Jones to speak on race and ethnic research


MONT ALTO—Nicholas Jones, director and senior adviser of race and ethnic research and outreach in the U.S. Census Bureau’s population division, will speak via Zoom Wednesday, Feb. 2, as part of the Race, Equity and Action series at Penn State Mont Alto.

Jones began his career at the Census Bureau more than two decades ago as an analyst in the racial statistics branch. He became a renowned expert on America’s multiracial population, as well as the country’s complex racial and ethnic diversity.

As chief of the bureau’s racial statistics branch from 2007-14, he led a research team in the analysis of data gathered in the 2010 Census and the American Community Survey, which provides population and housing information. Jones also was a principal developer of the 2010 Census Race and Hispanic Origin Alternative Questionnaire Experiment, which compared different strategies for collecting census data on race and Hispanic origin.

During his conversation with Mont Alto audiences, he will discuss the shifting U.S. demographics with regard to race and ethnicity, why and how census data is collected, and how the statistics inform our understanding of the nation’s population.

“It affects everything from the bottom up and the top down,” Kira Hamman, assistant teaching professor in mathematics and honors program coordinator at Penn State Mont Alto Hamman, said of census data.

The figures not only make an impact on funding but provide a picture of who lives in the United States and can lead to dialogue about how the country can be supportive of those who live in it, said Hamman, who organizes REA.

The free series of conversations, workshops, and professional development sessions have explored the experiences of people of color through literature and speakers sharing stories from their personal and professional lives. REA is meant to help the Mont Alto campus build a community of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Jones’ presentation is a step toward that goal, a way “to look at the bigger picture of the societal forces that surround and affect all those lived experiences,” Hamman said.

According to Hamman, studies show that people frequently perceive reality inaccurately and census data helps present a more accurate picture and prompt discussions about how to address inequity and racism.

“Data is not all we need to do that,” but it helps, she said.

Jones will speak via Zoom from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. to audiences in the General Studies Auditorium and online.

“It will be a very hybrid event,” Hamman said.

Registration is not necessary for those attending the talk in the auditorium but is required for participants attending via the Zoom webinar.

For more information about the Race, Equity, and Action series, go to or email Hamman at [email protected].

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