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Vanessa Gonlin

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Assistant Professor

Vanessa Gonlin earned her PhD in Sociology from Texas A&M University with a focus on race and social demography, and graduated with certificates in Advanced Research Methods, Africana Studies, and Latino/a and Mexican American Studies. Her research and teaching areas of expertise include colorism, racial discrimination, racial identity, and interracial relationships, with a particular focus on Black peoples and bi/multiracials.

Her research began with the question: What makes people feel like part of a racial community? She investigates this question in terms of geographic space, interracial relationships, individual and group-level racial discrimination, colorism, and racial identity.

In peer-reviewed publications she has detailed the outcomes of skin tone and reflected race – the race an individual believes others ascribe to them – on perceptions of racial discrimination. She has analyzed discrepancies in racial identity measures, such as racial identity mismatch – when an individual’s self-identified race differs from their reflected race. In addition, she studies majority/minority interracial relationships from the minoritized racial partner’s perspective. This ties in with her work on the progeny of such a union (i.e., people with mixed-race ancestry) and their experiences of discrimination, racial centrality, and linked fate.


Ph.D., Sociology, Texas A&M University, 2020

M.A., Sociology, Texas A&M University, 2016

B.S., Sociology (with honors), Towson University, 2014

Research Areas:
Selected Publications:

Latest journal articles:

strmic-pawl, hephzibah v., Vanessa Gonlin, and Steve Garner. Forthcoming. “Color in Context: Three Angles on Contemporary Colorism.” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity.

Gonlin, Vanessa. 2020. “Colorful Reflections: Skin Tone, Reflected Race, and  Discrimination among Blacks, Latinxs, and Whites.” Race and Social Problems 12(3):246-264.

Campbell, Mary E., Verna M. Keith, Vanessa Gonlin, and Adrienne Carter-Sowell. 2020. “Is a Picture Worth A Thousand Words? An Experiment Comparing Observer-Based Skin Tone Measures.” Race and Social Problems 12(3):266-278.

Gonlin, Vanessa, Nicole E. Jones, and Mary E. Campbell. 2020. “On The (Racial) Border: Expressed Race, Reflected Race, and the U.S.-Mexico Border Context.” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 6(2):161-178.