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Caitlin Patler, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Sociology at University of California, Davis. She is a founding member and affiliate of the Global Migration Center, a Faculty Affiliate at the Center for Poverty and Inequality Research and the Human Rights Program, and an Advisory Committee member of the Office of Public Scholarship and Engagement.

Dr. Patler received the 2021 UC Davis Distinguished Teaching Award.

CV available here.

Dr. Patler’s research addresses the origins and reproduction of inequality in the U.S. through an examination of immigration laws, legal statuses, and law enforcement institutions as drivers of socioeconomic and health disparities. Dr. Patler also studies the spillover and intergenerational consequences of legal vulnerability for the health and wellbeing of young adults, youth, and children.

Dr. Patler uses multiple methodologies to answer research questions, most commonly designing, fielding, and analyzing original surveys and in-depth interviews in legally vulnerable populations that are unidentifiable in secondary data. To complement these original data collection efforts, she draws from population-level survey and administrative data. Dr. Patler co-authored an Op-Ed in the New York Times on the harms of imprisoning immigrant children and an Amicus Brief for the US Supreme Court summarizing the body of empirical research on DACA’s benefits.

Dr. Patler has received multiple grants and awards for her research, including support from the National Science Foundation, National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, Sociological Initiatives Foundation, and the American Sociological Association. She serves on the Editorial Board of Social Problems.

Dr. Patler received the 2021 Best Publication Award from the American Sociological Association Sociology of Mental Health Section for her paper “The Limits of Gaining Rights while Remaining Marginalized: The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and the Psychological Wellbeing of Latina/o Undocumented Young Adults” (with Erin Hamilton and Robin Savinar). She received the 2019 Pacific Sociological Association Distinguished Contribution to Sociological Perspectives Award for her paper, “To Reveal or Conceal: How Diverse Undocumented Youth Navigate Legal Status Disclosure.” In 2018, she received the Distinguished Contribution to Research Article Award from the ASA Latina/o Sociology Section for her paper (with Whitney L. Pirtle) for, “From Undocumented to Lawfully Present: Do Changes to Legal Status Impact Psychological Wellbeing Among Latino Immigrant Young Adults?”.

Dr. Patler’s research is informed by two decades of research-practice partnerships with legal and civil rights organizations focused on immigration detention, access to education for undocumented youth, and low-wage labor markets. She is currently a Special Projects Advisor for Immigrant Defense Advocates and a Data Committee member of the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice.

CV available here.


Contact Information

Caitlin Patler, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology, UC Davis

email: patler @
Twitter: @CaitlinPatler