Nancy López


Photo: Nancy   López

Director and Co-founder, Institute for Study of "Race" & Social Justice (

Advisor, Race and Social Justice Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate

(505) 277-3101
SSCI 1053

Curriculum vitae


PhD 1999. Sociology, City University of New York, New York, NY.
BA 1991. Regional Studies in Latin America, Columbia College, Columbia University, New York, NY.
H.S. Diploma 1987. Regents High School Diploma. Washington Irving High School, New York, NY.

Research Interests

Race and Ethnicity, Education, Gender, Community-based Participatory Research, Inequality, Latino/a Studies

Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Class, Intersectionality, Education, Health, Community Based Participatory Research, Africana Studies, Latino/a Studies, Public Sociology

Research Statement:

Español es mi primer idioma. Spanish is my first language.

Race & Ethnicity, Gender, Class, Intersectionality, Inequality, Latino/a/x Studies, African Studies, Public Sociology 

Dr. Nancy López (she/her/ella) is professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico. Dr. López directs and co-founded the Institute for the Study of "Race" & Social Justice ( Dr. López's scholarship, teaching and service is guided by the insights of intersectionality --the importance of examining race, gender, class, ethnicity together--for interrogating inequalities across a variety of social outcomes, including education, health, employment, housing, and developing contextualized solutions that advance social justice. Her book, Hopeful Girls, Troubled Boys: Race and Gender Disparity in Urban Education (2003) focuses on the race-gender experiences of Dominicans, West Indians, and Haitians to explain why girls are succeeding at higher rates than boys. Her other co-edited books include Creating Alternative Discourses in the Education of Latinos and Latinas (2003) and Mapping "Race": Critical Approaches to Health Disparities Research (2013), a multidisciplinary volume that was the byproduct of National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded workshop. The book departs from the premise that “race” is a multi-dimensional and multi-level social construction that has profound methodological implications for research and policy.  Dr. López places "race" in quotes to underscore its nature as a socially constructed category of social status in particular historical contexts, rather than as a reified category that is essential or fixed. Dr. López work on "street race" (published in Sociology of Race & Ethnicity, Critical Public Health and Urban Institute) departs from the premise that illuminating the difference between race (visual social status/street race) and ethnicity (cultural heritage) require different questions; this is paramount for interrogating complex inequalities that only become visible through intersectionality as inquiry and praxis. Her most recent co-edited book, QuantCrit: An Antiracist Quantitative Approach to Educational Inquiry (2023) was previously published as a co-edited special issue of Race, Ethnicity and Education (2018). Dr. López’s current research, funded by the WT Grant Foundation and Hewlett Foundation, includes a mixed method study in three research practice partnerships that examine the role of ethnic studies curriculum and culturally relevant pedagogy in reducing complex intersectional inequalities in high school. Dr. López was awarded funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for a project entitled, “Employing and Intersectionality Framework in Revising Office of Management and Budget Standards for Collecting Administrative Race and Ethnicity Data." She was also awarded funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for cultivating a community of practice on Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and for establishing a NSF HSI Hub “Intersectionality as Inquiry and Praxis: Race-Gender-Class-Ethnicity for Student Success in STEM.” Dr. López’s other current research projects are funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for a study on “Climate for Latino Students: Employing Intersectionality for Understanding Latino Student Success in Higher Education.” 

Dr. López is the eldest of five US-born children of Dominican immigrants who never had the privilege of pursuing education beyond the second grade. She was born in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and Spanish is her first language. Raised in Baruch Public Houses, Dr. López graduated from Washington Irving H.S., a de facto racially segregated large public vocational high school for girls. She participated federally funded equity-focused programs, such as Upward Bound and HeadStart. Dr. López has taught for over three decades in a variety of institutions including adult basic education, community colleges (bilingual classes in Spanish and English), as well as large public research universities (City University of New York, University of Massachusetts and University of New Mexico), that serve a very diverse group of students, most of who are first in their families to have the opportunity to pursue higher education. Dr. López has chaired/served on over 90 doctoral degrees and masters degree committees across disciplines. Dr. López has received several awards recognizing her contributions to mentoring, teaching, service and research, including the Gunter Starkey Teaching Award, Presidential Luminaria Award, the Inaugural Academic Leadership Academy Fellowship, of the Division for Equity and Inclusion, UNM and the ASA William Foote Whyte Distinguished Career Award for Sociological Practice and Public Sociology. She has served on the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee and as Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, and co-chair of the Diversity Council that established the university-wide “U.S. & Global Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Power [DEIP]” undergraduate requirement. Dr. López served as co-chair of the Education Subcommittee and chair of the data working group of the New Mexico Governors Council for Racial Justice and co-chair of the Policy and Data Committee of the Black Education Act Advisory Committee. Dr. López has served as Secretary-Treasurer of the American Sociological Association (ASA) and she has chaired the ASA Committee on the Status of Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the ASA Section on Race, Gender and Class. She has also served as Vice President of the Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS). Dr. López is the first woman of color tenured in the Sociology department and the first woman of the African Diaspora (AfroLatina/Black Latina) tenured in the College of Arts and Sciences (2008) and promoted to full professor (2018) at UNM.

