By Ben Hinshaw
Senior Writer
UC Davis Center for Poverty and Inequality Research

At the UC Davis Center for Poverty and Inequality Research, we conduct, support, promote and disseminate cutting-edge academic research related to what we regard as two of the most pressing and urgent issues facing the United States today: poverty and inequality.

Our research affiliates work across a broad range of disciplines, ranging from economics to psychology, from education to sociology, from law to human ecology, and beyond. These scholars approach the questions of poverty and inequality from a variety of angles, seeking new approaches to our core themes: labor markets, immigration, children and intergenerational transmission, and the non-traditional safety net.

Promoting the work of these professors is central to our mission. So, too, is supporting and training the next generation of poverty and inequality scholars—whether they be undergraduates just beginning to explore these issues, or PhD candidates conducting their own ground-breaking research.

Helping research to reach those who need to read it

We publish new policy briefs regularly throughout the academic year. These are intended to disseminate important new research to a broad audience – one that reaches beyond the confines of academia to the realms of policy-making and government. These briefs summarize recent scholarly studies related to poverty and inequality, penned primarily (though not exclusively) by a multidisciplinary range of research affiliates from across the UC Davis campus.

Recent policy briefs include:

Bringing researchers together

Through our regular program of events, we bring poverty and inequality researchers from all over the US to UC Davis to present their work. We also provide our own research affiliates with the opportunity to share their latest findings with a receptive, multidisciplinary audience.

Some of our recent events include:

Supporting our brightest grads

Earlier this year, we took part in the UC Davis Crowdfund program, seeking to raise funds that could be passed on to graduate students in the form of Dissertation Grants. Thanks to the success of this fundraising drive, we were able to offer grants of $500 each to seven students from three different departments: Economics, Sociology and Public Health Sciences. We look forward to seeing the results of their research projects, which you can read about here.

Staying on the theme of supporting graduate students, we saw out the 2022 spring quarter by hosting the inaugural National Research Center on Poverty and Economic Mobility Early-Career Mentoring Institute. This week-long convening provided valuable mentoring and career-development opportunities to poverty and social mobility scholars in the early stages of their research careers with the potential for leadership in supporting members of populations that are underrepresented among academic researchers.

Activities provided participants with opportunities to develop skills that will support policy-relevant human-services research. Topics covered included developing policy-relevant research, paper-workshopping, research-methodology consulting, and professional mentoring.

The week-long institute was attended by an interdisciplinary roster of four distinguished faculty mentors, four featured speakers, and twelve ECMI participant scholars selected through a highly competitive application process. ECMI participants received guidance on writing a research-grant proposal that will be eligible for consideration to receive one of two $25,000 research grants on policy relevant human services research on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The institute was an enormous success and we look forward to participating in future iterations.

Giving voice to students

Another milestone for the center this year was our inaugural Black History Month Essay Contest. This contest was open to graduate and undergraduate students currently enrolled at UC Davis. We asked entrants to submit essays in response to the question ‘How Can We Reduce Racial and Economic Inequality in our Society?’.

The contest was judged by CPIR directors in collaboration with members of the center’s communications committee and senior writer. We received a number of exceptional essays, all of which offered interesting and insightful perspectives on this topic. First prize was $500, plus the opportunity to work with the center’s senior writer to prepare the essay for potential placement as an op-ed.

The winner was Mia Kirsten Santos, an undergraduate student majoring in sociology, with an emphasis in social services. Mia’s wonderful winning essay, titled ‘To reduce inequality in California, listen to Black women’, appeared as a guest commentary at on February 24th, 2022.

Looking ahead

As we continue to seek new means of supporting, incubating and disseminating new poverty and inequality research, we feel excited by the important work being done by students and faculty across the UC Davis campus and beyond, and proud to help bring this work to the broadest possible audience.

Learn more at