CSI Staff



Karthick Ramakrishnan


Karthick Ramakrishnan is professor of political science and associate dean of UC Riverside’s School of Public Policy. His research focuses on civic participation, public opinion, and immigration policy in the United States. He is the author, most recently of The New Immigration Federalism(Cambridge, 2015), and is founding editor of the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics (JREP). Ramakrishnan is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships from places such as the Russell Sage Foundation, Woodrow Wilson Center, and Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). He has over 1,000 news appearances, including in the New York Times, Economist, Los Angeles Times, PBS Newshour, and MSNBC. Ramakrishnan received his Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University.

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Marlenee Blas Pedral

Associate Director

Hello my name is Marlenee Blas, and I currently serve as Associate Director at the Center for Social Innovation. I am passionate about access to education and advocating for innovative ways to support a more equitable and sustainable environment in the Inland Empire. Today, my work at the Center for Social Innovation prepares me for the next step in my journey, UC Berkeley Law School in August 2020. After completing a master’s degree in higher education, a Fulbright Fellowship in Brazil, and current meaningful work at the Center for Social Innovation, I continue to be reminded of my own upbringing and why I am pursuing law school. [Read More Here]






Paola Avendano

External Affairs Associate

My name is Paola Avendano and I am a 25 years old latina from San Bernardino, CA. Although I am not currently enrolled as a student, I graduated in 2016 with a major in Political Science from UCR and am currently working on studying for the GRE in order to go back to school soon. I plan to apply for programs that focus on public policy, public administration, and even business administration.  [Read More Here]



Gary Rettberg

Research Manager

My name is Gary Rettberg. I majored in Communications/Sociology as an undergrad, and got my Masters in Public Policy in 2018. My academic interests include health policy, economic development, community development, and public policy at every level specifically in California and New Jersey. I also am an amateur historian with a focus on Southern New Jersey, specifically Gloucester County. [Read More Here]


Eric Calderon

Assistant Director

Hello, my name is Eric Eduardo Calderon and I am a senior undergraduate Public Policy major emphasizing in International/Foreign Policy and Policy Institutions/Processes. Prior to transferring to UCR in Fall 2018, I received my Associate of Arts degree in Sociology from East Los Angeles College. Some of my interests are community and economic development, housing, transportation, environment, and foreign affairs. My goal is to learn more about how these factors can shape and affect communities, particularly those in Southern California.   [Read More Here]



Alexander Ross

Researcher and Center Associate


My name is Alex and I serve as a graduate researcher at CSI while pursuing a PhD in political science. My primary research interests are the politics of inequality, with a particular focus on the political effects of personal debt, such as student loans and credit card debt. My experience as a researcher at the center has informed my research interest by showing me how real and immediate the impacts of policy change are upon the lives and lived experiences of the people impacted. Upon receiving my PhD I plan to pursue a career in either academia or public policy.  [Read More Here]

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Arielle Manganiello

Researcher and Center Associate

My name is Arielle Manganiello, I am a fourth year PhD Candidate co-advised in social psychology and political science. My research interests include examining how generalized beliefs about groups, individual identities, and the political and social context of society affects individual's political attitudes and behaviors. Particularly voting and candidate evaluations.[Read More Here]



Esau Casimiro Vieyra 

Researcher and Center Associate


My name is Esaú Casimiro Vieyra. I received a Bachelor’s in Political Science from CSU Bakersfield. I will complete my Master of Public Policy at UC Riverside this Spring quarter. I chose Race and Immigration as my concentration as these two areas have had a great impact in my life and those around me. My other interests include public opinion, race and ethnic politics, and I have been pulled towards spatial analysis during my time in the MPP.  [Read More Here]

Mai Do

Mai Do

Researcher and Center Associate


My name is Mai Nguyen Do. I work as a researcher for AAPI Data and am a PhD student in the political science department. I'm particularly interested in migration, Southeast Asian refugees in the United States, and Asian American politics more generally. On campus at UC Riverside, I serve as a departmental representative to the Graduate Student Council and as a head steward for UAW 2865’s Riverside unit.[Read More Here]



Stephanie DeMora

Researcher and Center Associate

My name is Stephanie L. DeMora. I'm a 4th year PhD student and my subfields are Mass Political Behavior and American Political Institutions. Most of my research is on gender and politics, and my publications are primarily in the policy realm. I have an Associate's degree in Liberal Arts, Bachelor's degree in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies, and a Master's degree in Comparative Politics. [Read More Here]



