Outstanding dissertations written by our graduating students are bestowed one of two awards each year.  See a list of our past awardees and the winning dissertation titles, here.



Sonia Rab Alam
Sonia Y. Rab Alam, PhD, MPH

PhD Sociology, 2016

Sonia Y. Rab Alam is a UX (user experience) Researcher at Facebook currently working on the Pages product. She finished her PhD in Sociology at UCSF in December 2016 and was an Assistant Adjunct Professor at Mills College before moving to the tech sector. Her dissertation examined constructions of value in [and] the biomedical futures of consumer health technologies, such as Fitbit activity trackers and the Apple watch. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork at investor pitch events and health tech “meet ups,” as well as interviews with venture capitalists and founders of health tech startups, she explored the kinds of value and futures imagined in and made possible by these technologies and considered their implications. She also holds a BA in Sociology and Gender & Women’s Studies from Bowdoin College and an MPH from the Department of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University.


Monica Casper
Monica Casper, PhD

PhD Sociology, 1995

Keywords: bodies/embodiment; health and illness; disability studies; trauma studies; gender, race, and class; qualitative research methods

Monica J. Casper is Professor and Head of Gender and Women’s Studies, as well as an affiliated faculty member in Africana Studies and the School of Sociology at the University of Arizona. Her scholarly and teaching interests include gender, race, bodies, reproduction, health, sexuality, disability, and trauma. She’s published several books, including the award-winning The Making of the Unborn Patient: A Social Anatomy of Fetal Surgery and most recently, The Body: Social and Cultural Dissections, with Lisa Jean Moore. Her current research focuses on race and the biopolitics of infant mortality in the U.S. She’s also involved in collaborative research on social and biomedical consequences of traumatic brain injury across three populations: athletes, veterans, and domestic violence victims. She is founding co-editor of the NYU Press book series “Biopolitics: Medicine, Technoscience, and Health in the 21st Century,” as well as a managing editor of The Feminist Wire and editor/publisher of TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism. More information can be found at .


Yvette Cuca
Yvette P. Cuca, PhD, MPH, MIA

PhD Sociology, 2013

Keywords: Women, HIV, stigma, trauma, research

Yvette Cuca is Research Specialist at the UCSF School of Nursing and the UCSF Women’s HIV Program. Her research has focused on childbearing decision-making for women living with HIV/AIDS, with a particular focus on the role of social stigma. She is currently collaborating with the UCSF Women’s HIV Program to implement and evaluate a new model of trauma-informed primary care that acknowledges and addresses the impact of current and lifelong trauma (abuse, neglect, structural violence) on the lives and health of women living with HIV. This collaborative study will examine the impact of trauma-informed primary care on physical and mental health outcomes, and on outcomes related to social support, empowerment, and coping mechanisms, among others.



Richard Culbertson
Richard Culbertson, PhD

PhD Sociology , 1993
Interim Dean and Professor; LSU Public Health

Richard Culbertson is Interim Dean of the School of Public Health at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. He holds a Master of Divinity degree cum laude from Harvard University; a Master of Health Administration from the University of Minnesota; and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Sociology from the University of California-San Francisco. He has served as the Director of the Master of Health Administration program at Indiana University-Indianapolis; Associate Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences and Associate Dean of the Medical School at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Founding Director of Administration and Finance for the University of California-San Francisco Medical Group; and CEO of the Kaiser-Permanente Sunset Medical Center, Los Angeles, as well as COO and other administrative positions for several major teaching hospitals.

