LatCrit Lab

Collaborating Members


Claudia Holguín Mendoza, Ph.D. LatCrit Lab Director

Claudia Holguín Mendoza (Ph.D. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign) is an Associate Professor of Spanish linguistics at the University of California, Riverside. She specializes in the sociolinguistics of race in the Mexican borderlands and Greater Mexico as well as critical pedagogies for the teaching of Spanish as a heritage language. She publishes in both English and Spanish and her work has appeared in journals such as International Multilingual Research Journal, Hispania, Studies in Hispanic & Lusophone Linguistics, Identities, and Frontera Norte.

Munia Cabal Jiménez, Ph.D.

Munia Cabal Jiménez is an Associate Professor of Spanish linguistics at Western Illinois University. Cabal-Jiménez's areas of research are historical pragmatics and historical sociolinguistics of Spanish in Central America. Her previous studies have been focused on the variation of address forms found in Costa Rican Spanish manuscripts written during colonial times and from the perspective of the social, historical and economic dynamics of language in colonial contexts. Her work on Spanish as a Heritage Language in the US evaluates the application of Critical Language Pedagogies and linguistic attitudes toward SHL.

María Angélica Castro Caballero, Ph.D.

La Dra. María Angélica Castro Caballero es profesora de tiempo completo e investigadora en la Facultad de Arquitectura y Diseño en la Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (UABC), Campus Mexicali. Sus temas de interés en investigación incluyen el Modelo teórico Estructura Relacional, Teorías de la Forma, Percepción, la Epistemología del Diseño a partir de la Teoría de Sistemas y la Complejidad, Procesos metodológicos para el diseño.

Luz María Ede-Hernandez, Ph.D.

Luz María Ede-Hernandez is an Assistant Professor of Spanish linguistics at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater. Dr. Ede-Hernández is originally from Mexico. She earned her Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics at the The University of Minnesota. Her teaching centers on applying critical pedagogies to teach Spanish as a heritage language, and as a second language. She has taught at all different levels from elementary school to graduate students. Her research focuses on discourse analysis and immigration. She examines the linguistic strategies of Central American and Mexican Immigrants without visas living in the United States.

Eve Higby, Ph.D.

Eve Higby is an Assistant Professor in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at California State University, East Bay. She received her B.A. in Spanish, Linguistics, and Latin American and Caribbean Studies from Florida International University and her Ph.D. in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, followed by a postdoctoral research fellowship in Psychology at the University of California, Riverside. Dr. Higby's primary research focuses on language and cognition in bilinguals and multilinguals across the life span, with an emphasis on cross-linguistic influence. She employs multiple methods, including reaction time studies, surveys, electrophysiology (EEG), eye-tracking, and MRI. She is also involved in advocacy in the fields of psycholinguistics and speech-language pathology against deficit approaches to bi-/multilingualism and multiculturalism and has worked to develop open-resource pedagogical resources for teaching about cultural and linguistic diversity in speech, language, and hearing sciences and communicative disorders programs.

Covadonga Lamar Prieto, Ph.D.

Ph.D. in Philology, U. de Oviedo (Spain), 2007. Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literature, University of California Los Angeles, 2012. Ph.D. in History and Sociocultural Studies, U. de Oviedo (Spain), 2019. Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Humanities, UNED, 2017. Covadonga Lamar Prieto specializes in Sociolinguistics of the Spanish in the US. Her corpus-based research deals with Historical Spanish in California, with a focus on language change, dialectology, and bilingualism. Her book El español de California en el XIX (Iberoamericana) examines the sociolinguistic situation of Spanish in Nineteenth-Century California and the social, linguistic and economic situation of the Spanish speaking inhabitants of California after and before the Annexation to the US. She is also interested in the contemporary consequences of historical language contact. Besides being a Linguist, Covadonga is a Colonialist. She specializes in Colonial Mexico and the cultural production of the first Criollos: how these Criollos defined their new transatlantic identity, and the way they used to examine their society through literature

Jorge Leal, Ph.D.

Jorge N. Leal is assistant professor of Mexican American/Chicanx history at the University of California, Riverside. As a cultural and urban historian, he examines how transnational youth cultures have reshaped Southern California Latina/o/x communities. Dr. Leal is the curator of The Rock Archivo LÁ, an online collective repository that collects, shares, and examines L.A. Latina/o/x youth cultures ephemera. Dr. Leal teaches courses on urban history, race, gender, and culture using English, Spanish, and Spanglish primary sources such as songs, films, underground ‘zines, and memes.

Gabriella Licata, Ph.D.

