• M.S., Ph.D. University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • B.A. Ithaca College


As a teacher, I help students develop critical thinking skills for making sense of the social world. To do so, I spend a significant amount of time building trust in relationships with students, especially during one-on-one meetings in office hours. As I strengthen relationships with students, I learn about the varied cultural toolkits and learning styles they bring with them. To tap the potential of all students, I vary my teaching methods to maximize their learning. I teach courses on qualitative methods, sociological theory, culture, race, and urban sociology.

In my work, I use qualitative methods to examine how marginalized populations in urban locales make sense of inequalities in their everyday lives. I investigate how they interpret their social selves and order their relationships; how they create, maintain, and transform social and symbolic boundaries; and how boundaries constrain and enable their lives.

My dissertation, "Getting Something to Eat in Jackson," is an ethnography of everyday eating practices among socioeconomically diverse African Americans living in Jackson, Mississippi. It pays particular attention to food availability, choice, and consumption and how these are woven into the daily lives of people inhabiting different social classes. I conducted nearly one year of intensive fieldwork, following a couple dozen residents who were poor and homeless, some who were working class, and some who were among the wealthiest African Americans in the city.

My interest in the cultural dynamics of African American life in urban settings is also evident in my book manuscript, Break Beats in the Bronx, currently under contract with the University of North Carolina Press. The book, based on my master's thesis, analyzes never-before-used archival material to provide a historical account of the making of Hip Hop. It focuses especially on a crucial but neglected period in hip hop's early years, 1975-79. The study has implications for sociology of music and for cultural and historical sociology more broadly, as it centers on a case of social and symbolic boundary creation.