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Natalie Ingraham, PhD

PhD Sociology, 2016

Key words: medical sociology, body size, gender, LGBTQ studies, health disparities

Natalie Ingraham, PhD, MPH is currently a faculty lecturer at CSU East Bay in the Dept. of Sociology and Social Services. She also conducts qualitative research on gender and reproductive health as a staff research associate at Advancing New Standards in Reproduction Health (ANSIRH) at UCSF and in the Dept. of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley. She is interested in the intersections of body size, gender, sexuality and health. Her dissertation examined three data sets at this intersection: sin and redemption narratives on fatness in The Biggest Loser, body size experiences of lesbian and bisexual women over 40 and a situational analysis of Health at Every Size. She completed a BS in Psychology from University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and earned Master of Public Health degree from the Indiana University. More information including her teaching and publication/research experience can be found at


Carolyn Keagy
Carolyn D. Keagy, PhD

PhD Sociology, 2015

Carolyn D. Keagy is a senior data analyst at Kaiser Permanente focusing on survival analysis and advanced quantitative methods with SAS and Teradata. She started her academic career with concurrently awarded bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Chicago with general honors. Her PhD in Sociology was awarded by the University of California San Francisco from the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Her research interests are high risk behaviors, trauma, body modification, coping, mixed methods, socio-economic differences in health care delivery, and patient reported outcome


Karen Lloyd
Karen C. Lloyd, PhD

PhD Sociology, 2016

Keywords: HIV biomedical prevention; biomedicalization, risk and surveillance; sociology of pharmaceuticals; pregnancy and birth; qualitative research methodologies (grounded theory, situational analysis and narrative methods)

Karen C. Lloyd is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Population Research in Sexual Health and HIV, part of the Institute for Global Health, University College London. Her current research involves an exploration of patient and provider experiences of using digital technologies for both HIV testing and the management of HIV treatment and care. Her broader research interests include HIV bio- and digital technologies, including the use of pharmaceuticals for prevention, biomedicalization, including the biomedicalization of HIV prevention, and qualitative research methods and ethics. Her dissertation, "Vital Politics and Anticipatory Practice of HIV Treatment as Prevention: The Discursive Work of the Biomedicalization of HIV Prevention," was a multi-sited qualitative analysis of the emergence and travels of the professional discourses of HIV treatment as prevention. She received her B.A. in Sociology at the University of Delaware (2003) and a Master of Arts from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University (2007).



Lisa Jean Moore, PhD, MPH

PhD Sociology,  1995
Completed Postdoctoral Fellowship as a Trainee in AIDS Prevention Sciences at the CAPS UCSF in 1996.
Completed MPH at UC Berkeley in 1996.

Key Words: Feminist Science Studies, Qualitative Research, Animal Studies, Critical Body Studies, Prison Education

Lisa Jean Moore, Distinguished SUNY Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Purchase College, has authored seven scholarly books and 42 articles or book chapters, edited four book or journal special issues. Her book with Mary Kosut Buzz: Urban Bee-Keeping and the Power of the Bee won the American Sociological Association’s Distinguished Scholarship Award. Dr. Moore’s latest book, Catch and Release: The Enduring Yet Vulnerable Horseshoe Crab, challenges established norms within the fields of Sociology, Biology, Anthropology, and Gender Studies, bringing under review the limited ways humans view non-human existence, with significant consequences for both. Her book series developed with Monica J Casper, Biopolitics: Medicine, Technoscience, and Health in the Twenty-First Century, with twenty titles published, is regarded to be one of the best in medical sociology. She graduated from Tufts University with a BA in English and Sociology and holds an MPH from UC Berkeley in Epidemiology. She is also a professor at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in their college program.


Dr. Florencia Rojo
Florencia Rojo, PhD

PhD Sociology, 2019

Florencia Rojo is Assistant Professor at Colorado College in the Department of Sociology. She conducts qualitative research on trauma, violence, and migration with Latin American immigrant communities. Her dissertation, “‘You wanted norte’: Central American Families and the Ongoing Trauma of Migration, Separation, and Deportation” examines the intersections of multiple, ongoing traumas in immigrants’ lives across time and space. Her teaching approach bridges scholarship and social justice work, through courses including: community-based research, violence, immigration, and urban sociology. She also holds a BA in Sociology from DePaul University.


