Affiliated Researchers

Post-Doctoral Scholars

Postdoctoral Scholars support the mission of the Project for Middle Class Renewal through ongoing research on contemporary public policies and practices impacting labor and workplace issues.

Dylan Bellisle

Dylan Bellisle is a doctoral candidate at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on how public policy shapes family economic well-being and the financial coping and social mobility strategies of low-income families. In his dissertation, The Role of the Earned Income Tax Credit in Family Economic Decision Making, Dylan challenges the normative definition of “family” that is embedded within one of the largest anti-poverty programs in the United States – the Earned Income Tax Credit. His dissertation illustrates the misalignment between EITC eligibility and family life may be especially complicated for families of color due to socio-political and economic forces that shape family structure and formation, and the ways in which families establish and maintain forms of social support expressed through mutual care. Dylan received a B.A. in psychology from the University of South Florida and a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to his doctoral studies, Dylan served as a program manager at the Center for Economic Progress on a demonstration project of a periodic payment of the Earned Income Tax Credit in collaboration with researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dylan has past professional experience as a social service caseworker, a union organizer, and a Peace Corps volunteer.

Peter Fugiel

Peter J. Fugiel is a sociologist of work and organizations with interests in job quality, work-life arrangements, and labor standards. His current research examines the extent of unpredictable work schedules, their implications for child care, and the development of fair workweek laws. He completed his PhD in Sociology at the University of Chicago, where he worked closely with Susan Lambert on the Stable Scheduling Study and related projects. Born and raised in Chicago, he is now based in Champaign, but remains active with the Chicagoland Chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network.

Larissa Petrucci

Close-up photo of Larissa Petrucci. She is wearing a brown turtleneck and has light brown hair, parted in the middle and pulled back, a long piece of hair is loose and hangs slightly in front of her face.

Larissa Petrucci is a labor sociologist with expertise in flexible and precarious work, workplace equity and inclusion, collective organizing, and public policy. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Oregon, where she also worked as a researcher at the Labor Education and Research Center. She has published research on unpredictable scheduling practices and Fair Workweek legislation in Oregon, teachers’ gendered care work in the context of environmental disaster, experiences of low-wage essential workers during COVID-19, and the experiences of women and Black, Indigenous, and people of color in male-dominated industries. Larissa also has experience with labor unions, serving on the Bargaining Team and as the Vice President of Political Education in her graduate employee union. As a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Project for Middle Class Renewal, Larissa is excited to join colleagues in projects analyzing job quality for gig workers and childcare providers, and creating an overall employment quality index.  

Affiliated Researchers

Affiliated researchers support the mission of the Project for Middle Class Renewal through research in collaboration with similarly situated organizations and constituency groups.

Jamie Annes

Jamie Annes is a doctoral student at Washington University in St. Louis in the program of Occupational Therapy. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies, with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She can be contacted at

Ashley Baber

Ashley is currently a Sociology PhD Candidate at Loyola University Chicago under advisement of Rhys Williams, PhD. Her research interests include Urban Sociology, Political Sociology, Social Stratification & Inequality, Labor Markets, The “Gig” Economy, and Political-Economy of Urban Education. Her Dissertation title is: “The Growth of Flexible Labor, The Labor of Flexible Growth: Labor Market Intermediaries and the City.”

Dale Belman

Dale Belman is a Professor in the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University. He conducts research on unions and labor market regulation. Belman has also written about the construction industry, truckers and trucking, public-sector employment, minimum-wage and low-wage work. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and his bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College. He is president of the Institute for Construction Economics Research.

Monica Bielski Boris

Monica Bielski Boris is an experienced labor educator who teaches courses on a variety of topics including leadership skills, union mobilization and organizing, contract negotiations, grievance handling, arbitration, and political economy. Monica also conducts research on union revitalization and worker diversity and has partnered with labor organizations such as the AFL-CIO and SEIU (Service Employees International Union) to conduct applied research. Monica has a Ph.D. and MS in Industrial Relations from Rutgers University and a BA from Oberlin College. She comes from a working class, union background and is happy be in a profession that serves working people.

Robert Bruno

Robert Bruno is Professor and Director, Labor Education Program at the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign’s School of Labor and Employment Relations.

Bruno’s research focuses broadly on working-class and union studies issues. He is the author of three books, Reforming the Chicago Teamsters: The Local 705 StorySteelworker Alley: How Class Works in Youngstown and Justified by Work: Identity and the Meaning of Faith in Chicago’s Working-Class Churches. He has also published articles in such journals as Workplace DemocracyLabor Studies JournalLabor HistoryAdvances in Industrial and Labor RelationsWorking USAand the Journal of Labor Research.

