Sociology Matters Autumn 2021

Letter from the Chair

Now that the academic year is well underway, the buzz has returned to the Sociology Department with most of us back on campus and our classes and activities once again happening in person. Despite the continuing uncertainty about what coming seasons will bring, it is truly heartwarming to have faculty and students in Savery Hall again. We extend a special welcome to our new faculty members Jelani Ince, Theresa Rocha Beardall, Magda Boutros, and Cristina Lacomba, all settling into their new offices on the Quad. And to all the new graduate students, and second year graduate students experiencing their first quarter on campus: we are so glad you are here with us. This synergistic mingling of old and new faculty, students, and staff has re-energized many of us for what lies ahead. 

We’ve all learned a lot during these pandemic months, but one thing that remains clear is that sociological thinking has a powerful role to play helping us all make sense of the challenges in the world around us. It’s perhaps no surprise then that students are flocking to Sociology these days. As always, our students learn about social inequality, racial disparities, the data revolution, and social change, while also learning how to situate their own personal experiences into a broader sociological context. As faculty, we are learning from our new colleague Theresa Rocha Beardall’s recent article, Structured discomfort belongs in the sociological classroom, in which she makes the case for empathetic disruption. This all is hard work, and because we are committed to supporting our influx of new students during these especially challenging times, we have added another undergraduate advisor. William Atienza joins us as our third undergraduate advisor. Michelle Foshee, our new graduate student advisor, and Roxana Palma-Orantes, our new advising assistant, round out our now fully staffed Student Services office.

In October, we kicked off our colloquium series with a talk by Charles Crabtree on his research into biases about allocating scarce medical resources to Covid-19 patients. The talk marked a reboot of the types of engagement we put on hold last year, and also highlighted the importance of careful social science as we try to make sense of what the pandemic has wrought.

And now, with Fall quarter in full swing, I’m delighted to share with you our latest edition of Sociology Matters. I hope these updates help you feel connected to UW Sociology, and I invite you to share your own news of successes and life changes. Your support makes much of what we do possible. 

Katherine Stovel

Professor and Chair

We are delighted to welcome three new faculty members this year: Magda Boutros, Jelani Ince, and Theresa Rocha Beardall. These three promising scholars arrive at UW Sociology committed to using sociology to address social inequalities. We are excited to have them join us, and eager to learn from them.  In… Read more
By now most Americans realize the pandemic revealed deep structures of economic inequality in our society. One tool that tech optimists suggest could solve financial problems for those in need is crowdfunding, using sites like GoFundMe, where individuals create fund-raising campaigns to share on social media. The dream is that each campaign will ‘go viral,’ strangers will be moved to help, and the donations will pour in to fully cover the need of the moment. But graduate student… Read more
The UW sociology department has a long tradition of cultivating high quality teaching. We were among the first graduate programs in the country to offer a graduate seminar on Teaching Sociology, and several Sociology faculty and graduate students have been recognized with University-wide Distinguished Teaching Awards. Expanding on this tradition, Associate Chair Nathalie Williams and our new Curriculum Committee developed fresh… Read more
Alexes Harris, ’97, grew up in Seattle, played high school volleyball and loves to watch Husky sports. That’s fitting, seeing how this professor of sociology is the UW’s Faculty Athletics Representative. Did you approach this position with any initiatives or changes in mind? One thing that we started in 2018 that I’m excited about is called “Coaches Fellows.” All new faculty are invited to participate in a three-day workshop… Read more
A new course in the Department of Sociology tackles this question, combining analysis of self-tracked data with discussions of ethical issues raised by technology that captures our daily routines. Developed by Zack Almquist, assistant professor of sociology, the course—The Quantified Self: An Introduction to the Societal Implications of Self Tracking—is part of the University’s new data science minor. Professor Zack Almquist created… Read more

Publicly Engaged Sociologists

Professor Adrian Raftery’s research has been covered extensively in the national and international press this year. His work on the number of counted Covid cases in the United States was featured in The Guardian story, “Covid cases in US may have been undercounted by 60%, study shows,” while other research on climate change was covered in The Washington Post. Finally, Raftery’s research on population projections was referenced in a CNBC piece.

Professor Alexes Harris testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Crime. Terrorism and Homeland Security on July 27 as part of a Hearing entitled, "A Fine Scheme: How Court-Imposed Fees and Fines Unjustly Burden Vulnerable Communities.” Her testimony drew on her extensive research on the prevalence and effects of court-imposed fines and fees. 

Professor Katherine Beckett published an op-ed with her collaborator Forrest Stuart about the clearing of the homeless encampment in Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Graduate student Connor Gilroy’s research about disclosure of sexual identity on Facebook received coverage from the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science.

Awards and Accomplishments

Zack Almquist was named the 2021 winner of the ASA Methodology Section’s Leo Goodman Award for Early Career Scholars.

Alexes Harris has been awarded a $1.7M grant from Arnold Ventures to continue her research on legal financial obligations.

Two faculty members take on editorial roles: Steve Pfaff is now a Deputy Editor of the American Sociological Review, and Nathalie Williams has joined the editorial board of International Migration Review

The Institute for Sexual and Gender Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School has created The Pepper Schwartz Endowed Professorship in Sexuality and Aging.  The professorship was named this professorship to honor our colleague Pepper Schwartz for her lifetime of contributions to the field of sexual health.

Graduate Student Ryan DeCarsky received a grant from the Harlan Hahn Endowment Fund to support his masters thesis research, “Queering Deafhood: Identity Formation and Community Building by Deaf-LGBTQ+ Folk in the United States.”

Sociology major Elizabeth Lu Gao was awarded the 2021 Lera and Samuel B. Bassett scholarship in Labor Relations by the Bridges Center for Labor Studies. 

Sara Curran was appointed as a member to the National Academies committee to advise the US Global Climate Change Research Program. This is a three-year appointment and she is the first demographer to be invited to the committee. 


Department Transitions

Susan Pitchford has retired after a long and distinguished career as a Senior Lecturer. We will miss her creativity and deep care for our students. Cristina Lacomba (PhD from UCSD) joins us this year as a lecturer. She will be teaching Introduction to Sociology, Public Schooling in America, and courses on immigration and ethnicity. Over the past year our departmental community has mourned the loss of two emeritus colleagues, Dave Schmitt and Herb Costner.

Where are our 2020-21 PhD graduates?

Charles Lanfear is now a Postdoc at Oxford University; Yuan Hsiao is an Assistant Professor of Communication, University of Washington. Erin Carll is a Research Scientist at the Center for Research and Evaluation in Stem Equity. Andre Stephens is a Data Scientist at The D.E. Shaw Group. Current graduate student Daiki Hiramori has accepted an offer to join the Department of Global and Interdisciplinary Studies (GIS) at Hosei University in Tokyo, Japan as an Assistant Professor.

Alumni News

Mike Esposito has completed his postdoc at the University of Michigan and is now an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Washington University in St. Louis. John Leverso has left Whitman College and taken a position as an Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma. Heather Evans has taken a position as an Acting Assistant Professor of Rehab Medicine at the UW Medical School. Lake Lui became an Associate Professor at National Taiwan University in August. She was an assistant professor at Honk Kong Polytechnic University before she moved to Taiwan. Charis E. Kubrin, professor of criminology, law and society has been granted a research award from California 100, an ambitious statewide initiative to envision and shape the long-term success of the state. 

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