Research Assistants

Listed in alphabetical order by last name

Clara Alvarez Caraveo
Research Assistant

Clara Alvarez Caraveo is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Southern California. She received her Bachelor’s from Cornell University, where she majored in Sociology and minored in Demography, Inequality Studies, and Policy Analysis and Management. Clara’s research interests include immigration, policy, healthcare access, and welfare reform. Her current work focuses on access to the social safety net among immigrant and mixed-status families.

Previously Clara worked as a research analyst at the Urban Institute, where she examined a wide range of research topics, including healthcare workforce diversity, supports for immigrant families, access to the social safety net, and insurance coverage for pregnant and postpartum women. She employs mixed-method approaches to understand how policy patterns need and access to government assistance.

Clara is from Catalina Island, a small island off the coast of southern California. She belongs to the strong and vibrant Mexican immigrant community of the island, for which she dedicates her research career to changing their world for the better.

Shawntae Mitchum
Research Assistant

Shawntae Mitchum (she/her/hers) is a Ph.D student in Sociology at the University of Southern California (USC). She received both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Sociology from California State University San Marcos. Her research interests include anti-Blackness in higher education, the role of student activism on college campuses, state violence by way of law enforcement agents and crime/punishment. Her current work seeks to examine how the racial uprisings of Summer 2020 and the heightened visibility of anti-Black racism in higher education transformed the work of Black educators involved in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts on their campuses.

Prior to attending USC, Shawntae worked as an adjunct faculty member in a community college where she co-created the first campus-based Black Community Ally Training designed to address anti-Black and systemic racism on campus. In the process of training over 200 college faculty, staff and administrators she has collected various forms of qualitative and quantitative data for use in a larger project on the role of allyship in dismantling anti-Black racism in higher education.

As a mother of two, Shawntae lives every day hopeful that the work she does is contributing to making the world a better place for her children to live. She enjoys playing and spending time with her children, riding bikes on the beach, and binge watching Netflix shows in her (very minimal) free time.

As of Fall 2023, Shawntae is one of three co-editors of the Equity Research Institute Blog.

Fernando Moreno
Research Assistant

Fernando Moreno Jr. is a PhD. student in Sociology at USC. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University, where he also concentrated in Sociology. Fernando’s research interests are in migration, bureaucracy, and the criminal justice system. His current work uses mixed-methods to critically examine the experiences of non-citizens who become justice involved in the county of Los Angeles.

Fernando is the son of Mexican immigrant parents from Manuel Villalongin, Michoacán. He was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, but grew up playing sports all over the city. This upbringing sparked his interests in studying skateboarding, race, and neighborhood inequality as an undergraduate for his senior thesis at Harvard. There, he also worked as a research assistant studying reproductive justice and incarceration in El Salvador with Professor Jocelyn Viterna.

Prior to joining USC, Fernando worked for several immigrant advocacy organizations in the country. He worked as a paralegal in Boston, MA representing non-citizens in criminal and immigration court. He also worked for the Los Angeles Immigration Center for Women and Children (ICWC), where he worked with immigrant victims of crime who were seeking immigration relief under VAWA or through the U-visa.

In his free time, Fernando enjoys martial-arts, hiking, and spending time with his family. He is also a huge foodie with an insatiable appetite for ice-cream, ceviche, and micheladas.

Undergraduate Interns

JayLoni Fisher
Undergraduate Intern

JayLoni is an undergraduate intern at ERI, deeply excited to contribute tenacity and creativity to ERI projects, while further developing his capacity to engage complex societal issues, meaningfully, compassionately, and effectively. Currently, he is a sophomore enrolled at the University of Southern California in the process of crafting an individualized study that engages his combined interests in arts and advocacy.

At a young age, JayLoni developed a passion for the arts that was cultivated and nurtured through community arts programs throughout South LA and Inglewood. Upon transitioning to high school, his awareness of the pervasive biases and inequities existent in education extensively expanded through his own experiences as the sole Black, male-identifying, student in his class of roughly sixty-three students. Enabled by an eagerness to improve his school’s culture and its capacity to support students made vulnerable by systemic and interpersonal racism, disparate socio-economic conditions, and deficient educational resources, JayLoni was able to establish a sense of belonging and purpose as an advocate, not only for himself but also for other students at his school and throughout the South LA community, at-large.

Last year, JayLoni wrote an ode to his community, art, and advocacy that was featured in the Emmy award-winning arts and culture series, “Artbound”. Check it out here:

Isabella Martinez
Undergraduate Intern

Isabella Martinez (she/her/hers) is delighted to join the ERI team as an intern, continuing her dedication to environmental justice and sustainability. She will receive her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and International Relations Global Business from the University of Southern California in December 2023, and is passionate about applying her education and experience with ERI to applying to graduate school and a future in environmental consulting.

A Southern California native, Isabella has dedicated her studies and research to community outreach and spreading awareness of environmental justice issues. While working with the Better Watts Initiative, Isabella researched and developed a grant for California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control and conducted field research in Watts to ascertain the levels of heavy metal pollution existing in the community. During this time, Isabella continued her focus on environmental ethics and sustainable business practices by working as a marketing intern for Tiller Swim, a sustainable swimwear company based in Los Angeles.

As she looks towards a future of endless possibilities, Isabella knows that she will remain grounded in her Mexican and Panamanian heritage, never stop exploring the Los Angeles she loves, and strive to share her passion for the health of our environment and the importance of sustainability in our society.