Bruno is the co-author and presenter of a labor play, “Illinois Labor Works,” and is a recipient of an Illinois Humanities Council grant. He is co-editor of Labor Studies Journal. He has taught numerous industrial relation courses to trade union members working in public, private, and professional occupations. Bruno hosts a cable show called Illinois Labor Works on a Chicago Public Access channel and is a frequent commentator on labor relations for both regional and national media. He is a member of the University Association of Labor Educators, the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA), as well as an executive board member of the Chicago Chapter of LERA, and is co-chair of the Chicago Consortium for Working Class Studies.

Maria Chemello

Maria Chemello is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign studying Human Development and Family Studies, with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Development. Her post graduate plans are to receive her Masters in School Counseling and has been assisting Dr. Karen Kramer’s research for the past year and a half. She can be contacted at

Michael Childers

Michael Childers (PhD) brings diverse management and engineering experience from a wide variety of industries including basic steel, machining, metal fabrication, and plastics manufacturing. In addition to steward, bargaining, financial officer, and leadership courses, Michael’s teaching interests include industrial engineering topics such as time study, production standards, lean production, job evaluation, and incentive & gainsharing pay systems. He also has expertise in program evaluation, and assists unions to be more effective in utilizing technology, including teaching computer skills and internet research.

Bobby W. Chung

Bobby is a labor economist. He received his Ph.D in Economics at Clemson University. He is now a postdoctoral research associate at the School of Labor and Employment Relations in the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign). He is also a network member of the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group. His recent work includes social network, occupational licensing, and kidney-exchange network. His website can be found here:

Alison Dickson

Alison Dickson is a Senior Instructor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has a Masters’ in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Bachelors’ degree in International Relations and Economic Development from George Washington University and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Dickson directs and teaches for the Worker Rights Project, a LEP initiative that provides bilingual (Spanish-English) workers’ rights training for immigrant and other low-wage workers. In addition to her teaching, she conducts applied and scholarly research that focuses on workers, workplaces, and economic devolvement.

Grace Dunn

Grace Dunn is a Research Associate at the Illinois Economic Policy Institute. Prior to joining ILEPI, she worked as a Jury Research Analyst at Donoghue & Associates and as an Intern for Senator Dick Durbin. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy and a Minor in Writing. Her research interests include social and environmental policy, community development, and labor market analysis.

Stephanie Farmer

Stephanie Farmer is Associate Professor and Director of Sociology at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Lonnie Golden

Dr. Golden is currently Senior Research Analyst, Project for Middle Class Renewal, University of Illinois School of Labor and Employment Relations. He is also Professor of Economics and Labor & Employment Relations at Penn State University, Abington College. His research analyzes trends in working hours, overtime, overwork, overemployment and underemployment, work schedule flexibility and variability, labor market and workplace flexibility, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and labor laws and policies, worker well-being and happiness, work-sharing, part-time work, time-use, work-family and health consequences, non-standard and contingent employment and employment policies. He is co-editor of two books, including Working Time, and has published research in leading journals such as Industrial Relations, Journal of Business Ethics, Monthly Labor Review, Cambridge Journal of Economics, Applied Economics, Journal of Community, Work & Family, and Journal of Family and Economic Issues. He teaches courses on Labor Economics, Labor Markets and Work-Life Policies and Practices.

Robby Habans

Robby Habans studies urban development and local economies. Broadly, his research examines how geographic difference and institutional change intersect with urban policy, industrial and labor market restructuring, and the possibility of a more equitable, more inclusive economy. Along these lines, recent work has examined local minimum wage ordinances, various forms of contingent work, the evolution of health care as a local economic development concern, and the neighborhood impacts of the criminal justice system, among other topics. Trained as an urban planner and economic geographer, he joins the Project for Middle Class Renewal from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he recently completed a PhD in Urban and Planning and Policy, and from the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. He also holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of New Orleans and has taught courses in urban studies.

JooHee Han

JooHee Han earned his Ph.D. in the Department of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His research/teaching interests include social stratification and mobility, the labor market, work and occupation, crime and mass incarceration, and international migration, among other topics.

Jeni Hunniecutt, Ph.D.

