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Elizabeth Aranda, Ph.D.


Professor of Sociology and Assistant Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Florida. A native of Puerto Rico, she has dedicated herself to documenting the lived experience of migration and to share (im)migrants’ stories through her research and teaching. Her research addresses migrants’ emotional well-being and how they adapt to challenges posed by racial and ethnic inequalities and legal status.

Heide Castañeda Ph.D.


Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of South Florida. Her research centers on medical anthropology, migration, migrant health, health policy, and mixed-status families in the US/Mexico borderlands. Her current projects focus on mixed-status families along the US/Mexico border, legal status and the social and emotional well-being of undocumented youth, and transit migration in Sinaloa along Mexico’s Ruta Pacifica.

Elizabeth Vaquera, Ph.D.

Director of the GW Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute. She holds appointments in Sociology and the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration. Her research focuses on the physical, emotional, and social wellbeing of vulnerable and diverse groups, particularly Latinos/as, immigrants, and children. Her most recent book, Education and Immigration, examines the educational experiences of immigrants and their children living in the U.S. Dr. Vaquera is the recipient of several federal grants by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Girsea Martinez, M.A.
Ph.D. Student

Sociology PhD Student. Her research interests are deeply informed by a life-long process of learning what it means to be the daughter of undocumented immigrants. She is interested in the sociology of emotions, social movement work, and the experience of “illegality.” She hopes to extend our current understanding of marginalized populations by focusing on how macro level meanings affect micro level interactions, specifically within the realm of emotions and feminist standpoint theory. Her ethnographic work acknowledges and integrates her positionality as a young immigrant woman of color in the stories she tells.

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