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Trainee Spotlight: Max Reason


June 3, 2020

Max Reason is a statistician at the United States Department of Agriculture. He is a former trainee at the Carolina Population Center and recently received his PhD in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This interview was conducted by CPC intern Ryan Holmes shortly before Max graduated earlier this year.

Q:  Tell me about yourself. How did you end up at CPC?

Reason:  I’m a sixth-year graduate sociology student… I was offered a predoctoral fellowship at CPC, so that’s why I came to Chapel Hill. I was interested in population health disparities, and the population and biomarker data at CPC was a big draw. But I also like having a desk in an office building and being on a 9 to 5 schedule. It’s a lot more of a professional setting than the typical grad student experience, where you might be working in a coffee shop or a library.

Q:  Your bio mentions that you have a deep passion for sports. Did that love of sports have a role in your decision to come to UNC?

Reason: No, I’m a big Nebraska fan. I don’t go to that many games here. I wish I had more time to go, honestly.

Q:  How does CPC fit into your career goals?

Reason: I plan to work with the government or with non-profits rather than in academia, and CPC has given me many opportunities to work with faculty in things that are more grounded in technical stuff instead of theory. I’ve always enjoyed the practical, data-driven and technical aspects of sociology, and I’ve been able to do that at CPC.

Q:  What are your research interests?

Reason: My dissertation follows children of migrants—mostly Turkish, Italian, and Russian—in Germany from before the current wave of Syrian refugees, how they incorporate, and what their education outcomes are.

Q:  What aspects of migrant incorporation do you look at?

Reason: What determines migrants in Germany ending up at lower-level high schools, intergenerational transfer of school assignment, the role of citizenship, school tracking across time (ages 15-21), how these children feel they belong either as Germans or with their nation of origin, how these feelings change over time, how household language use is associated with school tracking, identity trajectories and how they differ based on migrant groups and between generations.

Q:  Is there a difference between incorporation and assimilation of migrants?

Reason: Yeah, assimilation is the loss of ethnic identity and the adoption of host identity, whereas with integration, migrants are more involved but don’t necessarily lose their ethnic identity, which is more appropriate for a multicultural context.

Q:  What makes Germany an interesting research subject?

Reason: I studied abroad in Germany as a sophomore in undergrad. A lot of our understanding of migration is developed based on American contexts, and we don’t know how well those models work in non-American contexts, so I’m looking at how well they work in a German context.