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Nancy Lopez

Associate Professor

Photo: Nancy   Lopez

Director and Co-founder, Institute for Study of "Race" & Social Justice, RWJF Center for Health Policy

Coordinator, NM Statewide Race, Gender, Class Data Policy Consortium

SSCI 1053

Curriculum vitae


PhD, Sociology, City University of New York (1999)

Research Interests

Race and Ethnicity , Education , Gender , Inequality

"Race," Racialization, Gender, Intersectionality, Education, Health, Latina/o/x Studies, Qualitative Methods, Engaged Scholarship, Public Sociology

Research Statement:

Nancy López ( is associate professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico (B.A. Columbia College, Columbia University, 1991; Ph.D. Graduate School & University Center, City University of New York (GSUC-CUNY, 1999). Dr. López directs and co-founded the Institute for the Study of "Race" and Social Justice, RWJF Center for Health Policy ( and she is the founding coordinator of the New Mexico Statewide Race, Gender, Class Data Policy Consortium. Dr. López is also the inaugural co-chair of the Diversity Council and serves on Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee, UNM. Dr. López chairs the committee on the status of Racial and Ethnic Minorities and was past-chair of the Race, Gender, Class Section of the American Sociological Association.

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 (Routledge, 2003) focuses on the race-gender experiences of Dominicans, West Indians, and Haitians to explain why girls are succeeding at higher rates than boys. Dr. López co-edited, Mapping "Race": Critical Approaches to Health Disparities Research (Rutgers, 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 multidimensional and multilevel social construction that has profound methodological implications for research and policy. Her current work includes a national representative survey of Latinos to examines the health outcomes of Latino immigrants by examining a new measure of racialization she calls "street race" and "street race-gender." Another project involves a content analysis of official documents of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Census as sites of racial formation; she cautions that current proposals to combine two analytically distinct concepts, Hispanic origin and race, into one question may undermine civil rights monitoring and enforcement. Dr. López argues data collection should be anchored in ethical accuracy for social justice rather than aesthetic superficial decontextualized accuracy for compliance only. Dr. López is completing demographic profiles of New Mexico that examines trends in race-gender-class gaps in income, employment and wealth as well as the impact of school-level resources on college graduation at a large public university in the Southwest. Dr. Lopez is collaborating with interdisciplinary scholars at the University of New Mexico and school administrators on examining the impact of Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) and the implementation of liberatory curriculum and pedagogy in a large public school district in New Mexico through the Ethnic Studies Education and Health (ESEH) Research Practice Partnership (RPP) for Empowerment and Equity in P-20 schools and universities.

Dr. López has taught for over two decades in a variety of public universities (City University of New York, University of Massachusetts and University of New Mexico), that serve a very diverse group of students, including those who like Dr. López, were the first in their families to complete high school and pursue higher education. Dr. López has chaired or served as a member of over 30 doctoral degree committees and 20 masters degree committees. Dr. López has received several awards recognizing her contributions to mentoring, teaching, service and research, including the Gunter Starkey Teaching Award, Presidential Luminaria Award and the Inaugural Academic Leadership Academy Fellowship, of the Division of Equity and Inclusion, UNM. Dr. López is the first woman of color tenured in the Sociology department and the first woman the African Diaspora (AfroLatina) tenured in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of New Mexico.

The daughter of Dominican immigrants who were only able to attend primary school through the second grade, Dr. López was born in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and she was raised in Baruch Public Houses. Spanish is her first language. In 1987 Dr. López graduated from Washington Irving H.S., a de facto racially segregated large public vocational high school for girls.



Mapping "Race": Critical Approaches to Health Disparities Research

Laura E. Gomez and Nancy Lopez

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.

Recent/Select Publications:

López, Nancy, Edward Vargas, Lisa Cacari-Stone, Melina Juarez, Sonia Bettez. 2017. “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, doi: 10.1177/2332649217708798.

López, Nancy., and Vivian L. Gadsden. 2016. Health Inequities, Social Determinants, and Intersectionality. Discussion Paper, National Academy of Medicine, Washington, DC.

López, Nancy. 2016. “Contextualizing Lived Race-Gender and the Racialized Gendered Social Determinants of Health, in Race and Ethnicity in Society: The Changing Landscape, Fourth Edition, edited by Elizabeth Higginbotham and Margaret Andersen. Plymouth, MA: Cengage Learning.

Rodriguez, Clara, Nancy López and Grigoris Argeros. 2015. “Latinos and the Colorline,” Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, edited by Robert A. Scott and Stephen Kosslyn. NY: Sage Publications: 1-11.

López, Nancy. 2013. “Killing Two Birds With One Stone? Why We Need Two Separate Questions on Race & Ethnicity in 2020 Census and Beyond,” Latino Studies Journal, 11(3):428-438.

Faculty Public Sociology & Community Engagement

Nancy Lopez draws on her scholarly work on intersectionality (e.g., the simultaneity of race, gender, class, sexual orientation and privilege) and the dynamics of racialization in American society to help civic organizations and other researchers think more carefully about racial identity and how to measure race & ethnicity and 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:

Sign On Letter to Congressional Hispanic and Civil Rights and Voting Rights Taskforce


Introduction to Sociology

Dynamics of Difference, Power & Discrimination

Race & Inequality

Sociology of Education (graduate)

Racial and Ethnic Relations (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.


An Invitation to Conceptualizing & Visualizing Intersectionality

Organizational Sign-on Letter re  Geospatial Data Restrictions and Racial Disparities

For more information about The Institute for the Study of "Race" & Social Justice and The New Mexico Race, Gender, Class Data Policy Consortium as well as the Race & Social Justice Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate visit:

11/26/14 Nancy López, "What's Your Street Race-Gender?"  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholars Forum, Human Capital Blog on Disparities, Resilience and Building a Culture of Health:

Nancy López quote, FiveThirtyEight article, 11/26/14:

New Mexico Statewide Race, Gender, Class Data Policy Consortium, Oct. 29, 2014

Contextualizing Lived Race-Gender, Street Race-Gender & the Racialized-Gendered Social Determinants of Health, Oct. 24, 2014

New Mexico Statewide Race, Gender, Class Data Policy Consortium, Oct. 15, 2014

NiLP Latino Census Network: Thoughts on Proposed Changes in Hispanic Question

Curriculum Committee: Call for Syllabi

Proposal for 3-credit University-wide Undergraduate Degree Requirement

Peer Institution Data

President Frank Letter of Support for Diversity Requirement

Provost Letter of Support for Diversity Requirement

List of Diversity Course Syllabi 11/19/2012

UNM Catalog Diversity Course Requirement

NM Indian Education Report 2011

Nancy López' Vitae

Overview of Race & Hispanic Origin:2010 Census Brief

ASA 2013 Position Paper OMB & Census Race & Ethnicity Data

Diversity Council Framework for Strategic Action

Mapping “Race”: Critical Approaches to Health Disparities Research

NM Statewide Race Gender Class Data Policy Consortium

Institute for Study of  Race & Social Justice Activities 2009-2014

Proposal for Race, Ethnicity, Ancestry, Gen Status, Educational Attainment Measures Census 2020

NiLP Commentary Ethnic Origin is Not Race, Aug 24, 2013

Tool for Intersectionality

OMB Memo

Presentation Video:

Smithsonian 2/19/15: What's your Street Race-Gender?