Dr. Rashawn Ray is a Professor of Sociology and leads the University of Maryland’s Social Justice Alliance in collaboration with Bowie State University as well as the Anti-Black Racism Initiative housed in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. He is also a Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution. Ray’s research addresses the mechanisms that manufacture and maintain racial and social inequity. He regularly testifies at the federal and state levels on racial equity, policing and criminal justice reform, health policy, wealth disparities, and family policy. As the founding Executive Director of the Lab for Applied Social Science Research (LASSR), Ray helped develop a virtual reality training program for law enforcement and led implicit bias trainings with thousands of police officers, military personnel, and employees at companies and organizations. He then led the development of a professional master’s program in Public Safety Leadership and Administration, which is a collaboration between the Department of Sociology, the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and the University of Maryland-Baltimore Carey School of Law.

Ray has published over 50 books, articles, and book chapters, and over 50 op-eds. He has written for Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, POLITICO, Business Insider, Newsweek, NBC News, The Guardian, The Hill, Huffington Post, and The Conversation. Ray has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBS, ABC, C-Span, PBS, NPR, and Al Jazeera. His academic articles have appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, Science Advances, Social Science Research, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Du Bois Review, and the Annual Review of Public Health. Ray’s books include Systemic Racism in America: Sociological Theory, Education Inequality, and Social Change (with Hoda Mahmoudi), How Families Matter: Simply Complicated Intersections of Race, Gender, and Work (with Pamela Braboy Jackson) and Race and Ethnic Relations in the 21st Century: History, Theory, Institutions, and Policy, which has been adopted over 40 times in college courses.

Ray obtained his Ph.D. and master’s degree in sociology from Indiana University, and his bachelor’s in sociology from the University of Memphis. Ray serves on boards with Meta and the Greater Washington Community Foundation. He also serves on the Legacy Renovation Scholars Committee with the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and as a consultant for the 400 Years of African American History Commission, which operates as an entity of the Executive Branch of the federal government. Formerly, Ray was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley and member of the National Advisory Committee for the RWJF Health Policy Research Scholars Program. Previously, Ray served on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington Planning Committee and the Commission on Racial Justice with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. From 2018-2022, Ray served as one of the co-editors of Contexts Magazine: Sociology for the Public where the magazine garnered over one million website views and downloads each year.

Ray has been awarded the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Mani L. Bhaumik Award for Public Engagement with Science, the Public Understanding of Sociology Award from the American Sociological Association, the Morris Rosenberg Award for Outstanding Sociological Achievement from the DC Sociological Society, and the Outstanding Young Alumni Award from Indiana University. He was recently awarded an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship.

Please see op-eds and other public scholarship at this link. Ray is on social media @SociologistRay.

CV: CV_Ray_3.pdf293.44 KB


  • PhD
    Indiana University, 2010
  • MA
    Indiana University, 2005
  • BA
    University of Memphis, 2003

Current Students

Former Students

  • Dr. Melissa Brown
    Assistant Professor of Communication at Santa Clara University
  • Dr. Jonathan Cox
    Assistant Professor of Sociology at University of Central Florida
  • Dr. Amanda Dewey
    Research Manager at The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
  • Dr. Shaun Genter
    Researcher, U.S. Census Bureau
  • Dr. SunAh Laybourn
    Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Memphis

Related Students (Listed by Student on Student's Profile)

  • Layne Amerikaner
  • Amanda Dewey
  • Simone Durham
  • Angelica Loblack
  • Robyn T. Moore
  • Connor Powelson
  • Chandra V. Reyna
  • Candice A. Shannon
Ray Headshot
4137 Parren J. Mitchell Art/Sociology Building
Department of Sociology
rjray [at] umd.edu