López has focused her scholarly pursuits on two major policy arenas: education and health. She conducts research that is focused on diverse Latina/o/x communities. Her work contributes to racial formation theory, critical race theory, and intersectional knowledge projects. She believes in the importance of examining race, gender, class, ethnicity and other systems of power, privilege and disadvantage together for interrogating inequalities across a variety of social outcomes. She crafts each of her scholarly contributions with the goal of creating bridges and synergies between scholarship, teaching and service through listening, dialogue and action. She is actively involved in national conversations about the future of racial and ethnic data collection for the 2020 Census. López has also engaged in conversations with key stakeholders at the Smithsonian, National Academies of Medicine and. At the local level, she is working on a community based participatory research project on the optimal implementation of ethnic studies through the Albuquerque Public Schools-University of New Mexico Research Practice Partnership called Ethnic Studies Education and Health. Engaged interdisciplinary scholarship and public sociology for interrogating social inequalities and advancing social justice are the hallmarks of her work.
In the News
Draws from critical race theory to analyze a new multi-dimensional measure of racial status–‘street race’ and its association with discrimination experiences. Finds that Latinxs who are racialized on the street as Black or as Arab/Middle-Eastern relative to White were more likely to have experienced discrimination because of their race/ethnicity. Expands the conceptual measurement of discrimination to incorporate a more nuanced approach that captures interpersonal racism based on ‘street race.’
Appeals to critical race theory and intersectionality to examine achievement gaps at a large public university in the American southwest from 2000 to 2015. Finds substantial achievement gaps that remain unseen in conventional models treating characteristics, such as race-ethnicity, gender, and class, as independent. Proposes a method and praxis for exploring the complex, interdependent relationship between race-ethnicity, gender, and class.
Focuses on the potential and promise that intersectionality holds as a lens for studying the social determinants of health, reducing health disparities, and promoting health equity and social justice.
Engages in an analysis of the complex analytical and ethical challenges presented by homelessness among LGBTQ youth. Discusses the trans youth who are visible minorities that are the most likely to experience homelessness and other threats to well-being. Argues that society needs to be concerned with the lives of diverse LGBTQ youth, and particularly those navigating multiple, intersecting forms of marginalization, including homelessness, because they present us with a situation that demands an ethical response.
Examines the relationship between physical and mental health status and three multidimensional measures of race: (1) street race, or how you believe other Americans perceive your race at the level of the street; (2) socially assigned race, which refers to how you believe others usually classify your race in the United States; and (3) self-perceived race, or how you usually self-classify your race on questionnaires.
Argues that race must inform how we design large-scale data collection and how scientists utilize race in the context of specific research questions. Suggests ways in which the implications of race may be integrated into future scientific endeavors.
Points out the different expectations that guide behavior for girls and boys of color. Focuses in on Caribbean teenagers in New York City to explain how and why U.S. schools and cities are failing boys of color.