- College Access: Race/Ethnicity, Class, School Choice, and Policy
- Gender Disparities in STEM Education and Careers, in US and Cambodia
- Perceptions and Mindsets: Social Psychological Predictors of Persistence
- Socialization and Sociology of Education
- Transitions to College for Black and Latino Students
Her research focuses on how social contexts shape underrepresentation in higher education access, field of study, and degree attainment. In particular, this work examines how malleable high school and college micro-environments (including peers and faculty) and broader macro-contexts (policy, urbanicity, and culture) can differentially facilitate the realization of young people’s college and career ambitions, both in the U.S. and internationally.
To examine these questions, she employs secondary analysis of large-scale national longitudinal datasets as well as designing and analysis of original research using participant observation, longitudinal surveys, and interview methodology. Both independently and with colleagues and students, she has produced lines of papers in these primary focal areas of research: access to higher education and underrepresentation in specific STEM majors and careers. These lines are joined together by the shared focus in how intersecting factors can promote or inhibit opportunities for those students who have been underrepresented in higher education, whether this underrepresentation is attributable to social and structural resources, perceptions of opportunity and fit, or a combination of these issues. Moreover, they share an aim to identify mechanisms that could be addressed through policy and institutional interventions, to broaden the participation of women and men in higher education and scientific careers irrespective of their social background.
Dr. Perez-Felkner has been active in pursuing and attaining extramural funding to support her research. Presently, she is a co-Investigator on a $1.1 million Gates Foundation grant with the Center for Postsecondary Success. She is also leading broader impacts and educational evaluation studies of two National Science Foundation funded center projects in the FAMU-FSU joint College of Engineering. Additionally, Dr. Perez-Felkner has been co-Investigator on National Science Foundation grant #1232139, examining gendered differences in U.S. university students’ persistence in engineering and computer science majors. She has additionally received generous seed funding from FSU’s Center for Higher Education Research, Teaching, and Evaluation and Center for Research and Creativity. Previously, she received an AERA Research Grant to develop an extension of her dissertation research using nationally representative longitudinal data. Her graduate work was awarded a Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, the Bernice Neugarten Prize, and several other fellowships and awards.