Department of Human & Community Development | Illinois


Christy Lleras

Associate Professor of Human and Community Development

Phone: (217) 265-5412

2026 Doris Christopher Hall
904 W Nevada St.
Urbana, IL 61801

I am a sociologist specializing in education, stratification/inequality and race and ethnicity. As an undergraduate, I studied at the University of North Carolina and for my graduate work I attended Pennsylvania State University. I spent two years in Vancouver, British Columbia, before joining the UIUC faculty in 2004 as an assistant professor of Human and Community Development. My work examines how socio-demographic factors (e.g., race, ethnicity, poverty, family structure), institutions (e.g., schools) and contexts (e.g., neighborhoods) influence child and adolescent development, educational outcomes and occupational success in young adulthood.  I teach courses on inequality, neighborhood effects, social theory and social policy.

Here are links to some popular press stories featuring my work:

Importance of Social Skills (Noncognitive Skills):
'Most Likely to Succeed' Burden (Wall Street Journal)
In Cutting Sports Funding, Everyone Loses (Washington Post)
It Pays To Be Friendly (Business Week Magazine)
Social skills, extracurricular activities in high school pay off later in life (UI News Bureau)
Brains v Social Butterflies (Inside Science)

Achievement Gap:
Middle-school Math Classes Are Key To Closing Racial Academic Achievement Gap (Science Daily)
Ability Grouping In Elementary School Hampers Minority Students' Literacy (Science Daily)
Ability grouping in elementary school hampers minority students' literacy (UI News Bureau)

Verbal Harassment in High School:
High school put-downs could put students behind (CNN)


Possibilities for Student Involvement

If you are a graduate student or undergraduate and you are interested in my research and/or specific projects, feel free to contact me via email and we can discuss existing opportunities I may have for becoming involved in research. I am a quantitative sociologist and I work almost exclusively with large survey data sets, so anyone who is interested in being part of my research team must have a strong desire to develop statistical skills. Reading some of the articles I have co-authored with my graduate students will give you a feel for the kind of work that we do and the kinds of skills you will learn as my student. My graduate students collaborate with me on existing research projects but are also encouraged to develop their own projects, examples include:

Race/ethnicity, poverty and school choice
School quality in Colombia
Race, education and parent involvement
Transition to adulthood among Asian American youth
Success of community development programs
Racial/ethnic differences in college experiences
Poverty, single mothers and early child development


Education and Training
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Bachelor of Arts, 1996
Major: Sociology

Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA
Doctor of Philosophy, 2003
Major: Sociology

Professional Memberships

American Sociological Association
American Sociological Association, Section Member, Sociology of Education
American Sociological Association, Section Member, Family
Eastern Sociological Society