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About Us

Founded in 2019, the CLASS Institute for Research on Women, Gender & Sexuality is the first university-based think tank on gender and sexuality in our region. Focused on Houston and Harris County, the IRWGS examines the many challenges around these matters now facing individuals, policymakers, business and the community.

IRWGS faculty generate data, innovative research and dialogue with the community on the ways gender and sexuality, viewed intersectionally, affect all aspects of life, including workforce, health, family and relationships, social dynamics, leadership and equity. We aim to spark community discussion; engage current and future leaders; transform public policy; and enhance well-being. Demographically, Houston forecasts America’s future, and our findings will inform national discussion as well.

Administration / Staff

Interim Dean, CLASS

Daniel P. O’Connor, Ph.D.


Elizabeth Gregory, Ph.D.

Research Associate

Audrey Miller, Ph.D. 


Saumali Daundesekara, Ph.D. (Kinesiology) 2019
Claire Kang, Ph.D. (Economics) 2020 — present

Graduate Students

Claire Kang (Economics) 2020
Itzel Martinez (Education) 2020 — present
Sandra Poblano (Sociology) 2019

Steering Committee

Amanda Baumle, Ph.D.
Daphne Hernandez, Ph.D.
Chinhui Juhn, Ph.D.
Christiane Spitzmüller, Ph.D.

Advisory Council

  • Sue Payne, Chair
  • Nina Andrews
  • Leah Barton
  • Annette Bracey
  • Lemar Brown
  • Eleanor Gilbane
  • MaryScott Hagle
  • Geordie Hrdlicka
  • Mandy Kao
  • Shannon Langrand
  • GinRu Lee
  • Susana Monteverde
  • Kathryn Peek, Ph.D. 
  • Beverly Robinson
  • Rebecca Rush
  • Yava Scott
  • Angela Shippy, M.D.
  • Carey Shuart
  • MaryRoss Taylor
  • Patricia Gardner Young