Welcome to the Project MALES Faculty and Research Affiliates page where you can learn more about our outstanding affiliates from institutions across the nation.
The goal of the Project MALES Faculty and Research Affiliates Program is to raise the visibility of our affiliates’ research on young males of color by amplifying their work to our growing national network of P-16 practitioners and administrators. Project MALES is committed to cultivating and amplifying the work of scholars whose research agenda is well aligned with the goals of our various research and mentoring initiatives.
Current Faculty and Research Affiliates include emerging and established scholars whose research focuses on the educational experiences of males of color. To learn more visit their bios below.
Project MALES Faculty & Research Affiliates
Elvira J. Abrica, Ph.D. is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research interests focus on increasing access to higher education for historically underrepresented groups across institutional contexts. Specifically, Dr. Abrica’s interests are in (1) understanding and comparing experiences and outcomes for racialized ethnic minority populations, particularly Men of Color, (2) student identity exploration and development in the context of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, (3) organizational change and student outcomes in community colleges, and (4) institutional research and assessment. Dr. Abrica has had professional experience in institutional research, assessment, and student affairs at four-year and two-year institutions. Dr. Abrica holds a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Abrica CV.
Tracy Arámbula Ballysingh, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs in the Department of Leadership and Developmental Sciences. Her research is focused on Latinx rates of college completion, educational outcomes for boys and men of color, first-generation college students, the first-year experience in college, and the role of Hispanic-Serving Institutions in the higher education landscape. Dr. Ballysingh has taught pre-k through middle school grades in Massachusetts, Utah, Texas, and Illinois. She has served as a teaching assistant for doctoral students in Higher Education Law and Equity and Access in Higher Education and she has taught multiple discussion sections of first-year undergraduate seminar courses. Dr. Ballysingh has served as an academic advisor, mentor/instructor for first-year/first-generation college students, director of student success programs, and as a policy analyst for the chair of the Texas Senate’s Higher Education Committee. Ballysingh CV.
Beth E. Bukoski, Ph.D. began her affair with education when she earned her BA in English and MAEd in Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Tech and became a high school English teacher. After teaching for five years, she moved to Texas to pursue her doctorate in educational administration. Once her dissertation was complete, Dr. Bukoski took a position at the University of Louisville as a tenure-track assistant professor, where she realized the tenure track was not her ideal placement. When offered the opportunity to return to Texas, she took it. She now enjoys dedicating her time to serving her students, department, and university. Bukoski CV.
Nolan Cabrera, Ph.D. is currently an associate professor in the Center for the Study of Higher Education where he researches the impact the New Start Summer Program has on low-income, first-generation, and racial minority college students. Dr. Cabrera’s primary research interests include race/racism in higher education, Whiteness formation, diversity, and affirmative action. Prior to his graduate studies, Dr. Cabrera was the Director of a Boys & Girls Club in the San Francisco Bay Area. He earned his B.A. from Stanford University and is originally from McMinnville, Oregon. Dr. Cabrera graduated from UCLA where he worked on Dr. Sylvia Hurtado’s NIH-funded project regarding diversifying the sciences. His dissertation, “Invisible Racism: Male Hegemonic Whiteness in Higher Education,” critically analyzed White, male undergraduates racial ideologies. Cabrera CV.
Juan F. Carrillo, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the school of education, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Carrillo’s research includes a focus on Latino/a, Chicano/a education, Latino males (k-12 & higher education), and the social and cultural foundations of education. His current work explores the schooling trajectories of working-class, Mexican-origin males. He is particularly interested in exploring competing conceptions of “making-it,” intellectual masculinities, and the strategies used by Latino “ghetto nerds” to succeed academically all while affirming a hybrid cultural identity. Dr. Carillo received his Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, with a concentration in Cultural Studies in Education, and a Mexican American Studies Graduate Portfolio from the University of Texas at Austin. Carrillo CV.
Ismael Fajardo, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the College of Education at the University of Washington, Seattle. His research examines issues of equity, access, retention, and policy for Latino males in the education pipeline, specifically college readiness and STEM college transitions. He uses mixed-method research approaches to understand the conditions that create accessible and equitable environments for Latino male students to succeed in college and beyond. Dr. Fajardo received his M.Ed. and Ph.D. in educational leadership, policy, and organizations from the University of Washington, B.A in Foreign Languages and Cultures from Washington State University, and A.A. degree from Spokane Falls Community College. Fajardo CV.
