Elena G. van Stee

Elena G. van Stee

2019 Cohort Institute of Education Sciences Predoctoral Fellow

McNeil 331


I am a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and a 2021-2023 Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Predoctoral Fellow. In 2021, I was honored as one of the top 10 graduate student instructors across the university with the Penn Prize for Excellence in Teaching by Graduate Students

My research examines  inequality in the transition to adulthood, focusing on families and educational institutions as sites of social stratification.  My dissertation explores how social class shapes young adults’ relationships with parents in the late 20s and early 30s.  This research builds on a previous study , published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, in which I used the case of the COVID-19 pandemic to examine how young adults from different social class backgrounds expect, negotiate, and attach meaning to parental support. I’m also working on two new collaborative projects that use data collected during the pandemic to examine (1) racial differences in students’ pandemic housing transitions (with Arielle Kuperberg and Joanie Mazelis) and (2) the racialized effects of a restrictive COVID-19 behavioral policy at a selective liberal arts college (with Alanna Gillis).

Another ongoing project (with Melissa Wilde and Tessa Huttenlocher) employs historical census data to identify how the American religious field has been stratified by wealth, race, immigration, and geography. Additionally, a new vein of research with Ryan Baker, Taylor Heath, and colleagues from Penn’s Center for Learning Analytics examines academic help-seeking in online learning environments. In previous work, I studied multifaith chaplaincy on college campuses and interfaith dialogue in the wake of the 2016 presidential election.


Office Hours
Thursdays, 6-8pm
Research Interests

Stratification & inequality, family, parenting, young adults, higher education, help seeking, race/ethnicity, immigration, religion

Courses Taught

Sociological Research Methods (TA)

Intro to Sociology (TA)

Selected Publications

Roth, Wendy, Elena G. van Stee, and Alejandra Regla-Vargas. Forthcoming. “Conceptualizations of Race: Essentialism and Constructivism.” Annual Review of Sociology.

van Stee, Elena G. 2023. “Privileged Dependence, Precarious Autonomy: Parent/Young Adult Relationships Through the Lens of COVID-19.” Journal of Marriage and Family 85(1):215-232. doi: 10.1111/jomf.12895

van Stee, Elena G. 2022. “Parenting Young Adults Across Social Class: A Review and Synthesis.” Sociology Compass. e13021. doi:10.1111/soc4.13021 

van Stee, Elena G., Taylor Paige Winfield, Wendy Cadge, John Schmalzbauer, Tiffany Steinwert, Shelly Rambo, and Elizabeth Clifford. 2021. “Assessing Student Engagement with Campus Chaplains: A Pilot Study from a Residential Liberal Arts College.” Journal of College and Character 23(3). doi:10.1080/2194587X.2021.1939721

van Stee, Elena G., Wendy Cadge, and Rebecca Barton. 2021. “How Do Colleges and Universities Support Multifaith Chaplaincy? The Causes and Effects of Different Institutional Approaches.” Journal of College and Character 23(2). doi:10.1080/2194587X.2021.1898981

Barton, Rebecca, Wendy Cadge, and Elena G. van Stee. 2020. “Caring for the Whole Student: How Do Chaplains Contribute to Campus Life?Journal of College and Character 21(2):67-85. doi:10.1080/2194587X.2020.1741392


Predoctoral Fellow, Institute of Education Sciences Predoctoral Training Program, University of Pennsylvania (2021-Present)

Research Associate, Chaplaincy Innovation Lab, Brandeis University (2018-Present)

Research Fellow, Office of Institutional Research and Analysis, University of Pennsylvania (2022)

Graduate Research Fellow, Center for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Immigration, University of Pennsylvania (2020-2021)