Jeni Hunniecutt is a visionary professional helping to shape and advance research with military service members, veterans, and their families. In her current roles of Assistant Director of Research Engagement and Educational Programming at the Chez Veterans Center and Research Assistant Professor in the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Jeni created and leads the research component of the Chez Veterans Center, the Military Service Knowledge Collaborative. Jeni served in the Virginia Army National Guard from 2008 to 2014, earning both her Bachelor and Master’s degrees along the way. After completing her service with the Army, Jeni moved to Denver to pursue her Ph.D. in Communication Studies. During her time at the University of Denver, Jeni helped create and served as a leader in the DU Student Veterans of America chapter, designed and taught undergraduate special topics courses about military families, and served as Outreach Specialist for the Sturm Specialty in Military Psychology in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology. Jeni graduated from the University of Denver with her Ph.D. in 2018 and moved to Champaign, Illinois to advance the research mission of the Chez Veterans Center, where she now advances her work fostering collaboration between researchers and Military/Veteran communities.

Amanda Kass

Amanda Kass is the Associate Director of the Government Finance Research Center. As Associate Director she designs, conducts, and manages research in the GFRC’s priority areas. Amanda also works with the faculty and external advisory panels to advance the GFRC’s goals and disseminate its research. She also a doctoral candidate in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Amanda holds an M.A. in Geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a B.A. in Geography and International Studies from the Ohio State University.

Karen Z. Kramer

Photograph of Karen Kramer, a woman with pale skin. She is wearing an off-white long-sleeved shirt with a beige sleeveless piece over it. She has light brown hair and glasses and is looking at the camera and smiling.

Karen Z. Kramer is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and the School of Labor and Employment Relations, University of Illinois. She earned her Ph.D. in Family Social Science from the University of Minnesota, Twin-Cities and her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Haifa, Israel. She can be contacted at

Dustin D. Lange, Ph.D.

Dustin D. Lange, Ph.D. leads the academic, career, and residential services of the Chez Veterans Center. Prior to this appointment, he did a postdoc fellowship at the Center of Innovation for Complex Chronic Healthcare (CINCCH) at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Chicago, where he currently is a Research Associate and a member of their steering committee. He is a three-time alumnus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has authored several peer-reviewed journal articles, white papers, and is the lead author of the book titled Camo to Career: The Veteran’s Guide to Career Success. Dustin has also garnered numerous military honors from his 8-years of active duty service in the United States Marine Corps.

Virginia Parks

Virginia Parks, PhD, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Public Policy at the University of California, Irvine. A geographer and planner, she specializes in the study of urban inequality. Her research and teaching interests include labor and employment, urban politics and policy, racial and gender inequality, and community organizing. She has published on a range of urban topics at the intersection of race, gender, and economic equity including racial wage inequality, immigrant employment, labor and immigrant rights, and gendered mobility patterns.

Emily E. LB. Twarog

Emily E. LB. Twarog is Associate Professor of the Labor Education Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Director of the Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Conference. Her research interests include History of consumer activism and gender, Motherhood and working-class women, Women’s labor education and worker leadership, Intersections of feminism and class, and History of labor union auxiliaries.

Frank Manzo IV, MPP

Frank Manzo IV, MPP is the Policy Director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute. Prior to working at ILEPI, he worked at the University of Illinois Labor Education Program and in the Federal Reserve system. He earned a Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an Advanced Certificate of Labor Studies from the University of Illinois Labor Education Program. His research interests include labor market analysis, economic development, infrastructure investment, the low-wage labor force, and public finance.

Jill Manzo

Jill Manzo is the Midwest Researcher at the Illinois Economic Policy Institute. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Studies from Iowa State University. Her research interests include income inequality, infrastructure investment, economic development, education policy, and the overall labor force.

So Young Park

So Young Park, M.P.P. is a J.D. and doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. She received her Master’s in Public Policy at the Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago. Her research focuses on illuminating how the legal system can increase access to justice and court resources for vulnerable populations facing adversities.

Don Taylor

Don Taylor (MA) has worked as an organizer, representative, negotiator, business agent, communications director, and education director for unions such as the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE), the hotel workers union (HERE), and the Service Employees’ international Union (SEIU). He has also taught labor and employment relations at the University of New Hampshire, the University of Illinois, and Indiana University, and has served as a shop steward and local union president. He has extensive experience in union leadership development, internal organizing, strategic planning, and building organizational capacity, as well as in online education. He is a nationally recognized expert on the constitutional rights of public employees, and developed the website

Roland Zullo

Roland Zullo is an Associate Research Scientist and the Director of the Center for Labor and Community Studies at the University of Michigan, Dearborn. His interest is in understanding how non-market institutions contribute to the formation of sustainable economies, defined as exchange systems that are equitable, politically stable and environmentally responsible.