Simone Ispa-Landa Joins SESP Faculty

Simone Ispa-Landa Joins SESP Faculty

Simone Ispa-Landa
Simone Ispa-Landa, who earned her doctorate in sociology from Harvard University, will join the faculty of the School of Education and Social Policy this fall as an assistant professor in the Human Development and Social Policy program. Her research interests focus on inequality in education.

Ispa-Landa was the first researcher to look at racial integration from a gender perspective. Her dissertation was titled “Race, Reputation, and Community Resources: Gender Differences in the Experiences and Effects of an Urban-to-Suburban School Integration Program.”

“The actual lived experience of racial integration is so gendered,” she says. Comparing the experiences of teen boys and girls who were bused to school, she found that girls felt more social isolation while boys benefited more because they were taken out of environments that were dangerous for them.

Ispa-Landa, whowanted to be part of an interdisciplinary, program looks forward to exploring inequality in education from different angles at SESP. She maintains that SESP “was a perfect fit” for her. She was especially impressed with SESP when she was interviewing because, she says, “I got the best questions at SESP. … I got better questions at SESP than anywhere else.” Questions about methods showed interest in rigor, she maintains, and she noticed a “broad curiosity that is true in good interdisciplinary departments.”

Now that she’s a faculty member at SESP, she intends to continue her work on research related to racial integration. “I’ll keep working on racial integration and issues of gender and race interacting with broader social structures to affect school outcomes,” she explains. However, her research interests span many areas, including race and ethnic relations, social identity, education, gender, the American family, qualitative research methods and intersectionality theory.

Ispa-Landa has earned a number of awards, grants and fellowships. These include the Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, a National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant, the Rose Laub Coser Dissertation Proposal Award and the Harvard Weatherhead Project on Justice, Welfare, and Economics Dissertation Fellowship. She also won the Harvard Graduate Society Merit Fellowship, which is awarded to the top advanced student in the department,and the Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellowship for International Research.

In addition, she won a Certificate of Distinction in Teaching from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University and the 2005 Graduate Research Prize for Best Paper from the Association of Women in Slavic Studies.

Ispa-Landa will begin teaching winter quarter, but her first order of business, she says, will be to turn her dissertation into a manuscript.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 9/1/11