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⋅Sociologist Network 2022⋅

Welcome back to another year of crazy campus schedules and Post-Pandemic accommodations! I'm sure this year has not been easy and we hope that everyone within Sociology is finding some light at the end of the tunnel. We wanted to spotlight some of the amazing accomplishments that our Sociology family has brought to us during this crazy time and hope you all enjoy! Go Utes!

→ Highlights and Awards ←

Claudia Geist: Big congratulations to Claudia and her team of colleagues in Transform for their success in receiving a $1 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to support the U's Pacific Islands Studies initiative! 

Marcel Paret: Marcel was selected this year as a Presidental Scholar! The Presidential Scholar Award supports the work of exceptionally promising mid-career faculty in academic units across the campus. Congratulations Marcel!

Rebecca Utz: Congratulations to Becky on becoming the new Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education in the College of Social and Behavioral Science! Professor Utz brings prior leadership experience as the Director of the Health, Society & Policy (HSP) program and is a well-respected scholar with a successful record of external grants. Congrats Becky!

Undergraduate Department Awards: The Sociology Department is proud to announce that we have three Undergraduate Department Award Recipients! Congratulations to Anqi (Angela) Deng and Odalis Garcia on their accomplishments of receiving the Dr. George M. Coray Memorial Award! The Dr. George M. Coray Memorial Award was established in 1939 and has since recognized the distinguished Sociology Major who has meritorious contribution in the field of Sociology and has provided service to the Department of Sociology. Also, a big congratulations to Anne Nguyen for receiving the Dr. Henry Frost Memorial Award, The Dr. Henry Frost Memorial Award was established in 1969 and honors the outstanding scholarship of the graduating Sociology senior with the top GPA. Other Dr. Henry Frost Memorial Award Finalists/ Honorable mentions are Monica West, Olivia Finley and Danika Rogers

Casey Mullen is this years Spring 2022 College of Social and Behavioral Science's Advancing Equity and Connecting Communities Award Winner!

See below what she had to say about her research and amazing accomplishments! Congratulations Casey! 

Over the last year, I embarked on the greatest adventure of my graduate career, conducting my dissertation research and initiating my experiences with advancing equity and connecting communities in the Salt Lake County region. My dissertation research (Phase 1) assessed sociospatial inequalities in the distribution of the non-governmental air quality monitoring network (NAQMN) in Salt Lake County; and (Phase 2) used those results to select local environmental justice (EJ) communities of concern with sparse network coverage to examine how participatory air quality sensing shaped participants’ exposure experiences. To accomplish this research, I utilized an exposure experience framework focused on the nexus between embodied health experiences, citizen exposure science (which informs understandings about personal pollutant exposures), and decision-making regarding the management of risks. My overall goal was to clarify the EJ and exposure experience implications of our NAQMN through a mixed method study in Salt Lake County.

Through Phase 1 (i.e., quantitative portion) of my dissertation research, I examined the social and geographic distribution of air quality sensors (e.g., PurpleAir, Tetrad, and Air Quality & U) in Salt Lake County’s NAQMN from an EJ perspective. Due to growth in NAQMN’s and the self-organizing nature of the networks, an uneven spatial distribution of sensors is often produced, as was the case in Salt Lake County. I identified Salt Lake County census tracts with increased proportions of people of color, lower income folks, worse air pollution exposure on average, and decreased air quality sensor distribution; these census tracts were most prevalent in the Northwest quadrant of Salt Lake County.

