Ph.D. candidate Luiz Vilaça earns the Graduate School's Shaheen Award in the Social Sciences

Author: Eric Heath

Luiz Vilaça, Ph.D. candidate from the Department of Sociology, is the recipient of the Graduate School's Shaheen Award in the Social Sciences.

Vilaça and all the other 2022-23 award-winners will be formally recognized for their achievements May 20 at the Graduate School Commencement Ceremony at Notre Dame Stadium. For full profiles of all the award-winners, refer to The Graduate School 2023 Commencement Citation Book.

Luiz Vilaça, Ph.D. candidate

Luiz Vilaça is considered a rising star in his field. The sociologist and doctoral candidate has directed his research toward explaining the causes of anti-corruption prosecutions. His remarkable success in being published — seven publications in total, with several more on the way — underscores the impact that his research has already had on the field of sociology, as well as on public policy. His mixed-methods dissertation examines the case of Operation Car Wash in Brazil, a series of anti-corruption prosecutions that resulted in the conviction of hundreds of business executives and politicians. In it, he draws on 120 interviews with prosecutors, detectives, judges, and politicians involved in corruption investigations, as well as on survey data and an original dataset of corruption cases from the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice. Erin McDonnell, co-chair on Vilaça’s dissertation, said his research brings a fresh perspective to the issue: “Luiz’s work is at the cutting edge of policy-relevant social science. He moves beyond a decades-long tradition of documenting and lamenting corruption to break new ground on analyzing what can actually be done by organizational actors to tackle corruption where it is endemic.”Following graduation, Vilaça will begin a position as a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research at Tulane University. In fall 2024, he will take up an appointment as assistant professor of sociology at Bowdoin College.

Originally published by Eric Heath at on May 10, 2023.