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.

Letter from the Editors (Anya M. Galli and Joseph Waggle)

Anya, pictured here with our staff of copy editors

Anya, pictured here with our staff of copy editors

The Fall 2013 semester has been an eventful one for the Sociology Department at the University of Maryland. Anya is returning as the editor of your newsletter, and this semester she has welcomed aboard Joe Waggle as her partner in crime. The timing couldn’t be better, because this edition of the newsletter is one of our biggest yet. With the arrival of new students, the development of new research centers, the wealth of events and lectures the semester, and the exciting work of our faculty, students, and alums, there’s a lot to cover. We hope this newsletter provides a snapshot of our department as we move into a new semester.

Joe, in a pre-publication layout meeting.

Many thanks go to our all of our contributors, without whom we’d have no choice but to publish 40 pages of kitten photos. In this issue, look for advice from our faculty on productivity and the creative process, a summary of Annette Lareau’s talk at the annual Rosenberg Forum, and the exciting results of a highly empirical analysis of famous sociologists and their celebrity doppelgangers. This issue also includes profiles of the incoming gradate student cohort, new staff member Gaye Bugenhagen, 2008 alum Wendy Wang, current grad student Dave Paul Strohecker, and current undergrad Victoria Marie Ortiz. Look for information about five of our department’s research centers, as well as a letter from Jeff Lucas, who is filling the new Director of Research Position.

This year, our department lost an exceptional friend, mentor and colleague with the passing of Suzanne Bianchi. The warm response to our request for contributions in her memory is evidence of the lasting impression she has left on our community. She will be greatly missed.

Warmest wishes for the New Year,

Anya Galli & Joseph Waggle

Letter from the Chair (by Patricio Korzeniewicz)

pkorzeniewiczIt is almost obligatory and somewhat trite to begin this kind of message by exclaiming: This is an exciting time for our department!  But indeed it is! We are in the midst of a major assessment within our unit about our future goals regarding our research, our graduate program, and our undergraduate teaching, and I expect our dialogue to produce a renewed vision for our department as we enter 2014. More details will be forthcoming.

In the meantime, I would like to highlight three recent developments. This coming Spring, we will be joined by Professor Mansoor Moaddel (Ph.D. University of Wisconsin), who studies culture, ideology, political conflict, revolution and social change. Previously at Eastern Michigan University, Professor Moaddel has a long trajectory of collaboration with the Population Studies Center and the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, conducting important value surveys in Africa and the Middle East. Besides working in our department, he will be collaborating with our University’s START Center. Professor Moaddel is one of a series of successful hires we have conducted over the past year (and will be officially announcing soon).

Our graduate students and faculty have been working productively on a Critical Race Initiative. This initiative aims to bring together people within our department and the university who incorporate a substantive interest in race and/or ethnicity in their research and/or teaching.  The initiative is especially interested in identifying scholars who cast a critical eye on the use of race and ethnicity sociological research and practice, and is organizing various events and seminars providing a space for substantive discussion and collaboration around relevant issues. The initiative will have its official launch with a major event to be held in our department in April 2014.

Finally, our great office staff has been strengthened by the addition of two new members. Gaye Bugenhagen is our new Director of Administrative Services. Jessica Lee is our new Administrative Assistant. We extend a very warm welcome to both. And we also are grateful for the speedy recovery and return to our office of Mini Rajan!

On a sadder note, Professor Suzanne Bianchi passed away last November 4th. Suzanne chaired our department between 2006 and 2009 and was a founding director of the Maryland Population Research Center.  Throughout her career she produced outstanding research on the intersections of gender, work and family. She was a great mentor of our junior faculty and graduate students, and a very esteemed colleague within our department and the university. She will be very much missed.

In Memory of Suzanne Bianchi

This year, the University of Maryland sociology community lost a valued colleague, a formative influence, and a beloved friend. Suzanne Bianchi changed our ideas of how American families function with her contributions to demography, feminist theory, and time use studies. Her most notable work debunked the long-held notion that mothers’ labor force participation had an adverse effect on children by demonstrating that working mothers make concessions in their leisure time and their work expectations to be able to spend more time with their children.

Suzanne lived her work. Before she was the Dorothy Meier Chair in Social Equities at the University of California at Los Angeles, she was a professor of sociology and a population scholar here at the University of Maryland. The department recruited her directly from the United States Census Bureau, where she was Assistant Division Chief for Social and Demographic Statistics in the Population Division. When she transitioned to UMd, she juggled her duties as a professor of sociology with her position as Founding Director of the Maryland Population Research Center, as well as President of the Population Association of America and Editor of Demography. Coupled with a prolific and highly regarded publishing history, Suzanne kept busy, but was never too busy to raise her three children with husband Mark Browning.

Suzanne passed in early November shortly after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was 61 years old. She will be dearly missed by her family, and her absence will be keenly felt by the men and women who have called her a colleague, a mentor, and a friend. We asked a few of her former collaborators and students to reflect on Suzanne’s life, her influence on their lives, and her lasting impact on the field.

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Rosenberg Forum: Annette Lareau (by Ann Horwitz)

Speaker Annette Lareau with department chair Patricio Korzeniewicz, enjoying the post-lecture reception.

On Friday, October 18th, Dr. Annette Lareau spoke at the Department’s Rosenberg Forum. Lareau is the Stanley I. Sheerr Term Professor in the Social Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, and is the current president of the American Sociological Association. Her talk was entitled, “Housing, Schools, and the Maintenance of Inequality: How Upper Middle Class Parents Can Afford to be Nonchalant.” In her current work, the intellectual seed of which was planted during her tenure in the sociology department here at UMd, Lareau asks how people form neighborhood preferences when they move to a new area. In essence, she wants to know, how do people end up where they do?

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