Julie López Figueroa, Ph.D. is currently an associate professor at California State University, Sacramento in the Department of Ethnic Studies. Additionally, Dr. Figueroa holds faculty affiliation with the Doctoral Educational Leadership Program at Sacramento State. Dr. Figueroa is recognized as one of the earliest contributors informing and framing the body of knowledge examining the academic success of Latino males in higher education. Dr. Figueroa’s research uses sociocultural perspectives on Latino males in higher education to examine their perspectives and practices with regards to academic success. Understanding from a student experience what constitutes a challenge and explaining how the challenge is resolved through their journey to attain academic succeed is of central interest. Dr. Figueroa completed her doctoral studies in Education from the University of California, Berkeley, completed a M.A. in Education from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and her B.A. in Sociology and Chicano Studies from the University of California, Davis. Figueroa CV.
Hugo García, PhD is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Higher Education at UNLV. He obtained his B.A. in international relations from UC-San Diego, M.Ed. in higher education administration and student affairs from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in higher education from Claremont Graduate University. His research interests pertain to access and equity in higher education, retention of underrepresented students at two- and four-year postsecondary institutions, international higher education, diversity in higher education, and P-20 education pipeline. Specifically, his work focuses on conducting research on community colleges and their impact on underrepresented students’ academic success, student transition to community colleges and four-year institutions, institutional responses to globalization and the internationalization of higher education, and educational outcomes for students of color throughout the educational pipeline. García CV.
Claudia García-Louis, Ph.D., is a visiting assistant professor at the University of Texas San Antonio, a Project MALES faculty & research affiliate, and an AfroLatin@ forum research affiliate. She received a BA in Psychology and a BS in Anthropology with a focus in Archaeology from Oregon State University, a MA in Student Development Administration from Seattle University, and a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from the University of Texas at Austin. Her research seeks to disrupt deficit thinking about communities of color, disadvantaged populations and underrepresented students. Her goals are to expand the definitions of Latinidad and Blackness in higher education, to make a critical contribution to a newly formed line of inquiry that explores the educational experiences of AfroLatinxs, and to conduct research that highlights Latinx heterogeneity.
Prior to attending graduate school, García-Louis worked at Linfield College as Director of Multicultural Programs where her outreach program, Ayudando Podemos, received national recognition from Excelencia in Education for its remarkable three-fold increase in Latina/o student enrollment. García-Louis draws from over six years of student affairs experience in order to bridge theory to practice and back again. Her core values as an educator are to uphold social justice, equity, and respect at all times with an emphasis on the mastery of knowledge. Garcia-Louis CV.
Deryl Hatch, Ph.D., is assistant professor of educational administration at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Dr. Hatch investigates community colleges environments—from the structural to the programmatic and classroom level—to uncover how they intersect with student experiences to foster equitable access, quality, and success in higher education, especially in regards for those from traditionally underserved and underrepresented populations. Dr. Hatch is faculty associate of the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS) at UNL and is the principal investigator of the Student Success Program Research Initiative (SSPRI). Dr. Hatch earned his doctoral degree in the Program in Higher Education Leadership, Department of Educational Administration, at the University of Texas at Austin. Hatch CV.
Adrian H. Huerta, Ph.D,. is the USC Provost Postdoctoral Fellow at the Pullias Center for Higher Education (USC). Dr. Huerta’s research includes a focus on Latino males in the K-20 educational pipeline. His current work explores college access and success for Latino males in secondary schools and community colleges, where he focuses on students’ assets through a capital and funds of knowledge lens. Dr. Huerta received his Ph.D. and M.A. in Education with a concentration in higher education and organizational change from UCLA, M.A. in Educational Policy & Leadership from the Ohio State University, and B.S. in Human Services Counseling from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is a 2015-2016 American Educational Research Association Minority Dissertation Fellow. Huerta CV.
Veronica Jones, Ph.D.is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. She received her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration at Texas A & M University, her M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Cultural Studies at the University of Houston, and a B.A. in Elementary Education at Southern University A & M College. Dr. Jones brings over ten years of K-12 experience as in English as a Second Language educator.
In 2014, Dr. Jones was hosted by the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Texas as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow for two years. While in that position, she served as a member of the Diversity Education Initiatives (DEI) as part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. She is currently a research team member for the Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color and also served as a research consultant for the Engaging Latino Students for Transfer and College Completion project as part of the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE).