For some examples of Dr. López's public sociology see:

  • We are holding virtual drop-in office hours for anyone interested in advancing student success in stem through intersectionality as inquiry and praxis funded by the NSF HSI Program. Everyone is welcome! Stem department instructors, chairs, program directors, advisors, etc. For more information and to join listserv visit:
  • Dr. Nancy López's post (2/8/23) in AfroLatin@ Forum Pensamiento: How will we know if we have eliminated discrimination based on race/street race if we combine Hispanic ethnicity and race into one question? This proposed change will lead to reductions in the AfroLatin@ count and distribution of resources to our communities.
  • López, Nancy.  The US Census Bureau Keeps Confusing Race and Ethnicity, The Conversation, February 28, 2018. (Republished in Salon, Associated Press, Newsela for teachers in K-12 Instructional Online Platform)



Quantcrit: An Antiracist Quantitative Approach to Educational Inquiry

Nichole M Garcia, Nancy Lopez, Veronica N. Velez

Garcia, N. M., López, N., & Vélez, V. N. (Eds.). (2023). QuantCrit: An Antiracist Quantitative Approach to Educational Inquiry. London: Routledge.
QuantCrit 20% Off

Mapping "Race": Critical Approaches to Health Disparities Research

Laura E. Gomez and Nancy López

Researchers commonly ask subjects to self-identify their race from a menu of preestablished options. Yet if race is a multidimensional, multilevel social construction, this has profound methodological implications for the sciences and social sciences. Race must inform how we design large-scale data collection and how scientists utilize race in the context of specific research questions. This landmark collection argues for the recognition of those implications for research and suggests ways in which they may be integrated into future scientific endeavors. It concludes on a prescriptive note, providing an arsenal of multidisciplinary, conceptual, and methodological tools for studying race specifically within the context of health inequalities.

Available for purchase here.


Hopeful Girls, Troubled Boys Race and Gender Disparity in Urban Education

Nancy López

By 2007, it is estimated that 9.2 million girls of color will be enrolled in college compared to 6.9 million boys of color. Why the discrepancy? In Hopeful Girls, Troubled Boys, Nancy López takes us to the schools, homes and workplaces of Caribbean youth to point out the different expectations that guide behavior. Now the largest immigrant group in New York City, López focuses in particular on these Caribbean teens to explain how and why our schools and cities are failing boys of color. This is a fascinating ethnographic study on a topic of increasing interest to people in the field of education and anyone concerned about the future of young people.

Available for purchase here.

Recent/Select Publications:

Garcia, Nichole M., Nancy López & Verónica N. Vélez. 2023. QuantCrit: An Antiracist Quantitative Approach to Educational Inquiry (editors). London: Routledge. 

Gonzalez, Dulce, Nancy López, Michael Karpman, Karishma Furtado, Genevieve M. Kenney, Marla McDaniel, Claire O'Brien. 2022. Observing Race and Ethnicity through a New Lens: An Exploratory Analysis of Different Approaches to Measuring "Street Race", Urban Institute, December 6, Wellness & Basic Needs Survey (WBNS). Research Brief, Urban Institute, December 6:

López, Nancy & Howard Hogan. 2021. “What’s Your ‘Street Race’? The Urgency of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality as ‘Lens’ for Revisiting the U.S. Office of Management and Budget Guidelines, Census and Administrative Data in Latinx Communities and Beyond,” Genealogy, 5(3):75-81.

Dinzey-Flores, Zaire Zenit, Hilda Lloréns, Nancy López, and Maritza Quiñones. 2019. "Black Latina womanhood: From Latinx fragility to empowerment and social justice praxis." WSQ: Women's Studies Quarterly 47(3): 321-327.

López, Nancy, Edward Vargas, Lisa Cacari-Stone, Melina Juarez*, Sonia Bettez. 2018. “What’s Your “Street Race”? Leveraging Multidimensional Measures of Race and Intersectionality for Examining Physical and Mental Health Status Among Latinx." Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, 4(1):49-66.

López, Nancy, Christopher Erwin*, Melissa Binder and Mario Chavez*. 2018. “Making the Invisible Visible: Advancing Quantitative Methods Through Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality for Revealing Complex Race-Gender-Class Inequalities in Higher Education, 1980- 2015,” Race, Ethnicity and Education: Special Issue, QuantCrit: Rectifying Quantitative Methods Through Critical Race Theory,  21(2): 180-207.

