In a special weekly series, the College of Liberal Arts is featuring a faculty member from one of our 13 departments. We asked questions about why they are passionate about the subjects they study and teach, and how they found their path to CSU. See all “Faculty Friday” features here.
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology
1. Why do you research/study sociology? What inspired your interest in sociology?
I love trying to understand how people’s everyday experiences and decisions are shaped by major societal-level economic and political contexts. For example, one study I published last year showed that rising income inequality has affected how much parents decide to invest in their children’s education and enrichment.
I had already finished my bachelor’s before I discovered sociology by reading some books written by sociologists on American culture and religion. I was intrigued and reached out to a sociology professor who fortuitously was in need a full-time research assistant. I worked for him for a year and was totally hooked.
2. Which class is your favorite to teach and why?
This feels like being asked which of my kids is my favorite! I’m not going to pick one, but I will say that I really enjoyed the class I most recently taught, which was “Quantitative Sociological Analysis” (Soc 210). I love helping students become critical consumers of the statistics they encounter in both academic research and everyday life. I enjoy teaching statistical concepts with relevant sociological examples and applications. For example, we discussed income inequality to better understand variance, ban-the-box debates to understand probability, political polling to understand sampling error, and recently published research on household labor to understand regression.
3. What did you want to be when you were little? When did you know you wanted to go into higher education/research?
I think I wanted to be a lot of things, but one of them for a long time was to be an astronomer! This led to (or was the result of) an early interest in science, which culminated in me majoring in physics and math as an undergrad at Rice University. My interest in those topics waned about the time I was graduating, but then I discovered there was a science of society, and so here I am.
4. How did you get to CSU?
In the summer of 2017, I finished my Ph.D. in Sociology at UC Berkeley and started my job here. So, literally, I got here by driving my family from Northern California to Northern Colorado, which included traversing the full length of U.S. Route 50 — “The Loneliest Road in America” — which I would highly recommend.
5. What is one thing students would be surprised to learn about you?
I do ultramarathons. Last year I ran a hundred miler (which turned out to be 108-miles!) in Steamboat Springs. I find ultras to be good metaphor for academic life: Success is mostly about persistence. There are lots of highs and lows, but the experience is immensely satisfying.