In 2016 Dr. Jones received an Officers’ Research Grant from the William T. Grant Foundation for the ‘Programs, Policies, and Practices that Reduce Inequality’ initiative in the amount of $25,000. She is currently conducting a research project entitled “How Black Youth Utilize Engagement and Activism to Challenge Social Inequalities on PWI Campuses.” Her research agenda focuses on multidimensional racial identity development, student success and mentoring for African American and Latino males, and student engagement and activism related to institutional diversity and accountability. Jones CV.
Raul Leon, Ph.D. is an associate professor in Educational Leadership, at Eastern Michigan University. Dr. Leon is an emerging higher education researcher with extensive international living experience and work in student affairs. With an active research agenda that examines strategic diversity management, males of color, and the internationalization of American higher education. As a researcher, actively participates in professional associations, presents at national conferences, and reviews conference proposals. Dr. Leon has a both a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis and a Masters of International Public Affairs from the University of Wisconsin Madison. Leon CV.
Charles Lu, Ph. D. is the Executive Director of the Gateway Scholars and Summer Bridge programs at The University of Texas at Austin, and holds a clinical appointment with the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and the Center for Asian American Studies. His research focuses on academic success programs, student learning in STEM majors, and students of color in study abroad programs. Dr. Lu received his Ph.D. and B.S. degrees from The University of Texas at Austin and his M.A. from Loyola Marymount University. Lu CV.
Eligio Martinez Jr., Ph.D. is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Dr. Martinez’ research focuses on the intersection of race, class and gender for Chicano/Latino males throughout the educational pipeline. In particular, Dr. Martinez explores the middle school years and the stratification process that occurs during this stage that leaves many students ill-prepared to transition to high school and begin to prepare for college. Prior to his current appointment, Dr. Martinez was a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Education Studies at the University of California, San Diego where he was Co-Principle Investigator for Project EXCEL. He previously served as a coordinator for the Men of Color Mentoring Program at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, TX. Dr. Martinez received his M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington College of Education and a B.A. in History and Chicana/o Studies from UCLA. Martinez CV.
Jason Mendez, PhD currently teaches in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh and is a faculty fellow in their Center for Urban Education. Jason’s research interests include urban education, Puerto Rican identity construction, critical race studies, cultural studies in education, and arts as social justice. His work focuses on males of color and traditionally underserved and underrepresented populations in postsecondary education. Jason is also the co-founder of Sons of the Boogie, an arts-based company dedicated to South Bronx history and culture. Dr. Mendez received his Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in Curriculum, Culture, and Change and a Graduate Certificate in Cultural Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Mendez CV.
David Perez II, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Miami University in Oxford, OH. Dr. Pérez’s research focuses on increasing Latino male access, persistence, and success at U.S. postsecondary institutions. He is currently conducting The National Study on Latino Male Achievement in Higher Education, which integrates two asset-based theoretical frameworks to illuminate how Latino upperclassmen employ different forms of capital to thrive at twenty selective U.S. colleges and universities. Dr. Pérez has received numerous distinctions for his scholarly contributions. He received his Ph.D. in Higher Education with a concentration in Sociology from The Pennsylvania State University. He was awarded the Penn State Alumni Association’s Dissertation Award in 2012. Perez CV.
Luis Ponjuán, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Higher Education Administration and the Executive Director of the IDEAL (Investing in Diversity, Equity, Access, and Learning) research project in the Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. He has 20 years of professional higher education work experience by also working at the University of Florida, University of Michigan, and Florida State University. Over the years he has developed a comprehensive research agenda focused on access and equity in higher education for underrepresented students and faculty members of color. He earned his Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Michigan, Master’s degree from the Florida State University, and Bachelors degree in Psychology from the University of New Orleans. He is a first generation Cuban immigrant and college graduate. Ponjuán CV
Taryn Ozuna Allen, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Allen’s research interests focus on the educational experiences of traditionally under-represented students, particularly Latino students, as they access, transition, and enroll in higher education. She earned her doctorate in higher education administration, with a concentration in Mexican American Studies, from the University of Texas at Austin (2012). She received her Master’s degree in Student Affairs Administration (2005) and Bachelor’s degree in General Family and Consumer Sciences (2003) from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Ozuna Allen CV.