Gabriella Licata (Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley) is a Postdoctoral Scholar in Spanish Critical Sociolinguistics and Language Education in the Latino and Latin American Research and Studies Center. Working at the intersection of anthropology and linguistics, she uses disability critical and raciolinguistic perspectives to examine how listening subjects use their perceptions of race, gender, and alleged 'deficits' to form language attitudes. Gabriella uses both qualitative and experimental approaches to reveal how individuals' and groups' perception and use of language may be ideologically charged. Gabriella is also a volunteer teacher and research mentor at Mount Tamalpais College at San Quentin Prison, where she and Student Researchers are investigating the sociolinguistic labor of incarcerated people through participatory action research and sociolinguistic interviews (CPHS Protocol #2022-220).

Noelia Sánchez-Walker, Ph.D.

Noelia Sánchez Walker is a Spanish Lector at Yale University. She received her Ph.D. in Spanish Linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on Spanish-English bilingualism in the United States. She studies factors affecting acquisition and development of Spanish as a second and as a heritage language. These factors include, among countless others, age at time of acquisition, context of acquisition, years exposed to Spanish as a foreign language or as a second language, and institutional and classroom ideologies. Dr. Sánchez-Walker was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico and completed a bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus (UPR-RP). There she also completed a Master’s degree in English/French to Spanish translation that included a year at the Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint Denis, France.

Analisa Taylor, Ph.D.

Analisa Taylor is an Associate Professor of Spanish at the University of Oregon. She specializes in critical studies of indigeneity, race, gender, sexuality, globalization, and the state in the Americas. She looks at how Mexican and transborder Mesoamerican cultural producers and social activists influence one another in the articulation of strategies for food sovereignty, human rights, and environmental justice. To this group she brings an interest in critical pedagogies for Latinx and Latin American studies in Spanish as a Heritage Language.

Julie M. Weise, Ph.D.

Julie M. Weise is Associate Professor of History at the University of Oregon, where she specializes in Mexican American history and global migration. Her first book, Corazón de Dixie: Mexicanos in the U.S. South since 1910, was reinterpreted by Latinx youth in the Nuestro South podcast and social media project with support from the Whiting Foundation. Her best classroom experiences are always in her bilingual Latinx History class, “Latinos in the Americas,” which she developed together with Claudia Holguin Mendoza in 2014. She is honored to be an external consultant on Holguin Mendoza and Jorge Leal's UCR grant, "Spanglish and Bilingualism in Latinx Studies," and PI on the Open Educational Resource for historians,

Ph.D. Candidates

María Gutiérrez Gómez, M.A., ABD

Maria Gutiérrez Gómez is an incoming third year PhD candidate at the Hispanic Studies Department in the University of California – Riverside. María received her BA in Spanish Linguistics from UCR in 2016 and in 2020 she earned her MA from UCR. She was born in Michoacan Mexico and at the age of 14 she had to migrate to the United States. She is a DACA recipient. Maria is a native descendant of the P’urhepecha community in Michoacan, Mexico but due to ancestors’ decisions she lost her culture, language and traditions. Maria has been awarded a Crossing Latinidades Mellon Humanities Fellowship for the 2022-23 academic year from the Crossing Latinidades Humanities Research Initiative. Her research interest is on the attitudes and ideologies towards P'urhepecha native speakers, the microaggressions towards the language, their indigenous and gender identities of the Purepecha community, originally from Michoacan Mexico, and its culture in modern times in Southern California.

María Jiménez, M.A., ABD

After earning a Law Degree from Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia, María was awarded a scholarship by the Spanish government to study Constitutional Law and Political Science at the CEPC in Madrid, Spain. There, she developed a passion for fundamental rights and social justice. María earned an MA in Spanish in 2021 at UCR. She entered the Ph.D. program in the Hispanic Studies Department at UCR and is currently interested in language ideologies, how they affect how people are treated in court, and how the Fourteenth Amendment (which guarantees equal protection under the law) is applied. Specifically, she investigates how bilingualism is used as a proxy to discriminate against Latinx communities when choosing juries of conscience, and how this affects people in those communities. The manipulation of language is the key for all participants in the legal system, therefore, she is particularly interested in what happens when second language speakers come into contact with the "language" of law.

Cynthia R. Mendoza Casanova, M.A., ABD

Cynthia R. Mendoza es candidata al doctorado en Diseño por la Universidad Autónoma de Baja California. Actualmente está investigando las pautas metodológicas para el diseño de glosas en Lengua de Señas Mexicana, en lo particular tiene especial interés en contribuir con su investigación a la mejora académica de las personas sordas. Disfruta mucho la familia, las amistades, la caligrafía, el dibujo, jugar flow free warps y continuar con el aprendizaje de la Lengua de Señas.

