Nella is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Merced. Her research focuses on social movements and hate crime, with an emphasis on how characteristics of the social context influence levels of collective action. Her work has been published in leading journals including Social Forces, Social Problems, and the American Sociological Review. She is co-editor of Strategic Alliances: Coalition Building and Social Movements (2010, University of Minnesota Press). She has published several articles on student protest, including studies of contemporary student anti-sweatshop activism, student protest coalitions, and the locations of 1960s student activism.