Sunny Shao

Researcher and Center Associate

My name is “Sunny” Yiming Shao. I am a researcher at the Center for Social Innovation and AAPI Data. I received my Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Pepperdine and my Bachelor’s Degree in International Communications from Nottingham. Currently, I am a Ph.D. candidate in political science at UCR.  [Read More Here]

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Quanfeng Zhou

Researcher and Center Associate

My name is Quanfeng Zhou. I am a 4th year Ph.D. student in economics with a focus on topics related to education, labor market as well as the empirical methods used in studying those questions.I was born in Shanghai, an economically developed city in a developing country. Both of my parents are among the well-educated people of their generation and I have benefited a lot from that. [Read More Here]


Aaron Walter

Student Assistant

Hello, my name is Aaron Walter, and I am a fourth-year UCR Psychology: Law & Society and Public Policy major, with my Public Policy tracks being International/Foreign Relations and Institutions/Processes. On-campus I am affiliated with several departments. In ASUCR, UCR's student government body, I serve as Judicial General Advocate. As General Advocate, I serve as a liaison between the Judicial Branch and the rest of ASUCR as well as the public representative of Judicial. Within the Psychology Department, I work as a research assistant in the Life Events Lab, studying coping strategies and emotions within uncertain waiting periods.[Read More Here]




Adrian Fonseca

Student Assistant

My name is Adrian Fonseca and I am a third-year Business Administration student concentrating in Information Systems at the University of California, Riverside School of Business. I am passionate about technology and understanding how it can help improve business practices at an organizational level. Over the course of the 2019-20 academic school year I developed an interest in analytics utilizing business intelligence tools like Tableau to better interpret and present visualized data. When on campus, I devote my time to the UCR TRIO Scholars Student Support Services program and serve as the President of External Affairs with the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA UCR).[Read More Here]


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Karen Chen

Videography Student Assistant

My name is Karen Chen and I’m a third-year double major in Theater, Film, and Digital Productions and Media Cultural Studies. After finding my passion for filmmaking through programs provided by my high school in Bentonville, Arkansas, I started to dedicate time learning and experimenting within the various aspects of digital film. Academically, I am interested in the techniques used to share the most powerful stories and studying other famously impactful works.[Read More Here]

Samantha Stanfill

Samantha Stanfill

Student Assistant (Web design)

My name is Samantha Stanfill and I am a Business major with a concentration in management at UCR’s School of Business. After graduating from undergraduate I plan on attending Law School to pursue my passion for advocating for others and to utilize my ability to understand others and problem solve. [Read More Here]




Tamara Marquez

Student Assistant

Tamara Marquez is a 3rd year Media and Culture Studies major currently pursuing a double major in Spanish at UCR. She is passionate about volunteering and being part of organizations that give back to the community, specifically to the undocumented community as she can relate to their struggle. Tamara’s recent internship experiences have encouraged her to pursue a career in the marketing industry or communications. With the opportunity of helping the social media/marketing team at the Center for Social Innovation she hopes to find a passion that will guide her towards Graduate School. Tamara enjoys taking photos of friends and editing them.


Wendy Ramos

Student Assistant

My name is Wendy Ramos. I am a 3rd-year undergraduate student where I am in the process of double majoring in Anthropology and Sociology. My interest in Anthropology was sparked through my fascination with the interworking relationship between language and culture; however, my true passion will always lie with Sociology. I have always been curious about people and have often caught myself burning holes right through them. I'm fascinated with the way a person walks, the subtle emotions caught on a person's face, the types of interactions people have, and even more so when a person shifts from society’s norms.[Read More Here]

CSI Faculty


Cecilia Ayon-Profiles

Cecilia Ayón

Director, Immigration Working Group

Cecilia Ayón is an Associate Professor at the School of Public Policy. Her research broadly examines factors that promote and hinder Latino immigrant families’ wellbeing, health disparities, and intervention development and evaluation. Her research has been founded by the Silberman Foundation and the Foundation for Child Development. She is currently carrying out a large mixed methods study on the ethnic-racial socialization process among Latino immigrant families. The study examines the impact of restrictive state level immigration policies and discrimination on parenting practices.



