Matrix on Point: New Directions in Gender and Sexuality

Part of the Matrix on Point event series

silhouettes over rainbow colors

While the last 20 years have marked a significant change in increased acceptance of varied gender expressions and sexual orientations, these changes haven’t made the importance of gender and sexuality as concepts disappear. If anything, they’ve become more relevant for understanding the world today. This panel will bring together a group of graduate students from the fields of sociology, ethnic studies, and political science for a discussion of gender and sexuality through the lens of such topics as medicine, transnational migration, and marriage.

The panel will feature David Pham, a PhD candidate in the Department of Ethnic Studies; Emily Ruppel, a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology; and Soosun You, a PhD candidate in Political Science at UC Berkeley. The panel will be moderated by Laura C. Nelson, Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at UC Berkeley.

This will be a hybrid event (presented in-person and online). Register to receive a Zoom link prior to the event.


Co-sponsored by the Center for Race & Gender (CRG) and the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. This event is part of the Matrix on Point series, a discussion series promoting focused, cross-disciplinary conversations on today’s most pressing issues. Offering opportunities for scholarly exchange and interaction, each Matrix On Point features the perspectives of leading scholars and specialists from different disciplines, followed by an open conversation. These thought-provoking events are free and open to the public.

If you require an accommodation for effective communication (ASL interpreting/CART captioning, alternative media formats, etc.) or information about campus mobility access features in order to fully participate in this event, please contact Chuck Kapelke at with as much advance notice as possible and at least 7-10 days in advance of the event.


David PhamDavid Pham is a PhD candidate in the Department of Ethnic Studies and a recipient of the Chancellor’s Fellowship. He holds an MA in Ethnic Studies (2019) from the department and an AB in Sociology (2017) from Vassar College. His research interests include: Asian American literary and cultural studies; queer of color critique; gender and sexuality studies, women of color feminisms; visual culture; theories of racialized subjectivity.


Emily RuppelEmily Ruppel is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at UC Berkeley. She is broadly interested in labor, medicine, and gender/sexuality. Her dissertation focuses empirically on job training programs for disabled workers, using historical research to trace the growth of this industry since the 1970s and ethnographic fieldwork to investigate contemporary labor practices. Other projects address the co-construction of gender and autism in scientific discourse, class dynamics in LGBTQ communities, and the causal effects of social networks on health. Her work has been published in journals including Sexualities, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, American Journal of Preventative Medicine, and Family Relations and has been funded by Policy Research, Inc. and recognized by the Disability in Society section of the American Sociological Association. She holds an M.A. from Berkeley and a B.A. from Smith College, both in sociology.


Soosun YouSoosun You is a PhD candidate in Political Science at UC Berkeley and a Research Associate at the Center on the Politics of Development. Her work focuses on addressing various challenges to gender equality. Her dissertation examines how politics of the marriage market has shaped the feminist and antifeminist movements in South Korea (and East Asia more broadly). She examines how the anti-natalist and pro-natalist government campaigns and policies have affected different dimensions of women’s empowerment using both qualitative and quantitative methods such as in-depth interviews, surveys, and natural experiments.


Laura NelsonLaura C. Nelson (moderator) is Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at UC Berkeley.  She received her PhD in Anthropology at Stanford, and holds a Master’s in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley with a focus on housing and community economic development.  Her current research project is a study of breast cancer as a medical, cultural, personal, environmental, political and transnational phenomenon in South Korea. Her first book, Measured Excess: Status, Gender, and Consumer Nationalism in South Korea (Columbia University Press, 2000) utilized ethnographic and media materials to examine ways how institutions shaped consumer culture in pursuit of national goals during the period 1960-1997.  The text examines the response of South Koreans, particularly women, in various social positions as political conditions and consumer oriented messages evolved. Before joining the GWS faculty in 2013, Laura taught for eleven years in the Anthropology Department at California State University, East Bay, where she served as chair from 2008-2013.  In addition to her academic positions, Laura’s career includes work in applied anthropology in the US: public policy evaluation, microenterprise development, and building employment linkages to poorly-connected communities.


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