Sofia Rivas

Sofia Rivas is a PhD student in the School of Education at the University of California, Riverside. She hopes to better understand communication practices that children in K-5 express through their acquired language(s), and the art of storytelling through reflection. She is particularly interested in students that are labeled English as a Second Language (ESL) and Standard English Learner (SEL) students as they are racialized linguistically in classrooms and beyond. Sofia enjoys resting and being with her family most of all.

Elena Romero-Alegría

Elena Romero-Alegría graduated from the University of California Riverside in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Linguistics. Currently, Elena is an M.A. student in Hispanic Studies at UCR. Elena was born near the city of Bolaños, in Jalisco, Mexico. Her mom brought her to the United States when she was 11 years old. Elena is a first-generation college student and she believes that higher education should be made accessible to all people. Elena is also an advocate for immigrant students' rights and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) ally and supporter. Her unique journey has taught her the importance of investing in people's potential and empowerment. Elena's next goal is to continue her education by enrolling in a Ph.D. program in the field of Linguistics.

Angelica Sierra, M.A.

Angelica Sierra is a Ph.D candidate at the University of California, Riverside as well as an elementary dual immersion teacher. Her passion lies in working with students of Color and elevating their cultural and linguistic knowledge stemming from their cultural roots. Her research centers on helping students of Color liberate their linguistic practices that are often marginalized in educational systems. In her free time you can find her with her loved ones camping in the forest, hiking a mountain, or laying on the beach.

Cristina Sanchez, M.A.

Cristina Sanchez is a first generation high school and college graduate, currently completing her Ph.D at UC Riverside in Education, Society, and Culture. Her extensive experience in secondary education, Dual Immersion Curriculum and critical Heritage instruction are foundational in her current research interest. Cristina intends to apply Critical Language Awareness, Critical Sociocultural Linguistic Literacy, and Borderlands theory based pedagogies as a means of decolonizing Heritage education. Cristina received her B.A. in Spanish with an emphasis in linguistics and Studio Art from Claremont McKenna College and subsequently completed her M.A. in Education and teaching credential from Claremont Graduate University in 2009. Cristina is currently teaching AP Spanish Language and Culture and Visual Arts in Spanish, and is the Dual Immersion Coordinator for her school site.

Karla Torres, M.A.

Karla Torres is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Hispanic Studies at UC Riverside, studying Hispanic Linguistics. She is a proud Chicana and first-generation scholar. She holds a B.A. in English Education, with a concentration in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) and an M.A. in TESL & Linguistics from California State University, Dominguez Hills. Her research focuses on English and Spanish instructors’ language ideologies towards the use of Chicanx English and Chicanx Spanish in higher education, and how those ideologies are impacting the linguistic practices and educational experiences of Chicanx students. Karla is passionate about promoting linguistic diversity and making higher education a safe space for marginalized Scholars of Color to comfortably use their native language varieties that have been historically minoritized due to colonization and racism.

Melissa Venegas, M.A., ABD

Melissa Venegas studies sociolinguistics and critical pedagogies at UC Riverside, where she is a Ph.D. candidate (ABD) in Hispanic Studies. Melissa examines language and race in Spanish instruction in order to develop critical and locally-based approaches to language education. She earned her B.A. in Spanish and Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She then attained her post-baccalaureate teaching certificate for Spanish K-12 and my M.Ed in Elementary Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She completed her M.A. in Hispanic Studies at the University of California, Riverside.


Lara Boyero Agudo, Ph.D.

Lara Boyero is an Assistant Professor of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (Spanish) at the University of Delaware. She finished her Ph.D. in Spanish linguistics at the University of Oregon. Although everything was set for her to become a nurse, finally she chose Spanish Philology and realized how much she loves the field of (socio)linguistics. After that, she earned two masters, one of them being a specialization in her passion: teaching Spanish as a second language. She wanted to nurture her knowledge and decided to try her luck in the USA. Her current research centers on Spanish in contact with English in the United States, and Spanish as a Heritage Language (with a focus on critical pedagogies, linguistic attitudes, and ideologies).

Mónica Soto Rodríguez, M.A.

Mónica Soto Rodríguez obtained her M.A. at the Department of Hispanic Studies at the University of California, Riverside in 2020. Her research interests center in the study of Caló, Mexican Spanish and discourse in the sensationalist media in Mexico.

Zaira J. Vidal Cortes, M.A.

Zaira J. Vidal Cortes obtained an M.A. in Hispanic Studies at the University of California, Riverside (2023), where she also earned a B.A. in Global Studies and a minor in Spanish. Zaira has an extensive background in Business Administration and Social Behavioral Science. She is a DACA/immigrant ally. Her inclination for language acquisition and social behavior, along with role models in the Spanish Linguistics field inspired her to continue her education in this area of studies. Zaira is interested in studying how Latinx migrant communities in Southern California construct their identities through language and intersectional social factors such as gender, class, and race.