The seeds of Richard Alba’s interest in ethnicity were sown during his childhood in the Bronx of the 1940s and 1950s and nurtured intellectually at Columbia University, where he received his undergraduate and graduate education, completing his Ph.D. in 1974. He was distinguished professor of sociology at the University at Albany, SUNY, until coming to the Graduate Center in September 2008. He is also on the staff of the GC’s Center for Urban Research and was its acting director during the 2011–12 school year.
Increasingly, his teaching and research have taken on a comparative focus, encompassing the immigration societies of North America and Western Europe. He has carried out research in France and in Germany, with the support of Fulbright grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the German Marshall Fund, and the Russell Sage Foundation. In 2003–04, he was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. His research has also received grant support from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. His latest books are The Next Generation: Immigrant Youth in a Comparative Perspective (2011), coedited with Mary Waters, and Blurring the Color Line: The New Chance for a More Integrated America (2009). His books include Ethnic Identity: The Transformation of White America (1990); Italian Americans: Into the Twilight of Ethnicity (1985); and, most recently, Remaking the American Mainstream: Assimilation and Contemporary Immigration (2003), cowritten with Victor Nee. He has been elected president of the Eastern Sociological Society and vice president of the American Sociological Association.