López, Nancy and Vivian L. Gadsden. 2017. “Health Inequities, Social Determinants, and Intersectionality,” in Perspectives on Health Equity & Social Determinants of Health, edited by K. Bogard, V.M. Murry and C. Alexander. Washington DC: National Academy of Medicine.

Johnson, Richard Greggory III, Mario Rivera and Nancy López. 2017. “Social Movements and the Need for a Trans Ethics Approach to LGBTQ Homeless Youth,” Public Integrity, 19:1-14. (DOI: 10.1080/10999922.2017.1342217).

López, Nancy. 2014. What’s Your “Street Race-Gender”? Why We Need Separate Questions on Hispanic Origin and Race for the 2020 Census. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Human Capital Blog. November 26, RWJF Blog.

López, Nancy. 2013. “Contextualizing Lived Race-Gender and the Racialized-Gendered Social Determinants of Health.” Pp.179-211 in Mapping “Race”: Critical Approaches to Health Disparities Researchedited by Laura Gómez and Nancy López. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. 

Faculty Public Sociology & Community Engagement

Nancy López draws on her scholarly work on intersectionality (e.g., attention to the simultaneity of race, gender, class, sexual orientation as systems of oppression and resistance) and the dynamics of racialization in American society to help civic organizations, community members and other researchers think more carefully about racial identity and how to measure race & ethnicity for advance transformative social justice praxis (action and reflection). For more information visit the website for the Institute for the Study of "Race" & Social Justice and the New Mexico Race, Gender, Class Data Policy Consortium.

For some examples of Dr. López's public sociology see:
López, Nancy.  The US Census Bureau Keeps Confusing Race and Ethnicity," The Conversation, February 28, 2018. (Republished in Salon, Associated Press, Newsela for teachers in K-12 Instructional Online Platform)
López, Nancy. “What’s Your “Street Race-Gender”? Why We Need Separate Questions on Hispanic Origin and Race for the 2020 Census." RWJF Human Capital Blog. November 26, 2014.
VIDEO: Dr. Nancy López. What’s Your Street Race-Gender? Why We Need Two Separate Questions on Hispanic Origin and Race for the 2020 Census and Implications for the African Diaspora and Urban Communities, Feb. 19, 2015 Smithsonian Showcase, 40-min. presentation followed by 30-min. of question and answer:

López, Nancy, TEDx ABQ Salon En español – “¿Y Tú, Que Vas a Macar Para el Censo 2020? ¿Origen Hispano? ¿Raza o Color?” / “What Will You Mark for the 2020 Census? Hispanic Origin? Race or Color?”
Sign On Letter to Congressional Hispanic and Civil Rights and Voting Rights Taskforce

Dr. Nancy López' post (2/8/23) in AfroLatin@ Forum Pensamiento: How will we know if we have eliminated discrimination based on race/street race/perceived race if we combine Hispanic ethnicity and race into one question? Regardless of intent, this proposed change will lead to reductions in the AfroLatin@ count and distribution of resources to our communities.

Nancy López (español/spanish) was interviewed by Carlos Contreras, Punto de Vista, Manhattan Neighborhood Network, "Colecta de Información en Agencias Federales/Collection of Information in Federal Agencies) which aired on 3/26/23 (interview begins at time stamp 24 min 55 sec) and focuses on the need to maintain the analytical distinction between Hispanic ethnicity and race in data in federal agencies for civil rights use as well as the need for language equity for non-English speakers to participate in the process of providing comments by the 4/12/23 deadline.

Extended comment period for Federal Registry re: OMB Initial Proposals for Race & Ethnicity Federal Standards

You can provide comments to the Federal Registry regarding Office of Management (OMB) initial proposals on federal standards for race and ethnicity data collection by


Introduction to Sociology

Dynamics of Prejudice (formerly Dynamics of Difference, Power & Discrimination)

Race & Inequality

Intersectionality: Race, Gender, Class and Policy (undergraduate/graduate)

Sociology of Education (graduate)

Racial and Ethnic Relations (graduate)

Critical Race, Gender, Class: Intersectionality & Critical Race Theory for Inquiry & Praxis (graduate)

*Note to Undergraduates: All of the aforementioned courses may potentially count for the U.S. & Global Diversity & Inclusion, 3-credit undergraduate courses. Please consult for the list of approved courses or check with your advisor.

** Update: The "Race and Social Justice" Interdisciplinary graduate certificate (15-credit transcripted)  is now open to both enrolled and non-enrolled students that have earned a four-year degree (BA, BS, etc.). We also established the undergraduate race and social justice certificate (12-credit transcripted). For more information and to apply please visit the website for the Institute for the Study of "Race" & Social Justice.