Jacob Thomas grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. He received his Bachelor of Arts from UC Berkeley and Master of Arts in Social Science from University of Chicago. After one year teaching academic and professional writing and about Western societies at Beijing Foreign Studies University he began his Ph.D. in Sociology at UCLA. His research is broadly about how immigration control of governments affects the migratory and travel opportunities prospective migrants or travelers have or believe they have. In 2020 he completed his Ph.D with his dissertation The Denied, the Deterred, and the Disenchanted: Why a Variety of Potential Migrants Never Immigrate and now is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Center on Contemporary China at Princeton University.
Jacob has published articles in International Migration, Contexts, Theory and Society, and Law &: the Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal.