Dr. Núñez’s award-winning research employs sociological approaches to explore how multiple social identities (e.g., racial, ethnic, class, linguistic) shape educational opportunities in diverse contexts. These contexts include college outreach programs, different higher education institutional types, and various policy environments. She focuses on (1) postsecondary trajectories of Latinx, first-generation, migrant, and English Learner students; (2) institutional diversity in the U.S., including the role of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) in promoting college opportunities; and (3) building inclusive and equitable environments in STEM disciplines and HSIs.

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Building capacity in HSIs to advance Hispanic postsecondary attainment in computing field. This project engages a national network of HSIs led by the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP), the Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (CAHSI), that are aiming to raise Hispanic attainment in computing credentials to a 20% share of all those earned in the U.S. Dr. Núñez’s role is to create and disseminate knowledge and policy recommendations about how to build capacity for talent development among Hispanic students in computing. With her research team, she is examining the organizational behavior within these institutions that contributes to Hispanic student success. The project is funded through the NSF INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners and Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering, and Science) grant program and the NSF CISE (Computer, Information Science, and Engineering) directorate.

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Broadening participation in geosciences. Dr. Núñez has conducted research on organizational and programmatic approaches to building inclusive environments in the geosciences. One program for undergraduates has aimed to broaden geosciences participation at a Hispanic-Serving Institution through integrating research experiences and work-based internships. Another, aimed at faculty and administrators, has focused on building inclusive approaches to leading experiences in geosciences fieldwork. These projects have been funded by the NSF GEO Geosciences directorate through the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education Pathways into Geoscience (IUSE GEOPATHS) and Geoscience Opportunities for Leadership in Diversity (GOLD).

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Examining the role of expansive learning in transforming leadership to advance postsecondary equity. This line of work applies theories of expansive learning to organizational learning, with the intent of creating more equitable educational experiences and outcomes in science fields. The current disciplinary foci for this work include geosciences and computing. This project involves funding from the Spencer Foundation and NSF.