Katherine Stovel is Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Washington, and the Faculty Chair of the University's Research Fund. She previously served as the Director of the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences (CSSS). She is a faculty affiliate of the Center for Research on Demography and Ecology, and a senior fellow at the eScience Institute. Since 2015, she has served at the chair of the Fellowship Selection Committee at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Science at Stanford University. From January 2013 - December 2016, she served as the (North American) Editor of the British Journal of Sociology.
Stovel is a general sociologist whose research addresses basic questions concerning the dynamics of social organization and social relations. Her work, which follows in the tradition of social networks analysis, is motivated by a desire to understand how common social processes are expressed in particular historical contexts, and why these processes occasionally result in new institutional arrangements or new identities for individuals. A distinctive feature of Stovel's work is the arsenal of methods she employs, methods that emphasize the dynamic, sequential, interactive, and multi-level nature of social phenomena. This allows her to tackle questions traditionally asked--often in a much less systematic way--by historical sociologists and others concerned with the dynamic interaction of individuals and their local context.
Stovel's published research spans a variety of topics, including the micro-dynamics of brokerage relations, networks and employment segregation, technology and information flows, the emergence of modern career systems, the process of becoming a Nazi, and temporal patterning in lynching in the Southern US. She also has a long-standing interest in how social context affects the health of adolescents. Her 2004 article,"Chains of Affection," a study of the structure of adolescent sexual networks, was awarded the Roger Gould Prize by the American Journal of Sociology. Stovel's research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and private foundations. Current NSF funding supports her study of the ways new search technologies impact the practice of academic research.
Stovel, who hails from New England, has an A.B. in Political Science from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She spent the 2008-09 academic year as a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.
In her extra-professional life, Stovel enjoys engaging in a multitude of outdoor activities, cooking, and learning about early 20th century expressionist art.