Diana's research lives at the intersections of race, ethnicity, and migration; the sociology of education; and community and urban sociology. She explores research questions related to the relationship between neighborhoods and schools, the diverse experiences of Latinx communities in the United States, and the (re)making of spaces and places in metropolitan areas. Her work is guided by two central questions:
How does demographic change happen at the school and neighborhood levels in metropolitan areas?
How do schools and local governments respond to demographic change through their policies and practices?
Under the first question, she is most interested in the role of housing policy and education policy as drivers of demographic changes as well as the role of the micro decision-making and actions of Latinx families that result in immigration or migration to certain areas. Under the second question, she is most concerned with how these responses are shaped by monolithic depictions of Latinx communities- and other racially marginalized communities- in those contexts and how said policies or practices (re)produce or disrupt patterns of racial, ethnic, and class stratification. To answer these research questions, Diana draws on a range of spatial, qualitative, and quantitative methodologies.
Most recently, her research has focused on the demographic change that occurs under gentrification. Prior to her dissertation work, a central line of study was understanding the gentrification of public schools and neighborhoods in New York City and how schools best served legacy non-Latinx Black and/or Latinx families as gentrification took place. This previous work informed her dissertation, which explores how middle-class Latinx parents decide to stay in gentrifying city neighborhoods or leave for nearby suburbs in the New York City metropolitan area post-2000. Using a comparative case study approach that relies on interview data, document analysis, and geospatial analytics, the study focuses on how perceived racial identities, class status, and beliefs about the purpose of schooling shape middle-class Latinx parents’ neighborhood and school choices. Centered on parents that are largely overlooked or homogenized in research on neighborhood and school choice, the study has implications for how schools and local governments can best meet the needs of a growing population and provides counternarratives to traditional theories of spatial assimilation and school choice that are helpful for crafting anti-displacement policies in schools and communities.
Diana approaches research through an interdisciplinary lens that draws on extant theories and methodologies from sociology, demography, and geography in particular. Additionally, her work is informed by ongoing research in multiple fields including education, urban planning, and ethnic studies. Through her research, Diana aims to inform academic and public discourse across fields in hopes that social policy will become more responsive to the needs of communities that have been historically marginalized and disenfranchised in the United States.