Michael Bates

Co-Director, Economic Mobility Group

Michael Bates is an assistant professor of economics and co-director of the economic mobility group at the University of California, Riverside. He earned his Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 2015, where he studied labor economics, econometrics, and the economics of education. His work brings economic analysis to labor and education policy, employing and developing rigorous statistical methods to uncover causal and generalizable effects. This work has been published in leading economic and education journals such as the Journal of Labor Economics and the Journal of Education and Behavioral Statistics and has been discussed in the Washington Post, New York Times, LA Times, and on NPR. [More info]



Loren Collingwood

Co-Director, Civic Engagement Group

Loren is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at University of California, Riverside. His research and teaching interests include American politics, political behavior, race and ethnic politics, and political methodology. He received his Ph.D. in political science from University of Washington in 2012, and his B.A. from California State University, Chico, with a stint in between at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research in Washington, DC. His dissertation and upcoming book examines cross-racial political campaigning where candidates and voters are of different racial/ethnic backgrounds. [More info]


Kevin M. Esterling

Kevin M. Esterling

Senior Researcher, Civic Engagement Group

Kevin Esterling is professor of public policy and political science at the University of California, Riverside. His research identifies the conditions that lead citizens to engage constructively in public discourse. His latest book is Politics with the People: Building a Directly Representative Democracy (with Michael Neblo and David Lazer, forthcoming on Cambridge University Press). His work has appeared in many academic journals such as Science, The Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, The American Political Science Review, and Political Analysis. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago in 1999.


Catherine Gudis-Profiles

Catherine Gudis

Co-Director, Place Making Group

Catherine Gudis is Director of the Public History Program at UCR and teaches classes in public history and 20th century U.S. history, building on her twin interests in modern consumer culture and cultural and urban constructions of race, space, and place. For more than 20 years, Gudis has worked as a curator and consultant to art and history museums and in the field of historic preservation and has received public and private grants to conduct community-engaged scholarship. Gudis was a Scholar at the Getty Research Institute in 2012-13, and has held fellowships at the Huntington Library and at Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History. She received her Ph.D. in American Studies (with distinction) from Yale University, where she also won the Yale Teaching Prize.


Francisco Pedraza-Profiles

Francisco Pedraza

Co-Director, Civic Engagement Group

Francisco I. Pedraza (Ph.D. University of Washington, 2010) is a political scientist at University of California, Riverside with appointments in the School of Public Policy and the Department of Political Science. He is the coordinator of the Politics of Race, Immigration, and Ethnicity Consortium. Francisco’s research centers on political attitude formation and political behavior, with a special emphasis on the attitudes and behaviors of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. His research draws on sociological, psychological, and policy processes theoretical frameworks to better understand individual-level policy preferences, electoral candidate preferences, political knowledge, and other political orientations like trust in government. His substantive research interests also include the relationship between immigration policy and health policy. [More info]


Ellen Reese-Profiles

Ellen Reese

Director, Economic Mobility Group

Ellen Reese is Professor of Sociology and Chair of Labor Studies at the University of California, Riverside. Her research focuses on gender, race, and class, welfare state development, social movements, and poverty and work. She is author of They Say Cutback; We Say Fightback! Welfare Activism in an Era of Retrenchment (2011, American Sociological Association’s Rose Series) and Backlash Against Welfare Mothers: Past and Present(2005, University of California Press). She is also co-author of The World Social Forums and the Challenges of Global Democracy (2007, Paradigm Publishers) and co-editor of The Wages of Empire: Neoliberal Policies, Repression, and Women’s Poverty (2007, Paradigm Publishers) and A Handbook of World Social Forum Activism (2012, Paradigm Publishers).

CSI Alumni

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Adriana Ninci


I am a PhD student in the department of Political Science at UCR. My major subfields are Mass Political Behavior and American Politics. My research interests center around race, ethnicity, gender and identity politics, political psychology, and inequality. I especially focus on the perception of women as political candidates. I am also a member of the Gender Lab in the Political Science department at UCR. My recent publication in the Journal of Policy and Politics is on Stand Your Ground Laws and the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). I have experience teaching American Politics, Constitutional Law, and World Politics. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and served as President of the International Honor’s Society in Psychology (Psi Chi) and as Philanthropy Chair at Sonoma State University.  [Read More Here]