Assistant Director


Celia Lacayo earned her PhD in ethnic studies at UC Berkeley. Prior to joining the CSRC she served as associate director of community engagement for the UCLA Division of Social Sciences, where she was associate editor of LA Social Science e-Forum. Lacayo was formerly adjunct faculty in the UCLA César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o and Central American Studies and the Department of African American Studies. She also brings prior experience in labor and immigrant rights movements.

Lacayo’s research and teaching expertise include topics in race, ethnicity, and immigration studies. Her article “Perpetual Inferiority: Whites' Racial Ideology toward Latinos,” published in Sociology of Race and Ethnicity (vol. 3, no. 4, October 2017), interrogates how external racial ascription affects the racial group formation process for Latinos. The article won the Distinguished Contribution to Research Article Award from the American Sociological Association Latina/os Section. Her article “Latinos Need to Stay in Their Place: Differential Segregation in a Multi-Ethnic Suburb” in Societies (vol. 6, no. 3, 2016) contributed to the literature on Latino segregation in the US and was cited in The Guardian, OC Weekly, CityLab Latino, and the blog ImmigrationProf. Lacayo was a contributor to the PBS documentary 187: The Rise of the Latino Vote (2020) and she regularly receives inquiries from Spanish- and English-language news outlets. Future research will focus on Latinx racial socialization and political behavior, as well as examining Afro-Latinx experience and relations between African Americans and Latinos.

In her administrative capacity at the CSRC, Lacayo oversees staff operations and academic and public programs. She also contributes to the campus-wide Latinx Infrastructure Initiative as UCLA pursues federal designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), and is overseeing the administration of commissioned studies supported by the state-funded research project Latina Futures, 2050 Lab—a collaborative initiative between the CSRC and Latino Policy and Politics Institute (LPPI). Additionally, Lacayo is pursuing institutional support for youth participatory-action research in the University of California system, and as part of CSRC research projects, she is coordinating a network of junior scholars from low-income BIPOC communities to work with grassroots youth organizing groups across California.