Grad Student Spotlight: Lori Reeder and Valerie Chepp

This semester, we’re profiling two of our graduate students who have done the seemingly impossible: finished the program and moved on to amazing careers! Join us as we pick the brains of Lori Reeder and Valerie Chepp about academic training, the job market, and what they most look forward to AG (after grad school).

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Letter from the Editors


Joe, our co-conspirator and fellow grad student Ann Horwitz, and Anya

Once again, we have had a blast producing the newsletter for our department this semester. Our latest cohort has proven to be a bright and intellectually curious bunch. The many research centers housed in our department are producing some excellent research. And, as usual, UMd sociology remains a strong and supportive community. We hope this newsletter provides a snapshot of our department as we finish up another great school year.

Many thanks go to our all of our contributors, without whom we’d have no choice but to publish 20 pages of vegan-friendly comfort foods from feminist cook books like A Second Helping for the Second Sex or The Gluten Mystique.

So, thanks, everyone!

In this issue, contributors give us a review of this year’s William Form guest lecturer Alex Bierman; a profile on incoming faculty Andres Villarreal and Wei-hsin Yu, and; a look into the research and mentorship being done in our own Group Processes Lab. Our contributors also sat down with a fantastic undergrad, a fantastic alum, and the fantastic administrator responsible for making three of our newest and busiest research centers run smoothly. We also asked faculty and staff for their advice on how blogging and social media can improve our lot both professionally and personally. Look for all of that and more in this Spring 2014 issue.

Have a great summer!

Anya & Joe

Letter from the Chair (by Patricio Korzeniewicz)

pkorzeniewiczWhile the academic year ends in just a few days, we will have a busy Summer in our department. As usual, many of our faculty and graduate students will take advantage of the slower pace of campus responsibilities to advance their research. A few will be teaching Summer courses. But with the faculty who are responsible for administrative responsibilities, such as the Associate Chair (John Pease), our new Director of Graduate Studies (Liana Sayer), the Director of Undergraduate Studies (Linda Moghadam) and the Director of Research (Jeff Lucas), we will be working on coming up with strategies to address some of the concerns raised during our recent departmental retreat last March.

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Letter from the GSF Presidents (by Mandi Martinez and Lucia Lykke)

PresbiansIt has been a pleasure serving the Graduate Student Forum as your presidents this year! Thank you to all the officers of the GSF for your help and service to our department (and to Junie the pit bull, pictured here, for her constant emotional support to both of us). We collectively made it through an endless winter and a brief, but challenging, period while the dying fridge made the entire fourth floor smell like rancid cheese. Fortunately, we all met these challenges with fortitude, and the GSF was able to make some exciting strides this year.

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A Big Thank You to the 2013-2014 Sociology Graduate Student Forum!

Once again, our GSF has done the department proud with their service! These graduate students have served our community well by representing us to the faculty and the university at large, by organizing social events, and by making sure our department remains a strong and supportive environment for us all.

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Graduate Awards

Our students work hard, and they’re rewarded for it! Below are some of the honors and awards that our grad students have earned this year. 

­­­­Luoman Bao received the Graduate School Summer Research Fellowship. She has also won a competitive travel award to attend a full week RAND Summer Institute on Aging sponsored by the National Institute on Aging and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at the National Institutes of Health.

Tyler Crabb received the Charles Coates Award from the Center from Research on Military Organization.

Tyler Myroniuk received the Maryland Population Research Center 2014 Summer Student Grant.

Joanna Pepin received the Graduate School Summer Research Fellowship.

Shengwei Sun won the Irene B. Taeuber Graduate Student Paper Award from the DC Sociological Society.

Undergraduate Spotlight: Lawrence Mudd (by Joey Brown)


Our undergraduate student spotlight is on Lawrence Mudd. Lawrence is a sociology major,focusing on social stratification. In fact, he’s a graduating senior with only a few weeks left before finishing up his Bachelor’s degree. Lawrence is a Maryland native who grew up in Oxon Hill and currently resides in Brandywine. I caught up with Lawrence and had a chance to speak with him about his time at the University of Maryland. Here’s what he had to say.

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Staff Spotlight: Meredith Buchman (by Moriah Willow)

Buchman_1Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Meredith Buchman, Program Coordinator extraordinaire for three of the sociology department’s research centers: the Program for Society and the Environment, the Culture Lab, and the Maryland Time Use Lab. A veteran of higher education, Meredith joined the University of Maryland in the spring of 2014, bringing fifteen years of higher education experience, two masters’ degrees, and plenty of personality to the department.

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New Faculty Spotlight: Andres Villarreal and Wei-hsin Yu (by Carrie Clarady)

In the fall our department will be joined by two new faculty members, Andres Villarreal and Wei-hsin Yu. Graduates of the University of Chicago, they join us from Austin, where they currently work in the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas. Rounding out their household is their four-year-old daughter. 

As a demographer and a former Austinite, I jumped at the chance to ask them a few questions.

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Alumna Spotlight: Emily Mann (by Anya Galli)

Emily Mann received her PhD from the Department of Sociology at the University of
Maryland in 2010. During her time a Maryland, her research focused on the sociology of sexualities, in particular, teenage sexuality and social regulation. She taught courses in the Sociology and LGBT studies Departments and received the 2010 Robert W. Janes award for Excellence for her work in our department. Emily generously agreed to answer some questions about what she’s been up to in the (incredibly productive) years since she left UMD.

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Fifth Annual William Form Lecturer Alex Bierman (by Daniel Standridge)

BiermanOn Friday, April 25th, Dr. Alex Bierman spoke at the 5th annual William Form lecture.  Dr. Bierman is currently an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary and is an alumnus of the University of Maryland sociology department.  His talk was titled “The Threat of War and Psychological Distress among Civilians Working in Iraq and Afghanistan.”  This talk presented findings from a recent publication of the same name that appeared in Social Psychology Quarterly,  co-written with Ryan Kelty (who is also an alumnus of UMD sociology).  The talk focused on the nonlinear role of mastery in impacting the experience of distress by Department of Army Civilians (DACs) while deployed overseas in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom (OIF and OEF).

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Student-Led Research in Social Psychology: A Look into Undergraduate Participation and Interest in Social Science Research in the Sociology Group Processes Lab (by Amanda Nguyen)

For the majority of my undergraduate career, I never considered social science research as an option for my future. I had read a handful of peer‐reviewed articles assigned in my sociology courses, but I felt detached from an understanding of how they did the research. I saw research careers as for STEM majors. It was not until I was given an opportunity to actually be involved in conducting social science experiments in the Sociology Group Processes Lab that these stereotypes were broken for me and I finally developed an appreciation for the works of the authors of those journal articles.

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Congratulations to Our Spring 2014 Graduates!

Please join us in congratulating the graduate students who have reached important milestones in their studies this semester!

Master’s Degrees

  • Wendy M. Laybourn
  • Kristin Kerns
  • Bryant Best
  • Joanna R. Pepin
  • Joey Brown
  • Esha Chatterjee
  • Jonathan M. Cox
  • Hsiang-Yuan Ho
  • Jaein Lee
  • Jessica E. Pena
  • Shengwei Sun
  • Jingyuan Xie


  • Valerie Chepp, Speaking Truth to Power: Spoken Word Poetry as Political Engagement Among Young Adults in the Millennial Age.
  • Jillet Sam, Place and Caste Identification: Distanciation and Spatial Imaginaries on a Caste-Based Social Network.
  • Molly Clever, The More Things Stay the Same: Colonization, Resistance, and the Fractured Sovereign State.