Through Phase 2 (i.e., the qualitative portion) of my dissertation research, I purchased PurpleAir indoor and outdoor air quality sensors to expand the local NAQMN and recruited 27 households with children with asthma to distribute the sensors to (12/27 households living in census tracts in need of sensors and 3 more nearby). All of the participants (one parent from each household) engaged in a one-hour pre-study interview, 16 weeks survey completion (one 10-minute survey each week), and a one-hour post- study interview to communicate their ongoing experiences with health, air pollution exposure, and air quality sensing during the study timeframe (December 2021 to March 2022). I look forward to examining their perceptions and decision-making through the lens of the exposure experience framework when I analyze these data and write my dissertation papers this summer and fall.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the community engagement side of my work as well. During the 2021-2022 academic year (AC), I collaborated with undergraduate students in Dr. Adrienne Cachelin’s EJ course of Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ENVST) as well as sixth grade students in two Salt Lake City schools to conduct educational outreach about air pollution and to construct air quality sensors with Lego building blocks and with guidance from Drs. Tony Butterfield and Kerry Kelly of Chemical Engineering (Chem Eng). Further, during Fall 2022, through the EJ SPARC (Student Pathways, Action Research, and Critical Engagement) Lab (directed by Dr. Cachelin), undergraduate students, Lauren (Piper) Christian of ENVST and Dylan Rosenberg of Chem Eng (along with my oversight and support), will enhance our community engagement in collaboration with the Glendale Public Library. We will work with EJ students to install an indoor and outdoor air quality sensor at the Glendale Library (further contributing to the expansion of the NAQMN in a census tract area in need of a sensor), host a workshop on DIY (Do-It-Yourself) low-cost portable air purifiers at Glendale’s Clean Air Festival event, and build and explore the impacts of a Clean Air Room in the Glendale Library that will reduce particulate matter in the space by 99% and provide shelter during worse air quality conditions (e.g., winter inversions and summer wildfire smoke events).

It is important to note that I could not have accomplished my dissertation work without the invaluable support of many sources including: undergraduate research assistants, Jose Carreon and Bianca Paulino (Health, Air Pollution and Population Initiative in Education and Science Training aka HAPPIEST Program Summer 2021), and Maria (Manuela) Herrera, Lauren (Piper) Christian, Jessica Cuello, and Angel Valenzuela (2021-2022 AC); graduate student research colleagues from the Center for Natural and Technological Hazards (directed by Drs. Sara Grineski and Timothy Collins); community engaged learning mentors Drs. Adrienne Cachelin and Leah Joyner of ENVST, and Drs. Tony Butterfield and Kerry Kelly of Chem Eng; dissertation committee members, Drs. Sara Grineski, Brett Clark and Lazarus Adua of Sociology, Dr. Timothy Collins of Geography, and Dr. Kerry Kelly of Chem Eng; community partners from Salt Lake City and County school districts and public libraries, and the Utah Department of Health; and funding from the University of Utah’s Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF) and the National Science Foundation. Most of all, I am thankful for the continued support of my advisor and mentor, Dr. Grineski, who has played a vital role in guiding my dissertation research.

With all of this, I am honored to be a recipient of this Spring 2022 College of Social and Behavioral Science’s Advancing Equity and Connecting Communities Award. It should be evident that my work was done in collaboration with many undergraduate students, inter-disciplinary faculty, and local community-partners. I hope that wherever this path leads me, I may continue to collaborate with inspiring groups of people on efforts to advance equity and connect communities.

Welcome New faculty!

We are so lucky to add two new faculty members to our Sociology family! Congratulations Katie Durante and Ariel Roddy, we are so excited to have you on campus with us! See below a small snippet of these incredible women and stop by the office to meet them soon!

Katie Durante katie

Katie Durante, Ph.D., is an incoming Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Utah. She has spent the last 5 years at Nevada State College, a minority-serving institution in the Las Vegas area. She holds a bachelor's degree in Sociology and Criminology from John Carroll University, a master's degree in Sociology from Cleveland State University, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Cincinnati (2017). 

Katie employs quantitative methods to examine issues related to racial/ethnic inequality and imprisonment, broadly. She primarily researches in two areas: racial/ethnic disparities in sentencing and the impacts of incarceration on the family. Her research has been published in a variety of academic journals and public outlets.  

Before moving to Nevada, she spent 3 years conducting program evaluation for large federal grants (SAMHSA & BJA) for the drug court in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is also active in her community and volunteers with several organizations to push toward a more just criminal legal system. She recently because the first Nevada State College professor to be awarded the 2021 Rising Researcher Award granted by the Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents for excellence in research among pre-tenured faculty.  

