University of South Carolina

Faculty Experts: Hispanic/Latino

South Carolina has the fastest-growing Latino population in the United States, with nearly a half million immigrants who work primarily in the service, construction, manufacturing, food-processing, landscaping and agriculture sectors. This growing immigrant population presents an array of challenges from the delivery of education and healthcare to labor policies and housing.

To help reporters, the University of South Carolina's Office of Media Relations has compiled a list of faculty members who are experts on Latino-related topics.

Call Peggy Binette, Margaret Lamb or Karen Petit at 803-777-5400.

Return to Faculty Experts home page

Language barriers and training for healthcare workers
Dr. Lizette Mujica Laughlin is a senior instructor in the Spanish program of the department of languages, literatures and cultures. Laughlin can discuss the need for, and importance of, Spanish language instruction for healthcare providers who serve the state's growing Latino population. Her other areas of expertise include Cuban culture and Hispanic-heritage speakers or second-generation Spanish speakers in the United States. E-mail:

Hispanic immigrants and worker's compensation
Dr. Helen Doerpinghaus
, a business professor in the Moore School of Business, is an expert on employee benefits. Doerpinghaus can discuss worker's compensation, Social Security, insurance and other employee benefits for Latino immigrants. E-mail:

Latino demographics, women
Dr. Elaine Lacy is research director for the Consortium for Latino Immigration Studies and a history professor at the University of South Carolina-Aiken. Lacy is an authority on the history and demographics of Latinos in South Carolina and the growth of the Latino community. In particular, Lacy can discuss the immigration process, topics related to Latino women and undocumented Latino immigrants. E-mail:

Impact of Latino immigrants on labor force
Dr. Doug Woodward, chief research economist and director of the Division of Research at the Moore School of Business, is conducting ongoing research on the impact of Latino immigrants on South Carolina's labor force. Specifically, Woodward can discuss the impact that the influx of Latino immigrants is having on the workforce, including spending behaviors and labor issues. E-mail:

Delivery of services to the Latino community
Dr. Dennis Poole, dean of the College of Social Work, can discuss the delivery of health and mental-health services to the Latino community and the challenges of working with a Latino-immigrant population and developing a transnational community. Poole has conducted research and written extensively on social welfare and social policies, including those related to Latino immigrants. E-mail:

Healthcare and Latinos
Dr. Myriam Torres, director of the Consortium for Latino Immigration Studies, is an expert on public health and the Latino population. Torres can discuss the challenges that rural hospitals face in delivering health services to Latinos who speak little to no English and the use of preventive healthcare among certain populations within the Latino community. Torres also can discuss Latino healthcare and cultural topics more broadly. E-mail:

Latino racial, ethnic identity
Dr. Kimberly E. Simmons is an associate professor of anthropology and African American studies. Simmons studies the Afro-Latino experience in the United States. She can discuss topics related to Latino/a racial and ethnic identity formation, culture change and the relationships between Afro-Latinos and African Americans. E-mail:

Latino immigrant children
Dr. Jennifer F. Reynolds, an assistant professor of cultural and linguistic anthropology, can discuss language and literacy development among immigrant Latino children and the role that immigrant children play as translators and interpreters. Reynolds has conducted research with indigenous Maya Guatemalans and Mexican immigrant children both in home and school settings. E-mail:

Dr. Jamie Naidoo, an assistant professor in the School of Library and Information Science, can discuss children's books written by American authors about Latinos, how Latino children are represented in children’s media and school and public library services for Latino children. E-mail: