Research projects

The main sponsored projects I’m currently working on.


Implications of shifting migration trends: social networks, health, and work of migrant farm workers in Florida

This project is based on personal network survey data collected among Mexican and Haitian farm workers in different Florida rural locations. The research examines personal networks, social support, and physical and mental health outcomes in Florida’s new communities of migrant farm workers. We also consider work conditions, legal status and racial discrimination as potential social determinants of health. Supported in part by the University of Florida Office of Research, this project is conducted by Gulcan Onel (PI, UF Food and Resource Economics Department), Jeanne-Marie Stacciarini (co-PI, UF College of Nursing), and Raffaele Vacca (co-PI, UF Sociology). The project also relies on a community partnership with Antonio Tovar at the Farmworker Association of Florida.


The emergence of Covid-19 team science: tracking topics, networks and expertise in global Covid-19 research

The Covid-19 pandemic is having a transformative impact on science, accelerating the convergence of a highly interdisciplinary and dynamic “team science” field of coronavirus/Covid-19 research. This project analyzes a unique and constantly updated combination of “big” bibliographic data to track evolving topics, growing networks, and hidden expertise in global and local coronavirus/Covid-19 research. We use CORD-19, a growing dataset of over 63,000 coronavirus/Covid-19 scientific articles, and Dimensions, a global database of approximately 100 million publications, grants, and patents with detailed author information. We draw on theories and methods from computational social science, network science and computational linguistics to examine the growth, diversification and evolution of topics and networks in global Covid-19 research over the past decades, years, and months. Funded by the UF Informatics Institute, this project is a collaboration between Raffaele Vacca (PI, UF Sociology), Kevin Tang (co-PI, UF Linguistics), Ilaria Capua (UF One Health), and Till Krenz and Christopher McCarty (UF BEBR).


The “migrant Roma:” from exclusionary processes to resources for social integration

This project studies migration and incorporation trajectories of Roma migrants in French metropolitan areas, with a focus on personal networks and social support. It is based on one of the first quantitative surveys of personal networks in the Roma migrant community in France, a particularly hard-to-reach population. The project aims to identify and describe sources of migration capabilities and factors that shape the exchange of informal and institutional support to Roma migrants in French cities. This research is funded in part by Sciences Po Paris and conducted in collaboration with Tommaso Vitale (PI, Sciences Po Center for European Studies).


Migration as a social determinant of health: A review of existing research and data in cross-national perspective

One of the defining issues of our time, international migration is increasingly described as a social determinant of health and a global health priority of the 21st century. This project reviews existing research and data sources on international migration as a social determinant of health in the US and Europe, with a focus on mental health, different types of migrants and legal statuses, and cross-national comparisons. Supported in part by the UF One Health Center of Excellence, the project is a collaboration between Raffaele Vacca, David Cañarte (UF Department of Sociology and Criminology), and Benedetta Pongiglione, Rosanna Tarricone and Aleksandra Torbica (Centre for Research on Health and Social Care Management, Bocconi University).


UF CTSI Network Science Program

This program of the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute coordinates a number of projects that apply network science and computational methods to the study of team science and scientific collaboration. Topics of interest include the formation of research communities and interdisciplinary collaborations within universities; the relationship between topic similarity and co-authorship between scientists; individual and institutional factors shaping cross-university collaborations; prestige and inequality in academic science; and modeling the emergence and decline of scientific ideas. Supported in part by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (award number UL1TR001427), these projects are conducted by the BEBR/CTSI Network Science Lab, co-led by Raffaele Vacca and Christopher McCarty.


Measuring, modeling, and tracking the contribution of academic research to the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 global development goals for 2030 agreed upon by all United Nations Member States. With their 169 targets, they provide a blueprint and plan of action for development, prosperity and peace for people and the planet, including strategies to end poverty and deprivation, fuel economic growth, tackle climate change, improve health and education, and reduce inequality globally. This research project aims to (1) develop a method to measure the extent to which academic research aligns with and contributes to the SDGs and their targets; and (2) pilot a prototype tracking tool to measure and monitor SDG relevance of research in universities. The project is supported in part by the UF One Health Center of Excellence and conducted by Thomas Smith and Raffaele Vacca (UF Department of Sociology and Criminology) in collaboration with Ilaria Capua (UF One Health Center of Excellence).