Sandra Veronica Portocarrero

Sandra Veronica Portocarrero

Dissertation Review Committee

Research Interest


I am a Ph.D. candidate in sociology working on my dissertation. Across my research, I build theory drawing from participant observer and interview data, which I typically analyze through the lenses of organizational literature, cultural sociology, and the sociology of expertise.

In my dissertation project, I examine the everyday organizational lives of diversity, equity, and inclusion workers at a large U.S. university. I ask how organizational actors construct the notion of an ideal diversity, equity, and inclusion expert, and how different social processes and organizational / institutional arrangements lead to the emergence of a new form of racialized expertise. 

I’m also working on two additional projects. In the first one, I examine the mechanisms that led a group of national scholarship recipients enrolled in an elite university who, though once proud of holding this prestigious merit-based accolade, have become ashamed of it. I use participant–observer and interview data gathered through a two-year period (2017-2019) to show how well-intentioned initiatives designed to help disadvantaged students can have unintended consequences for individuals, groups, and organizations. This manuscript is currently under review.

In the second one (with James T. Carter at Columbia Business School), I investigate how recipients of a prestigious U.S. Department of State program, The Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, learn to hide their scholarship status. Contrary to the popular belief that positive status shifts only have positive consequences in the people who experience it, we argue that a sudden positive status shift, such as winning a prestigious fellowship, can have negative consequences for the social actors who experience this shift. 

To learn more about my scholastic activities, please refer to my CV or contact me at [email protected]



  • M.Phil. in Sociology. Columbia University. 
  • M.A. in Sociology. Columbia University. 
  • B.A. in Sociology (High Honors and Distinction in General Scholarship. University of California, Berkeley 
  • Intersegmental General Education Transfer Certificate (IGETC). Berkeley City College.