Teaching, Policing, and Multi-level Community Health, or to state more inclusively: Family, Education, Safety, and Universal Wellness.
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Paul Staniland

Associate Professor, Political Science

Benjamin Lessing

Assistant Professor, Political Science

The Armed Orders in South Asia (AOSA) project examines variation across space and time in armed group-government relationships in South Asia. It combines rich, detailed qualitative case studies with unique quantitative data that facilitates new forms of theorizing and empirical comparison.
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Jenny Trinitapoli

Associate Professor, Sociology

Team members of the Tsogolo La Thanzi project are advancing research on global health, fertility, and young adulthood in sub-Saharan Africa by preparing data from a longitudinal study spanning a 6-year period for public use.  Tsogolo la Thanzi means “Healthy Futures” in Chichewa, Malawi’s most widely spoken language.
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Robert Vargas

Assistant Professor, Sociology

The Violence, Law, and Politics Lab is a research group is devoted to studying how local, national, and global politics affect cities and neighborhoods. Both interdisciplinary and multi-method in nature, the team is currently conducting a multi-city project of geographic homicide patterns from 1870-Present to examine whether violence in American cities can be reduced via increased government accountability, transparency, and the provision of humanitarian or economic assistance.
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The Politics/History/Society Lab

The Politics/History/Society Lab brings together advanced graduate students to work on dissertations that have developed through ongoing conversations in the PHS workshop.

For a number of years, the Politics/History/Sociology workshop has supported the work of graduate students and faculty interested in historical change and methods of archival, ethnographic, and comparative research. A number of those projects have now become promising dissertation projects.  The PHS Lab provides a home for these dissertation writers and a focus for more intensive discussions about the craft of political, economic, and historical sociology.
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Past Research

Luc Anselin

Professor, Sociology

A joint initiative of the Division of Social Sciences and the Computation Institute, the Center for Spatial Data Science (CSDS) develops state-of-the-art methods for geospatial analysis, spatial econometrics, and geo-visualization; implements them through open source software tools; applies them to policy-relevant research in the social sciences; and disseminates them through training and support to a growing worldwide community of over 200,000 spatial analysts.
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James Evans

Professor, Sociology

The Knowledge Lab seeks to leverage insights into the dynamics of knowledge creation and advances in large-scale computation to reimagine the scientific process of the future by identifying gaps in the global knowledge landscape, areas of rich potential for breakthroughs, and automating discovery through the generation of novel, potentially high impact hypotheses.
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Robert Gulotty

Assistant Professor, Political Science

Robert Gulotty’s research project studies the influence of the shuttered factory on US protectionism, focusing on the “rust belts” in the industrial Midwest and Northeast. After economic disruption, policymakers face calls to intervene on behalf of the displaced industry. Populist politicians respond to public demand for nationalist revitalization by advancing remunerative policies, such as raising tariffs or subsidizing production, aimed particularly at former centers of industry. Using a survey experiment, Gulotty will prime respondents with different backdrops to determine how support for regionally targeted subsidies and protection changes with post-industrial imagery.
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Justin Richland

Associate Professor, Anthropology

As part of the Open Fields Project, Justin Richland’s researcher will be working on analyzing 70 hours of ethnographic data gathered at the Field Museum over a twelve-month period. Additionally, he will be researching contemporary Native American artistic practices both in North America and throughout Western Europe.
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Lindsey Richland

Associate Professor, Comparative Human Development

Funded by IES and the Spencer Foundation, The Learning Lab examines an understudied aspect of the increasing performance pressure placed on U.S. school children: the potential for pressure to increase students’ cognitive load, decreasing cognitive resources available for complex reasoning. This research seeks to understand how such pressures can impact everyday knowledge development in mathematics.
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Forrest Stuart

Assistant Professor, Sociology

Using content analysis of an original dataset of national and international news reporting on US homicides, Which Lives Matter? examines the manner in which the deaths of individuals from varying race, class, neighborhood, and other backgrounds are presented and discussed. We investigate which homicide victims are framed as “deserving” and “undeserving” victims.
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Emily Talen

Professor, Social Sciences

Street Life investigates the design impacts and economic differences between small independent retailers vs. small and large format corporately owned retailers, including their varying ability to promote successful neighborhoods and active streets. The project involves a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the factors that impede small business success, including the impact of market forces, financial barriers, crime, population density, street design, local networks, and government regulations. It also investigates publicly financed incentives, entrepreneurial development in underserved neighborhoods, the “experience economy” and “creative class” concepts in localized economic development, and the mechanisms that have successfully supported place-based enterprise.
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Alessandra Voena

Associate Professor, Economics

The team of researchers working with Alessandra Voena, Manasi Deshpande, Magne Mogstad, and Thibaut Lamadon will be studying various aspects of the labor market, focusing on three overarching areas: understanding changes in labor demand, understanding changes in labor supply, and understanding labor market policies. Specific research topics will include immigration policy, welfare programs and social insurance programs (unemployment insurance and disability insurance), skill acquisition, tax policy.
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