Neubauer Family Assistant Professor
Director of the Violence, Law, and Politics Lab

Office: Social Sciences 425
Phone: 773-834-2586

B.A. DePaul University, 2007

M.A. Northwestern University, 2009

Ph.D. Northwestern University, 2012


Professor Vargas' research examines how laws, politics, and bureaucracies shape the conditions of cities, with a particular focus on violence and health care. His multi award-winning book "Wounded City: Violent Turf Wars in a Chicago Barrio" brings political sociology to the study of urban violence by showing how ward redistricting shapes levels of block-level violence in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. He has also published in a variety of journals such as Criminology, Social Science and Medicine, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, and the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. 

Robert is currently involved in two major ongoing research projects. First, he is completing book based on a 3-year longitudinal ethnography of uninsured Chicagoans' experiences with the Affordable Care Act. Second, with funding from an NSF Early Career Award, he is studying the political economy of urban violence through a quantitative historical project on homicide in Chicago, New Orleans, and San Francisco from 1870 to the present. Please visit the Violence, Law, and Politics Lab website at for more information on this project. 

A Chicago native, Professor Vargas also consults on numerous local policy initiatives for foundations and nonprofit organizations.