Justin Lane: Research for impact

Justin Lane is Associate Director of the Institute for Social Capital, a program of the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. He oversees an integrated data system with more than 45 data sharing agreements with community partners, local and regional agencies, and nonprofits. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in sociology from East Tennessee State University and a Master’s of Arts in sociology from UNC Charlotte, where he researched the sociology of education and education policy. His prior experience includes equitable education reform, homelessness and housing research, and quantitative data analytics.

Lane's work links data from different fields to reveal underlying trends and causes, such as matching healthcare data and educational outcomes to find trends in the linkage between health and student achievement. This helps give policy makers and community members greater insight into what's driving many of the problems in our communities, and what solutions might prove most effective. Much of his current research focuses on education, housing and homelessness. 

What are your main research interests?
Education, housing and homelessness. And the interconnectedness of policies and their effects on individuals and families. 
What drew you to your field?

I was drawn to sociology by a general interest in people and groups of people. My current role allows me to utilize my training and expertise to address the pressing and current needs of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community. 

What do you find rewarding about your work?

Seeing data analysis, research, evaluations or reports that I participated in or led informing the community, and helping enhance local policy towards the often-vulnerable members of our community.

What do you hope to accomplish, or change, through your work?

I hope to be a conduit between academic and community based research and the community of individuals impacted through the work. I hope to help create a data culture where non-profit and community leaders and elected officials can utilize data and analysis to inform decisions that help the community, families and individuals grow stronger.