IRLE funds a range of faculty-led cohorts of student researchers exploring urgent issues in the social sciences. By providing funding and training for students, we aim to create a more diverse pipeline of future labor scholars.

How It Works

Faculty members can secure funding for students to engage in and contribute to their research agenda. Students participating in sponsored cohorts will receive research stipends from IRLE. IRLE also provides workspace, and meeting and event space for participating groups. Faculty interested in in receiving IRLE funding to lead a cohort of student researchers, should contact

Students interested in participating in one of the IRLE-sponsored faculty-led cohorts, should contact the faculty leads listed below for more information about current projects.

“IRLE’s support has been pivotal in helping me to involve first-generation undergraduate students in my research.”

− David J. Harding

Professor of sociology and former research cohort mentor

IRLE-Funded Cohorts

Learn more about current and recent faculty-led cohorts.

The Latinx and the Environment Initiative (LEI)

The Latinx and the Environment Initiative (LEI) is a three-year effort started at UC Berkeley that seeks to establish a comprehensive and interdisciplinary program designed to generate knowledge and encourage increased study and research on the way Latinxs interact with the environment — both in the U.S. and abroad, and with the coordinated participation of policymakers, community-based organizations (CBOs) and the academic community. At UCB, there is a current deficit of Latinx students in majors that analyze, research, and provide policy guidance on environmental issues such as forestry, environmental economics and policy, ecosystem sciences, and others. LEI aims to contribute to the increase of undergraduate and graduate students in these areas of research and policy, as they relate to the environment.


Federico Castillo (Environmental Science, Policy, and Management), Lupe Gallegos (Chicanx Latinx Academic Student Development Center)

Underground Scholars Research Cohort

The Berkeley Underground Scholars is a prison-to-college pipeline dedicated to the recruitment, retention, advocacy and policy of students with a criminal record at UC Berkeley and beyond. This cohort exists to educate existing and future generations about the interimbrication of race and the political economy which leads to targeting of communities for mass incarceration. This research cohort comprises scholars with criminal records who are here to control the narrative about our demographic and flip the educational viewpoint inside the classrooms. We pay homage to programs that came before us like Project Rebound, and the programs who will come after. We come from a variety of backgrounds informed by state-sanctioned violence, structural violence, and inadequate educational structures. The results of these socially toxic environments often introduced us to violence, foster systems, and carcerality more broadly. We exist to showcase that persons with a criminal record can thrive in the realm of academia.


Christopher Muller (Sociology)

IRLE Publications

Undocumented Research Cohort

The Undocumented Research Cohort was founded by a group of highly motivated undergraduates who wanted to reclaim the narrative produced by research on undocumented young people. With support from Institute for Research and Labour Employment (IRLE), this program has extended to support a new cohort each year of undocumented students looking to gain research experience and create institutional change and/or public awareness on issues pertaining to undocumented migrants. Past cohorts have created reports to advocate for institutional change at UC Berkeley, published blog posts, and begun independent research projects. 


Lisa Hirai Tsuchitani (Ethnic Studies) and Liliana Iglesias (Director of Undocumented Student Program)

IRLE Publications

Berkeley Hope Scholars Research Cohort

In this cohort, Berkeley Hope Scholars (Berkeley’s support initiative for former foster youth) conduct research related to uncovering the protective factors in foster care that promote positive young adult outcomes.


Jill Duerr Berrick (Social Welfare)

IRLE Publications