Rebecca Sandefur, PhD’01, named MacArthur Fellow

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Rebecca Sandefur, AM’97, PhD’01, discovered intersection of sociology and law as student


More than two decades ago, Rebecca Sandefur stepped onto the UChicago campus for the first time as a graduate student, drawn by what she saw as a unique challenge.


Even on her school visit, she had sensed the University’s culture of serious intellectual inquiry, one she likened to “a rigorous, bare-knuckle brawl about ideas.” It felt like the perfect place for her to become a sociologist.


Although Sandefur, AM’97, PhD’01, hoped to study inequality in children’s schooling, a chance call from a UChicago professor turned her focus to the legal system. That switch eventually made her an expert on low-income access to civil justice—work that reentered the spotlight on Oct. 4, when she was one of 25 people awarded a prestigious MacArthur fellowship. 


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