Richard Reddick, Ph.D. is an award-winning Associate Professor in Educational Administration, with courtesy appointments in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies and the Warfield Center of African and African American Studies. Dr. Reddick is also the Faculty Director for Campus Diversity Initiatives in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, the Assistant Director of the Plan II Honors Program in the College of Liberal Arts, and serves as a faculty fellow in the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis at The University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on several areas: the experiences of Black faculty and faculty of color at predominantly White institutions; mentoring and developmental relationships between faculty and Black students; and work-life balance in academia. Dr. Reddick holds a master’s and doctorate in higher education from Harvard University, and a bachelor’s from The University of Texas at Austin. Reddick CV.
Juan A. Ríos Vega, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the School of Teacher Education, Department of Education and Health at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. Dr. Rios was born and raised in Panama where he obtained a BA’s in English (1995) and Education (1998) at the University of Panama. Dr. Rios taught English as a foreign language in the public and private school systems in Panama before moving to North Carolina in 1999 to work as an English as a Second Language (ESL) in the public school system. He earned a Master’s of education in Curriculum and Teaching with Emphasis in ESL from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (2006); received National Board Certification in English as a New Language/Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood in 2009; received his doctorate in Philosophy in Educational Studies, Cultural Studies Concentration from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (2014), Women’s and Gender Studies Certificate and North Carolina Principal License (2014). Received the 2013-2014 Graduate Research Scholar Award for his outstanding graduate research and scholarship (2014) and the Daniel Solórzano Mentorship Award (2014). His areas of interest include: English Language Acquisition, Multicultural Education, Critical Race Theory, Latino/a Critical Theory, and Social Justice in Education. Dr. Ríos Vega has taught Latino/a Education in the U.S. at Davidson College, ESL at the Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) in North Carolina. In 2015, he published his first book Counterstorytelling Narratives of Latino Teenage Boys: From Vergüenza to Échale Ganas. Rios CV.
Sarah Rodriguez, Ph.D. will be joining Iowa State University as a Tenure-Track Assistant Professor in Community College Leadership/Higher Education. Dr. Rodriguez has been involved with the Improving Outcomes for Men of Color in Community Colleges Initiative at the Center for Community College Student Engagement and served as the Research Coordinator for Project M.A.L.E.S. (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success), both of which focused on improving educational outcomes for men of color. She has been named a Gates Millennium Scholar, an American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) Fellow, and also serves as an Affiliate Faculty Member for the Minority Male Community College Collaborative (M2C3). Her research interests center upon equity, access, and retention issues for Latina/o students in the educational pipeline, with a special focus on the intersections of race, ethnicity, and gender for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students. Dr. Rodriguez is a graduate of the Program for Higher Education Leadership at The University of Texas at Austin and holds a Master’s of Education in College Student Personnel from the University of Tennessee as well as a Bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish from Texas A&M University-Commerce. Rodriguez CV.
Cristobal Salinas Jr., Ph.D., recently joined the faculty of Florida Atlantic University’s College of Education as an assistant professor in the Educational Leadership and Research Methodology Department. Dr. Salinas research explores the economic, social and political context of educational opportunities for historically marginalized communities, with an emphasis on Latina/o students. Given the growth of this population in the U.S. and their historically low achievement in education, he seeks to analyze Latina/o students’ experiences in education. He is accomplishing this focus through three related lines of inquiry: (1) how Latina/o students experience and negotiate higher education environments; (2) interrogating the very notion of masculinity, race and ethnicity in higher education; and (3) the socialization of Latina/o students into the academy. Dr. Salinas earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Education, English as a Second Language from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and a master of education and doctorate degree from the school of education at Iowa State University. Salinas CV.
Marissa Vasquez Urias, Ed.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Administration, Rehabilitation, and Postsecondary Education (ARPE) at San Diego State University (SDSU). Dr. Vasquez Urias’ scholarly work examines factors impacting the success of male students of color, particularly Latino and African American men, in the community college. As a Faculty Affiliate with the Minority Male Community College Collaborative (M2C3) at SDSU, she is actively engaged in critical and applied research that addresses disparities in education, particularly within community colleges. In this vein, Dr. Vasquez Urias is the Managing Editor for the Journal of Applied Research in Community College (JARCC) and Board Member at Large for the Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC). Dr. Vasquez Urias earned an associate degree from Southwestern College, a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, a master’s degree in Counseling with a specialization in College Counseling and Student Development from the University of San Diego, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from San Diego State University. Vasquez Urias CV.