Ariana Thompson-Lastad, PhD

PhD Sociology, 2018

Ariana Thompson-Lastad is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at UCSF, where her research focuses on integrative approaches to chronic pain care. She finished her PhD in sociology at UCSF in spring 2018. Her dissertation, “Providing Integrative Medicine to Low-income Patients through Group Visits,” focused on emerging forms of care that combine biomedical treatment, peer support, health education, and complemented health approaches such as acupuncture and yoga. This mixed-methods project included a national scoping survey of clinicians as well interviews and ethnographic observation in safety-net clinics in two states. Ariana received her BA in sociology and human rights from Bard College.


Krista Sigurdson
Krista Sigurdson, PhD

PhD Sociology, 2015

Keywords: disparities in neonatal care; infant and maternal health; infant feeding; human milk; gender and race

Krista Sigurdson is a sessional instructor at The University of British Columbia in the School of Journalism, Writing and Media. She currently teaches undergraduate research and writing on the theme of Scientific Racism and Sexism. Krista was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Division of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine at Stanford where she worked on qualitative research on racial and ethnic disparities in neonatal care. Her qualitative multi-sited dissertation research on human milk exchange was co-chaired by Dr. Adele Clarke and Dr. Janet Shim and was awarded the National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant in STS, the Canadian Social Science Research Council Doctoral Fellowship and the UCSF Distinguished Dissertation Award in Sociology.



 Meredith Van Natta, PhD

PhD Sociology, 2019

Meredith Van Natta is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Merced. Meredith’s research focuses on the intersection of health, citizenship, and science, medicine, and technology studies. Her current book project examines how uncertainty around contemporary immigration policies shapes the health care of noncitizens in the U.S. Her ethnographic and interview data reveal how anti-immigrant administrations at federal and state levels have leveraged policy uncertainty to discipline both immigrant patients and the institutions that serve them in a process she refers to as “medical legal violence”. Meredith also studies the expanding use of biometrics in immigration contexts and structural health inequities in the U.S.


Lily Walkover
Lilian Walkover, PhD

PhD Sociology, 2018

Keywords: Critical global health studies; Science and technology studies; Sociology of health and illness; Sociology of knowledge; Qualitative social science methods

Lillian Walkover is an Assistant Teaching Professor at the University of California, San Diego, jointly appointed in the Department of Communication and Global Health Program. Before joining UCSD, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Global Health in the Department of Sociology at Drexel University. Her postdoctoral research with Dr. Susan Bell is a study of the experiences and career paths of physicians who enter the US as refugees. A sociologist of global health with an interdisciplinary orientation, she has experience conducting qualitative global health research in the US and abroad. She focuses on the production, valuation, and movement of health knowledges, both globally and in the US. Her doctoral work focused on how health knowledges are produced and travel through an analysis of the translation and adaptation of Where There Is No Doctor, the most widely used health manual in the world. This project explored translations and adaptations in Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, and English for use in India, and the analysis sits at the intersection of sociology of health and illness, critical global health, and postcolonial science and technology studies. In addition, she works with the Structural Competency Working Group to use structural competency and other social science frameworks for health professions education. (updated September 2020)



 Jarmin Yeh, PhD

PhD Sociology, 2019

Jarmin Yeh is an assistant adjunct professor at the Institute for Health & Aging and teaches in the Master of Science in Healthcare Administration and Interprofessional Leadership (MS-HAIL) program at UCSF. Jarmin’s research focuses on aging, health, and social inequalities. They have been examining age-friendly community initiatives and the lived experiences of older adults to help improve their quality of life. They are part of a research team that evaluates federally and locally funded projects to improve caregiver training and systems of care for people living with dementia. They are also part of a research team, studying the effectiveness of a standardized assessment tool implemented with Adult Protective Services (APS). Jarmin is a board member of the Metta Fund, Community Living Campaign, and Head Over Heels Athletic Arts. She holds a BA in social welfare from UC-Berkeley and MSSW/MPH from Columbia University.




If you are an alumni of the UCSF Sociology Doctoral program, we would love to feature your profile on this page!

Please send an email to [email protected] that includes:

  • a short biography - highlighting how you have used the training you have received at UCSF since you graduated
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  • 5 keywords reflecting your research interests
  • optional additions: website or other contact information to post publicly.