Meet the Latinx and Democracy Faculty Cluster

May 5, 2023

Increasing the number of Latinx faculty and faculty whose work touches on the Latinx experience at UC Berkeley is a priority that is crucial to becoming a Latinx Thriving Institution because it will allow us to better reflect who we are as a campus, state, and nation.

Therefore, the university has adopted the “faculty cluster hires” strategy to build intellectual communities in emerging research areas. Cluster hiring recruits and onboards faculty with common academic interests to work collaboratively on interdisciplinary problems to meet a university’s specific goals. This is just another example of howUC Berkeley is changing and reimagining the ways we make this campus more inclusive and welcoming for all.

An interdisciplinary team of professors, led by G. Cristina Mora in Sociology, developed the Latinxs and Democracy cluster hiring process last academic year. This work is essential as it adds richness to the Berkeley community, and in the words of Professor G. Cristina Mora, the cluster "has brought incredible new talent to campus. Their teaching and mentoring will benefit all students, and they will join others in making UCB an important, national center for cutting-edge Latinx Research."

Members of the Latinx and Democracy Faculty Cluster:

Dr. Jenny S. Guadamuz, Assistant Professor, School of Public Health, focuses on health inequities across immigration status. Dr. Guadamuz’s research has been published in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals, including JAMA, the American Journal of Public Health, and Health Affairs.

Dr. Kristina Lovato, Ph.D., MSW, Assistant Professor, School of Social Welfare focuses on enhancing Latinx child and family well-being, particularly among immigrant families at risk of immigration enforcement and/or public child welfare involvement. 

Dr. Lorena Oropeza, Professor, Chicanx Latinx Studies studies the nexus between race and foreign policy; social protest; and settler colonialism. As a former journalist, she often uses oral history in her research, which allows her to incorporate women’s experiences that might otherwise be overlooked. 

Dr. Laurent Reyes, Assistant Professor, School of Social Welfare is committed to developing research that challenges current systems of inequality that directly affect older Black and Latinx adults. As an activist scholar and storyteller, Dr. Reyes leans on qualitative and visual methods to listen and elevate lifetime stories of resistance and solidarity among Latinx and Black elders to re-imagine a new framework of civic participation emerging from their lived experience. 

Dr. Michael Rodríguez Muñiz, Associate Professor, Sociology explores the intersections of race, politics, and knowledge within Latinx communities and movements. He is working on a community-based archival project in collaboration with the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, an organization that he has supported and participated in for the past two decades. 

Dr. Nicholas Vargas Associate Professor, Chicanx Latinx Studies is studying how different groups of Latinxs are perceived racially and how these distinct experiences of race are associated with Latinax’ racial ideologies, attitudes regarding immigration policy, and the racial/ethnic and socioeconomic makeup of close personal networks. 

Dr. Stephanie Zonszein, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science studies the politics of immigration in advanced industrial societies, with a focus on the behavior of immigrants and native-born, the policies which aim to shape immigrant integration, and the reactions to those policies.