Alexandra K. Murphy joined Mcity as Associate Director of Social Science Research, effective June 1, 2024. Murphy is also an Assistant Research Scientist at Poverty Solutions in the Ford School of Public Policy, and a Faculty Associate of the Population Studies Center at the Institute for Social Research, all at the University of Michigan. She received her PhD in Sociology and Social Policy from Princeton University.

Broadly, Murphy’s research uses ethnographic methods to examine how poverty and inequality are experienced, structured, and reproduced across and within multiple domains of social life, from neighborhoods to social networks. More specifically, one line of her research investigates the new suburban poverty. Murphy’s work in this area has focused on variations in social service responses to rising poverty across diverse suburbs; urban and suburban comparisons in social service capacity; and the theoretical, conceptual, and methodological issues suburban poverty raises for a sociological understanding of geography and inequality. Murphy is currently working on her book, Where the Sidewalks End: Poverty in an American Suburb (under contract with Oxford University Press), an ethnographic study of the social organization of poverty in one suburb.

A second line of Murphy’s  research investigates transportation insecurity: a condition in which a person is unable to regularly get from place to place in a safe or timely manner. Her work in this area includes the development of the Transportation Security Index,  the first validated individual-measure of transportation insecurity that can be used in survey research, as a screener in health care settings, as an evaluation tool to assess whether interventions are effectively moving people from “transportation insecurity” to “transportation security,” and more. Using this measure and original survey data, Murphy and her collaborators have generated the first ever prevalence estimates of transportation insecurity in the U.S. and explored associations between transportation insecurity and individual-level outcomes, such as health.