Sarah Rios

Assistant Professor


(608) 265-4239

Office Location

340B Agricultural Hall
1450 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Office Schedule

Office Hours:  Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment

Sarah Rios’ research agenda focuses on advancing the study of race, health, and the environment.  Rios is interested in the health implications of industrial agriculture and carceral expansion, and community-based resilience through environmental justice activism. Currently, Rios is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Madison.  Rios’ ongoing research about an environmental illness known as Valley Fever that is endemic in the Central Valley of California, places the apex of the medical conversation in a discussion about the racialized social determinants of health and community-based knowledge.  Rios analyzes how farm workers and former prisoners’ contract and recover from Valley Fever while mitigating poverty, pollution, and the threats of incarceration or deportation. Rios also works closely with environmental justice activists and prison abolitionist to discuss alternative perspectives about environmental health and justice. She is an alumnus of California State University Fresno, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Women’s Studies and in Communication Disorders and Deaf Studies.  In 2018, Sarah earned her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  Among her distinctions for academic achievement are the Anna Julia Cooper Postdoctoral Fellowship at UW Madison, the UC President Dissertation Year Fellowship, the UC California Studies Consortium Grant, the Center for Poverty Research and the Stanford Center for Poverty and Inequality visiting scholar at UC Davis, and the Chicano/a Institute Studies Fellowship.  Her areas of specialization include Environmental Justice; Race and Health; Qualitative Research Methods; and Latino/a Sociology.   Sarah is originally from the Salinas Valley of California.

(2022) Rios, Sarah M. “Movement as a Methodology: Finding the Right Tools for Doing Equity-Oriented Research.” Latino Studies Journal.


(2022) Ramirez, Marla and Sarah Rios. “Research Movidas: Intersectional Methodological Approaches to Center the Voices of People.” Special Issue Introduction in Latino Studies Journal.


(2020) Rios, Sarah M. “Poverty, Prisons, Pollution, and Valley Fever.” Lessons in Environmental Racism: From Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter and Idle No More.


(2018) Rios, Sarah M. “Valley Fever: Environmental Racism and Health Justice.” Doctoral Thesis

Research Specializations

Race, Health and Environmental Justice, Community-Based Participatory Action Research, Ethnography, and Latino/a Sociology


(2023) Co-PI, Centering Justice in Climate Smart Agriculture; NRCS, USDA



  • (2019-Present) Assistant Professor, Department of Community and Environmental Sociology; University of Wisconsin-Madison


  • (2022) Honored Instructor, University Housing; University of Wisconsin-Madison


  • (2017-2019) Teaching Apprentice, Department of Sociology; UC-Santa Barbara 


  • (2015-2017) Instructor of Record, Ethnographic Research Methods, Department of Sociology; UC-Santa Barbara


  • (2014-2015) Teaching Apprentice, Black Studies Department; UC-Santa Barbara


  • (2010-2014) Collaborate, Technology Services and Support, College of Letters and Sciences; UC-Santa Barbara


  • (2009-2010) Cesar Chavez Education Institute; National Farm Workers Service Center

(2023) Colloquium Committee, Community and Environmental Sociology


(2022) Building Equitable and Inclusive Environments in Learning, UW Center for Teaching, Learning, and Mentoring; University of Wisconsin-Madison.


(2022) Hiring Committee, Community and Environmental Sociology; University of Wisconsin-Madison


(2021) Doris Peyser Slesinger Lecture, Community and Environmental Sociology; University of Wisconsin-Madison.


(2021-Present) Affiliation Chicano/a Latino/ Studies Program; University of Wisconsin-Madison


(2020-Present) Affiliation Center for History of the Environment, Nelson Institute; University of Wisconsin-Madison


(2019-Present) Affiliation Institute for Poverty Research; University of Wisconsin-Madison


(2019-Present) Latino Task Force; University of Wisconsin-Madison


(2019-Present) Environmental Sociology Preliminary Exam Committee


(2019-Present) Seminar Coordinator, Department of Community and Environmental Sociology; University of Wisconsin-Madison


(2019-2022) Minority Recruitment and Retention, Joint Graduate Sociology Program; University of Wisconsin-Madison


(2021) Somos Faculty Development Award: Chican@ Latin@ Studies Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison


(2020) Hatch Project Grant: UW-Madison CALS, National Institute for Food and Agriculture, USDA


(2019) Fall Research Competition: University of Wisconsin-Madison


(2018) Anna Julia Cooper Postdoctoral Fellowship: University of Wisconsin-Madison