In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her cat, live music, and exploring the city. 

Ariel Roddyariel

Ariel Roddy is an Indigenous feminist criminologist and incoming Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Utah. She received her doctorate from Michigan State University in Criminal Justice and belongs to the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Her research relates to the economic marginalization of and barriers to reentry and recovery for justice-involved women of color. Her dissertation, funded by the Division of Women and Crime of the American Society of Criminology and the Association of Doctoral Programs in Criminology & Criminal Justice, explored the role of spatial mismatch and social capital in the employment outcomes for justice- and substance-involved women and the intersectional effects of COVID-19 on women in recovery. She is currently serving as a member-at-large on the board of the Native Research Network.  


In her spare time, she enjoys roller skating, beading, hiking with her dog Rupert, drinking good coffee, and watching bad television.  


The Sociology Department Has SIX Graduating Ph.D. Students!

We are so lucky to have had these six amazing graduates with us the last couple of years! Congratulations to Mindy Steadman, Adrienne Griffiths, Natalie Blanton, Bethany Gull, Samin Panahi, and Alla Chernenko! 

See below what a couple of them had to say about their time at the University of Utah and their next chapter! Congrats Graduates!

Adrienne Griffiths: "I chose the University of Utah’s Sociology program because I was interested in using a structured methodology to build on my background in English, Psychology, and American Studies (i.e., Disability studies). While I initially came in with hopes of working on human-rights related issues on a larger, societal level, I was drawn to Medical Sociology, health disparities, and components of mental health, race/ethnicity, gender, and intimate partner violence/dating violence. My experience has been unique due to the fact that I was assigned an advisor later in my first year, but it has been a wonderful experience learning from such a variety of faculty at the U—with all different strengths, expertise, and advice. I really did grow a lot as a researcher and student. I was able to carve out my own research interests that were shaped based on the elements I learned in the courses I took. Furthermore, I felt really supported by the dissertation committee and connections that I made with my cohort and faculty that I surrounded myself with. I was only able to finish the five-year program in four years based on the support I received from the department and dissertation committee to complete my research using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to research depression during midlife for a variety of outcomes (i.e., relationship satisfaction, intimate partner violence risk, and sexual health. While this has been a really challenging graduate program—even without the added stress that came with the global pandemic— it has been a really rewarding experience where I’ve been able to see exponential personal growth."

Mindy Steadman: "After teaching public health for several years at UVU and BYU, I decided it was time to come back to school for a Ph.D. I chose the Sociology program at the U because of its emphasis on population and health  (an excellent complement to my public health training) and because I wanted to understand better how social factors shape the health of individuals and populations. While here, my study and research have focused on health disparities, particularly among children who co-reside with grandparents (a topic I find personally relevant since I've raised my kids in a multigenerational family). I feel so fortunate to have had wonderful friends and mentors during my time in the program, something that has truly enriched my graduate experience and prepared me for my next steps. I just accepted a position as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health at UVU and can't wait to bring a sociological perspective to the courses I teach there!"

Natalie Blanton: "I did my undergraduate here and wanted to stick around family and community organizations I had ties to and continue working with Brett Clark! My qualitative dissertation consisted of interviewing 65 individuals in the Salt Lake Valley to determine if environmental concerns (namely global climate change and local air pollution) were factored into their fertility intentions and future. It turns out they are! Immensely so. My chapters explore this idea of what to expect when you are expecting catastrophic climate change and take gender and environmental justice/race/ethnicity lens or analyses. I am excited to keep pulling these environmental and reproductive justice threads and situate my work in the southern United States. I just accepted a tenure-track position at the University of Tennessee - Chattanooga in Sociology (gender emphasis) within their Social, Cultural, and Justice Studies department. I am very grateful for my experience here -- I have loved this department and the opportunities I had." 

Last Updated: 8/17/22